An introduction to buying your E-Bike.
You’re considering an e-bike. Great! Let’s start by dispelling some myths – Electric bikes are for everyone, regardless of your fitness level or how much cycling you already do.
There’s a lot of reasons to consider an E-bike – Ride further, ride longer, reduce the strain and enjoy more of the fun bits…
Firstly, What is an E-Bike?
An electric bike is very similar to any regular bike, but with the added assistance of an Electric Motor and battery.
As technology improves and cycling brands expand their electric bike ranges, there’s never been more choice with something to suit everyone.
How do Electric Bikes Work?
Unlike a motorbike, most E-bikes nowadays are pedelec, also known as “pedal-assisted”, meaning that they require pedalling in order for the motor to work in tandem. However, with a pedal-assisted bike you can also choose your assistance level, giving you the option to cycle completely unaided by your motor, should you wish.
Types of E-bike Motors
When it comes to motors, there are two broad types available for a pedelec/pedal-assisted e-bike. E-bikes tend to have 3 or 4 modes from Eco to Turbo, so you can adjust the level of motor assistance to suit.
A hub motor sits at the hub of the front or rear wheel and powers it directly. These are lighter than crank motors so commonly feature on bikes where weight is crucial such as road bikes. This is typically a more affordable option also.
Also known as a Mid-Drive. A crank motor sits at the mid-frame, typically found at the pedals. These tend to come with a higher price tag however offer a more natural feeling ride with a low, central point of gravity.
Which e-bike motor brand is best?
Yamaha and Bosch are widely considered the market leaders, with Shimano’s system also a very reliable option. However, performance will be dependent on personal preference and the type of riding you are trying to do on your Electric Bike.
Powering your E-bike: E-bike batteries
E-bike motors are powered by a battery, which is removable in most E-Bikes. There are several types and sizes of e-bike batteries available. Generally speaking the larger the battery, the greater the range and the more torque the motor will have with the common battery sizes being 400wh, 500wh, 625wh and 725wh.
For more information, see our guide on charging and maintaining your E-Bike Battery.
Types of Electric Bike
Electric Mountain Bike
As with a regular mountain bike, these are best recommended for those who often get muddy on their bike rides! Made for dirt paths, trails or off-road riding and built for absorbing bumps with their suspension forks and wide tyres.
An Electric Mountain Bike can help add boost where you don’t want to be spending your energy, like up those steep inclines… However, it can also offer you versatility as an occasional commuter bike if you’re not looking for any serious speed or taking substantial baggage.
Electric Road Bike/Electric Gravel Bike
Made for road and tarmac riding with more brands also offering gravel suitable options. An electric road bike is designed with lightweight, speed and distance in mind with the pedal-assist being a great addition if you’d like faster climbs.
A motor will add some weight to your E-road bike, but since they’re designed for a sporty ride, weight saving is paramount in their design. You’ll find the best E-road bikes will not be too far off some regular road bikes in weight. Similarly to a conventional road bike, an Electric Road bike will feature drop-down handlebars, narrow tyres and a more aggressive, aerodynamic riding position than other bikes.
Electric Hybrid Bike
Built for versatility, the world of Electric Hybrid bikes is ideal for casual leisure riders, frequent commuters and sustainably conscious, urban travellers alike who want added boost where it helps.
What is an electric hybrid bike? Unlike hybrid engines, hybrid refers to the purpose and design of the bike rather than the motor. The battery-assisted version of the regular hybrid bike (essentially a mountain bike/road bike “hybrid”), Hybrid e-bikes are characterised by flat handlebars and wider tyres making them ideal for rides where comfort and practicality are key.
Is an Electric Bike for me?
You should approach buying an e-bike just as you would with a standard bike. It is best to consider the main type of riding you plan on using it for. Whilst most e-bikes are incredibly versatile, our guide will help you decide what type of Electric Bike is best for your lifestyle:
- Love thrashing downhills? Head off-road or on the trails with an Electric Mountain bike.
- Going on a staycation? Explore local towns, villages and countryside with an Electric Hybrid Bike.
- Eating up some miles on the road? Add to your ride with some speed on an Electric Road bike.
For the Journey to Work.
As we all know public transport can be stressful: delays, missed connections, overcrowding and rising costs; and for those of us outside of major cities (like our humble home in Norfolk), the availability of transport options is patchy, to say the least.
Alternatively, with rising fuel costs, insurance, road tax, parking charges, congestion and emissions – a car journey can make you want to turn around before you’ve even left for work.
How many times have you set off for work only to find the traffic is at a standstill or you’ve squeezed onto a bus feeling like you’re at the front row of a concert that you didn’t ask to go to? An e-bike offers you the option to free yourself from the stress of sitting in traffic or wrestling for that seat on the tube and make your journey a more enjoyable one.
Cheap to run and more environmentally friendly than other forms of travel, the average electric bike journey takes just half the commute time as a regular bike.
For commuting, reliability and weight-bearing capabilities are important as well as fenders, mudguards and panniers – So we recommend looking at Electric Hybrid Bike options first.
For Leisure…and the smiles.
It’s rare to see a sad face on an e-bike. It’s undeniable that electric bikes are fun. Full stop. So no matter your riding style e-bikes are made for more than functionality and fitness.
Easier on the joints and accommodating of different fitness levels – there aren’t a lot of barriers when it comes to enjoying an electric bike, so you may want to consider several different options.
For spending some time out in the country, touring the coast with a picnic or roaming around town then an Electric Hybrid Bike is ideal.
Perhaps you like some long-distance riding at a whizzier pace – then an Electric Road Bike or Gravel will be best.
If more rural exploration, trails or rough hills are your thing, you probably want to look at an Electric Mountain Bike.
For Fitness (including the not so fit).
Don’t think that a motor is cheating. Whilst the added boost may help ease the exertion (ideal times when you don’t want to break a sweat!), with levels of assistance you can choose when you work harder including no assistance at all. Happy to take the pace? An electric bike still allows for a good workout but can help where it matters such as pulling out of a junction or getting up those previously avoided, steep hills.
Studies have shown that riding an e-bike actually makes you fitter than a standard bike. It sounds odd, but if you can get around easier without having to change into lycra or work up a sweat chances are you’ll be choosing to ride more and more often.
Don’t worry we’re not proposing you trade in your lovely carbon road bike, but next time you need to pop to the shops to get some groceries, think about how you could jump on an e-bike, load it up and scoot back without breaking a sweat. You can’t manage that on your Supersix but it seems silly to take the car for just a couple of miles.
For Sending It Downhill!
We’re all about sending it down our favourite trails too, but wouldn’t it be even better if you could get back up to the top in half the time with double the amount of energy?
One of the fastest-growing areas in recent years, electric bikes aren’t just limited to Hybrids – they’re available as trail slaying Electric Mountain Bikes with 160mm travel as well. Smash it downhill then use the motor’s assistance to get you back to the top over and over again.
But wait… some things to know before buying an e-bike.
Let’s cut to it, here are some things to consider when shopping for your e-bike:
- The weight. Despite technology improvements and brands investing more into Electric bike development, make no mistake that ultimately, an E-bike is always likely to be heavier than your regular bike with its motorised additions. As such, we always recommend testing the bike out where possible – every bike purchase is one of personal preference.
- The investment. Whilst there is a wide variety of brands and models in the market, generally, e-bikes come with a significant price tag down to their engineering and technology components. So don’t expect to snag a (quality!) electric bike at the same cost as a regular entry-level bike.
- It’ll only go so far, and so fast. The range on a bike can vary massively based on the owner and their riding style. A typical range for an electric bike is between 45 to 95 Kilometres… or 30 to 60 miles to you and me. Additionally, It’s not a motorbike. So no speeding down the open road. E-Bikes are legally capped at a maximum speed of 28mph in the UK.
- The battery won’t last forever. You will need to replace your battery every couple of years. However, it’s fairly insignificant in comparison to the overall benefits and savings that can be made with your alternative mode of transport.
- Maintenance. As with any bike, electric or not – we always recommend treating it with love. Take your e-bike to be professionally serviced once a year. All of our brands come with specific manufacturer warranties. Please refer to the manufacturer for details.