With the many different types of electric bikes available, it can be tricky to decide which one is best for your needs. Electric bikes have various features and characteristics that make them suitable for different uses and riders.
In this article, we will go through the different things you should consider before you buy your first electric bike. By understanding the various elements of electric bikes, you will be able to make a shortlist of ones that will suit you.
Electric Bike Essentials
Before we go into the details, you need to be aware of a few things that Will make a difference in your purchase decision.
Stay On The Right Side Of The Law
Different parts of the world have their own rules regarding electric bike use. It is essential that you understand the local laws and regulations to make sure you don't do the wrong thing. In the US, there are three different electric bike classes.
Class 1 - Also known as pedelec bikes. Class 1 electric bikes assist your peddling to a limited top speed of 20 mph. These are often the most affordable electric bikes and are the ones that are widely accepted in most areas. You can ride them on most roads and cycle paths, but some mountain bike trails don't allow them.
Class 2 - Class 2 electric bikes are the same as those in Class 1, but they have a throttle mode that allows you to ride them without pedaling using battery power alone.
Class 3 - These Electric bikes work precisely the same as those in Class 1, but they have a limited assisted top speed of 28 mph, and some have a throttle fitted. They also have more powerful motors to make climbing hills and carrying weight much easier.
Of course, this is only the regulations for e-bikes in the US, but there are also different traffic laws in Europe and elsewhere, which we will talk about in a another blog.
Understand Electric Bike, Motors, And Batteries
The motor and battery an electric bike is fitted with make a difference in how it performs. Those with more powerful motors accelerate faster and have more torque, making riding uphill much more manageable.
However, you need to be aware that more powerful motors require more energy from the battery, which can drain it much more quickly, reducing your range.
Predicting how far an electric bike can ride on a single charge can be challenging as many factors affect range. For example, if you are a heavier rider or ride up steep hills, your motor will have to work harder, draining your battery more quickly.
Another aspect that affects how far your electric bike will take you is how you ride it. For example, if you ride aggressively or in a high assistance mode all the time, your battery will drain quickly. However, if you ride smoothly and at lower assistance levels, you will be able to ride much further before you need to recharge your battery.
To overcome these range issues, you should choose an electric bike with a battery with a larger capacity. The capacity of an electric bike battery is indicated by its "Watt-hours (Wh)." This figure shows how many hours the battery can take one Watt of power before it is completely empty.
It is also essential to consider the power of a motor to determine if that electric bike has a good range. For example, an electric bike with a 500 W motor will drain a 500 Wh battery much faster than a 250W motor powered by a 500Wh battery.
Electric bikes are built around a variety of frames with different styles. You can have traditional step-over frames, but some riders may benefit from a step-thru frame.
A step-thru frame has a low-slung design which makes mounting and dismounting effortless. This is ideal for people who wear long and flowing clothing and those with mobility issues.
Another frame design you should know about is the folding frame. These electric bikes have hinges, allowing you to fold them to a compact size, ideal for storage and transportation.
Bike manufacturers fit their bikes with either rim brakes or disc brakes. Rim brakes are cable operated via the brake lever, and pinch the wheel rim to slow you down. These are pretty rare on electric bikes, but they are still used on lower-priced versions. Rim brakes are OK for low-powered electric bikes but don't work well in wet conditions.
Disc brakes are more common on electric bikes. They are much better than rim brakes because they offer more stopping power. You can get mechanical or hydraulic versions. Hydraulic disc brakes are the best, as they are more powerful but also offer more control, enhancing safety. They add extra cost to the bike, but a good set of brakes is essential.
What Do You Plan On Using Your Electric Bike For?
The first thing you need to consider is what you're actually going to use your electric bike for. This is because some electric bikes are designed for specific purposes, which will benefit you more. Let's break down some possible scenarios and talk about what electric bikes would be suitable.
If you plan to use your electric bike for a short commute, you should buy an electric city bike. These electric bikes are fairly simple but are the best for urban riding.
They are agile enough to help you weave through traffic and avoid obstacles and pedestrians. Some of them have characteristics that make them more user-friendly for people who live and work in big cities. For example, some have foldable frames which allow you to store them at work or even carry them on public transport for longer commutes.
You can get fit on any electric bike. This is because you can still increase your heart rate even though the electric motor assists your peddling. If you want to challenge yourself, you can simply choose a lower assistance level, so you work harder. However, if you want to take it easy, just select a higher Assistant level when you need to rest.
When it comes to the type of bike to choose for fitness, it's more of a case of which electric bike you would use the most. For example, if you usually drive into town to go shopping, you can replace these car journeys with an electric cargo bike with the load-carrying capacity to bring your groceries home.
There are many electric bikes suited to different kinds of recreational use. So which electric bike you choose will depend on what you want to use it for and where you ride. A great example of this is a folding electric bike. You can easily transport these in your car for days out and weekends away. Some are even compact enough to store in your caravan, RV, or boat to give you a convenient and fun way of getting around when you get to your destinations.
Replacing A Family Vehicle
In some circumstances, an electric bike can replace a family car. This may not be viable for every journey, but using an electric bike for specific trips may be possible.
It is possible to transport more than one person on an electric cargo bike, as some can be fitted with additional seats. These seats allow you to do the school run, visit friends, and take days out on an electric bike.
The low price of some electric bikes makes it possible for families to own more than one. This means all family members can ride together, whether going on a trip into the city or on fun days out.
Electric bikes open up many possibilities for those who like or need to ride off-road. If you want to ride off-road, you need to look for characteristics that make the experience more manageable and fun.
Electric bikes with powerful motors are well-suited to off-road riding, as they can cope with steep climbs due to the additional torque. But the torque needs to be transferred to the ground efficiently through quality tires.
Some electric bikes have fat tires, which give you lots of traction and confidence when riding on all surfaces. These tires also have a high volume of air inside, smoothing out the ride and adding to the grip.
Electric bikes fitted with suspension components often have enhanced off-road capability. Suspension forks and shock absorbers help to keep the wheels in contact with the ground more, improving traction.
Now you should have a good idea of what features you should be looking for in your electric bike. The key things to take away from this are that your electric bike should be suitable for the terrain you ride and have features that will make it practical and enjoyable.