Electric bike buying guide: what to look for when buying an electric bike?
The days when e-bikes were ‘old people bikes’ are certainly over and nowadays more and more people of different ages are purchasing an e-bike. The choice of e-bikes is therefore enormous, and there are many different types of electric bikes for various occasions and people.
The purchase process of an e-bike can sometimes be complicated because you have to take so many things into account. That is why we have put together an electric bike buying guide especially for you in which we tell you exactly what you should pay attention to when buying an electric bike.
What to look out for when buying an electric bike
Step 1: What will you use an electric bike for?
The very first question you should ask yourself is: “what are you going to use your e-bike for?”. Just like the difference between small city cars, family cars, and sporty two-seaters, there are also big differences between e-bikes. It just depends on what you want to buy your electric bike for.
- Daily use: Would you like an e-bike for shorter distances, for example for regular trips to the supermarket or taking your children to school? Then you should choose an electric city bike or a cargo bike. This bike is often less powerful, but very user-friendly and durable. The battery is easy to disconnect and the e-bike generally requires little maintenance.
- Recreational use: Are you a real Sunday cyclist and do you like to cover longer distances? Then you will need an e-bike with a long range. A long range ensures that your battery can provide electrical support for as long as possible. For example, consider a sporty city bike or an e-road bike.
- Commuting: Would you like an electric bike for your daily ride to and from work? Then you probably like to cover longer distances as quickly as possible. The best fit here would be a sporty bike with a powerful engine and good gears. A speed pedelec could be a good option. This e-bike supports a speed of 30 mph – 45 km/h and ensures that you arrive at work at lightning speed.
- Sporting use: Are you crazy about mountain biking or cycling but would you like an extra helping hand? Then you are looking for a sporty e-bike. Think, for example, of an electric road bike or electric mountain bike (abbreviated: E-MTB). These bikes are often a bit lighter, which makes it easier to take them with you on cycling holidays domestic or abroad.
Step 2: The motor You should choose
By now, based on the desired use, you know what kind of electric bike you should look at. The second step in choosing the right e-bike is choosing the right motor. Which motor suits you well is determined by both the location and power of the engine.
The motor of an e-bike can be mounted in different places.
- Mid Mounted motor: here the motor is located in the middle of the e-bike. This motor reacts to your own effort and regulates the support automatically. The mid-mounted motor is the most common system and is ideal for recreational or commuting use. The mid-motor is compatible with all gear systems and is suitable for almost every type of e-bike.
- Front-wheel motor: Here the motor is placed in the center of the front wheel of the electric bike. This motor system is less common and less responsive to your own effort than a mid-mounted motor.
- Rear Wheel Motor: Here the motor is located in the center of the rear wheel. This motor system is especially suitable for sporty use such as speed pedelecs and electric road bikes. They have a lot of power and offer good support on steep slopes or mountainous roads.
The power of a motor determines how much support the motor can offer you while cycling. The power of an e-bike motor is measured in Watts and the torque in Newton-meters (Nm). This determines how much support or ‘push power’ the motor can provide.
Although it varies slightly by brand, the power of most electric bikes is between 30 Nm and 90 Nm. In general, 30-40 Nm is usually more suitable for everyday use, 50-60 Nm for recreational rides, and 65-85 Nm for sporty e-bikes.
Step 3: The battery
E-bike batteries can be placed in two different places on the e-bike, namely: on the luggage carrier or on the frame of the bike.
- Luggage carrier batteries: Electric bikes with a luggage carrier battery are slightly more common and are slightly more attractive in terms of price than frame battery e-bikes. Luggage carrier batteries do not get in the way and are also easy to cover with a set of bike bags.
- Frame batteries: The battery is nicely integrated into the frame of the bike, which ensures optimal weight distribution of your e-bike. With a frame battery, you are often more stable on the road, which can feel nicer for some people. Frame batteries are more common on sportier e-bike models.
Tip! Always pay attention to whether the battery of your electric bike is easy to connect. When you use your e-bike on a daily basis, it is essential that the battery is easy to remove. To protect your battery as best as possible when it is disconnected, it is best to purchase a protective battery bag.
E-bike battery capacity
The capacity of an E-bike battery determines how far you can cycle on 1 battery charge. The longer the bike ride, the longer the battery should be able to last without being recharged. So it is very important that you think in advance about the distances you want to cover. Based on this you can make a choice from the different bike batteries.
- A battery with a small capacity usually supports a range of up to 30 miles – 50 km. These batteries are therefore suitable for daily use with shorter ride distances.
- Do you want to cover more miles – kilometers, or do you want to charge the battery less often? In that case, a battery with a slightly larger capacity is suitable. These batteries can cover slightly longer distances and often support a range of 45 to 70 miles – 70 to 110 km.
- If you mainly use your e-bike for very long commute distances or long sportive rides, a battery with a large capacity is a must. Large capacity batteries support journeys of 70+ miles 110+ km and ensure that you are also supported on the way back at the end of the day.
Did you know that?
Most batteries have a lifespan of about 5 years. Just like with telephones and laptops, the capacity decreases slightly every year. This process speeds up automatically if you don’t maintain your battery properly. Want to know how to extend the life of your battery? Read it here.
Step 4: The Gears
Different use cases require different gear systems. With most electric bikes you can choose between 3 different systems:
The most common gear system is the hub gear. This system has a limited number of usually 7 to 8 gears. With the hub gear, it is better not to pedal when you shift. This gear requires little maintenance and can optionally be equipped with an automatic shifting system.
The Derailleur gear is a more comprehensive gear system and offers between 21 and 27 gears. The system is lighter in weight and smoother than a standard hub gear system. However, this requires more maintenance. This system is usually more suitable for sporty electric bikes.
E-bike with automatic gear
In recent years there are more and more e-bikes with automatic or stepless gears instead of a normal gear system. Stepless gears are most common on electric bikes, where you no longer have to stop pedaling while changing gears. With a stepless gear system, you often have more choice of gear positions, and cycling can feel more pleasant.
There are also electric bikes with an automatic gear system so that you no longer even have to turn a button while cycling. E-bikes with such a system are not very common and often also higher in price.
Step 5: The comfort
The last step! Have you found a bike that perfectly suits you in terms of components, capacity, engine, and method of use? Then there’s just one more thing to watch out for. Perhaps the most important of all: does it ride well?
It is very important that you can cycle comfortably on your e-bike. Especially if you regularly make longer journeys. This comfort largely depends on the seating position and suspension of the electric bike.
Do you prefer to sit more upright or bent forward? The seating position of the bike is usually determined by the type of electric bike. With city or recreational bikes, you sit upright more often and sporty e-bikes usually have a leaning forward position.
A good bike saddle also ensures a comfortable seating position.
The correct size of your electric bike is important to be able to get on your bike comfortably. Women’s E-bikes often have a lower frame size than men’s e-bikes. There are also e-bikes with an extra-low entry. When you buy an electric bike online, it is very important to look at the size of the frame. If you buy your e-bike in a shop, you can of course test yourself whether you can easily get on the bike.
The suspension of your e-bike can be important when you use your bike in a sporting manner. Especially on forest paths and other hilly roads, it is nice if your electric bike has a good suspension. This is less important for flat roads.
When you have gone through the previous 5 steps, you will hopefully have a good idea of the electric bike that suits you best. However, after filtering by type, motor, battery, and size, there is still a lot of choice between different e-bikes that meet your needs.
That is why it is always a good idea to take a test ride as the last step so that you can be sure that you can fully enjoy your new electric bike.
I hope this electric bike buying guide will help you choose the right E-bike for you.