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What To Look For In An Electric Bike

E-bikes are pretty much the same as normal bikes, right? This is a common question, especially for e-bike novices. The reality is that e-bikes can get a bit more complicated. Knowing what type to get and what features to look out for is important before making a purchase. So when it comes to these electric transport options, what exactly do you need to be aware of?

Before purchasing an E-Bike, you should consider the battery size and range, the pedal-assist/throttle features, and speed options. While Class 1 E-Bikes have a max speed of 20mph, a longer commute might require the higher speed (28mph) and full-throttle options of a Class 3 bike.

Starting to feel a little overwhelmed? Well, we’re here to help you out. If you are lost in the hunt for your perfect e-bike, there is a lot to consider when making the right choice. Between motor styles and even bike styles, you can find thousands of choices both locally and online. Read on to learn more about what you should be looking for in your e-bike.

How to Pick an Electric Bike (What You Should Look For)

Blue modern mens mid drive motor city touring

Alright, so you’ve decided to take the plunge and get an e-bike. Of course, you’ve got a lot of questions. We have a full article on how to get the most value out of your E-Bike, but before you have a chance to do that, you’ll have to plan ahead and buy a bike that meets your custom needs.

Making an informed decision is the best way to get what you want, or, at least, as close to that as you can get. So when it comes to e-bikes, what’s important? What should you be looking out for?

E-bikes can be a bit tricky when you consider the extent of how different they can be. Not only do we need to consider the various types of bike styles, but also differences in how the motor operates, and other key factors. Not all e-bikes are created equal; build quality plays a huge role in how efficient, fast and reliable your e-bike will be.

You can upgrade many of the components on your bike after you get it, which makes the stakes a little lower for this decision, but it’s quicker and easier (and likely cheaper) to make sure you have the things you need in the bike you purchase. Just for example, here are full articles we have on upgrading the motor of your E-Bike, and upgrading the Battery of your E-Bike. In both cases, it’s possible, but in general not a problem you want to have if you can avoid it.

Another factor you’ll need to consider is the choice between throttle power and pedal-assist. The former is what you’d expect an e-bike to offer; much like the throttle on a motorcycle. The latter adds a bit of extra juice to your ride but doesn’t take away the need for a little pedal power; a great choice for those who wish to use their bike for exercise purposes. Some bikes, like this Ancheer E-Bike (on Amazon), offer both.

You’ll need to do a little research on different models to find which style and type are right for your purpose. But, regardless of personal preference, there are a few things we can teach when it comes to what to look for in an e-bike.

What Kind of Battery Do I Need?

The battery is the heart of your e-bike. While you might consider the motor to be the core of what makes your bike go, the battery is the ultimate source of all that power. Suffice to say; a high-quality battery can make all the difference to your ride.

Most e-bike batteries, if not all, are made using lithium-ion. The same kind of material that powers the majority of electronic devices these days. Typically lithium-ion batteries are able to last for around 800 cycles; one charge being equal to a full reduction from 100% full charge, right down to 0%. For most of us, that’s around three years of regular use.

Higher quality batteries will often charge faster, hold power longer, and come equipped with extra built-in safety features. The reality is that your e-bike gets put through the wringer. If it’s not rain and snow, it’s the heat and UV light.

All of this can damage your battery, without the extra protection of e-bike specific batteries, like this Joyisi E-Bike Battery (on Amazon). Keep in mind that higher capacity batteries last longer, but will not make your bike go faster.

What is the Best Type of Motor Mount?

If you’ve looked at a few e-bikes, you’ve probably seen a variety of motor mounts types already. These types include:

  • Mid-drive
  • Rear-mount
  • Front-mount

Each one is different in its own way. While you can’t really say one is best, in some cases one will last a bit longer. For us, it’s usually a rear mount. This is the most common configuration you’ll see on the market, and for a good reason. Not only does a rear-mount hub provide a more natural area for power distribution, but it also helps to balance the weight of the bike more effectively.

Some argue that mid-drive bikes are a bit easier to clean as the encased part is better at keeping out dirt. But you can sometimes experience problems with the chain and gears with these models. Front-mount is also popular but is more common for e-bike kits meant to retrofit normal bikes.

Should I Pick Pedal-Assist or Throttle-Power?

Black electrical bike fat tire folding 20 inch wheels

Honestly, it’s all a matter of personal preference. One isn’t inherently better than the other. Think about what kind of ride you’re looking for, and your purpose for riding. This can be a great way to choose between the two. However, as we touched on earlier, some bikes offer both.

Generally speaking, the throttle is great if you’re looking for a pedal-free experience. It’s more akin to a “slow moped” than a bike. Pedal-assist lets you still get a bit of exercise in when you ride and can be great for people trying to get into shape or just travel a little farther than with a normal bike.

It’s worth mentioning that in most areas, you’ll have to deal with e-bike regulations when it comes to how your e-bike can be powdered. The class system, popular in the U.S., regulates this. So in some places, you can get e-bikes that have both pedal-assist and throttle-power, but due to these regulations not all areas will have these. So you may have to decide based on these rules.

What About Costs? How Much Should I Expect to Pay?

Alright, so here’s the big one; how much will you pay for a good e-bike? While you can find some cheaper e-bikes, like most things you often get what you pay for. In the case of lower-quality e-bikes, it means you’ll probably need to replace certain parts more often, like expensive batteries.

So in most cases, you should expect to spend around $1000 on a good-quality e-bike. A bike like this Velowave E-Bike (on Amazon) sits just above that price point and offers a lot in terms of features.

If you’re looking for something more in the budget range, don’t worry, there are still some great choices available. Portable models, provide a lot in terms of user-friendliness and convenience. The best part is that the price sits at just over $500.

And just so you know: if you already have a traditional bike, you can also add E-Bike components to it for far cheaper than a new E-Bike. This is called E-Bike Conversion. If you’re interested, check out our other article diving into the details on converting your normal bike to an E-Bike.

Tips for Buying Your First Electric Bike

Before you start your hunt for the perfect e-bike, there are some general tips you need to follow. Of course, the above information can help you decide, but sometimes a little more info is always useful.

E-Bike Buying Tips:

  • Think about range — Battery power is the most important aspect to the range equation. Make sure you check to see that the battery has enough juice to get you where you need to be.
  • Choose a reputable brand — As e-bikes become more and more popular worldwide, more and more manufacturers are starting to produce them. This is both good and bad news. Make sure you’re buying from a quality brand, so you don’t end up with something a bit useless.
  • Consider your needs — Okay, so we all want an e-bike for speed, right? If you’re shaking your head, then consider a bike that is more focused on comfort than speed. Knowing your priorities will make if much easier to find what’s best for you.
  • Talk to your local bike shop — Not only can they help you make better decisions, but they can also inform you about the local regulations and laws that could affect your choice.
  • Check the warranty — Some bikes come with warranties. This is great as all those extra components needed for the motor can suddenly fail, and if they do, you’ll be wishing you had the coverage.

These are just a few tips to help you along your way. While they can help quite a lot, there is no beating your own intuition. If a bike just doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not the right choice for you.

A good strategy is to test a few different style bikes, give them a ride and see which one you like the most. Remember, an e-bike purchase can be a big investment that you will live with for quite a few years.

Wrapping Up

So when it comes to e-bikes, there’s a lot to know. If you’re already perplexed by the variety of normal bikes, e-bikes add to that headache with plenty of extra parts and considerations.

Generally speaking, matching your e-bike with your intended riding style can be a fantastic strategy for finding the perfect bike. Look for battery quality and drive-train type too. If you’re at all worried, your local bike shop will be more than happy to help you make a choice.