In this post, we give you lots of tips on how to choose the best electric bike for you. Learn what to look for before you buy.
What Are Electric Bicycles?
Electric bikes are the most recent iteration of the traditional bike. Many of them look like regular bikes, and without closer inspection, you wouldn’t even know some of them are electric.
But when you look closer at an electric bike, you will see some significant differences. It will have an electric motor and battery mounted somewhere on it. There will also be a controller mounted to the handlebars. These extra components give the bike several advantages over a traditional bike.
How Do Electric Bikes Work?
An electric bike assists your pedalling with an electric motor powered by a sophisticated battery. You still have to put work into the pedals, but the motor amplifies your efforts.
The motor assistance makes riding up hills and into headwinds a lot easier. Many electric bike riders like the fact that their bikes allow them to ride further before getting tired. You can also get to your destination without getting hot and sweaty.
Even though electric bikes assist your pedalling, you can still get a good workout. You can still work just as hard as you would on a regular bike; it’s just that you will be going faster and further.
By choosing a lower assistance level, you can make your ride more intense. Alternatively, increase the assistance to rest your legs.
Electric Bikes vs Regular Bikes
Electric and regular bikes share similar components, such as gears, wheels and handlebars. When you sit on an electric bike, it will feel familiar, as it will have similar geometry to a regular bike. Therefore, the transition to electricity will be natural.
The main difference between electric and regular bikes is the additional weight from the motor and battery. However, this won’t be much of a problem while you ride, thanks to the motor’s assistance. It will become an issue when you are lifting it or riding it with an empty battery.
Electric bikes feel familiar to anyone who has ridden a bike before. The brakes and gears all work in the same way. Brakes, tyres and drivetrain components are more robust to cope with the extra weight and stresses.
When you start to pedal an electric bike, you will feel the motor seamlessly engage. It doesn’t take long to get used to the sensation, but it is very addictive.
What Are The Classes Of Electric Bikes?
Before you buy an electric bike, you need to know what is legal in your part of the world. There are 3 different classes of electric bikes, which will determine what you are allowed to ride.
Class 1: Class 1 electric bikes are also known as “pedelec.” The motor will only engage when you are pedalling. While you are pedalling, the motor assists you up to a limited speed of 20 mph.
These electric bikes are the most affordable while adhering to most local laws. You can ride them on roads and on cycle paths, so they are pretty convenient.
Class 1 electric mountain bikes can be ridden on some mountain bike trails, but not all. So if you want to ride a class 1 electric mountain bike, check if they are permitted on the trails before you set off.
Class 2: These electric bikes are the same as class 1 bikes, but they have an additional feature. These bikes can be ridden with a throttle, so you don’t have to pedal at all.
You can ride class 2 electric bikes in the same places as class 1 bikes. This is because they have the same limited top speed.
Class 3: Class 3 bikes work in the same way as class 1 electric bikes, but their pedal assistance is limited to 28 mph.
Class 3 electric bikes are usually ridden by commuters and businesses. The extra power allows you to carry cargo and climb hills much easier. Even though these bikes are very capable, you can’t always ride them on bike paths or mountain bike trails.
Electric Bike Motors, Batteries And Range
When choosing a new electric bike, you need to consider what motors and batteries they use.
Electric bikes with more power accelerate faster, and their extra torque makes hills much easier. But these powerful motors use more power, running the batteries down more quickly. The issue with this is that your bike’s range is reduced significantly.
It can be tricky to determine an electric bike’s range, as many factors affect it. How hilly your journey is, your weight and how you ride will make a difference to the bike’s range. Heavier riders will use more battery power, as will rides with lots of uphill sections.
By choosing an electric bike with a larger battery, you should be able to ride further on a single charge. The size of a battery is indicated by its “Watt-hours (Wh)”. The Wh number associated with a battery shows you how many hours it can endure 1 Watt of power before it completely depletes.
You also need to look at the motor’s power when trying to see if the bike has a good range. For example, if a 500-watt motor is powered by a 500 Wh battery, it will drain its power more quickly than a 250-watt motor with a 500 Wh battery. For a gross idea of how far your bike’s range is, check out this calculator from Bosch.
How Long Does It Take To Charge An Electric Bike Battery?
Most electric bike batteries take 3 to 5 hours to fully charge from empty, but larger batteries could take longer. If you have a long ride, you may want to buy an additional battery, so you have one charged and ready to go. Alternatively, if you use an electric bike to commute, you could keep an extra charger at work.
What Other Features Should I Consider?
Electric bikes come with some great accessories and features. These enhance the riding experience, increase versatility and keep you safe. Here are some features you should look out for:
Most electric bikes come with lights for riding in low light conditions. Look for bikes with LED lights mounted on both the front and rear.
If you need to carry stuff with you, a bike with cargo racks can make your life much easier. They are strong enough to carry heavy loads and can be fitted to either the bike’s front and rear.
Handlebar-mounted LCD displays
Electric bikes use an LCD display to relay lots of important information to you. It tells you your speed, assistance level and battery life. Make sure the LCD is easy to read, as this is essential when riding through heavy traffic.
You will come across electric bikes that connect to your phone. They will use an app that gives you additional features. It can even tell you its location if it is stolen.
You may come across electric bikes with their own anti-theft systems. Some electric bikes lock the rear wheel to the frame, and the battery can only be removed with a key.
If space is a concern for you, or you want an electric bike with lots of portability, look for one with a folding frame. Foldable electric bikes are compact and very convenient. They open up lots of possibilities for commuting and leisure use.
Step though frames are low, making it easy to mount and dismount the bike. They don’t have a high top tube that you need to swing your leg over. Therefore, if you have mobility issues or wear loose clothing, an electric bike with a step0through frame is an excellent option.
Pedal Assist Levels
Electric bikes generally have 3 to 4 assistance levels to choose from. You can select the assistance level to suit how hard you want to work. For example, if you approach a hill, you can select a higher level. Alternatively, you can select eco mode to extend your range or get some exercise.
As you can see, there are quite a few things to consider when you choose the best electric bike. But to summarise all this, think about the different classes of electric bikes, your required range and what features are important to you. Your budget will be the main determining factor of which electric bike to buy. But, there are some very reasonably priced electric bikes to choose from. Take a look at the ones we have available on our website to get a good idea of what is available.