The real advantages of e-bikes are climbing efficiency, wind resistance, and better range. If you experience knee pain or exercise induced asthma for example, electric bikes can breathe new life into the sport of cycling. They might convince your (girl)friend, wife, kids or parents to join you for a ride, or they might enable you to arrive at work feeling fresh. Electric bicycles offer the same great benefits as traditional bicycles, including cost efficiency, health benefits and connection to a community.
Now that we know why we should get one, it’s time to choose the right one! There is certainly a wide selection, there are tons different models from almost as many brands with many many styles!
1. Your Playground??
Electric bikes are designed for different people and different purposes. It’s up to you to decide what is most important to you, what is not important at all, and then communicate that to the retailer. There are so many models, so first you should figure out where you’re going to be riding your e-bike most frequently. E-bikes are geared toward different kinds of activities, such as cargo hauling, relaxed cruising, trail riding, mountain biking, downhill, child transportation, road biking, sand and snow (fat tire) riding, traveling and urban commuting. The question you need to ask yourself is what your preferred playground is going to be.
2. Kind of Power
There are two mains types of electric bike. The most common is what has come to be called a “pedelec”. This type of system monitors the rider’s pedaling and automatically adds a certain amount of motor assistance – usually depending upon rate, force and speed. Then there’s the other type called a ‘twist-n-go’. This is where a switch is used by the rider to trigger the assistance from the motor through different throttle types, similar to a motorcycle or ATV.
3. Motor Mounted Where?
When it comes to motors, there are two main types. Either it’s mounted in one of the wheels (hub motor assist) or it’s mounted at the crank and pedal area (crank motor assist), at the bottom of the frame. That means the electronic controls can include a sensor that detects how hard you’re pedaling and can measure out the assistance accordingly. Typically, crank assisted bikes have a reputation for doing well on steep hills, but can be a little on the noisy side depending upon the brand and type. Hub motors tend to be very quiet, but often don’t handle hills as well as crank assist systems. Generally, you should look for a brand with a good reputation, such as Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano or 8fun.
4. Plug In Gas Tank... Battery
Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere and in everything now a-days, so it is no surprise that you find them powering electric bikes. As you climb the pricing scales, more expensive e-bikes have higher-tech batteries that are lighter, charge quicker, put out more power and last longer. Like many other things, batteries degrade over time, holding less energy as they age. The quality of the battery makes a difference, so look for a reputably named battery manufacturer such as Sony, Samsung or Panasonic, and make sure the warranty covers the battery. Lithium-ion batteries are typically said to last 800 fully charged cycles. That is approximately three years of weekday commuting trips. They can survive longer with careful use, so you should get at least 2,000 half-charge cycles. Those are pessimistic estimates though, in practice, a battery life of several years is quite easily achievable. A full charge typically takes between two and a half to six hours, depending on the manufacturer, battery capacity, and battery chemistry.
5. Home is in Range
The distance an electric bike will go on one fully charged battery is referred to as its range. It is probably the most important aspect in deciding on the e-bike for you. If your commute to and from work involves a big hill, for example, you do not want to run out of juice halfway up and have to pedal the remaining mile. Without power, an e-bike is just a very heavy pedal bike. This range depends of the battery capacity, the speed, your weight, the route you are commuting, the assistance level you choose and percentage of given pedaling power. If you are only planning on going ten miles a day commuting, you most likely will not need an ebike with a 70 mile range. As a pro tip, you should buy a bike with a slightly higher range than you necessarily need because the range can drop as the battery ages and loses some of its capacity.
6. Costs & Paying for an E-Bike
If you are looking to get a solid e-bikes that will last you, they are not cheap, even compared to good pedal bikes. You could end up with up a very basic model, but how long are you going to be happy with it? An solid bike with a quality frame, functional brakes, suspension and other components is expensive. When buying an e-bike you have to spend a bit more for the electric motor. So don’t be surprised by the higher price, a better bike lasts much longer and gives you much less of a headache.