How to Choose the Right Electric Bike

Navigating the electric bike market and selecting the best e-bike needs a primary awareness of the various components and styles. When learning to choose an electric bike, consider the types of e-bikes, motor placement, power, battery capacity, and range.

This electric bike buying guide will give you the knowledge you need to make an informed decision and find a suitable.

A man is riding a Mars folding bike across the traffic light

What is an E-Bike?

An e-bike is a bicycle with a small electric motor that allows you to go farther with less effort. E-bikes, unlike motorcycles, do not move you forward on their own. They still have pedals, but the engine adds tremendous power to your effort when dealing with difficulties such as slopes and headwinds. Some models include throttles, which eliminate the need to pedal.

Is an E-Bike Right for Me?

If you want to buy an electric bicycle, often known as an e-bike, consider how you would use it first. There are almost as many different types of e-bikes as pedal-powered bicycles, and many excel at specific tasks like cargo off-road bikes. Climate, the number (or absence) of bike lanes, how far you wish to ride regularly, and how your municipality defines and regulates e-bikes will all play a role in your selection.

A few areas treat electric bikes like traditional motorized vehicles, requiring users to get an operator's license to ride on public roadways in Canada.
More than half of the areas recognize e-bikes as a type of bicycle, depending on how fast they go and how power is provided (by pedals or hand control, for example).

Understanding Three Classes of E-Bikes

There are three types of electric bikes. A bike's class affects its top speed and whether or not it has a throttle. As a result, it should be one of the first aspects you investigate.

Class 1

Class 1 bikes have a top speed of 20mph and only deliver power via peddling assist. It implies that the motor only turns on when you pedal the bike.

Class 2

Class 2 motorcycles have a top speed of 20 miles per hour. However, in addition to peddle assist, they have a throttle that allows you to propel the bike ahead with the push of a button.

Class 3

Class 3 motorcycles have a top speed of 28 mph and no throttle. It is also worth noting that the class of a bike governs where you can ride it. The most powerful motorcycles are class 3, but they are not generally permitted on bike routes.

Electric Bike Features

Motor Power

Electric bike motors typically range in size from 250 to 750 watts. 250-watt bikes are the most popular because they provide more than enough power for flat roads and little hills. They also allow you to extend the life of your battery. However, if you are willing to invest more, a greater wattage will provide better acceleration and additional aid when cycling up steep slopes.

Motor Placement

Mid-drive motors are located on the bottom bracket (where the crank arms connect to the bike frame). Hub-drive motors are located inside the hub of the rear wheel. Yet some hub drive motors are located on the front wheel.

Mid-Motor, Hub Motor

Electric bikes feature two types of motors: mid-drive and hub motors. In the middle of the bike, between the pedals, is a mid-drive motor. In the center of one of the wheels is a hub motor.

Hub bikes are the most affordable alternative. They are not as efficient as mid-drive motors but are best for long-distance travel on flat highways. Mid-drive bikes cost more, but they are also more powerful. The motor's central position enhances torque and is more balanced. A mid-drive motor may be worth the extra money if you need to ride up hills frequently.

Battery

All electric bikes have a stated range. It describes how long you can ride the bike on a single charge. The battery and charger are compatible with the motor. If you want to compare bike ranges, you should consider the battery capacity and motor size.

Watt-hours are the unit of measurement for batteries. It is the number of hours a battery can produce one watt of electricity. Motors are measured in watts, that is the amount of electricity required to run them. The bikes with the longest ranges have the biggest batteries and the weakest motors. As a result, the most powerful bikes also have the shortest ranges.

Range

Manufacturers mention the projected range for each model, usually 40 miles or more. The accuracy depends on various parameters, including the type of motor, battery capacity, rider weight, terrain, and help level.

Check the range before you buy and ensure you can get where you need to go daily on a single charge. Also, different motors have different assist levels, so make sure you get one that has the power (on the low or high end) you need.

Quality of Components

Different price levels of e-bikes indicate similarly tiered component quality. Less expensive e-bikes lack high-end features such as smartphone connection and value-priced components. High-quality brakes, tires, and drivetrains will be more stable and responsive, much as on a conventional bike.

Pedal-Assist

Electric bicycles with pedal-assist features do not require a throttle to drive the motor. Instead, when you pedal your e-bike, pedal-assist sensors quickly start the motor. You should be aware of two types of pedal sensors: cadence sensors and torque sensors. Each pedal-assist sensor operates uniquely and gives dramatically varied pedaling experiences.

Throttle

Typically, an ebike throttle is actuated by twisting a grip or pushing a trigger, allowing riders to engage the electric engine without pedaling. This feature delivers an instant power boost. It makes it easy to tackle steep inclines, accelerate from a stop, and maintain a consistent speed.

Comfort

Examine the saddle, handlebars, grips, and tires. Find a bike that is a good match for you and your riding style. A mountain bike, for example, has a more aggressive riding position than a commuter or urban bike and may not be as comfortable if you are only riding on paved roads and crushed gravel trails.

Make Sure Your E-Bike Fits You Well

The best bike for you is one that fits you well. Before you ride an e-bike out the door, make sure it feels like it was created for you—or, at the very least, you can change it to fit you with a few parts swaps.

The most significant aspect of achieving a proper fit is understanding what size bike frame you need based on your height. The geometry of an e-bike determines how it is created to fit your specific body measurements. A bike shop is the best place to get your fit dialed in so that your knees, shoulders, back, feet, and hands are aligned for the riding position you require. You can also go to a fit specialist for a complete bike fit, which can help you avoid chronic injury and perform at your best.

Summing

Once you have figured out these crucial points, you can visualize the functionality you desire in your electric bike. It will undoubtedly simplify the decision process and bring you closer to selecting only the best E-bikes.

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