E-bikes are quickly becoming a more prevalent form of transportation. Simply put, they are the faster, more widely accessible version of a traditional bicycle.
However, with the rising popularity and so many makes and models on the market, the question becomes: Are electric bikes reliable? How to find a reliable e-bike for a fair price? The general answer is yes, e-bikes are becoming more and more reliable as the market develops and more and more models are sold, tested and improved.
The more detailed answer though is dependent on many factors. From batteries to motors, controllers to brands, and warranties to maintenance, this article will outline all the aspects to consider about e-Bike reliability before you invest in your own.
Integrated, converted or reseller brand e-bike?
When it comes to e-Bikes, there are a few options to choose from before you get into brands and manufacturers. Integrated or ready-made e-Bikes are simply ones that come with the battery and motor already integrated.
Then there’s the conversion kit option, wherein you can convert your traditional bicycle into an e-bike. Some of the top integrated e-Bike brands include Espin, Specialized, Haibike, Raleigh, Giant (see these models, for example, on BikeBerry).
The other option is to buy from reseller brands that assemble e-Bikes from catalog parts. There is a distinction to be made, though: e-Bikes coming from major companies typically use parts, such as motors and batteries, from five major companies. These companies are Shimano, Bosch, Yamaha, Brose, and Panasonic.
However, resellers typically do not use parts from these companies due to affordability reasons. Thus, it’s generally a safer idea to go for an e-Bike that has one of the former five company’s parts installed, as they are the most reliable, reputable, and powerful.
Another reason to try avoiding the reseller brands found, first of all, on online marketplaces is that the quality and reliability have the potential to be lower. This is because these e-Bikes are often put together by various generic parts by different companies. This sometimes means a higher potential of substandard work, and therefore a heightened chance of malfunctioning.
If you’re looking to buy a Chinese-made e-bike, bear this in mind: yes, e-bikes have been extremely popular in China for a long while now.
However, due to the growing saturation of generic suppliers in the e-Bike market, often lacking the necessary quality controls and desire to minimize production costs, there is a higher chance of potential parts failures as you start using your Chinese-made e-bike.
Chinese e-Bikes are typically throttle-based as well, whereas North American or European e-Bikes are typically pedal-assist due to varying road laws. Be sure to understand your own place of residence’s e-Bike road rules before you purchase one, particularly if you’re purchasing an e-Bike from another country.
Another issue with buying an e-bike from a reseller is that many of these e-Bikes do not come with a guarantee or warranty, which is a significant risk in case anything goes wrong.
If you are worried about which e-Bike to get and what the warranty is going to look like, a good piece of advice is this: the top-rated e-Bike brands will typically always provide you a manufacturer’s warranty, which often covers spare parts and maintenance.
Always take a close look at the warranty before buying to see what exactly it entails. For example, some warranties will take care of material and processing defects that only already existed upon delivery.
Another example is that some warranties only cover parts issues for a certain amount of time: bike frames, components, and parts replacements are often only covered for one or two years since purchase. As long as you are sensible with your e-Bike, most e-Bike dealers and shops should be covering basic motor, controller, and battery issues under the warranty.
Common motor issues that may arise often come from installation errors such as overheating, axle spinouts, water damage, and broken spokes. However, aside from installation issues that are usually covered by warranties, regular maintenance can help prevent coming across these common issues.
The controller, which is considered the “brain” of the e-Bike, is connected to the other electronic parts like the battery and motor. Issues that may arise here are corrosion, wire issues, and failures.
Rest assured, high-quality warranties are reasonable and will cover most major issues that you may come across. However, it’s always a good idea to thoroughly check the fine print and to raise any concern with your seller before you purchase your e-Bike.
Types of e-bikes and what you use them for
The type of e-Bike you buy should be suited to the kind of lifestyle and consistency of which you are planning to ride.
The e-Mountain bikes (eMTB) are typically more recommended for riders that ride more frequently, as they are considered more durable and reliable when riding on bumpy or uneven terrain (such as hills and mountains).
City, or commuter, e-Bikes are typically meant for more casual rides, or for riders who don’t plan on using their e-Bike as often. They are also ideal for city rides or more even terrain.
If you’re riding in the winter months, or e-biking all year around in a place with changing seasons, an eMTB might be the best option for you. This is because it’s more reliable through mud, snow, and puddles than a commuter e-Bike, and very rarely goes through parts failures due to its durability.
Ultimately, both eMTB and commuter e-Bikes are reliable in their own regard: you just have to understand their respective limitations and strengths. Be sure to analyze the various factors of your lifestyle before you choose your e-Bike.
Using your e-bike
If you are using your e-Bike more heavily or more regularly, there is a slightly higher chance of general wear and tear. However, heavy usage is typically better for your e-bike than keeping it locked up because storing e-Bikes for a long period of time heightens the chance of rust, water damage, and corrosion to its electronic parts.
If you are living in a part of the world that suffers from below zero temperatures, you also must be mindful of temperature regulation when storing your e-bike. Optimal e-bike storage requires a cool, dry place.
Using your e-Bike in the rain or during winter is certainly feasible. Just make sure to clean and dry your e-Bike after going through snow or rain. Try and avoid big puddles or slush, because salt and water can splash into your gears and cause rust to form in the harder-to-reach areas.
It’s recommended to give your e-Bike a quick clean after riding regardless of what time of year you’re riding in, but of course, when water is involved, it’s more pertinent to get it done right away.
Other common rules include using rust-proof spray on your e-Bike, and frequently cleaning and lubricating your chains and sprockets.
Maintaining your e-Bike
Regular maintenance can help prevent you from having to get larger repairs done on your e-Bike. Cleaning is imperative as it will help to keep dirt and other foreign materials from affecting the engines, motors, and other parts of your e-Bike.
It is advised that you try and wash your e-Bike once a week or so. When cleaning, aim to not use a pressurized hose, as it has the potential to wear away at the electrical components of your e-Bike which may lead to malfunction. Use a wet rag or low-pressure water stream instead.
Lube your chain and other moving parts at least once a week, particularly if you are a frequent rider. Check your e-Bike to see if there are any loose bolts, screws, or other fastening features, and tighten them as necessary.
You should also be checking your brake pads once every few weeks, to make sure your brakes are keeping their effectiveness – this is especially imperative because, without effective brakes, you’re putting yourself at risk while riding. Check your tire pressure often and use a tire pump as necessary.
Finally, taking care of your battery is imperative to your e-Bike’s functionality. This includes the proper storage and charging methods of your battery.
For example, you should always remove and clean your battery separately from your e-Bike when you’re not using it and charge it immediately. This will help your battery’s life span. Keep your battery above freezing temperature before charging it to avoid damage.
There are many battery options: lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, and lithium-ion are some of the top choices. The consensus, though, is that Lithium-ion is by far the most popular. They last longer, generate more power, can be disposed of safely, and are better for the environment.
Yes, e-Bikes are reliable!
If you are looking for a reliable e-bike, make sure you use trustworthy sources when buying your e-Bike. This will ensure a better sense of e-Bike reliability. The same ideology goes for any product: high quality will almost always deliver strong results.
As the e-Bike market further develops and becomes more streamlined, there is surety of more reliable e-Bike options for more reasonable prices. If you understand your own e-Bike, you will understand what the rules and limitations are.
Despite any potential issues that may come up, many e-Bike riders abide by the fact that their e-Bike is a reliable vehicle that has positively changed their lives. Find the e-Bike that’s right for you and your lifestyle, and you’ll be good to go!
Here is a quick video look at Decathlon Riverside 500 E hybrid e-bike: