Electric Bike Buyers Guide
Buying your first electric bike is no simple thing. In fact, there are more questions than answers at the very beginning. We know it.
Buying an E-Bike is more of an investment than anything else, and we understand how important it is for any newbie to the E-Bike world to have all the information necessary to make the best decision.
Over the past few years, we have been able to gather valuable information and gain insight that has helped many first timers when buying their first E-Bike.
In the next article, we will go through the basics of E-Bikes and the most common FAQs to help you gain a better understanding and hopefully guide you to select the E-Bike that best fits your needs.
Class of E-Bikes
Before we jump into basics and specifics of E-bikes, it is important to note that E-Bikes are divided into classes because of regulatory reasons, and some states have different regulations depending on the class.
At the end, each class represents the level of motor assistance in the bike. There are three classes of E-Bikes:
Class 1: This is the kind of bike where the motor kicks in only when you pedal, and will stop when you reach 20 mph.
Class 2: This class has a pedal-assist mode up to 20 mph plus a purely throttle-powered mode. (Most common type)
Class 3: This class is pedal assist (like class 1), but assistance continues until you reach 28 mph.
First Things First - What Do You Need
The very first step when buying an e-bike.
E-bikes can break down into the same categories as the rest of conventional bikes: mountain (all terrain) and road (city), which can be further sub-categorized into levels like hybrid, cruiser, cargo (tricycle), or folding.
Based on the above, this is the first question to ask yourself when buying an E-Bike: What am I going to be using the bike for?
- Are you planning to take road (city) rides and eventually some off riding too? A Hybrid Bike (sometimes referred to as ‘Cruiser’ too) should be the option. These bikes combine the best of both worlds and can give you a smooth ride in flat city terrain and can also get you through rugged terrain when adventure calls.
- Are you a natural Off Roader? Then you should look out for specialty Off Road Bikes. A good motor (at least 750W) with good amount of torque to get you through hills and tough terrain will be your option. These bikes stay true to their off-road nature and will focus on giving you power, torque, and a good suspension if needed.
- Are you planning to use the bike for cargo assistance (groceries for example)? Tricycle or Cargo bikes will be your option. These bikes offer great load capabilities that can assist in transporting goods for example. They are also a great option for smooth city or beach rides with comfort and extra space.
- Do you just want to enjoy the city on a soft and smooth ride? If so, you need a
Road Bike with good and soft feeling, and a 350W-500W motor will be more than enough. Power is not a necessity but rather comfort and style.
- Do you want to have the flexibility of taking the bike everywhere you go? A Folding Bike is the call. These bikes offer the option to be put in the trunk of your car and simply take them with you on a road trip of anywhere you desire.
Based on the above, you should now have an idea of the type of Bike you will be looking for.
Ok, now that you know what you need. Let us break down what to look on a bike.
Battery, Riding Range and Motors
We need to pay attention to the power in each bike. And you should too in case this is what you want. But the caveat though is performance versus riding range. A more powerful motor gets you more speed and more power to get you thru hills or hauling cargo, but at the same time it consumes more battery faster, which reduces your riding range.
Having a big battery helps, of course. But they are more expensive too. Batteries will range from 10Ah up to 17.5Ah in good average for most of the E-Bikes class 2.
Batteries can be integrated to the bike or external. Integrated will have a better look but will be more impractical for charging purposes vs the external battery (which can be detached and put to charge or replace faster).
Battery charge time: It can range from 3 up to 6 hours in good average. Extra batteries are always highly recommended to avoid getting caught without power at any point if you plan to take long rides.
“Having extra battery can be a life saver sometimes if you are an avid E-Biker” - Fred S.
E-Bike Motor Location
Mid-drive motors are located where the crank set is located. Hub-drive motors are located inside the hub of the rear wheel. And some (rarely seen) are on the front wheel.
Rear hub motors can provide the extra torque when most needed (hill and all terrain). The mid-drive motor holds the weight centered and helps keep a balanced and stable ride.
You need to pay attention to Torque if you plan to ride on hills, tough terrain, or if you plan to haul some cargo for example. The Torque ranges from 40 N m to 80 N m. The higher the Torque the more power.
“For any off-road biker, Torque will definitely be one of your focal points when buying” - Tom
Pedal-assist levels: Most bikes offer from 3 to 5 assist levels in average, allowing you to preserve battery power or to the contrary get more speed and torque (full throttle mode).
Other accessories to look
Lighting: They are particularly important, especially at night when you want to be seen. Most bikes will have LED lighting front and back. But also try to look out for brake lights if you are a city commuter.
“Brake lights are especially important to me as a work commuter. They allow me to be seen when making stops just like any other vehicle out there” – Frank
Racks: They are good to support some load. Some bikes will have a detachable rear rack (but sometimes is not a click-n-go accessory). Make sure you get one if you think you really need it. They are helpful though.
LCD displays: It lets you monitor battery life, miles, speed, and more. This means, the LCD display is a particularly important element in your bike. Some LCD displays will be more sophisticated than others, but if they cover what we mentioned, you’re good to go.
Brakes: Some bikes will have mechanical brakes while some others will come with hydraulic brakes (specially performance bikes). For the most part, mechanical brakes are completely fine for the average bike. Hydraulic brakes will be a pricier option.
**With hydraulic brakes there is no brake cable involved in the process. Mechanical refers to when you pull the brake lever the brake cable is being pulled, which in return pulls the brake caliper that essentially pulls the brake pads into the rim. Where hydraulic systems use fluid to transfer the force from lever to caliper. This is a more efficient process.
Frames: Most e-bike frames are made of aluminum (alloy and others), and other options are increasingly becoming available (carbon-fiber). Frame material, together with battery and motor size, are the biggest factors to total weight. The avg total weigh for example on an all terrain will be 72lbs, while a folding bike can be around 55 to 59lbs
All terrain and cruiser bikes will be good for anyone from 5’2’ up to 6’3’ in good average. Make sure you get an adjustable seat post to adjust for desired height. Folding bikes will be good for anyone up to 5’9” in good average too (these are 20” rims in average)
What Are the Benefits of Electric Bikes? Many
- They are a good option for exercise
Although it would sound counterintuitive, they are a great form of exercising. You can level up your effort in pedaling when you need it. And take it off (throttle) so you can rest too. E-Bikes give you options so you can manage how much pedaling you want to put (good on your knees).
- They are a “green” option for transportation
No need to elaborate much here as you can understand why. E-Bikes have zero emission, and unlike the rest of gas fueled transportation, you are doing the earth a favor.
- Theft is much more complicated with an e-bike
Simple, you need a key to start your E-Bike. It makes things more complicated for anyone looking at dragging a bike home.
- A great option to commute to work
Break the sweat and let your bike do the work when you need it. E-Bikes are a great option to get you there faster and more conveniently.
What Are the Most Frequently Asked Questions We Receive?
- Will the bike hold my weight (I’m a heavy person)?
For the most part, all terrain bikes will have max load from 300 to 350lbs, while folding bikes up to 260lbs in average. Tricycles will hold more weight due to their cargo (three wheel) nature. Road bikes with 3” (or lower) tires should not exceed 250lbs of max load
- How fast can they go?
Max speed on Class 2 all-terrain can range from 20-25mph depending on biker and motor. Folding bikes will get up to 20mph in good average. Cargo bikes will not exceed 20mph in average
- I am a tall person, will I fit?
For the most part bikes will have an adjustable seat post, allowing a range of heights to fit in. For example, all terrains and Cruisers (24-26’ rim) will fit anyone from 5’2” up to 6’3” in avg. Folding bikes up to 5’9” in avg. Road bikes 5’2” up to 6’2” in avg
- What is the battery range?
It can vary. In good average 14Ah and 17.5Ah batteries can give you 25-35 miles, and up to 50-60 miles on pedal assisted mode. Lower Ah batteries will get you less.
- Are extra batteries recommended?
ABSOLUTELY. You never know.
- Between Cruiser or Step Thru which one is most recommended?
Depending. But Step Thru will give you a more convenient and easier way to get into the bike. Still a Cruiser with curved front tube allows for easy access. Everything depends on what you like better and what you think is going to work for you. Road bikes tend to be step thru for the most part. While off roads will be ‘Cruiser’ style. Folding bikes can be step thru on some models too.
Be Sure You Get What you Need
E-Bikes are an investment. And you should pay attention to what you pay for. Factors such as type, motor, and style are important, but also factors such as warranty and manufacturer need be considered too.
At Portable4Life.com we only work with manufacturers we trust. Our recommendations are based on all the above so you can feel safe when buying a bike.
Now that we talked about the basics to cover when looking at what E-Bike to buy, this is why we will leave you with some recommendations of our top selling bikes for each category. Enjoy!
Our most recommended:
Hybrid (Cruiser) Bikes
Solid bike with best in market 5-year warranty
Fully accessorized with powerful 750W motor
Kenda 4” Tires, fenders rear and front, rear rack, full LCD Display
Although a hybrid in nature, can be a good option when off-road too
With Hydraulic Brakes this is a great bike true to its off-road nature
Lightweight (only 58lbs)
USB outlet and Tektro Brakes
From the makers of Rambo Bikes. These bikes are an authority in the space
Rambo intelligent power control
Kenda Kevlar anti-puncture tires
48V lithium ion battery and a 750W high torque mid drive motor
Superior quality from another authority in the space of off-roads
Integrated battery and motor system
Updated frame geometry
Focused weight distribution
1000W of power at your disposal
Max speed of 28mph
500 LCD Display
A great option for a great price
Tricycle or Cargo
A very well-made bike
An amazingly comfortable ride vs the rest of its class
Seat with a back rest to support your back during the ride
Hydraulic brakes, front suspension, and large color display are also great features!
Road (City) Bikes
A bike with unique style on a 350W motor
This is a soft and smooth ride from American Electric
Another great bike from Emojo bikes
For the ones riding with style, this Harley-styled bike is a beautiful and elegant bike to enjoy each ride and be seen!
Powerful (750W motor) and comfortable (improved saddle)
Can be paired with rear rack and rear pannier for an even more adventurer look
Our best seller!
Outstanding power with 750W motor and 48V
Tektro Brakes and Shimano Gear
Beautiful colors to select
Fenders, Rear Rack, LED lighting (front and rear), and suspension
A great bike for its price
A good option for any beginner looking for an affordable and reliable bike
An upgraded option to the Dolphin with more battery capacity for longer rides
Linear front tube with a sportier design vs Dolphin
Another great option for its price
From the makers of Cheetah Café Racer, a very good bike with great quality
48V 500W High speed gear motor
48V 13Ah Li-ion battery with key-lock and handlebar
Matrix LCD display
Italian Selle Royal saddle for max comfort
Remember, E-Bikes are an investment. Pay attention to what you are buying that best fit your needs. Getting all the information about your next E-Bike is critical so you know what you are buying.
We hope this information has been good enough to guide you thru the process, but if you have any particular question you need more guidance about, please send us an email to: Support@Portable4Life.com