Buying your first electric bike can be quite a challenge. Nowadays you can find hundreds of manufacturers producing bikes with different technologies and different purpose. Just like buying a conventional bike, you have to ask yourself what would you like to use it for? Our electric bike buying guide will lead you through the key points which you should focus on when purchasing an e-bike.
Clearing up for yourself what you are after will reduce the risk of bad decisions.
Type of usage
If you already have experience with classic bikes, selecting your category will be easy as there is not much difference. Nowadays, electric bikes are represented in every category, which means you won’t have to search for hours to find a quality made bike.
Do you need a city bike or a cruiser? Would you like to use it for cargo hauling or child transportation? Daily commuting, trail riding or to have fun in the hills?
Let’s see the features of these categories. City bikes focus more on comfort and practicality than speed or efficiency. Usually, you will find a standard 25kph pedelec with a smaller capacity battery satisfying. Either Mid or Hub motor will do the job, so you can also think about upgrading your old bike into an electric. You can find more information about motor types here.
During city rides, you have to stop hundreds of times and accelerate again. Assisted pedaling can help you speed up, making your city ride more comfortable. They are also a good choice for elderly people as they can seamlessly enjoy riding as they did ten or twenty years ago.
We recommend choosing electric commuter bikes if your daily range is around 20-30 km. These are hybrid bikes with a wheel of a road bike (but usually wider tires), and the handlebars, positioning of a mountain bike. Riding longer distances is really comfortable with them but you won’t have problem maneuvering in the crowded cities as well.
For the slower paced and shorter trips, comfort bikes can be the way to go. The frame is usually created for a comfortable step-through mounting, saddles are usually wide and soft and sitting position is upright. Its a perfect choice for elderly people as well.
Folding bikes combines the flexibility of traditional foldable bikes and the comfort of electric powered bicycles. If you need a bicycle for shorter trips and easy storage and transportation is important for you, electric folding bikes are the way to go. Their weight which is usually higher because of the electric drive is a bit of a downside, on the other hand, they will still save you a ton of space in your trunk or your apartment. The weight usually ranges anywhere between 15 – 30 kg
You can find standard configurations, bikes with integrated lights or even with front suspension. Smaller physical dimensions are not necessarily limiting the power output of the motor or the maximum range. From the battery pack’s point of view, they can be integrated into the frame which has the advantage of extra physical protection to the battery and also it hides them from public sight.
In short words, if flexible transportation and storage are important for you just like electric support, this is a highly recommended category.
Mountain bikes are designed for rough terrain. If you would like to make trips off the road, it is the one to go. There are several features of a mountain bike which you should consider before buying one. If your plan is to ride on dirt or stoned roads, you should definitely focus on hard-tail bikes where there is only front suspension. Full suspension bikes are designed for rough rides uphill, downhill where shock absorption is a must. Either way, choosing ebike over a standard one comes with great benefits. As these bikes often have a massive build up and significant weight, the battery and motor easily blend in.
Electric mountain bikes are not only good for casual bikers or amateurs, it can be a good experience if you are a professional rider as well or simply if you are recovering.
If you choose to ride mainly on rough terrain without hill climbing and extreme usage, you can save some money by choosing a hub motor version. However, mid-motor bikes are highly recommended if you wish to do off-road riding or mountain climbing, as it provides a higher torque and higher overall performance.
When it comes to batteries, we recommend choosing a frame seated one. Weight distribution this way stays in the middle lower part of the bike, making it easier to maneuver. If you are interested, also read our post about electric mountain bikes!
Road bikes are the ones with the longest history. The most important factors about them are high speed and low weight. They usually have as low air and friction resistance as possible, to maximize speed and range.
You may think that electrical drives are not fitting with these categories since they usually add a considerable extra weight to the rig, but I can tell you its a quite viable option.
As you can read in Basics section, speed pedelecs can achieve 45 kph top speed. (Only because of a limitation. Trust me, they can have a lot more power behind the cover). As we have already talked about how e-bikes are making everyday cycling more comfortable, it also stands for road bikes. You can expand your capabilities, so you can do more and see more. Assisted pedaling helps you to use your energy to maintain high speeds. Whenever you have to speed up or climb a hill, ePower will assist you in the best ways.
I think I don’t have to point out the advantages of electrical cargo bikes. As they may not have the popularity in the US and Europe, cargo bikes have quite a long history in Indian and Chinese transportation. Imagine that you don’t have to spit your lung out when you are trying to ride a fully loaded bike. If you have tried to transport someone on the back you must have felt how challenging can 80-100 kg extra weight can be.
With electric powered cargo bikes this problem is simply solved. They will give you an extra boost at the red light and will not feel the fatigue at the end of the day.
Distance to travel
Depending on how long distance you usually use your bike, you have different possibilities when choosing your e-Bike. The most important part here will be the battery and the power consumption. It is safe to assume, that manufacturer’s advertised range will be always a bit higher than you can expect. Of course its really hard to calculate the maximum possible range, as it would depend on the terrain you are cycling, your body weight, how much work you put in, etc.
When you are buying from an e-Bike manufacturer, the battery is correctly matched with the motor by default. If you want a configuration when you have to choose the battery and the motor independently, it is important to choose the correct battery capacity. The general rule is, that the battery in Watt-hours equal to the motor capacity in watts. That means if you have a 400W motor on your bike, you should choose a 400Wh battery for it. This way you can have the maximum range. Of course, to increase the maximum distance you can increase your capacity or simply you can buy a second set of battery.
Today’s manufacturers are usually producing Li-Ion batteries, but you can also find NiMH chemistry as well. Generally, it is advised to use Li-ion as it has a higher energy density and also the technology is more up to date.
It is advised to choose battery pack from a well-known company, as the safety systems are as well important as the capacity and output current.
Electric bicycles are supplied with considerably more extra features than standard bikes. Since you have a power source, it is possible to add additional sensors for data gathering, functions which makes users life easier. On today’s market, there is really a big variance of user interfaces. For example, you can have a standard 3 led feedback system with a plus and a minus button to increase or decrease the assist. On the other hand, you can have a fully developed and working GPS system with a high-resolution screen where you can get detailed information about your last ride and you can even connect it with your mobile for automatic synchronization.
As manufacturers are trying to fulfill user requirements, what you get is only depending on your needs and your budget.
Important: Don’t forget to pick a high-security bike lock as well!
We hope our electric bike buying guide was helpful to you. If so, please share it and leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!