More and more people are taking up cycling around the world. Leading a healthier lifestyle while contributing to reducing greenhouse emissions are some of the reasons people are choosing this sport and transport alternative.
Electric bicycles make cycling accessible to a wider population. You don’t have to be in a perfect physical shape to ride one of these two-wheelers. If you plan on purchasing an electric bike for the first time, you’ll be overwhelmed by the enormous number of brands in the market. There are hundreds, if not thousands of manufacturers. Also, electric bicycles come in many different styles and specifications. Where should you begin? Don’t worry. We have prepared this guide to help you with the purchase of your first e-bike.
What Is an Electric Bike?
In its simplest form, an electric bike is a regular bicycle equipped with a battery, an electric motor, and an electronic control system. All these components work seamlessly to provide a boost to the pedaling of the cyclist in challenging terrain.
To determine how much power the motor should provide, the e-bike is equipped with sensors that detect the speed and force of the cyclist’s pedaling. Based on this information, the control system commands the motor to deliver the necessary power to assist the cyclist.
As seen, an electric bike is not an electric scooter or motorcycle. True, there are some e-bikes with throttles that allow accelerating without pedaling. Nevertheless, this type of vehicle still complies with speed limits set for electric bicycles.
When Would You Buy an e-Bike?
Now, you know exactly what an electric bicycle is. Consequently, you can decide whether it’s an electric bike that you want and/or need. To better decide what type of e-bike is right for you, you should define the intended usage for your vehicle. Besides the healthy and environmental benefits of cycling, some common reasons to use an electric bike are:
As a replacement for driving. An electric bike brings benefits to the owner’s finances besides a positive environmental impact. The running expenses are significantly lower owing to a cut in fuel costs, licenses, and parking fees.
As a commuting alternative. An e-bike allows squeezing in heavy traffic, which results in easier and faster commuting.
As a daily sports activity. Cycling is a great way of exercising and keeping a good physical condition.
As a weekend cruising transport. Powerful electric bikes can be used for weekend long-range trips.
As an offroad and mountain vehicle. Some electric bikes are specially designed for adventures in the countryside.
As a utility vehicle. Business owners count on some types of electric bikes for tasks like running errands in retail, real estate, and other sectors. Also, some e-bikes are great for home delivery.
Think carefully about the application for your e-bike. You can select multiple ones. Some electric bikes are designed for a very specific purpose. Others have a wider range of possible applications.
How to Choose an e-Bike?
Once you define the usage for your electric bike, you can begin evaluating the different options in the market. To narrow your search, focus on the type of e-bike that best addresses your requirements. Below, we describe the main types that you will find in the market.
1. Electric Mountain Bikes
If you’re adventurous and fond of offroad trails, then an electric mountain bike can be the right choice for you. Such an e-bike can make for a good commuting vehicle also. They’re built to withstand the harshest conditions and last many years of tough riding. A subcategory comprises e-bikes for downhill mountain biking (enduro biking), which are built to the highest standards for safety, reliability, and durability.
2. Electric Cruiser Bikes
This type of electric bike is more recommended for people that like, you guessed it, cruising. These e-bikes are comfortable and stylish. The seats are wide and the handlebars are higher. Riders can sweep the handlebar back towards them in most cases. Also, the pedals are usually located further forward such that riders can stand on their feet at stops. The drawback of electric cruiser bikes is their poor maneuverability at low speed because of their larger size and weight.
3. Electric Commuter Bikes
This category comprises different types of e-bikes. But a common characteristic is the design that aims at achieving lightweight. Thus, e-bikes of this type have narrower tires and saddles. Moreover, the cyclist usually leans forward when riding one of these two-wheelers. This type of electric bicycle is for those that cycle as a hobby on paved roads mainly. There is also a subcategory that caters to commuters, which are designed to function in multi-terrain scenarios.
4. Electric Cargo Bikes
This type of e-bike is designed to haul large loads. Electric cargo bikes are not focused on aesthetics or sportiveness. They are conceived as utility vehicles. For some business activities, they can be quite useful. Others can be equipped with special accessories such as child carriers and bags.
5. Electric Folding Bikes
An electric folding bike is quite portable since it can collapse into a smaller size. They are ideal to be carried on public transport or the trunk of a car. Unfortunately, electric folding bikes tend to be heavier than other e-bikes of similar size. Moreover, in most cases, they’re built with low-quality components to keep their prices low.
e-Bike Price Ranges
The list above is not exhaustive. Other types of e-bikes like electric fat bicycles, electric tandem bicycles, and electric tricycles were not included. In any case, once you’ve chosen the best type of electric bike for you, the next step is to find specific models that are within your budget. Manufacturers offer options to suit all pockets.
Notice that the price point of an electric bike is generally defined by the bicycle components rather than by the electric parts. Up to the mid-range price, most e-bikes use practically the same type of electric parts. We can roughly define the price ranges for electric bicycles as follows:
Budget-level e-bikes ($500-$1,000). In this price range, you find functional e-bikes that get the job done. Components are not of the best quality, so you cannot expect them to last many years.
Mid-budget range ($1,000-$2,500). You’ll notice that the electric and bicycle components are of significantly better quality in this price range. Put simply, you get a decent e-bike that performs well at a reasonable price. Some two-wheelers in this price range already incorporate a few high-end components.
Premium-class ($2,500-$5,000). Don’t worry about low-quality components in this price range. Most premium e-bikes incorporate components that go from mid-level to high-end quality. However, beware of overpriced e-bikes that are not necessarily of premium quality.
Ultra-premium ($5,000-$10,000). Electric bikes in this price range are for the uncompromising enthusiast. These e-bikes are made with high-end components only. Most enduro e-bikes and electric mopeds fall into this category.
There you are! Now you are better informed about the type of electric bike that you need and the characteristics you get with your budget. These two criteria, type of e-bike and price range, are decisive for your purchase. Other parameters such as aesthetics play a role also, albeit with less weight. With this information, you’ll be able to choose your first electric bike more easily.
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