Article by Siroko Tech: Types of Electric Bikes - a Basic Shopping Guide

Article by Siroko Tech: Types of Electric Bikes - a Basic Shopping Guide

Siroko Tech (Spain) - Electric bikes, in many shapes and forms, are the most popular type of bicycle in the market right now. Experts predict their continued surge in popularity, and it’s easy to see why. Thanks to remarkable improvements in battery and motor technologies, coupled with the pressing need for sustainable and efficient urban transport, eBikes have emerged as consumers’ top choice. But the benefits don’t stop there. They have revolutionized cycling, making it more accessible to a wider audience. Now, people can enjoy the perks of cycling without putting in excessive effort, reaping both physical and mental advantages of the sport.

The wide range of eBike models available in the market might seem slightly overwhelming, making it harder for you to choose the right one. While it’s impossible to delve into each type extensively, here is a concise list with key information and advice to assist you in making an informed decision.

Types of electric bikes:

Electric MTB bikes: Designed for off-road cycling, and hence equipped with sturdy tires, a suspension system and specific features that will help you face uneven and rough terrains. They are perfect for mountain cycling enthusiasts who’d like a bit of an extra push.

Electric city bikes: They offer a much more comfortable and ergonomic design, as well as a straighter riding position. They are equipped with fenders, built-in lights and a pannier rack in the back, and they are ideal for both short and medium distance rides around the city.

Folding electric bikes: Perfect for cyclists who need to transport or store their bike in small spaces. They are also great in combination with other means of transport, such as buses, trains, cars, etc.

Electric cargo bikes: With a robust frame and superior storage capacity, these bikes are ideal for carrying groceries, work equipment and even little kids. They are an eco-friendly alternative to the motorized vehicles used in logistics and transportation of goods.

Electric road and gravel bikes: These bikes have been purposely designed for road cycling and gravel cycling, giving you an extra push.

Electric touring bikes: Also known as trekking eBikes, they’re versatile and suitable for cycling in the city, for medium-long distance rides as well as road cycling on mixed terrain. They have fenders, a pannier rack in the back, powerful lights and comfortable geometry.

How to choose the right electric bike for you:

Set your possibilities and necessities straight: Before looking up electric bikes and buying one, first ask yourself how, where, how much and for what you’ll be using one. This will help you determine what features and technical specifications to look for in an electric bike. Next, think about the place you live in and where you’d be keeping and charging your bike. Based on your options, you can choose either an internal or external battery, and if you go for an external one, it can be either removable or fixed. The right size elevator in your building can also make your life easier.

Budget and power consumption: Prices may vary significantly depending on the brand, the type of eBike, its main characteristics (motor and battery) and extras (lights, fenders, rack). Do some research and compare all the options you can afford within your budget in order to find the best value for money. Keep in mind that the cost of charging the battery depends on the size of the battery itself, electricity price and the energy efficiency of the charging system. For instance, a 500 Wh battery has a capacity of 0.5 kWh. If the price of electricity is 0.15€/kWh, the cost of charging such a battery would be approx. 0.075€.

Motor: This is one of the key features of an eBike. You can find two types of motor: hub-drive and mid-drive. Hub-drive motors (mostly the rear ones, even though you could also find some installed at the front) give you a push from the back and a good control over the front wheel. On the other hand, mid-drive motors guarantee a much better weight distribution as well as a more natural pedal stroke movement. In terms of price, mid-drive motors are more expensive than hub-drive ones.

Torque of a motor: The potential of a motor to apply force to impulse the bike forward. It’s measured in newton-meters (N⋅m), and the higher this number is, the more push the motor will have, and the better its capacity to face climbs, difficult terrain or heavy loads.

Battery capacity and range: Battery’s capacity is typically measured in watt or kilowatt hours (Wh or kWh). The bigger the battery is in size, the more capacity it has to store energy in it. The bigger the capacity, the higher the eBike’s range will be. However, you should consider several other factors, such as the cyclist’s weight, the load, the terrain, the speed and the motor efficiency, among other things. All this affects the battery’s range, and therefore determines the distance you’ll be able to cover with a fully charged battery.

Throttle and pedal assist systems: There are two main systems: one is a basic manually-activated accelerator; the other one uses sensors that detect rhythm, torque and speed, and gets activated automatically when we start pedaling. Some eBikes have both of the systems, but this is not very common. The second one is the standard method of operation for e-bikes; it offers several levels of assistance depending on terrain and individual preferences. Other eBikes have automatic pedal assist systems adjusting the motor power to speed and pedaling energy.

Accessories and components: Check the quality of the brakes (an eBike is quite heavy, so having well-functioning brakes is key), the gears and the suspension (if the bike has it). All these elements are crucial for a comfortable and safe riding experience. Last but not least, check if the bike comes with built-in lights, fenders, carrier and something to hold your phone or GPS in place.

Test the bike before purchasing: If possible, try different eBike models before coming to a final decision. This will help you assess the general handling of the bike, its comfort and the motor responsiveness. 

Opinions and reviews: Before purchasing your eBike, we recommend you read other users’ opinions and reviews, as they can be a great source of information on the quality, the performance and durability of the models you have in mind. Make sure these reviews are coming from specialized websites, biking forums or social networks for cyclists.

Warranty services: Once you have decided on a bike and are ready to make the purchase, do some research first on what type of warranty the manufacturer or distributor offers. Make sure they have a reliable and accessible system in case your bike needs repairing, maintenance or technical support. Check the warranty period as well as its terms and conditions. Keep in mind that eBikes don’t just suffer the same wear and tear or damage as regular bikes; they have a motor, battery, controls and wiring that make them more prone to breakdowns. If you don’t know much about mechanics, a simple YouTube tutorial won’t be enough to help you out. Remember not to tamper with a motor because not only is it illegal, but also invalidates your warranty.

To wrap things up, let’s summarize the key points. When purchasing an electric bike, it’s crucial to assess your needs, capabilities, and budget. Select an eBike type that aligns with your preferences, and pay close attention to the motor, battery, and pedal assist systems when choosing a specific model. Don’t overlook accessories and components either. Whenever possible, test ride the bike before making a purchase and explore user reviews. By taking all these factors into consideration, you’ll be able to find the perfect electric bike that caters to your preferences and provides a delightful, efficient, and safe cycling experience.

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