With the growing popularity of eBikes, many people who were once into cycling are recognizing that now is a great time to get involved in the sport again. However, the trouble for many people who have fallen away from the sport is trying to figure out which eBike is best suited for them. What kind motor should they go with, and how does weight matter in the equation? Is suspension important in an eBike, and what kind of battery do you need? How do you know you’re spending too much money for an eBike, and how do you know you’re not buying something cheap that will break down after a few months? We answer all of these questions and more, so whether it’s been a few months or a few years, here are the top things to know when it comes for returning cyclists interesting in getting into electric bikes:
Step 1: What do you Want the eBike to Do? Picking out your Frame:
Something that is going to save you a lot of grief is determining what you want to use your eBike for. Just like traditional bicycles, many eBikes are designed with specific sports, activities, and performance in mind. Do you want something for mountain biking, or something that is more accommodating for older or recovering athletes? Do you plan on riding in the city, whether it be to commute to work or to cruise along a board walk? Are you interested in a fast bicycle you can ride across the country with, or a hybrid eBike that can do a little bit of everything?
Start your search by asking yourself what activity you will be spending the majority of your time engaging in with a new electric bike. Focus on the bikes optimized for the specific activity, or look at general all-around/hybrid eBikes if you want something that can do a little bit of everything.
Step 2: Do you Prefer Price or Performance? Picking out your Motor:
Once you have determined what you want to do with your eBike, we can greatly narrow down your search by going over whether you want optimal performance, or prefer to save some money. The reason why we ask this question is because it helps us answer what type of motor you will want for your eBike.
Electric bikes typically come in two varieties: mid-drive motors and hub-drive motors. Mid-drive motors provide a more natural feel while riding, pushing in the center and concentrating the added electronic weight around the pedal area. Hub-drive motors add many electrical components to the front or rear wheel, which shifts the total bike weight and also tends to make it rather jerky when you first activate your motor. Other differences include that mid-drive motors require less maintenance, mid-drive motors will travel three to five times farther than a hub-drive motor, and that mid-drive motors look better and enclose more of the electronic components than a mid-drive motor.
Ultimately, mid-drive motors are effectively better than mid-drive motors in most regards, but the one area where mid-drive motors have the clear advantage is the price. In fact, the difference between a mid-drive motor eBike and a hub-drive motor eBike can be $1,000 to $2,000 dollars. If you prefer peak performance and intend to ride an eBike often, you will definitely want to narrow your search to mid-drive motors. If you are just getting back into cycling and want a more casual riding experience, and you don’t mind sticking with good rather than great eBikes, then you’ll save a lot of money by just buying the hub-drive motor eBike instead.
As a final note, you might be wondering about the size of the motor you need for your eBike. That is a very complicated question to answer, to the point that it has its own dedicated blog post. If you would like to learn more about motor sizes, you are welcome to visit our article discussing motor sizes at this link. Otherwise, the simplest answer is that you should read a review on the specific eBike you’re thinking about buying, or ask a eBike expert their opinion to find out how it will perform in any given environment.
Step 3: How Far Do You Want to Travel? Picking out your Battery:
This step is often performed automatically, since less than half of the eBikes we’ve reviewed even give you the option to upgrade the battery as you complete your order. If you can choose your eBike battery, then the answer to this question is very similar to the last one, where you’ll want to consider whether you prefer a greater traveling range or to save money.
We also want to explain a bit about how battery ranges work. Electric bikes typically have multiple motor assist levels you can choose from, allowing you to prioritize range or motor power at any given time. With greater motor power, you’ll accelerate faster and have the power to climb steep hills, but you’ll drain the battery faster as a result. Alternatively, picking a lower motor assist level will drain the battery slower, but it also means your motor won’t provide as much power while you’re riding your eBike.
Managing your motor power assist level while you’re riding will help you balance these two factors, letting you travel farther on a single charge while also helping you quickly reach the motor speed limit on your eBike. Something else to consider is that eBike batteries are fairly quick to recharge, though the total time needed depends on the size of the charger along with the size of the battery. Typically, expect to spend anywhere between 3 to 6 hours to recharge your battery, with 2 amp chargers being the industry standard and 4 amp chargers being the premium industry option.
Step 4: What Else Do You Need? Picking out your Accessories:
If you’ve made it this far, you’ve likely narrowed your search to just a couple eBikes to compare and consider. If you don’t have one that grabs your attention, start comparing the accessories each eBike comes with. While one model might be very inexpensive, does it have the standard setup you want for a safe and enjoyable ride? Fenders, headlights, tail lights, bells, kickstands, reflective pedals, reflective tires, cargo racks, and other accessories are all great inclusions that can also explain the differences in price between different eBike models. If you’re still not quite sure about which eBike model you need, look over each accessory and upgrade it comes with, and make note of what you might need to add if you picked one eBike over another.
Conclusion: Ask a Expert or Read a Review if You’re Stuck:
There are a ton of great eBikes out there, to the point that we know it can be very difficult to choose an eBike that is best suited for a rider and their individual needs. Making it more difficult is that you probably haven’t kept up with industry trends, and won’t be aware of the latest and greatest innovations in the biking industry. If you’re lost or just want a good base to start, you are more than welcome to leave a comment below or send us any questions you may have. Our website, Best Electric Bikes, is meant to be a resource that expert cyclists and new or returning biking enthusiasts can all enjoy, and a resource that will help everyone learn more about eBikes each and every day. So if you’re shopping around for a new electric bike, let us know what you’re interested in and visit our reviews to find out more about your next potential purchase!