Are you thinking to buy an electric bike but aren’t sure due to your lack of knowledge about it?
Electric bikes use many advanced technologies to ensure a perfect user experience. However, the same kind of technicalities can oftentimes appear confusing to interested buyers and deter them from buying an electric bike. In this article, we will cover all the nooks and crannies of e-bikes that you need to know pre-purchase.
This is not only going to let you learn more about electric bikes but also help you figure out which one is suitable for you – and ultimately get the right one. So, sit back and read on, as we take you through all the things you need to know before you buy an electric bike!
Some Essential Details
Before we get into the meat of the matter, let us present to you a brief breakdown of some of the most essential details of electric bikes.
For starters, e-bikes come with motors that are the main source of power. Most countries have a maximum limit of 250 W on electric bike motors. However, that’s the limit for continuous power supply – the motor can legally provide more than just 250 W for short bursts.
Moreover, e-bikes should have a top speed of 25 km/h in Europe. (Please contact your local transportation authorities to confirm the legalities of electric bikes in your region).
The main function of the motor is to assist the rider in pedaling their e-bike. This supporting mechanism is most commonly evaluated on a percentage metric, i.e. 300% or 50% pedal-assist (the actual numbers depend on the operating mode you’re using). Having said that, some companies measure the pedal-assist in wattage as well.
E-bikes feature different modes of operation. This distinction is based on how much pedal assistance the motor provides. If you crank up the support mechanism, you will get more assist but less total range of distance. Conversely, the lower the pedal assist, the more the range.
Another noteworthy detail is the torque of the motor – rotational power that helps the rider at the rear end of the vehicle. We will go into depth about the torque separately, but in essence, it is responsible for producing acceleration in the electric bike.
Lastly, the capacity of an electric bike battery is described in terms of watt-hour (a unit of energy). For instance, if you ride a 250 watt e-bike for an hour, such that the motor continuously provides 250 watts, the battery will be fully drained.
Which Type of Electric Bike is Right For You?
With the essential details being covered, the next step is to figure out which type of e-bike you want.
There are a lot of options in the market. Among them, the most common ones are e-mountain bikes, e-road bikes, and e-hybrid bikes. All three types are built on the same fundamental principles that we discussed in the previous section.
However, some variable factors are included in each one to help them excel at what they’re built for. For instance, mountain climbing, traversing roads, or a little bit of both. Let’s see the difference between each one.
E-mountain bikes are equipped with very high torque ratings, which is characteristic for the environment that they’re usually operated in.
High torque production allows e-mountain bikes to function properly off-road, climb steep hills, and not succumb to difficult terrain. Furthermore, with powerful motors and formidable batteries, these bikes are able to take the rider through all sorts of places effortlessly.
Moving on to electric hybrid bikes, we see a similar trend – they too have increased acceleration. E-hybrid bikes can help the rider commute farther distances with less exertion. They are superior to normal bikes in the sense that they are more vigorous in terms of the pedal-assist they can provide.
Moreover, a lot of e-hybrid bikes are foldable, so in addition to a powerful motor and battery, they are also highly portable and easy to store.
When it comes to e-road bikes, you shouldn’t be looking for a high-end torque rating or a massive power output. Most companies are trying to give their e-road bikes the general feeling that a cyclist gets from a road bike. Extremely powerful motors shouldn’t be at the top of your priority list when it comes to electric road bikes, as they aren’t built to climb very steep hills or withstand mountainous terrain.
That sums up the most common types of electric bikes available in the market. We recommend contemplating what exactly are you looking for in an e-bike, and then make the right choice out of the three options we presented.
In this section, we will go over some important things that you should look out for before you buy an electric bike. These include battery capacity, motor placement, the effectiveness of the pedal-assist, cadence, the charging process, torque rating, and much more. Let’s delve into each one individually.
A controversial topic among the e-bike community is battery capacity. This is so because it strongly affects the overall riding experience of an electric bike, and therefore must be credited the attention it merits.
E-mountain bikes have large battery capacities since their riding process is intensive and demanding, whereas e-road bikes are on the average end of the battery capacity spectrum.
Moreover, e-road bikes have relatively smaller voltage capacities, since the size of the overall power system affects the total weight. This allows them to provide more range since the battery won’t be assisting you too frequently (thanks to the lower weight of e-road bikes) as you go above the 25 km/h mark
Next on the list is motor placement.
There are two options when it comes to motor placement on e-bikes – mid vs hub drive. The latter is set up such that the motor rests on the rear hub of the electric bike, whereas the battery is placed in a tube.
There are many brands that opt for this configuration, and reasonably so, as it creates a “normal looking bike”. This type of motor placement also lowers the overall weight of the bike.
On the other hand, mid-drive placement puts the weight lower down on the middle bracket of the electric bike. It is argued that this system of motor placement increases stability and improves the handling of the bike.
Moreover, it complements your gears, therefore increasing efficiency.
Now, let’s talk about the torque rating.
It is clear that this property of e-bikes has a dramatically strong effect on the overall riding experience, and must be taken into consideration properly. Some companies abide by the rule of setting a relatively low torque rating in order to produce a natural feel to their product, whereas others favor large torque to make their e-bikes more powerful and intensive.
Having lower torque can be taken as a disadvantage to some and an advantage to others. In the former case, it doesn’t surge your ride too powerfully very frequently, and in the latter, you don’t have to input too much labor into riding your electric bike.
So, it really is a matter of personal preference, and we leave it up to you to decide where you stand.
Pedal Assist Sensor
Another important factor to take into consideration is the type of pedal assist sensor.
The electric bikes that use cadence sensors are very indulgent in terms of how much they contribute to your ride, whereas the ebikes with torque sensors feature a natural ride feel that you’d get from a normal bike. This too is a factor that relies on personal preference.
We recommend trying out various models and seeing which one you find the most suitable.
Next up we have the charging of an electric bike. You must take this into account as well since it greatly affects the overall logistics of how you operate your e-bikes.
There are companies that manufacture their e-bikes to have removable/upgradable batteries. It means you can take the battery out of the structure and charge it or change it to a new/better one.
On the other hand, some e-bikes have batteries built into them. It saves room and increases portability. Moreover, it is worth mentioning that you can get additional batteries for most e-bikes, which can increase the overall range.
Range can be a dealbreaker for many e-bike enthusiasts, therefore you must contemplate it before making a purchase.
The range of an electric bike heavily depends on the motor and battery. The maximum power output and the battery capacity coupled with how much pedal assist you’re using determines the range of an electric bike. The average range of an e-bike can be anywhere between 20 and 100 miles.
Also, it is advised that you take these numbers with a grain of salt, as the range or overall performance of an electric bike can vary according to other factors. These include rider weight, temperature, elevation, wind resistance, tire pressure, and so on.
So, make sure to include these factors in your estimations before you buy an electric bike.
Choosing a Retailer
Now that we’ve given you all the technical details that affect your e-bike purchase, the next step is to carefully choose a retailer/ online store. There are three key elements to choosing a retailer – quality, commitment, and intuition.
You must assess if the staff is knowledgeable, courteous and friendly, and most importantly helpful. It will determine their customer support quality. In other words, it reflects on your purchase in the long run if you happen to run into some problems with your electric bike.
Make sure to trust your intuition. The vibe one gets from a place, person, or even an online store is pertinent to making a wise purchase.
Warranty is Important
Let’s now talk about the warranty. Buying an electric bike is a huge investment – it could be $500 or $10,000. Regardless of how much money you spent on it, having a warranty will make you feel secure about your purchase.
Most manufacturers offer a two-year warranty on the motor, battery, and parts for products with price points around $2000. Two years is a reasonable and honest warranty for e-bikes. So, make sure you get a similar number when you go and buy an electric bike.
So, that was all you need to know to buy an electric bike!
We discussed all the necessary details one needs to be aware of before buying an electric bike. There are several types of e-bikes available for purchase, and all of them pertain to different styles of use.
The technical details we discussed are extremely important to take into consideration. Lastly, choosing a good retailer is also very important for buying an electric bike.
Check out our range of electric bikes here.