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How To Find the Right Electric Bike For You

So you’ve decided that an e-bike is something you want to purchase! Shopping for the right one can be a struggle, especially if you don’t know too much about bikes to begin with. There are so many components and specifications that it can easily be quite overwhelming. So how exactly can you find the right e-bike for you?

To pick an E-Bike: first decide where you want to ride it and how often. Do you want more of a mountain bike or a cruiser for commuting? Next, consider how much range you need, and if you want pedal-assist only or throttle too. After narrowing it down that much, decide the max range and speed needed.

If you’re not near a bike shop, don’t worry, we’re here to help you out. In most cases, buying an e-bike is an easy and painless experience, as long as you have some idea of what you’re looking for. So, what do you need to have your eye on when looking for an e-bike? How can you find the right bike for you?

How To Decide on the Right Bike For You

Dutch electric black

E-bikes come in all shapes and sizes. Knowing what to look out for and what the differences in bike types are can help you find the best choice for your riding style. Remember, not all bikes are created equal. So what should you be searching for if you’re in the market for a new ride?

When it comes to e-bikes, understanding the different motor styles, classes, and bike build is a great starting point to get a full picture of what’s available. After that, you’ll still need to deal with other, more precise elements like sizing and accessories; if you choose to get them.

Let’s touch first on the mechanics of the “class system”. While you might think that this info isn’t that important, we’ll tell you why you should understand it and which is the right class for you.

The Class System for E-Bikes

Alright, so when you hear that there’s a class system for e-bikes, you might think you already know all the answers. However, the reality is that the class is more than just about speed. It’s also about the process of how an e-bike gets power from the motor.

Class 1

Class 1 e-bikes can only travel using the pedal-assist function, meaning you’ll need to actually move the pedals to get extra juice. You’ll also be limited to a 20 mph top speed for motorized travel.

Class 2

When we jump up to Class 2, things don’t get faster, but the motor uses throttle mode instead. This means it’s more similar to a motorbike, where you can only get power from the motor. The top speed, however, remains at 20 mph.

Class 3

When we finally get to Class 3, things do start to pick up speed a little. With these e-bikes, you’ll only be able to use pedal-assist like class 1, but the top speed jumps up to 28 mph. That’s pretty fast for a bike, considering the average cyclist can go around 18 mph.

Different Bike Types for Different Uses

Take away the motor from your e-bike, and you’re left with a normal standard bike. Normal bikes, though, have many different types, all designed for specific purposes. This means that when you’re shopping for an e-bike, you’ll have to make decisions not just about the Class type, but also what type of bike you want. Here are some of the most common types you’ll see in e-bike form:

  • Cruiser — Easy, comfortable ride
  • Mountain — Good for nature trails and steep inclines
  • Road — Similar to cruiser style, but with skinnier tires for the road
  • Commuter — Best for long distances

Each type is built for a specific rider’s need. Assess how you think you’ll be riding your e-bike; are you planning on taking it out around the country trails on the weekend? Or maybe you’re just looking for an easier way to commute to work? These questions can help you determine which e-bike type is right for you.

If you don’t have any preference here, that’s good: you can pick more of a general-purpose bike, which is going to hold its value better anyways. See also our other article on getting the most value out of your E-Bike – once you do make a pick, you’ll want to make sure you can sell it to upgrade later if you want, and so when in doubt let that drive your decisions during purchasing.

How Do You Pick the Correct Size E-Bike?

When it comes to picking the right size of e-bike, following general bike sizing rules is a great way to go. This mainly boils down to frame size, as it’s the most important element to judge bike sizing. Why? Well, you can easily change other components of your e-bike if you need to, but the frame is kind of set where it is unless you buy a whole new bike. So, how do you measure for the frame?

There are several strategies for bike frame sizing. The first is to take your regular inseam measurement. This can give you the number you need to match yourself to the perfect frame size. Measuring this way is easy to do, and you can most likely accomplish this task at home.

Measuring your inseam is easy, and you can find more than one way to do it. To help you out, though, we’ll walk you through a common method:

  1. Find a notebook
  2. Stand up against a wall and place the notebook between your upper thighs
  3. Measure from the top of the notebook to the floor.
  4. This is your inseam size.

One thing to note here; it’s always a good idea to wear the shoes you’ll be using while you ride when you take this measurement. This will give you the most accurate result. But once you have your bike ready to go, there are still a few other adjustments to make.

Adjusting your seat post to your height is a great way to hone in the perfect size. Ideally, you want enough height so you can fully extend when you push the pedals. Additionally, you’ll want to find a balance because if you’re too high, you won’t be able to stand still at stops without falling over.

What Kind of Battery Do You Need, and How Big?

Many people argue that the battery is the most essential part of the entire e-bike system. It provides all the power you need to get moving, after all. So it makes sense that you’ll want to make sure your e-bike battery is the right size and quality for your ride.

There is a design tradeoff between size and riding range for e-bike batteries. For batteries, you’ll see capacity measured in watt-hours (Wh). You’ll want to match the battery capacity to the size of your e-bikes motor.

Watt-hours mean that for every hour the battery operates, it can give off 1 watt of power before dying. Understanding the relationship between motor and battery is essential here. If you have a 500-watt motor and a 500 Wh battery, you’re going to drain your battery much quicker than if you had a 250-watt motor.

If you aren’t sure here, pick a bike with a smaller battery. It’ll be cheaper upfront, and give you the option to test in real life and upgrade the battery later if you need to.

Thinking about Motor and Torque

When it comes to the motor, well, there are a variety of options you can choose from. While hub-style motors are fairly popular, they aren’t the only show on the block. Of course, there are benefits and drawbacks to each motor type. So, which one is right for you?

Types of e-bike motors:

  • Hub style — Replaces the entire wheel with a motorized hub. It can be placed front or rear.
  • Mid-drive — Sits on the drivetrain of the bike. They are often enclosed, providing extra protection.
  • Friction drive — Rare. It uses a device that transfers momentum to the wheel via a roller.

The main difference in these motor styles is how the weight of the motor is distributed. The mid-drive places the weight right underneath the center of gravity, which some people prefer. Others prefer the weight to be at the back, like the rear hub style. But what about other motor characteristics, like torque?

While torque is an important detail to check if you’re planning on riding up massive hills, for most riders it’s pretty inconsequential. Like the battery, you can upgrade the motor later too if you want to, but it’s a bit more complicated and basically a problem you don’t want to have. That said, you can check out our article on how to upgrade the motor on your E-Bike to get a sense of how this could look.

Do You Need E-Bike Accessories?

Electric bike on a high bank

Okay, so you’ve got your bike picked out, and you’re ready to get riding. But before you take your new purchase out for a spin, what kind of accessories might you need? Be it a basket or a back tail light, there are tons of accessories available for e-bikes that can make them easier to ride, safer, and more convenient. Let’s take a look at a few:

  • Lights — Some e-bikes might come ready to go with a set of lights. If not, a pair like these (on Amazon) are cheap and can add some extra safety to nighttime rides.
  • Bags/Baskets — If you need extra storage, bike bags, like these BV Saddle Bags (on Amazon), are ideal.
  • Extra batteries — Having an extra battery on hand can mean doubling your ride time. You can usually find one for under $300, like this Unit Pack E-Bike Battery (on Amazon).
  • Helmet — Safety should always be your main concern when it comes to cycling. Helmets like this model from Schwinn (on Amazon) are perfect for almost any ride.
  • Rear-View Mirrors — One of the easiest upgrades to safety will come from installing some cheap rear-view morrors like this pair of EEEkit Adjustable Bicycle Mirrors (on Amazon) that allow you to see what’s going on behind you without taking your eyes off the road ahead.

Those are just a few popular accessories you may be interested in. You can find thousands of different devices and do-dads that will help you get the most out of your ride.