THE BRAINY E-BIKE
E-bike responsiveness is important. If the delay between your foot’s push on the pedal to the motor kicks in (the reaction time) is too big, your brain cannot adjust to it. The right sensor torque technology can compensate for that and improve e-bike responsiveness.
Your brain lives in the past. Any sensory input from the outer world is slowed down ever so little by the circuitry of your brain. Only after a quarter of a second, your body will react to an outer stimulus. It could be a smell, a breeze, or a visual difference. The tiny time gap between a stimulus and the reaction is called reaction time.
Don’t worry. Your brain is used to that delay. In your conscious mind, you have the feeling of noticing something and responding to it almost immediately.
The brain at work
It is no wonder that there will be a delay, though. A lot is going on in those little neurons that manage your mind.
First, sensory neurons in the brain recognize a stimulus, translate it to electrical signals that are sent to the central nervous system. Next, another set of neurons processes the information. They decide what kind of response is needed. Only then, a signal is sent to a third type of neuron which transmits this information to effectors such as muscle fibers or glands.
When you think about it, it is amazing that all this is going on in only milliseconds.
The average reaction time varies
The average reaction time is between 150 and 300 milliseconds. Many factors come into account.
For example, audio input is processed faster than visual input. Multiple different inputs at once can confirm something and make the reaction time a few milliseconds faster. Or it can cause contradictive messages and hamper the reaction.
Reaction time while riding
When it comes to pedaling there is also different sensory input for the brain to consider – some from the outside and some internal. The moving surroundings while cycling will be tickling the visual cortex while the self-generated tactile input of touching the pedals has different processing.
Another thing that can influence reaction time is age and fitness – younger brains tend to process sensory input faster than older ones.
But sometimes experience also matters. What we call muscle memory can help in situations that are familiar to us. This makes us able to improve reaction time. Think of a goalkeeper, who will react faster than most, when having a ball thrown at him/her. Even if the difference between 300 ms and 150 ms can seem minimal, it can determine a win or a loss.
A long gap from input to action confuses your brain
The expected reaction time is so incorporated into our system. Even though it can be trained to a certain extent, the gap between stimulus and reaction can get too big, and we will notice the delay and get annoyed. We may not notice it consciously, but the circuits in the brain will be disturbed and we will feel a sense of confusion or discomfort.
People who play computer games will know this. If there is a significant delay between moving a mouse or the control pad on an on-screen movement, the person will not be able to play.
If you are not a gamer, the point can be illustrated in the lag in speaking, when you do an overseas phone call. Too much delay will disturb the conversation considerably.
Reaction time while driving
Likewise, pedaling on an e-bike can feel confusing to your brain. When riding a pedelec your brain expects a delay from when you push on the pedal till the assisted movement happens.
If the electrical motor kicks in too late, your brain will be surprised. If the delay is more than about 150 ms it will be noticeable and the e-bike responsiveness is simply too slow. This will negatively impact your ride feeling.
How to improve e-bike responsiveness
To improve e-bike responsiveness you need a fast (low-latency) sensor system on your electrical vehicle. This can ensure that you get that nice natural ride feeling your brain expects when riding a bicycle. Not the feeling of riding some weird pedal-controlled moped (i.e. cheap e-bike).