Are you looking for a greener, more active way to commute to work — or are you just looking for a new “toy” to play around with? If you’re considering investing in a bicycle with an electric motor, you’re in good company. Sales have surged in recent years, and the e-bike business is now a $1 billion + industry.
The only issue? These bikes aren’t exactly cheap. A top-quality, brand-new model will inevitably set you back several thousands of dollars. It’s a great investment if you know you’ll enjoy and benefit from it (nearly) every day, but you won’t want to take the plunge until you do your research.
That’s where this guide comes in! We’ll cover the experiential aspects of riding electric bikes and then dive right into some of the specs you’ll want to keep in mind when you go shopping!
- What’s It Like to Ride an E-Bike?
If there are any universal truths about gadgets, this one would definitely top the list — you’ll only use it regularly if you actively enjoy the experience or value what it provides. We’ll just assume you already know how to ride a normal bike. While you enjoy the experience, you would welcome the assistance an electric motor provides.
Are you ready to get on your new bike? Here’s a glimpse at what it feels like.
- Tailwind? Bring It On!
You’ll always feel like an “easy rider” with a constant tailwind in your back when you use electric assistance. The motor makes it significantly easier to cycle uphill and confront headwinds. If you want to use your bike as an efficient mode of transportation, the electric motor also allows you to cover much longer distances in much less time. Even better, there’s almost zero chance you’ll be out of breath when you reach your destination.
Get this, though — you and the bike are partners. E-bikes aren’t a great option for people who prefer traditional bicycles or mopeds, because they don’t give you the best of both worlds:
- It isn’t a “moped lite.” You always have to peddle. You can’t just sit back and steer while your bike takes you to your destination.
- It also isn’t a bicycle with extra features. While e-bicycles do allow you to peddle without assistance, they’re not designed for the purpose. The extra weight the motor and battery add makes them much heavier than normal bikes.
- Exercise and Transportation
An e-bike is a great solution for you if you want to ride a bicycle for fun and fitness but would welcome a little extra help. These multi-purpose modes of transportation are also, however, wonderful for commuters and delivery people.
- A Greener Path
Because e-bikes don’t emit any carbon, they’re an eco-friendly alternative to cars or mopeds. People looking to carve out a more sustainable lifestyle but also need to get places will likely discover that bikes with electric motors and batteries have a place in their lives.
- Shopping Tips
Are you ready to go shopping? Be careful — because not all electric bikes are top-quality. Consider these points.
- Motor Placement
The motor can be placed on the front wheel, rear wheel, or on the bike’s midframe. Rear-wheel and midframe motors offer a more intuitive riding experience, while many riders find front-wheel placements annoying,
- Assistance Levels
You’ll want a bike with multiple assistance levels. This gives you the freedom to decide how much help you need, allowing you to do more work when you’re up to it and get a break when you’re tired, or conditions are tough.
- Speed Limits
Are you a fast rider? Avoid models that limit the speed at which they’ll assist you, because they’ll constantly slow you down.
You have a few things to consider when it comes to batteries. For starters, batteries with more amps last longer — allowing you to cover longer distances. If you plan to use your bike a lot, you’ll also want a model with removable batteries. This allows you to use one while the other charges. Be aware that batteries degrade over time. You’ll want to be able to replace them as needed.
As with traditional bikes, electric ones can be equipped with multiple gears. A seven-year system makes adjusting the speed and assistance effortless, which is crucial if you plan to be an all-terrain rider.
Looking for a smooth experience? The bike’s suspension can help with that. You can purchase bicycles with front, rear, and full suspension. They make all-terrain rides much more enjoyable!
- Frame Material
Most frames are constructed from steel, aluminum, or carbon fiber. Aluminum and carbon fiber are lightweight and rust-resistant, but steel is more durable.
If you plan to ride in wet and muddy conditions, look for a bike with high ingress protection. Make sure all your components are made from waterproof materials, and consider belts over chains. Belt covers will make your bike even more durable.
- Considerations for Buying Used Bikes
Buying a second-hand model can save a lot of money, but these bikes can also end up being more trouble than they’re worth.
Always inquire about the battery’s lifespan (since it degrades over time), check the bike for visible signs of wear and tear, and always ask about the maintenance history. Never buy a used electric bike without taking it for a test drive first!
- Read Reviews
If you’re shopping for a new bicycle, look up reviews for any model you’re interested in. Don’t limit yourself to one website, and look for reputable reviewers who can prove they’ve actually used the bike — for example, those with YouTube videos showing it in action.
- A Final Word
While there’s definitely more to the world of electric bikes than we managed to cover, we hope this quick guide gives you a helpful starting point as you consider whether it’s the right option for you. If you’re looking for a reliable green ride, bicycles with electric motors can be absolute game-changers. Choose right, and your ride will serve you well for years to come!