Halloween Sale! 5% Off Coupon Code on Selected Brands! Use Code BOO at Check Out! CLICK HERE FOR BRAND LINKS

All About E-Bikes

ElectricByke.com Buyers Guide – Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Electric Bikes, but Were Afraid to Ask…

For all intents and purposes, an electric bike looks and acts pretty much like a regular bike – but with a few differences. In order to pick the best one for you, it helps to know a bit about eBike design and capabilities.  Consider this your “jungle guide” to the wild electric bike – now let’s get started!

What Is an Electric Bike and Who Needs One?

The electric bike – also usually referred to as the e-bike – is simply a bicycle that is assisted by a motor. All things considered, this bicycle takes out some of the effort that you put into pedaling, as it assists you with a motor and a battery. It is almost like a baby version of a motorcycle – one that doesn’t look so big and clunky.

E-bikes represent a very convenient way for you to cover long distances – particularly when you have lots of commuting to do (or you aren’t as young as you used to be). As a result, these bikes are very efficient in taking the edge out of a task that would normally feel very difficult to do on your own.

Electric bikes are also very convenient for those that are recovering from an illness or injury. With the added motor, the stress on their back and body will no longer be as big – and they will be able to easily recover from their illness.

How long have electric bikes been around?

Quite a few people believe that electric bikes are something new on the market – that they haven’t been around for much. However, that is not exactly true. In truth, electric bikes date back pretty much all the way to the 19th century – which means that they have been around with us for quite some time. The only issue is that they just now became more readily available – and people are beginning to see their use.

The first electric bike made its appearance in 1895. The first bike motor created by Ogden Bolton Jr. and could only draw around 100 amperes out of a 10-volt battery – which was not actually quite a lot. The users still had to chip in a good bit of their own power to move along.

It was only two years later, in 1897, when the motor was reinvented by Hosea W. Libbey and became the “double electric motor.” With its crankset axle hub design, it held on for quite a few years before it was once more reinvented as a rear-wheel-drive electric motor.

Throughout the years, the bicycle became more and more advanced – and, as with all technological breakthroughs, the electric bike continued to evolve technically. Batteries also went through advancements, and, in recent years lightweight lithium batteries started being used more and more on e-bikes.

The frames of the bicycle also went through some changes to increase comfort. Eventually, the bikes reached the status that they have today – but all of them had the purpose of increasing comfort and making bike riding an easier activity.

Benefits of Electric Bikes

At this point, you may be wondering why choose an electric bike in favor of a traditional model? Well, here are a few things that might place the electric bike at the top of the chain, making it the perfect investment for your comfort. It’s the perfect combo between a moped and a regular bike

Scooters (or mopeds) are very convenient, as their motor can get you quite fast to your destination without breaking a sweat. However, the problem is that mopeds are not allowed on sidewalks – only on the streets. On the other hand, electric bicycles can go through parks, sidewalks, and bike lanes – an action that will allow you to get much faster to your destination. Plus, while mopeds might require you to have a special license in order to drive them, an electric bike will have no such requirements.

They are a great form of exercise

Granted, an electric bike was made in order to assist you with the pedaling and take away the bulk of effort that you have to use in order to get the bike moving. However, this does not mean that you won’t have to be doing any effort whatsoever. It’s not a scooter, and it’s not a motorcycle.

With electric bikes, you will be doing a bit of pedaling – only that it will not be that intensive. It will be assisted, taking the pressure off, but still getting the muscles running. This is why e-bikes are actually quite a good way of exercising and burning off calories.

They are a “green” option for transportation

It’s been increasingly obvious in the last years that we need to decrease the greenhouse gas emissions in the air if we still want to have a breathable atmosphere – and a planet to live on, for the matter. Since gas ads greatly to the CO2 emissions, people are going more and more for electric cars and ditching the ones that use gas – but if you do not have the money to buy an electric car, then an electric bike might be a better option.

They are more theft-resistant in comparison to simple bikes

In order to operate an electric bike, you will need a key to start off the engine – and if there is no key, there is no way for you to start it. With a simple bike, all you have to do is hop on it and start pedaling – but with an electric bike, theft is much more complicated. Since you do not have a key to turn the motor on, you will have to simply push the heavy bike – and you won’t even be able to get it going. Granted, it’s not an impossible task – but who would want to steal the bike under those circumstances anyway?

You can easily commute to work

Many people like the idea of riding a bike to work – but the truth is that not everyone is entertained by the pedaling that you will have to do until you get there. The chances are that by the time you get to work, you will be sweating from all that huffing and puffing that you had to go through as you were climbing up the hills. To avoid that, many people prefer to take their car in favor of their traditional bike – but that one makes you risk getting stuck in endless traffic during the rush hour.

On the other hand, with an electric bike, you should be able to get to work without even breaking a sweat. This is because the motor will assist your pedaling, and it will allow you to reach your workplace without making you look as if you just underwent a training session. Plus, you will be able to reach your workplace quickly, as you will be able to cut your path through parks and sidewalks – therefore, not getting stuck in the rush hour traffic.

Riding Comfort

Generally speaking, to relieve pressure and make bike riding more comfortable, cruiser-style electric bikes have a more upright seat in comparison to traditional bikes. When you sit upright, there will no longer be as much pressure placed on your back and wrists – and you will also have a correct and elevated posture.

Not only will you be able to sit more comfortably with your back straight, but you should also be able to take in your surroundings much easier. This way, you will keep yourself protected from any potential hazards coming down your way on the street.

Electric Bike Controls

Basically, there are two types of ebike controls:  pedal-assisted and throttle controlled e-bikes. Depending on the type of rider that you are and your personal preferences, you may choose either of the two. Good news, many new ebikes offer both capabilities in their bikes.

Pedal-Assisted & Throttle E-Bikes

An e-bike with a pedal-assist system will be equipped with a torque sensor and will detect your pedaling – turning the assistance on automatically and providing a more natural-feeling bike-ride sensation.

The good part about a pedal-assisted bike is that you can use it for a relaxing ride – without having to continuously hold the throttle in place. All you have to do is set the power level in the way in which you feel most comfortable (from high to low), and the e-bike will be the one to power the proportion into your pedaling.

On the other hand, twist throttles – similar to a motorcycle’s throttle – will give you enough power to boost your pedaling (or to not pedal at all!). They are quite a useful option when you need a quick burst of power when moving from a standstill or going up a hill.

These bikes actually have throttles that are operated with only the push of a thumb.  You may pedal these bikes in the usual way or just use the throttle. '

Motors

Electric bikes can be powered in a number of differing ways. Each style motor has its own unique features and benefits. Below are the most common types:

HUB Motor E-Bikes
Many e-bikes work on a hub motor – the only denominator being exactly which type of hub motor. You can go for either of the subcategories, geared, gearless, or mid-drive – depending on your particular needs.
Direct Drive (Gearless) HUB
These motors are quite durable – but what most people appreciate them for is that they are quieter and faster. However, the downside is that they tend to drag when they are being pedaled requiring the rider to use more power. They also have a much smaller range, and they tend to be heavier and larger.
For longer commutes, these bikes may be quite inconvenient. However, for the regular ones that are not too steep, they are quite a convenient asset and will also provide a great deal of fun exercise.
Geared HUB
E-bikes with a geared HUB will feature planetary gears that are more lightweight and smaller – while providing a bit more torque and less drag while you are pedaling. This is why they are the best choice for long commutes, heavy loads, and steep hills that require quite a lot of effort.
Bear in mind that these bikes tend to be much noisier and are less durable – which means you may have to provide quite a lot of maintenance. Plus, the top speeds are much lower, meaning that the bike ride will feel more casual than fast.
Mid-Drive Motor
A mid-drive motor is typically found in the pedal area and is generally recommended for the experienced cyclist that knows their way around frequent gear changing. Bear in mind that these bikes need more maintenance in comparison to other electric bikes due to the added wear occurring on the drive train.

Electric Bike Styles

Electric bikes can be purchased in a variety of styles, all related to the type of riding that you are going for. While you may indeed find hybrids that can go with a variety of riding styles: here are some styles that you might want to choose from.

Commuter: These bikes look pretty much like regular city bikes. Designed to help you on your commute to work, they are fairly lightweight and generally have given narrow tires. They are also often equipped with luggage racks where you can place your backpack or work bag. They generally have fenders to prevent the mud from getting on your clothes. 
Cruiser: Inspired by beach cruiser frames, they are perfect for day trips such as relaxing rides along the coast. These cruising bikes are quite comfortable and stylish, usually featuring an upright position – with swept-back handlebars and wide tires.
Fat Tire: These bikes actually come in a variety of styles – and as their name suggests, they have tires that are particularly thick. The tires are around 4 inches wide – so this style is convenient for off-road or commutes that go off the beaten track. Of course, this does not mean that this style bike is not a marvelous choice for paved roads as well.
Folding: These bikes are the perfect choice for those who do not have the luxury of a lot of space and want to stay as compact as possible. Their frames are smaller, their tires are also smaller, and they also generally have frames that either collapse or fold saving you quite a lot of space.
Mountain: Made with a sturdy frame and particularly big tires, these were intended to easily go through rough trails, having a quality suspension system that will absorb all the hard hits you can experience on the trail.
Comfort: For some people, comfort electric bikes have quite a funny design, as they look like a mix between a recumbent bike and the step-through cruiser. However, they were made to ensure that you keep your back straight and that you ride comfortably from one place to another.

The Battery

The battery of your electric bike is just as important as  the motor. First of all, you will need to ensure that your bike has a  quality battery that is suitable for your specific riding style.

Most modern electric bikes nowadays feature a lithium-ion battery. However, some older models have SLAs batteries (sealed lead-acid) such as you find in a car.

SLAs batteries are the more affordable option – but they are quite heavy in comparison to lithium-ion batteries. For instance, a 6-pound lithium-ion battery will pack pretty much the same power as 30-pound SLAs batteries. The latter also charges quite slowly, which is why many people and most manufacturers prefer the faster charging of the lithium-ion batteries.

As for the measurements, you will see battery power expressed as either a combination of watts and volts, or amp hours(AH). Generally speaking, the battery of an electric bike can supply 7-10 amp hours of power some a bit more.

The popular option, lithium-ion batteries generally experience around 800 charging cycles before being replaced. Each battery will have a different run-time, but you may expect them to take you anywhere from 25 miles to 75 miles. Bear in mind that the way you use the bike will also determine how much the battery will use. The more assistance the bike has to give you, the more power it will use from the battery.

Putting a Stop to Ebikes

OK, we’re talking about brakes here! While many eBike buyers are focused on bike type, the  motor and the batteries, we think that the braking system is actually more , important especially from a safety standpoint. Most ebikes are equipped with either mechanical or hydraulic  disc brakes. These are different from non-powered bicycles of the past which have caliper brakes.

When you squeeze your brake lever, the mechanism causes pads to press against the rotor, stopping or slowing the bike. These pads wear down with time and should be attended to regularly. When the distance from the pad to the rotor gets to about .6 inch (1.5mm), its time to have them replaced.

Average Costs of Electric Bikes

When purchasing an electric bike, you can expect to pay anything from $700 to more than $6,000. In regard to ownership costs, the overall expense is actually rather small. You can expect to pay about $200 per year for occasional maintenance (less if you are not a heavy user). Battery replacement should run about $400 every five years. Adding everything up, you should expect to pay pay less than $300 per year for the maintenance and battery upkeep on your bike, which sure beats the cost of commuting in a car! (and we’re not including the cost of keeping your car gassed up!)

Pros and Cons of Owning an Electric Bike

When it comes to owning an electric bike, there are advantages and drawbacks that you might want to keep in mind. This will help you determine whether the purchase of an electric bike is right for you.

Pros

  • If you want to commute on the bike, it saves you quite a lot in the long run ( plus you don’t have to pay for gas!)
  • It is a great method of taking yourself from point A to point B, even when it comes to long-distance commuting.
  • It allows you to keep yourself fit, while you are enjoying the outdoors.
  • You do not need to have a license in order to drive an electric bike.
  • It features different configurations suitable for pretty much anyone.

Cons

  • Some find the initial purchase price a bit high, if this is the case for you, look to see if financing is available with your store.
  • It has complex parts, so maintenance might be challenging for certain people
  • An electric bike is typically heavier than a regular bike

Purchasing Tips

When it comes to buying an electric bike, there are several things that you might want to keep in mind – and not everything has precisely to do with the construction, the motor or the batteries. Some things are purely external, but they will allow you to choose the bike that is convenient for you.

Pick the electric bike based on your needs

Each electric bike was made for different needs and different people – which is why you need to determine whether that electric bicycle can satisfy your needs or not. For example, if comfort is most important to you, then you might want to buy something with a comfortable step-in frame.

Similarly, if what you care most about is getting over that big hill with ease, then you might want to go for a bike that has a stronger motor or battery – around 500 watts. If you understand what you need, then it will be much easier for you to make the right purchase.

Consider the warranty

As with every purchase made for the long run, you also have to make sure that you get a decent warranty. With a good warranty, you will have the assurance that your bike will last you many years.

In most cases, a two-year warranty will be all that you need. Still, there are some manufacturers that give even longer warranties. Bear in mind, that each key parts may have different warranties. For example, the motor might have a different warranty in comparison to the battery – so, make sure that you get something that is worthy of your purchase.

Make sure to go with a good retailer

Whom you work with when purchasing the electric bicycle should also be carefully considered..

This is why you first need to consider the holy trinity of a good retailer: quality, commitment, and vibe. Look into the way the dealer generally treats their clients – particularly when it comes to issues that occur after someone makes a purchase. From this, you can also get a good idea of their commitment and how much they want to get their bikes on the road.

As for quality, you might want to read as many reviews as you can.  Indeed, you may get a good idea of a bike’s quality by reading the product description and looking at the materials that they use – but in most cases, the best ideas will come to you through comments by existing customers.

Listen to your intuition

If your gut is telling you that there is something wrong with the brand or the model in particular, then you are probably not very far away from the truth. In most cases, if you see quite a lot of information about the bike that is negative or comments that seem to be polar opposites, then the chances are that there is indeed something wrong with that bike.

Wrapping it All Up

When it comes to buying an electric bike, there are a number of considerations. Where will you be riding, what kind of riding will you do: commuting on the street, climbing hills, cruising along a beach? What is the most comfortable position for riding: do you like to be upright, or are you more comfortable in a crouch. What kind of distances will you be covering – short trips or long excursions.

Conduct as much research as possible on your e-bike of choice and carefully read the specifications. When you are confident that the style, type, and power are exactly what you are looking for, then, as mentioned earlier,  you might want to finish your research by reading user reviews.

Here’s wishing you good luck in your research and in your final choice. Let us know if we can provide any more information by contacting us at: info@electricbyke.com

x