How to Choose an E-Bike

How to Choose an E-Bike

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If it feels like the air is more electric these days, it may be because warm temperatures have energized people to spend more time outdoors. Or it could be that electric bikes have mobilized millions of people to bypass public transportation to take advantage of e-bikes and boost the quality of their lives. If you’d like to join this new class of bike rider and experience a freedom only attainable by bike, here’s how to choose your first e-bike.

What is an e-bike?

Any pedal bicycle that’s assisted by a motor powered by a battery to reach a predetermined maximum speed can generally be called an e-bike. There are different levels of power assistance that exist within the e-bike category, and they are classed as pedal-assist bikes called “pedelecs” or “s-pedelecs.” Pedelec motors won’t exceed 250 watts and will shut off once a maximum speed of 25 km per hour (15.5 mph) is reached. S-pedelec motors can exceed 250 watts, and reach 45 km per hour (28 mph) before the motor shuts off. Get to know the differences because laws defining e-bikes and regulating their use vary from country to country. While you’re checking out e-bike laws for your country, be sure to see if your government subsidizes e-bike purchases because some national governments are providing purchasing assistance to e-bike buyers in an effort to reduce a dependence on cars.

How to choose an e-bike depends on the bike’s intended purpose. Will your e-bike be used for recreation as well as for utility? Either way, it’s important to consider where you intend to ride (road or off-road), what kind of distance you plan on riding, and how much time you plan on spending on the bike. These considerations implicate the type of e-bike you’re shopping for and the motor and battery used to power it.

Complete e-bikes will come fully outfitted with a motor and battery specific to the bike frame, so there’s often little – or no – choice of battery. It’s important to be aware of the different battery types because they will impact your ride quality. There are lead-acid batteries, which are cheaper, but heavier, have a shorter life span, and take longer to charge, and there are lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, which are lighter and last longer, but are more expensive. A Li-ion battery can cost more than double what a lead-acid battery can cost.

Types of electric bikes:

  • City/Commuter – Ideal for getting from points A to B and sturdy enough for hauling heavy loads, these versatile bikes feature either a hub or mid-drive motor. Frame designs include hybrid, step-through, road, cruiser, cargo, and mountain bike, and can accommodate wide tires for extra stability.
  • Road – Almost identical to a traditional road bike design, e-bikes for road conceal the motor and battery in the frame, which is a stealthy way to slip past unsuspecting automobiles trapped in traffic.
  • Mountain Bike – E-mtb’s also steal their design from mountain biking’s traditional human-powered origins. Hardtail, full-suspension, downhill, and even fat e-bikes have granted more people even greater access to the outdoors.
  • Gravel/Adventure – This evolving e-bike category electrifies the “go anywhere” attitude that its human-powered models have already embraced. Gravel/adventure bikes feature drop handlebars, gravel-specific components, disc brakes, and wide tires.

The popularity of e-bikes will only grow stronger in the future as more people take command of their movement and mobility in a more sustainable, healthier and more environmentally-friendly way.

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