In the market for an e-bike?
E-bikes have been rapidly growing in popularity in the past few years. Formerly frowned upon as a bike for the lazy or the nerds, today's e-bike is embraced by both the seasoned and the novice cyclist. However, growing popularity means growing options when it comes to e-bikes. If you are wanting to make an investment in an e-bike, there are some important aspects to consider. Pricing of e-bikes generally relates directly to design, power and battery life. For every rider the ideal formula is different, so we’ve arranged this quick guide to help you choose the perfect e-bike.
#1 Pedal Assist vs. Throttle
Pedal-Assist bikes provide power to the rider while he or she is pedaling. Riding an electric bike equipped with a pedal-assist motor is often said to feel like a regular bike ride, helping you get further quickly and requiring less energy on longer rides. You can only gain extra power when you are pedaling, and the bike has no on-demand power, like that of throttle control bikes. This may also play a big factor in the conservation of your battery life. The more you pedal the further you can go in a single charge. Throttle control is most similar to a motorcycle. When you engage the throttle, power is sent to the wheels to propel you forward. If you’re using Throttle only, your battery is more likely to wear out faster on a single charge.
#2 Type of Motor
Mid-Drive: Mid Drive motors are located on the cranks of the bike. They are known for high performance and torque because they drive the crank instead of the wheel itself. Because the motor is at the cranks of the bike, it provides centered weight distribution while making it easy to remove the front and rear wheels for maintenance. They are great for off-road e-bikes because the motor will not be impacted by the vibrations of rocky roads.
Mid drive motors tend to be on the louder side, especially when you get to the higher gear levels. They can be efficient, but you have to make sure you are in the correct gear at all times in order to get the most out of the motor, whereas hub motors can be more forgiving. Prices of mid drive motors also tend to run higher than prices of hub motors.
Front Hub: Front hub motors are placed in the middle of the front wheel and give you the sensation of being pulled, similar to a front wheel drive car. They are typically low cost and are easy to install and remove because there are no gear systems to deal with. They are better for riding on flat land. However because the weight is in front, there is a tendency for the wheel to spin when accelerating on loose roads or steep hills.
Rear Hub: Rear hub motors are ideal for commuter e-bikes due to their light weight and simplicity. They are easier on the drive train (chain, cassette, derailleur, cranks) because they turn the wheel to propel the rider forward instead of putting additional pressure on the cranks. Because the weight is in the rear, there is significantly less opportunity for the wheel to spin out on loose road conditions, making it great for hill climbing and those rainy days in the city! With the rear hub motor being smaller it often times go unnoticed while being almost silent when operating, making it perfect for commuter e-bikes while also being the most economical choice.
#3 Style & Sitting Position
The style of your e-bike is crucial for comfort. Ask yourself, do you want to ride sitting up? Or leaning forward? Relaxed? Do you need a place to carry your things? How wide do you want your seat to be? This process is very similar to choosing a cycle or motorcycle, it’s all about the experience you’re looking to have with your e-bike. Choosing your favorite riding style can really make a difference depending on if you’re using your e-bike for recreation or if you’re going to be using it on your daily commute. Today, you can also find sturdy mountain e-bikes and sleek road e-bikes. The electric bike has moved out of the commuter realm into all styles of cycling.
#4 Range & Battery Life
Most standard e-bikes will provide 20-35 mi range (distance you can travel on a single charge), depending on the conditions and how much pedal power you are providing. Check the range and battery life based on how and why you are using an e-bike. This particular factor may also add to the weight of the e-bike overall. Remember, you probably don’t want to have to haul a 100lb e-bike around. Lighter bikes have smaller batteries, but there are plenty of options that can give you a good middle of the road choice.
#5 Power & Max Speed
Depending on your use of your e-bike, the max speed may be of critical importance. Check out the maximum speed of your e-bike before making your decision. Max speeds typically range from 20 to 50 mph. But remember, the legal speed you can go on an e-bike in the US is 20 mph. Power is another key factor as different e-bikes have different abilities to climb up hills. When comparing different e-bike models, it's important to consider the power offered on each model. The best way to determine if the bike suits your needs is to test it out!