An electric bike controller is what connects all the electrical components together. As soon as you pull the throttle or start pedalling on a pedal assist model, an electrical switch is connected that creates a full circuit in which electricity can flow, telling the controller to then connect the circuit from the battery to the motor, and the LCD screen if your e-bike has one.
Important Warning for DIY Folks
The most important thing you must know about an e-bike controller is that the controller's voltage rating must match your battery. The more amps the controller puts out and the smaller it is, the more expensive it is. This is important for DIY e-bike makers or those who plan to upgrade their e-bikes later on. Controllers vary mostly in quality, but unfortunately there aren't many with distinguishable brand names so figuring out which e-bike has a good controller or not is difficult to do.
You can be rest-assured that mostly all e-bike controllers that are made for 24v-48v e-bikes that are under 500W are made of the best quality necessary to keep those e-bikes running for years. You'll need to be careful when buying or assembling a custom e-bike that is over those specs because a much higher quality controller is necessary to handle the additional voltage and wattage that will be passing through the controller.
The Two Components E-Bike Controllers Connect The Battery and Motor To:
There are two main electrical components that the e-bike connects between the battery and motor. I will go more into depth into those now.
Computers: LCD displays and battery indicators
Many e-bikes come with full LCD screens that allow you to measure the performance of your electric bike. These are usually found on e-bikes $1,000 and up in price. On bikes under $1,000, there is usually no LCD screen included, however, you will have a battery indicator light on the battery itself or on the handlebar which you can use to gauge your battery life and how much distance or time you have left.
Switches: Throttle and PAS
Every e-bike comes with a switch to turn the motor on and off. There are two types of switches, throttles (twist or thumb button) and PAS (pedal assist system). The type of switch on each e-bike is listed in the specifications section of the product description. We recommend getting an e-bike with both a throttle and PAS option so you can use each when they are most useful to you.
Watch this video for a breakdown of how electric bike controllers work and how to wire one.
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