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How To Choose An Electric Bike

How To Choose An Electric Bike | GearPro Guide

How To Choose An Electric Bike

Electric bikes or E-bikes have become increasingly popular for their ease of use and general fun anywhere. Like any sports equipment, there are different styles designed to excel at specific tasks. You, as the buyer, need to figure out what you want to do with your Ebike to purchase the one best for your needs. Like peddle bikes, styles range from ultra-light road cycles for long-distance rides to aggressive mountain bikes with aggressive tread for whatever nature throws on the trail. A road bike will be a rough ride on a backwoods trail, and a mountain bike won’t be an asset on a long ride on the pavement.

Table of Contents

So how should one choose an e-bike? Use naturally is a significant first consideration; after that, we have top speed, range of charge, types of batteries, and additional accessories. For an in-depth look at Ebikes, check out the E-bike 101 page if you haven’t yet.

Use

Where you plan on using your bike will change the style of bike you need. If you plan on off-setting your gas bill and biking to work, you will want a bike with different features than heading into the woods for a weekly ride down out-of-season ski trails. Road bikes are lighter with slimmer frames and tires designed for flat pavement. Offroad bikes have heavier frames to accommodate the rough terrain encountered on a trail ride.

On-Road

Comfort and speeds are the biggest considerations for road bikes. The svelt frames of road bikes mean less work peddling and powering them uphill. There are two categories of road bikes, touring and cruising bikes.

Touring Bikes are the classic style of road bikes with down-turned handles and narrow frames. Most touring bikes will have hub motors to help reduce the bike’s weight. These are great options for those looking to bike to work or push their weekend bike trip even further. Touring bikes are the lightest style of the bike on the market.

Cruiser Bikes offer comfort and style. Cruisers are usually styled like vintage bikes with larger seats and swept handles, making rides across even terrain a joy. Many cruisers have wider tires; the added stability cruising on the balloon tires makes them great beach bikes when peddling along hard-packed sand beaches. Cruisers are much like the big luxury sedans on the road; the trade-off of comfort is weight. These bikes tend to be heavier than most other options.

Off-Road

Off-road bikes, as one would expect, are designed for playing where the pavement ends. Off-road bikes also come in a few styles; the two most popular variations are mountain bikes and fat-tire bikes.

Mountain E-bikes have the same styles and upgrades as traditional mountain bikes. To keep the bike balanced, most companies will use a mid-drive motor. This motor placement also allows for front and rear suspension. A front suspension fork will help soften the impact of a rough trail or even a pothole. For more technical trail riding, look for a downhill-style bike with both front and rear suspension.

Fat Tire E-Bikes are off-road bikes in the same way that your standard jeep is an offroad vehicle. It can handle rough terrain and city streets with the same capability. Fat tire bikes lack suspension, making them lighter weight. The large tires absorb some impact and provide traction in everything from sand to snow.

Commuter E-Bikes are another option that sits firmly between on and off-road bikes. They aren’t as light as touring bikes and don’t possess the same suspension systems as an offroad bike, but they can handle getting off the pavement when needed. Some commuter bike designs forsake the lightweight design to be foldable. The foldable features are an excellent resource for bikers living in smaller spaces where a full-sized bike would be challenging to store.

Folding Bikes are bike designs that forsake the lightweight design to be foldable. The foldable features are an excellent resource for bikers living in smaller spaces where a full-sized bike would be challenging to store. Folding bikes encompass a wide range of styles from “lightweight” on-road models with small tires and telescoping handles, to fat tire models that have front suspension for off-road use. For those who need as much space as possible, a folding bike is an option to consider.

Power

Like any power source, the buyer has many choices. The cost-to-power ratio is the most common trade-off for e-bikes. The batteries on most e-bikes are removable, so there is always an option to purchase and charge a backup battery if your ride may exceed the charge. Many factors determine how long a battery will power your bike, but a good rule of thumb is to purchase the highest watt battery to extend your range at full power. We’ve listed the battery options below with a few notes to help inform you about the trade-offs.

Lead-Acid: The most economical option but sensitive to climate variations. Cold and hot weather will run the battery down at different rates. Riders can save a few hundred dollars on lead-acid batteries, but they weigh twice as much as lithium-ion batteries.

Nickel-Cadmium: Lighter than lead-acid batteries, but they suffer performance-impacting defects, such as “memory,” where the battery will lose performance based on whether it was properly charged or discharged.

Lithium-Ion: The most expensive option is also the lightest weight with no performance loss from weather or charging/discharging cycles.

Distance

Each bike and power option style will lead to a different maximum distance for your e-bike. You won’t be dead in the water should the battery run down, but your ride will become more strenuous as you peddle a heavier bike in a lower gear. On average, e-bikes get 30 miles or so per charge running at full power. Some e-bikes are capable of ranging up to 100 miles per charge. Figuring out how you want to use your bike, in this case, will determine what range you may want. A long rage bike is ideal for those looking to do some serious long-distance rides into the backcountry or the next county. For bikers commuting to work or school, a 30-mile range is more than sufficient, especially with the ability to charge the battery while in class or on the clock.

Speed

Knowing the top speed of a bike is critical for those who want to get somewhere fast. Depending on your location, some municipalities have imposed speed limits on bikes. Between motor design and top-speed bikes are broken down into three classes.

For class 1 and class 3 bikes, the rider needs to peddle for the motor to power the ride. Class 2 bikes have a throttle control like a moped. Class 1 bikes are regulated to a top speed of 20 miles per hour. This top speed makes them user-friendly for most bike paths and outdoor use. Twenty miles per hour is nothing to shake a stick at when considering how slow rush-hour city traffic can be. Class 2 and 3 bikes have top speeds of up to 28 miles per hour but are less accepted on bike paths and public roads. It’s important to check your local laws regarding e-bike ratings before making a purchase.

Weight

As we mentioned before, bike weight can contribute to battery life. Heavier bikes may also be less maneuverable at low speeds. Cruisers and mountain bikes with heavier motors and large frames can weigh as much as 80 pounds, and smaller commuter bikes and touring cycles can weigh as little as 30 pounds.

Additional Accessories

Depending on the use of your bike you may need or want additional accessories. For those using their bike for errands or outdoor activities like biking to the lake for a fishing trip, having a gear rack mounted to the back is ideal. For those who need to conform to certain safety regulations or enjoy night rides making sure the bike is equipped with or capable of using lights is critical. Some bikes have lights mounted while others can mount battery powered lights.

E-bikes are awesome tools to offset your fuel budget or to explore further than you would on a standard bike. by selecting a bike that best fits your wants and needs you will save yourself a headache and potentially some money. Stop into your local shop and try out their selection of bikes, in no time you will find the ideal ride for you. Have fun and we will see you on the trail.

 

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