What to Look For in an Electric Bike – Buyer’s Guide
What Type of e-bike do I Need?
The first thing is to figure out where you’ll ride your electric bike since they are designed for different purposes.
Electric bikes are specially designed for activities like relaxed beach cruising, mountain riding, road riding, urban commuting, among others.
So, the question to ask yourself before committing your money on an e-bike is where you intend to ride it.
Electric mountain bike
An electric mountain bike is primarily designed for exploring mountain and wilderness areas.
As such, it’s tough, heavier, and more powerful than others to tackle obstacles like logs and rocks.
Electric City Bikes (Cruisers)
Electric cruiser bikes are meant for riding around city streets and having fun. They are retro stylish and have fatter tires than normal bikes.
Moreover, they are comfortable to sit on in an upright position, which makes them good for cruising around town.
Electric Road Bikes
These are electric bikes that have their motor and battery located in their sleeves just like a Giant Road-E +.
They also don’t entirely rely on the riders pedaling power. The bikes, however, are not as strong as hybrid bikes.
Electric Hybrid Bikes
Electric Hybrid bikes are a blend between mountain and road bikes, a mix that gives them sturdiness and speed respectively.
This makes them stronger than electric road bikes but not as heavy as mountain bikes. If you want to bike on local trails or commute to work, the electric hybrid bike is the best choice.
Folding Electric Bikes
These types are compactly designed and are lighter than usual bikes. They have smaller wheels and wheelbases. They are perfect for biking in traffic with their upright sitting position.
Their lightness makes them a perfect choice for combined commuting services since you can fold them up and carry them into trains.
What Class of Electric Bike Should I Get?
The most common classes of e-bikes are pedelec (class 1) and throttle (class 2). The most popular is the pedelec.
It features pedaling motor assistance that automatically boosts your pedaling depending on the force rate and speed of pedaling.
A throttle class operates through a twist-and-go switch to activate motor assistance. Therefore, pick your preferred class.
Electric bikes come in two main drive classes. It can either come as pedelec or throttle – twist and go.
The pedelec or Class 1 type provides automatic motor assistance determined by the rate, speed, and force of your pedaling.
Once you attain the maximum speed, it automatically cuts off motor assistance. The throttle or Class 2 switch-and-go types need activation to offer motor assistance.
The trigger is the throttle on the handlebar and is twisted to trigger motor assistance.
The other is Speed Pedelec or Class-3 that in most areas is considered a motor vehicle thus requires a license.
What Material is Used for an Electric Bicycle’s Frame?
The e-bike frame ought to be tough since it determines not only the durability and sturdiness of the bike, but also its aesthetic appearance. Most models feature aluminum alloys or carbon fiber as frame materials. Nonetheless, steel and titanium are also used to make frames. Due to their heavier properties, they are not commonly used. Aluminum is the most preferred because it is lighter and less expensive.
- Steel: Steel can be used in making electric frames since they are sturdy, and easy to mold. However, it rusts if not painted well. The downside is that the frames are heavier than those made of titanium and aluminum.
- Aluminum: Although this alloy is not as sturdy as steel, it is an excellent material for making frames. Aluminum frames, however, are overbuilt to prevent cracking.
- Titanium: It’s difficult to work with and the need for a controlled welding atmosphere escalates its costs. However, it’s strong and corrosion resistant. It is heavier than aluminum but not as heavy as steel.
- Carbon Fiber: When carbon fiber is properly reinforced, it makes a good frame material. The frame can keep up with tension although it can crumple if hard compressed.
Which Motor is Used in an Electric Bike?
Electric bike motors are named according to where they are mounted. The main types are hub motors and mid-drive (crank) motors. Hub motors are often poor at tackling hills and are quieter compared to crank motors. Although crank motors are a bit noisy depending on the brand, they efficiently handle steep hills. Regardless of the type, consider picking a motor brand from highly reputable firms like Yamaha, Shimano, or Bosch.
The motor is the heart of an electric bike. It’s located either in the center frame or in one of the hubs. Its location significantly influences a bike’s capabilities and determines how it operates.
- Front Hub Motor: This one is mostly used with throttle systems. However, due to many challenges linked to its capability, it is the least common motor system.
- Rear Hub Motor: This system can accommodate both pedelec and throttle classes. Most come with a flip switch and are cheap to produce. However, the motor can create uneven weight distribution, thus affect handling.
- Mid-Drive Motor: This one is located at the center of the bike where the bottom bracket and cranks join with the frame. It’s triggered by pedaling. It has more benefits over hub motors, making it the most preferred choice for electric bikes.
What Type of Gear on an e-bike? What is the Max Speed?
Electric bike gears are controlled through a lever mechanism on the handlebars. They shift the derailleur, which then changes the chain to a different sized ring.
The bigger the ring is on the derailleur the lower the gear and the smaller the ring is the higher the gear. The highest gear can attain a maximum speed of 25mph, although it will also depend on the power of the motor.
Electric bikes’ gears are controlled by a lever mechanism on the handlebars. The gears are located on the rear wheel.
The lever shifts the derailleur, which moves the chain to the desired gear (ring). Most e-bikes come with seven gear systems. The bigger the ring the chain is on the lower the gear you are cycling at.
How Long does an e-bike Battery Last?
There is no definite time frame for how long the battery will last. The time will depend on how big the battery capacity is, how heavy the bike is, and the kind of ground you are biking on.
The lifetime of your battery will also depend on its brand and how often you use the bike. Bosch and Shimano batteries tend to last longer than other brands though.
Electric bikes may come with different batteries but the most common is lithium-ion.
The durability of the battery will depend on factors like the capacity of the battery, size, how heavy the bike is, how heavy the rider is, and the biking terrain.
The lifetime of most lithium batteries goes up to 1000 charges while the drainage of the charge depends on the factors mentioned above.
A large capacity lithium-ion battery with 36V/8A may work up to approximately 30 kilometers before requiring recharging.
What Type of Brakes does the Electric Bike Have?
Electric bikes come with either hydraulic disc or mechanical brakes. These slightly differ from the caliper brakes common bikes have. Hydraulic disc brakes are similar to the ones your car has in they are fitted with rotors on their wheel hubs. Once you apply force on the levers, the pads are activated to clinch against the rotor slowing your speed to a stop.
Mechanical brakes feature red dials on both the rear and the front tires’ braking mechanisms. They have pads in that when the red dials are twisted clockwise, the pads will clinch the rotors. The more the twisting force the more the pads press against the rotors making the bike stop.
Electric bikes come with either mechanical disc, or hydraulic brakes systems. The mechanical braking system work by twisting clockwise the red dials on both rear and front wheels to make the braking pads clinch to the rotors. Hydraulic units work by pressing your brake levers close to the handlebars so that they can adjust the space between the brake pads and the rotors.