Electric Bicycle Buyer’s Guide: All You Need to Know
If you are a fan of cycling, you might have probably noticed that more people are now buying electric bicycles (e-bikes) than conventional models. The reason behind this trend is that e-bikes make it a lot easier to cover long distances with a bicycle, making cycling enjoyable even for people who use it to commute to work.
And when it comes to the fun side of cycling, well, the opportunities are now endless, from climbing mountains to cross country cycling for the average cycling enthusiast, no problem!
With a range of options to choose from, finding the right bike to suit your needs can be quite challenging. If you are struggling to identify the perfect e-bike, worry not. This detailed guide will inform on all you know about these bicycles, including how to find the ideal ride as well the best options in the market.
What is an Electric Bike – the revolution in cycling
An electric bike differs from a regular one in that it has an inbuilt electric motor that helps the rider in propelling it forward. The assistances come in several forms, including hub assist and pedal assistance. The latter, however, is more popular than the former.
As you pedal an electric bike, you can adjust the motor so that it goes faster or slower, depending on your preferences. That said, these bikes can go no faster than 25 kilometers per hour. This speed restriction means that you do need a license to own an e-bike, as you would do if you had a scooter or any other motorized vehicle.
Types of Electric Bicycles
It essential to know the different types of e-bikes available in the market before you go shopping. They include:
- Electric cargo bikes
- Electric commuter bikes
- Electric cruiser bikes
- Electric fat bikes
- Electric folding bikes
- Electric mountain bikes
- Other specialty bikes
Electric Cargo Bikes
As the name suggests, the primary function of cargo e-bikes is ferrying goods. They are not attractive, not sporty, but they are useful.
A typical electric cargo bike has a front bucket that allows the rider to load their goods. Some have the carrier at the back.
To ensure that they have the same dimensions as regular bikes, some cargo e-bikes have a frame that is stretched at the rear end so that you can carry goods on either side of the rear wheel.
Electric Commuter Bikes
These are the most common type of electric bicycles, perfect for commuting. Also known as road e-bikes, electric commuter bikes come in multiple forms. Some popular variants include hybrids and leisure bikes.
The most common features of commuter e-bikes are narrow tires, narrow saddles, lack of suspension, lightweight design, and a forward-leaning geometry.
Electric commuter bikes are ideal for people who take riding as a hobby and mostly cycle on streets. Because of their exceptional efficiency, you can ride these bikes without electric assistance. This is particularly important for people who want help when riding uphill.
Electric Cruiser Bikes
Electric cruiser bikes such as the Tower Beach Bum (what a name!) in the photo above, emphasize comfort and stylishness – their objective is to make the rider cruise.
A standard cruiser e-bike has a wide and cozy seat, as well as handlebars that positioned towards the rider. Pedals are placed forward than in regular bikes to allow the cyclist to rest both feet flat on the ground when they stop.
Although they offer an exciting riding experience, cruiser e-bikes tend to be larger and heavier than other electric bicycles. This means that they can be challenging to handle, especially at slow speeds.
Electric Fat Tire Bikes
If you want an e-bike for amazing comfort, where you can stop peddling anytime you like, then a fat tire bike is the right choice. The momentum that the weight of the bike generates helps it charge when you’re slowing down (called regenerative braking). These bikes feel like you’re riding on the moon and are my favorite. A great example is the MZZK bike that you can see in the photo above.
Fat e-bikes have wheels measuring at least four inches that help them move over any surface. They also lack suspension since the large tires absorb the shock generated by hitting bumps and potholes. Those bikes are a lot more for pleasure than for commuting. It is quite hard to pick it up and it’s quite big to carry on trains or airplanes.
Electric Folding Bikes
Folding e-bikes are becoming more polar among riders because of their portability. When folded, these bicycles can fit into a suitcase. If you want a bike that you can carry everywhere you go, this is your best bet.
The problem with folding bikes is that they are often heavier than other e-bikes. Also, some models have low-quality parts, making them more susceptible to damage. The use of low-quality components usually results from the compromises made by the manufacturers to prevent the cost of the bike from becoming too expensive.
Electric Mountain Bikes
Electric mountain bikes are renowned for their versatility, as they can move over any surface, both on streets and off-road. Most of them do not have rear suspension – instead, they have a front suspension fork. While this is not suitable for hard-core riding, you should not experience issues when you encounter a few bumps and potholes.
If you want to use your bike o downhill mountain biking, you will have to purchase a specialised mountain e-bike. These have a unique design that enables them to withstand extremities such as dropping off 3-meter tables and frequent jumping. You will, however, need to dig deeper into your pockets.
Other Specialty Electric Bikes
Besides the options mentioned above, there are other types of electric bicycles.
For instance, electric tandem bicycles have two seats and two sets of pedals. These are ideal for people who want to use less energy when pedaling or want to be closer to each other as they cycle.
Electric tricycles are ideal for people with mobility issues or have inadequate leg strength to use standard bicycles.
Lastly, recumbent e-bikes have a seat that is more laid back than typical bicycle seats. They look like go-karts. However, it would be best if you used a safety flag to enable other users to see you if you have an electric recumbent bike.
Factors to Consider Before Purchasing an Electric Bicycle
Besides the type, here are some other factors that you need to consider before purchasing an electric bicycle.
The motor of an e-bike powers the entire unit. It consists of a drive unit, a control unit, wiring, and a battery pack.
Most bike manufacturers source motors from companies such as Bosch and Yamaha. However, a few makers are now integrating proprietary displays and drive units into the motors of their electric bikes.
The size of the motor depends on the intended use of an e-bike. The three major types are rear hub motors, front hub motors, and pedelec motors. The first two can fit onto standard bicycles, which is why they are cheaper than pedelec motors.
On the other hand, pedelec motors are more efficient and provide a better cycling experience. More importantly, they have a sensor that measures your pedaling speed and relays the information to the drive unit.
Most models in the market have three to five levels of assistance.
The lowest assistance level is known as the Eco mode. It is ideal when you want to ride for a long distance, with some manufacturers claiming that it has a maximum range of 100km. On this mode, the bike provides an assistance level ranging between 25% and 80% of the maximum.
The second level is the normal mode, where the bike matches your efforts by up to 150%. As a result of the increased assistance levels, the range becomes shorter. Also, the bike will have more torque when accelerating from a standing start.
While on the standby mode, the bike operates the same way as a conventional bike. Here, the display unit only shows basic metrics, such as the distance covered.
If you want maximum assistance, you have to set the e-bike at the high mode. This is particularly useful when you are cycling uphill on steep terrains. The problem, however, is that the batteries drain faster and the range gets shortened. This mode is best used for short trips or on rare occasions.
Batteries and Charging
The capacity of the batteries on your e-bike has a significant influence on its range and performance. Although most bikes have one inbuilt battery pack, some options allow users to install additional packs, which also increases the range.
Over time, the battery will get depleted. When this happens, you can restore the energy by plugging the supplied charger onto a wall socket.
The time it takes for a complete charge depends on the capacity of the battery, the amount of current supplied by the charger, and the voltage of the electricity in your country. In most cases, a full charge from 0% to 100% takes between three to five hours. You can, however, get faster chargers from the manufacturer of your bike.
Similar to other electric systems, e-bike use lithium-ion batteries. Their estimated lifespan is three to five years or 1,000 cycles of charging. It is advisable to avoid discharging your battery entirely to prolong its life. You should also use genuine chargers.
Most buyers tend to overlook the size of the frame when shopping for an electric bike. If the structure is either oversized or undersized, it can ruin your cycling experience. Make sure that you test the bike for comfort before purchasing it. Alternatively, you can read the guidelines by the manufacturer to help you find the right frame size.
Because they are heavier than standard bikes, e-bikes need better brakes. That said, the only difference between these brakes is that the ones on e-bikes are larger.
Electric bicycles can be bought from around $400-500 (the cheapest) up to 6-7 or more thousand dollars when it comes to all-terrain electric bikes, such as the Vangcoki Exclusive.
Surprisingly, the differentiating factor on e-bike pricing is the quality of the bicycle components rather than electric elements. Most models at entry-level and mid-range have similar electrical parts. It is above this level that these bikes start having exclusive features.
Have in mind the cheapest e-bikes will always lack in quality of materials or features. We personally recommend going for mid-range prices, as that’d ensure decent quality, good customer service and warranty support.
Here are a few electric bicycles we recommend
Our Pick: the SixThreeZero Around the block electric bicycle
It can be ridden both in full electric mode (covering up to 40 miles) as well as a pedal-assist mode where it can go up to 60 miles on coverage.
It has 7-speed Shimano Tourney derailleur, standard 26-inch wheels for comfy, cushioned rides. Two-disc brakes ensure complete safety. Whether you want to go to the grocery store, visit a friend, go to the beach, or simply commute to work on a daily basis, the SixThreeZero is a perfect fit for that.
Persons above 12 years of age and up to 25 pounds can use it comfortably.
Now that you know what to look for when shopping for an e-bike, here are a few of the best models available in the market.
The ECOTRIC Fat Tire Beach Snow e-bike promises to transform the way you commute. Whether you want to avoid traffic jams or simply want to reduce your carbon footprint, this is your best bet.
With a removable long-life battery rated at 36 volts and 12 ampere-hours, this bike enables you to travel the entire day on a single full charge. Moreover, you can carry the battery around and replace it quickly when it gets depleted.
Another impressive feature of this bicycle is its anti-skidding tires that allow to cycle over any surface, including snow, sand and other complex topography.
Regarding safety, ECOTRIC included a mechanical braking system and an outdoor braking system. These work in tandem to ensure that you have full control over the 7-speed system fitted on the bike.
Pros of the Ecotric Fat tire bike:
- Easy to assemble
- Inbuilt odometer
- USB charging port inbuilt into the display
- Fast acceleration
- Excellent battery life
- Uncomfortable seat
- can be challenging to use for short riders
- obsolete assembly instructions
I-PAS had female riders in mind when designing this electric bike. Its standout feature is the proprietary Intelligent Power Assist System that helps in improving the efficiency of the motor and conserving battery levels. As a result, the bike has a range of 80 miles, which way longer than typical e-bikes.
Besides, the system mentioned above powers a 48-volt 500W high-speed brushless gear motor, enabling the bike to attain a maximum speed of 28 mph.
Cycling on steep uphill gradients is easier using this bicycle thanks to its high-performance safety system. It has fat tires that prevent skidding and can adapt to all types of terrain. Moreover, this model uses brakes made by Tektro, a company renowned for manufacturing reliable braking systems.
To enhance the comfort and safety of the cyclist, this product has a sturdy frame made by double-layer thick pipe technology. The aluminum allows frame is also foldable, which increases the portability of this electric bicycle.
- Integrated carrier for carrying goods and children
- A sturdy frame that does not bend easily
- Incredible range
- Efficient power consumption
- Soft compound tires get punctures easily
Eahora mountain electric bike – for the bumpier roads
If you want an electric bike that strikes the right balance between aesthetics and performance, look no further than the Eahora XC100 Mountain Electric Bike.
This product uses the unique E-PAS technology that controls the 350W brushless motor and the drive unit. The manufacturer claims that this technology can increase the range by up to 40% without compromising on the power and speed of the bike. Even better, the drive unit has a mute functionality that reduces the noise produced by the motor when riding.
Additionally, Eahora packed in a 48V removable 10.4 aH battery that enables the bike to accelerate and climb steep hills effortlessly, as well as provide assisted travel of up to 50 miles on a single charge. The battery is concealed to prevent it from falling off or attracting the attention of potential thieves.
Eahora also included several features to provide more safety to users. The bike has Tektro mechanical disc brakes on both wheels to regulate the torque generated by the seven-speed Shimano shifter.
Since it has a plug-and-play wiring system, you do not need to be an expert in rearing this bicycle. The manufacturer assembles 80 % of the components, so you only have to do 20%of the job. Even if you experience any difficulties, you can always contact the online support team which is available 24/7.
Lastly, this bike allows you to select your preferred riding model using the LED display. These are the electric mode, the fitness mode, and the PAS mode. The electric mode is ideal if you are riding for a long distance, the fitness mode is perfect for exercising, and the PAS mode enables you to customize your riding experience. It is worth noting that you can activate all three simultaneously.
- The maximum load capacity is 220 lbs. (100 kg)
- Bright LED headlights that light up automatically in the night
- Waterproof and password protected LCD unit
- Ergonomic handlebars for enhanced comfort
- Excellent range of up to 80 miles
- It does not have a carrier
Extrbici XF650 Fat Tire Electric Bike
According to Extrbici, they launched the XF650 Mountain e-bike to meet the demands of their clients and improve the quality of their products.
You can choose among three working models, normal (which works like a standard bicycle), e-bike, and assisted. The e-bike mode is best suited for individuals who want to exercise by riding for a long distance.
Despite its beautiful appearance, this bike has an impressive performance. It is powered by a 48V 1000W brushless hub motor that enables it to cruise at an incredible 42 kph. The estimated maximum range of the throttle model is 90 kilometers.
The XF650 has a 6601 aluminum allow the frame and a front suspension fork that makes it sturdy enough to withstand riding under all types of terrain. This means that you can use this e-bike both on city roads and off-road hills.
As part of their offer, the manufacturer of this product encourages customers to contact them if they experience any issues. All messages get answered within 24 hours after enquiring.
- Breathable seat with an ergonomic design
- 5-star hydraulic disc brakes
- IP65 waterproof rating
- Fast charging and impressive battery life
- Comprehensive display unit
- Since it is new, most of the features are as claimed by the manufacturer
The NCM Prague prides itself as the most exciting mountain e-bike in the market. According to its makers, it not offers value for money, but it also provides a fun riding experience.
The Suntour XCT suspension fork ensures that this model performs optimally everywhere, particularly o steep climbs. It also has Tektro mechanical brakes to make stopping faster and safer.
In a bid to add more functionality and comfort to this bicycle, NCM paid more attention to ergonomics and positioning of components. It features an advanced LCD display that shows crucial information such as the remaining battery life, distance covered, and so forth.
Finally, the Prague has resilient wheels and a suspension system that make it safe to cycle on roads that can be tricky to navigate using a standard bike.
- High contrast advanced LCD display
- The maximum load capacity is 275 lbs. (125 kg)
- Long-lasting 468Wh battery
- Ergonomic grips
- The derailleur slips on the middle gear
Which electric bike do we recommend
Of the options mentioned above, we recommend getting the Eahora XC100 mountain e-bike. It offers the best value for money and comes with an array of exciting features. We were particularly impressed by the password protection on the dashboard, as this ensures that nobody can access the data on your bicycle.
Although the Extrbici Xf650 has its share of enticing features, would not recommend it since its new to the market. It is much better to go for the more established brands.
Maintenance of electric bicycles – is it expensive?
Electric motors tend to produce a lot of torque that affects the condition of tires and other moving parts on electric bicycles, make sure that you shift the gears properly, as forcing it can cause damage to the drive unit. Moreover, you should inspect the drivetrain and the tires regularly for signs of wear.
Electric bicycles aren’t as complicated as motorbikes, and maintaining them isn’t as expensive as you’d think.
We believe that this article has exhausted all you need to know about electric bicycles. As the world tries to find ways to conserve the environment, these bikes are gaining popularity, and having such knowledge is crucial.
If you found the information on this piece useful, do not hesitate to share it with friends and family. Similarly, if you have further questions about the topic, feel free to write a comment below or fill in the contact form.