The use of bikes for urban transportation has significantly risen over the years. More people are beginning to see the future and some are already living it. Especially with the introduction of electric bikes, which solves most of the problems around traditional bikes, the future has only become clearer. If you've ever tried an electric bike before, I bet you can tell how it feels. Amazing right? Your two-wheel machine gets to accomplish far more than it normally would, thanks to technology. The ease of use and comfort that comes with electric bikes is unimaginable. And, virtually anyone can ride them; little wonder why most people opt for it.
So you're ready and excited to get your electric bike, but don't know how to choose?
If you walk into a bicycle warehouse without the right information, it's not difficult to get confused. You most probably will go for the bike with the most appealing looks, even though that might not be the best option for your usage and situation.
Here are the basics you should know before purchasing your electric bike
1. The classes of electric bikes
Based on the degree of motor assistance, Electric bikes are basically of three classes. Knowing the class of electric bikes that will work for you is an essential part of the bike selection stage.
- Class 1
- Class1 eBikes are those that are strictly pedal-assist. This implies that the bike starts only when you pedal and they stop assisting you at 20mph. Class 1 eBikes are easy to use and are the most affordable on the list. Also, they are the most widely acceptable eBikes when viewed from the regulatory perspective. They can be used everywhere traditional bicycles are, like bike lanes, multi-use trails, roads, and bike-only paths. Newbies enjoy starting with class 1 eBikes and if you're a newbie, obtaining a class 1 eBikes can be a great way to begin your biking journey
- Class 2
- Class 2 eBikes are throttle-powered and, like class 1, have a maximum speed of 20mph. In terms of regulations, they have stricter guidelines and are not as widely accepted as class 1 electric bikes.
- Class 3
- Class 3 eBikes are strictly pedal-assist, just like class 1. However, they offer greater assistance as they can help you up to 28mph. Class 3 bikes faster, more effective, and powerful. But they are also more expensive. If you always having something to carry, go for a class 3 eBike as they are better at handling heavy loads.
This explains why class 3 eBikes are common with errand runners and commuters. Class 3 eBikes are allowed to ride on roads and on-road bike lanes but are restricted from navigating most bike paths, mountain bike trails, and multi-use paths. You may need to check the regulations and access rules of your preferred eBike before making the purchase.
2. The type and quality of Batteries you use
Anything that works on batteries has a limited number of hours it can run. And, the performance of the machine and how much power it consumes will significantly influence how long the battery runs. Powerful bikes can do a variety of things like climbing heights and supporting heavy loads, but they also use up their batteries faster. This in turn reduces how far you can go before running out of battery. Although, the type of motor your bike uses will also determine how long it will go. A big battery (say 1000-watt) will last longer when paired with a 250-wat motor as compared to a 500-watt or 1000-watt motor.
Check out some simple tips on how to make your battery last longer
- Charge your battery well: Concerning charging your battery, it may take up to three to five hours to charge your battery full from empty. Batteries with larger capacity may, however, take longer. Always carry your charger along if you plan on riding a long distance. You can buy extra chargers for commuting and on-demand charging if you would love to keep one at home.
- Using Multiple batteries: some e-bikes can take up to two batteries at once. This can double the duration of your ride as compared to using one battery. Also if one of the batteries is faulty or dead, you can continue your journey with the backup battery.
3. The type of motor in your bike
Based on the motor location, there are mid-drive motors and hub drive motors. Mid-drive motors are situated on the bottom bracket (the area that attaches the crank arm to the bike frame). The pedal assist of mid-drive motors has a natural feel because the weight of the motor is centered on the bike. This helps in keeping the bike balanced and comfortable.
Hub-drive motors are situated inside the hub of the rear wheel (some may be placed on the front wheel). A hub-drive motor gives its rider the feeling of being pushed as it cycles. One important thing to note about hub-drive motors is that it's more complex to change a flat on the wheel that carries the hub-drive than it is on a mid-drive bike.
4. Your E-bike Motor Torque
The value of your motor Torque is an important factor when checking the effectiveness of your ride on hills and/or with heavy loads. It's a value measured in newton meters (Nm), and it has a maximum of 80 N m and a minimum of 40 Nm. Whenever you ride, your torque will vary over time as the pedal-assist settings vary.
Other relevant factors to consider in your eBike are:
- Pedal-assist levels: this helps you move faster and preserve your battery power
- Pedal-assist activation and pedal feel: this determines its performance and how smooth and responsive the pedals are
- Lighting: this helps you see clearer at night
- Handlebar-mounted LCDs: you can monitor your battery life, miles traveled, pedal-assist mode, speed, and lots more with this feature
- Smartphone integration: a wireless connection that enables you to have access to certain apps like GPS, service records, and more
- Racks: this can help you move heavy loads quite easily if you are concerned about being able to move items and commute
- Built-in security: a way to lock your bike's wheel and protect against theft. You can also purchase a battery lock for extra security
- Component quality: you can see what feature are on each bike and how their prices vary based on their sophistication
- Frame material: determines the weight, strength, and quality of the bike. Materials like steel, carbon, and titanium may be used and each has a different cost and quality
As soon as you're able to figure out these key things, you'd be able to have a mental picture of the type of functionality you want in your electric bike. This will no doubt ease the selection process and take you steps closer to making only the best choices of E-bikes.
Now, with significant advancements in science and technology, virtually all sectors of human endeavor have been influenced — including transportation. Modern technology makes the bike-sharing model a “dream come true.” Here’s how it works. You simply check out any bike at a docking station, use it for a few hours and finally return it to any other docking station in your destination.
With the use of smartphone technology, features like Bluetooth, GPS, and RFID all come handy in the bike-sharing model, thus making it easier for commuters to navigate the roads with bikes. Statistically, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of Americans who use bikes between 2010 and 2016. In 2010, about 320,000 people ride on the streets of America while in 2016, the numbers rose to 28 million. Following suite bicycle production has skyrocketed over the past half a century as seen in the chart above.
Thanks for reading our article on "How to Choose an Electric Bike." If you have any questions or want gear recommendations drop us a line and we'll get you rolling!
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If you're local to Southern California we invite you to visit one of our Bicycle Warehouse retail stores to experience the best selection and service around.