Comprehensive Electric Bike Selection Guide, 2022 update


Easy E-Biking - Brompton electric bike, P Line, helping to make electric biking practical and fun
Photo credit Brompton bikes

Bicycles are the second most used means of moving from point A to point B, after cars. Similar to scooters or skateboards, bikes have benefited from electricity. Here is our guide to help you buy the right electric bicycle for yourself.

A brief history of the bicycle

From the traditional Draisienne, the ancestor without brakes and pedals, to the big bi and its gigantic front wheel, to the modern velocipede, the bicycle has progressively evolved to become what we know today. It is a simple, economical, and pleasant way to get around town and the countryside.

If the classic bike has reached the age of reason, its little brother, the electric bike, is entering its early adolescence. Lower prices, more efficient battery technology, the entry of new players, everything is in place to democratize the bike 2.0.

If a good electric bike’s price remains two to three times higher than its classic equivalent, the advantages are also much more convincing. The latest generation of processors, combined with increasingly dense batteries, offers a surprisingly comfortable ride without making the bike too heavy.

However, to choose the right bike, it is important to consider it as a whole and not just its electrification. This non-exhaustive guide provides the elements to help you buy, rent or lease your next electric bike.

Read also: Innovations that will shake up electric bicycle – in this article. What is the ideal e-bike? Must have features on any e-bike – in this article.

The anatomy of a bicycle

Contrary to what you might think, a bike is much more than a frame and two wheels. Each element of the bike plays a specific role, and if it is possible to upgrade your bike as you go along, it is best to choose your original set carefully.

Easy E-Biking - history of cycling, helping to make electric biking practical and fun

The major components are the frame, the fork/handlebar, the crankset, the wheels/tires, and of course, the brakes. On an electric bike, you must add the motor, the battery, and the controller. Finally, depending on its use, it will be possible to add a whole range of accessories to your bike: mudguards, luggage rack, panniers, and even a phone holder.

If the following paragraphs talk about bicycles in a general sense, this, of course, also applies to electric bicycles.

The Frame

It is the skeleton of your bike; all the elements will be grafted to it. The frame can be made of steel, aluminum, and even carbon for most high-end models.

An electric bicycle experiences stronger accelerations and decelerations than its “classic” equivalent. The frame’s choice will directly influence the road behavior; in addition to the cyclist, it will also have to support the battery and the motor, which makes the whole thing heavier.

Read also: How to select the best – mountain, touring, commuter, cruiser, junior, city here or here, trike, folding, hybrid, cargo, road, gravel, kids’s here or here e-bike – in our comprehensive e-bike selection guides.

Steel

If steel is less expensive, it is also much heavier, which will quickly be felt when going up hills, or if you have to carry the bike. It is mostly found on entry-level models and rarely on an electric bike already weighed down by its battery.

Aluminum

Aluminum has become very common. An aluminum frame will be lighter and more rigid than the same steel model, a good point. These precious kilograms gained allow better acceleration and especially easier transport. On the other hand, aluminum is less shock absorbing, and if your bike doesn’t have shock absorbers, you will (really) hate pavement.

Easy E-Biking - Engwe Engine X e-bike frame, helping to make electric biking practical and fun
Photo credit ENGWE e-bikes

The aluminum frame remains an excellent compromise between price/weight/performance and represents most of the sales today. If someone asks you “alu 6061 or alu 7005? “for the same price, choose the first one.

Carbon

Carbon fiber frames are the top of the line: ultra-light, super rigid, and… expensive. The fibers are woven in two directions to guarantee maximum strength and resist all types of stress. The problem, this process lengthens the production time, and the quantity of fiber needed, necessarily increasing the final price. If the gains are real, its price remains a huge brake to the purchase.

Enjoy a carbon frame if your budget is large, but in 90% of cases, an aluminum frame will be more than enough!

Read also: How much does an e-bike weigh? – in this article. And, What is e-bike range on a single charge? – in this article.

The wheels

We never repeat it enough, but the wheels are the only element in contact with the ground on a two-wheeler. It is a major element that requires a thoughtful choice, even more so on a heavier electric bike.

Wheel diameter

As far as wheel sizes are concerned, there are several most commonly used sizes, depending on the bike type and the rider’s size. The smaller the wheel size, the easier it is to handle at low speed and the more uncomfortable it is at high speed. It is thus a question of making good arbitration according to its use.

A 24″ diameter wheel will require less effort to start and offers a smaller turning radius, handy in the city, for example. At higher speeds, it’s a different story. It will make controlling the bike much more hazardous; they are not recommended if you regularly ride long distances.

Easy E-Biking - Avaka R1 Road electric bike, wheel, helping to make electric biking practical and fun
Photo credit Avaka e-bikes

A 29″ diameter wheel will require some serious pedaling when starting. Its high inertia and large turning radius won’t make it the best city bike. On the other hand, its large diameter will smooth out ground imperfections and allow you to reach high speeds without the risk of losing control.

The most common sizes are:

  • 18-20″: a diameter mostly used by folding bikes; below that, the bike starts to get unstable at high speeds.
  • 26-27.5″: the basic wheel diameter for a mountain bike or VTC, the 27.5″, is becoming more and more democratic. A good compromise between speed and inertia will fit 90% of situations.
  • 28-29″: large wheels are mostly used on road bikes or racing bikes. Their large diameter allows them to ride fast and long without relapsing too often. In mountain biking, this allows easier crossing of cracks and faults.

A large-diameter wheel won’t be a concern for an electric bike, as the electric motor aids pedaling. I recommend a 27.5″ wheel at least, with an average of 25 km/h (15.5 mph); it will make the rides more comfortable.

The tires

The choice of tires is essential. It will massively influence road behavior, comfort, and even speed. A little tip: the thinner the wheel, the faster the bike goes. The wider the wheel, the better the bike will grip, a question of surface contact.

Read also: Why fat tires are good news for electric bikes? – in this article. And, How to select the best hybrid e-bike? – in this article.

The classic tire is rubber (harder or softer) and has an inner tube. The whole is associated with the rim, thanks to the tire bead. We will choose a suitable tube so the tire is completely filled depending on the wheel’s diameter.

This system is the most common; there are almost all diameters and all widths of a wheel. In case of a puncture, you will have to change the tube and sometimes the wheel, which is more or less complicated depending on the bike.

Tubeless tires do away with the inner tube, which makes them lighter and theoretically more resistant to punctures. The pressure naturally blocks the escape of gas should the situation arise. Mounting a tubeless tire requires adapted wheels and a little trickery.

Easy E-Biking - Gogobest GF650 e-bike fat tire, helping to make electric biking practical and fun

We also find tubular tires on road bikes. Completely closed, they offer better performance, comfort, and more flexibility. It adapts perfectly to the road. It requires precise knowledge for its assembly.

Dutch bicycles have been using this atypical tire for several years. Thanks to their low pressure, they absorb shocks very well and are perfectly suited for city riding. Finally, if your bike does not have shock absorbers, an oversized tire such as a “balloon” tire can be an excellent alternative.

Frame geometry

A quick point on the frame geometry, depending on the intended use, the frame will offer a more or less inclined seat.

The city bike

A city bike has high handlebars, a mixed central bar (i.e., low), and a relatively low seat. This configuration allows you to keep your back straight, which is more comfortable on city trips with many stops.

Read also: How to select the best city e-bike? – in this article, or this article, or this article. And, How much does a good city e-bike cost? – in this article

The road bike

A road bike will have a saddle at the same height or even higher than the handlebars. The rider will then adopt a “plunging” position, a little surprising at first. You’ve probably come across a bike racer or a seasoned cyclist, practically parallel to the ground, which is a specific position for this type of frame. This is a good choice if you like speed or riding long distances, but beware of cars!

Read also: How to select the best road e-bike? – in this article and this article. And, How much does a good road e-bike cost? – in this article.

The MTB bike

Finally, the last type of frame is also more popular: the MTB frame. This geometry has spread to all circles by straddling the race and city positions. It offers a good compromise between comfort and speed and slightly keeps the center of balance toward the back.

Concerning the man/woman frame debate, there are now mixed frames: If originally, the woman’s frame was designed to allow women to ride without lifting their dress, many men have adopted this frame, which is more practical for daily use.

Read also: How to select your first electric mountain bike? – in this article. And, How much does a good eMTB e-bike cost? – in this article

The folding bike

A special category, the folding bike has to play with particular constraints. The folding system often makes it (much) heavier than its non-folding equivalent. And this is even more true with an electric folding bike, the vast majority of them flirting with 20 kg (45 pounds)… As far as comfort is concerned, there’s a lot to choose from, but plan on a solid budget to enjoy yourself.

Read also: How to select the best folding e-bike? – in this article. And, How much does a good foldable e-bike cost? – in this article.

Fork and stem

The fork is a mobile element connected to the front wheel and the stem. It is a major element that undergoes important efforts. After the front wheel, the fork softens the bumps of the road. It can be changed over time, in case of an accident, or simply signs of wear.

Easy E-Biking - Cleverley Commuter electric bike, helping to make electric biking practical and fun
Photo credit Cleverley e-bikes

Fixed fork

The most simple bicycle fork is the fixed or rigid fork. Its simplicity has made it a real visual differentiator on some models. Robust does not require any particular maintenance, which is a definite advantage. The only drawback comes from its rigidity; all the bumps on the road will be transmitted directly to the handlebars, thus to the arms.

It can be made of :

  • Steel: heavy but more comfortable than aluminum. 
  • Aluminum: light and rigid but less comfortable than steel.
  • Carbon: ultra-light, and ultra-rigid are mostly found in the high-end model.

Road/racing bikes rarely have shocks with their fork; they are built for speed and endurance. Speed bumps, potholes, and sidewalks will quickly become your best enemies.

An electric bike with a rigid fork will prove to be extremely responsive. The Cowboy or the X2 from Vanmoof are very good examples.

Suspended fork

Shock absorbers can be springs or gas for the more advanced models. Almost all MTB/TCV models have them as standard. A fork with shocks (or suspension) will be more comfortable and heavier.

A shock absorber will absorb part of the cyclist’s efforts, the bike sinking a little with each pedal stroke. Some forks have a lock system to block the shock absorber to avoid this problem, which is practical on road trips.

Read also: What is the difference between a regular e-bike and a speed e-bike? – in this article. And, is it legal to derestrict electric bicycle speed? – in this article.

On an electric bike, the suspended fork is very common. It allows absorbing accelerations and braking, which are more intense than on a classic bike. Choosing an electric bike with a fixed fork is quite possible, but from experience, you will quickly feel the difference in your arms.

An electric mountain bike in the city is like a 4X4: it’s big, heavy, comfortable… and goes everywhere. When in doubt, contact a dealer to do a test ride: comfort or speed?

Stem and handlebars

Stem

The stem can be either plunging – it plunges into the head tube – or ahead-set – it hooks directly on the fork. The former is mostly found on road/race bikes and can be easily adjusted in height, a good point for the back position. These stems are heavier than their ahead-set equivalent.

The ahead-set stems are much more recent. They are mainly found on mountain bikes, but they are becoming more and more common on modern bikes. If they do not allow adjusting the height of the handlebars, they are also much lighter.

Easy E-Biking - Vanmoof e-bike, helping to make electric biking practical and fun
Photo credit Vanmoof e-bikes

The length of the stem directly influences your riding position. The longer it is, the more it will stretch out the rider; not very comfortable, but perfect for intensive use on the road. A short stem will make the bike maneuverable but will not allow you to lean more than necessary.

A good compromise is a stem of about 100 mm long. As for the angle of the stem, it’s very simple: straight stem = speed, tilted stem = MTB. A stem with an angle of 10 degrees is perfectly adapted to the city, leaning but not too much. This will ensure that you are not thrown off balance when the electric motor is activated and that you don’t have your nose in the handlebars every time you brake.

Handlebars

As for the handlebars, several schools coexist. They can be made of aluminum or carbon, more rarely in steel, and especially adopt several forms:

  • Straight or slightly raised handlebars are common and uncomfortable in town. These handlebars offer excellent handling but will be tiring in daily use for the city or road, outside the wrists undergoing an unnatural position. Several lengths exist, and the wider the handlebars, the more maneuverable the bike (and the more complicated it will be to pass between two cars, but that…)
  • Road handlebars: you must have already seen its convoluted shape with curved ends making it unique (the famous cocotte). This handlebar is one of the most comfortable, the position of the hands allowing a grip, all in all, quite natural. If they require a little time of adaptation, once adopted, it is hard to go back.
  • Flat, curved handlebars: very common on city bikes. They are more comfortable than straight handlebars and less “technical” than road handlebars. A very good compromise in town or for daily commuting.

Read also: Are electric bikes dangerous? What are e-bike risks? – in this article. And, How safe are electric bikes? – in this article.

Brakes

If there is one element you should not make any concession, it is the brakes. The brakes are an essential and even indispensable safety feature of an electric bicycle. An e-bike can go relatively fast and suffers from more important inertia than a classic bike. The braking must therefore be stronger.

Rim brakes

Brakes can be divided into two families: rim brakes and disc brakes. The first one uses rubber pads that will rub the rims of the bicycle’s wheels. This friction will progressively slow down the e-bike until it stops completely. There are three subfamilies:

  • Caliper brakes: two calipers fixed on a central pivot, activated by a steel wire connected to the handlebar controls. The calipers can be central pull (two cables) or lateral pull (one cable). These brakes are mostly found on older bikes or road/race bikes.
  • Cantilever brakes: almost all brakes of this kind are now V-Brakes, the calipers are fixed on the fork, and a steel wire brings them closer to the rim. Safe and simple, they have become the reference standard.
  • Hydraulic brakes: quite rare. They are more powerful than the other models, but also more expensive.

What’s wrong with these brakes? The pads lose some grips in rainy weather, and their efficiency is greatly reduced if the rim is warped.

Disk brakes

More expensive disc brakes are also found on modern bicycles. The operation is similar to cars; a metal disc attached to the wheel axis is “bitten” by pads until the complete stop of the two-wheeler.

Easy E-Biking - road e-bike, front disk breaks, helping to make electric biking practical and fun

What are the advantages of this system? It does not fear bad weather: even covered with mud, the disc brake will work without any problem. It does not depend on the condition of the rim; above all, it is much more powerful than rim brakes.

It can be mechanical: a steel wire activates an arm that brings a mobile pad against the disc, the opposite pad making a “sandwich.” These systems are not necessarily better than good v-brakes, as using a steel wire does not allow a higher pressure than the classic v-brakes. This is why installing hydraulic disc brakes rather than mechanical ones is recommended. An incompressible fluid replaces the steel wire and allows a much (much) more powerful braking, a very light pressure to reduce the force.

On an electric bike, hydraulic disc brakes are a must. I find them the most comfortable and also the safest brakes. The only drawback is that you must be careful to purge them once a year, which is not a simple operation.

You will also find drum brakes more marginal, but I won’t dwell on them!

Gears and fixed sprocket

And yes, even if the electric bike has a motor, you can still find gears on this type of bike. At least… for those who have a gear shift!

Fixed gears

In recent years, the fixed gear has come back in force. First among the couriers because of the simplification of the bike, allowing to reduce costs and breakdowns (if we don’t count the punctured wheels). Then hipsters are always looking for an alternative to the genre’s standards.

Read also: How to use gears on an electric bike (mechanic and electric)? – in this article. And, How to switch electric assistance levels on an e-bike? – in this article.

You can modulate the power by choosing a high or low-ratio crank/sprocket. Depending on this choice, the bike can go faster or slower but require harder pedaling. The fixed sprocket does not have a gear shift or does not offer speeds.

The most hardcore will choose the real fixed cog, that is to say, without freewheel, which forces to backpedal to brake. It’s classy, it’s technical, and it’s extremely challenging. But it’s classy.

There are several fixed-gear electric bikes, the absence of speed and gear shifter allowing an interesting synergy. A single speed allows a greater modulation and a maximum motor torque with an adapted chain (carbon, for example).

Derailer and gears

The gear shifter is an incredible invention, democratized in the early 1900s. Moving the chain over a short distance allows the chain to slide along the sprockets and vary the gear ratio of the effort. It allows the cyclist to change speeds, which opens a wide range of possibilities.

Easy E-Biking - Vanmoof e-bike, helping to make electric biking practical and fun
Photo credit Vanmoof e-bikes

Associated with the chainring, the number of speeds corresponds to the number of sprockets multiplied by the number of chainrings. Example: 3 chainrings x 7 sprockets = 21 gears. A large sprocket + Small chainring allows for climbing hills with less effort. Large chainring + Small sprocket allow reducing the effort, to reach high speeds massively.

Very common, it is a simple system to change or repair. The only risk with an electric bike is premature wear of the chainring and the chain due to the higher torque.

Integrated speeds

If you have ridden a Velib’ at least once, you may have noticed that the gears do not change with a derailleur. The gears are directly integrated into the hub of the rear wheel, magic!

Read also: Can e-bikes help go up steep hills? – in this article. Or how to switch electric assistance levels on an e-bike? – in this article.

This gear system, a little more complex to integrate, is more comfortable for the cyclist. A simple click and you automatically change gears, even if the change is a little slower than on a traditional derailleur. The gear hubs work in a closed circuit. They require less maintenance and do not get dirty, a nice little plus.

Transmission system

Depending on the bike, the gear change can be :

  • Automatic: the controller will choose the best gear according to the speed and the effort needed, and the operation is transparent for the user.
  • Semiautomatic: the rider engages the gears, but the bike will actually move the gears up or down.
  • Manual: the rider chooses the gear they want to use, regardless of the speed or incline.

Automatic and semi-automatic systems are almost always exclusive to crankset motors, however.

Magical and electric

As for scooters and electric skates, the electric bike needs two major components: a motor and a battery.

Engine

This is where the magic happens. The electric motor will provide “assistance” to the cyclist by accompanying the pedaling, which reduces the effort. We speak of electrically assisted bicycles because the motor requires a first turn of the pedal before being activated, even if more and more models ignore this constraint.

Easy E-Biking - Gogobest GF650 e-bike hub motor, helping to make electric biking practical and fun
Photo credit Gogobest e-bikes

An electric motor works very simply, you send current through it, and magnets will move around an axis (the rotor around the stator). Of course, to control the engine’s speed, you need a controller.

An engine that goes directly from 0 rpm to 6000 rpm is of limited use. Unless your bike is a dragster, it will throw you to the ground every time you start it. The problem is that this is what happens on the entry-level models…

Read also: What is the difference between e-bike motors? – in this article. What are the differences between rotation and torque sensors? – in this article.

Power rating

The engine’s power is expressed in Watt and its torque in Newton/Meter or Nm. The higher the power, the more the engine can handle heavy loads. The higher the torque, the less difficulty the bike will have in starting. This is one of the little subtleties of the electric engine, by the way: its immediate torque.

A good engine has :

  • A good power reserve to maintain a high cruising speed, whatever the difference in altitude
  • A large amount of torque guarantees “hot” starts and efficient acceleration.

The engine power rating is always 250 W for an electric bicycle. The peak power can be much higher, but if the power rating exceeds 250 W, the bike is automatically classified as a moped.

The engine can be placed in three components: the crankset, the front wheel, and the rear wheel. Each location has its advantages and disadvantages, as we will see later.

Important information: the electrically assisted bicycle is always limited to 25 km/h (15.5 mph). Beyond that, the assistance will automatically cut off, even with an engine reaching 70 km/h (45 mph). Some models have an engine with a power rating of 350 W, but they are classified as mopeds.

Read also: What is the difference between a regular e-bike and a speed e-bike? – in this article. And, is it legal to derestrict electric bicycle speed? – in this article.

Location of the engine

The location of the engine in the bike will have some influence on the ride. If the principle is the same – an engine accompanies the bike’s movement -the functioning and the feeling are very different between the engine mounted on the wheel and the engine mounted in the crankset.

The engine in the front wheel (front hub motor)

The simplest system to implement, the front wheel, is equipped with an engine in the center of the hub. This system is mainly found in entry-level electric bikes. This traction system can seem a little less natural in use without being fundamentally bad. Like on a car, the front wheel controls both traction and steering, which can cause grip problems on rough terrain.

The advantage of the engine in the front wheel is that it allows for electrifying almost all existing bikes. You can find many DIY kits on dedicated websites. The installation can only be done in one afternoon, even for the neophyte (but not too much).

Read also: Front, mid-drive, or rear e-bike motor. Which one to choose? – in this article. And, What is the difference between e-bike motors? – in this article.

The engine in the rear wheel (rear hub motor)

Rear-engine bikes are a lot more fun than their front-engine counterparts. The propulsion seems to push the bike forward, a subtle but real difference. More complex to install if the bike has a gear system. It is often combined with a fixed gear or automatic transmission.

In reality, there is very little difference when riding around town. Unless you’re venturing out on dirt or gravel roads, the feeling is almost the same between a front-wheel engine and a rear-wheel engine. In both cases, you’ll feel like someone is pushing you in the back.

The engine in the crankset (mid-drive motor)

In my opinion, the best system available today. Contrary to the two previous systems, the motor is no longer present in the wheel but directly in the crankset. The feeling is very different. If previously you had the impression of being pushed, here you have the sensation of being accompanied.

Easy E-Biking - Shimano electric bike motor, helping to make electric biking practical and fun

Being a super-human is exhilarating the first few times, as each acceleration feels much sharper. With every pedal stroke, you’ll feel like you’re being pressed down with them. This system requires much finer control, hence the presence of several sensors instead of one, which may explain its higher cost.

More discreet visually, it’s also the engine that offers the most natural feel in daily use. Personally, it is the one I prefer.

Maximum or proportional assistance

The last difference applies to all motors, whether in the wheel or the crankset. The bike will offer either progressive or fixed assistance, depending on the controller.

Fixed-level assistance is quite basic and requires only one sensor. If the wheel turns, the motor activates and propels you at 25 km/h (15.5 mph), whether you pedal gently or hard. This is a bit confusing, as you will sometimes feel like you are “lagging” from the pedals. These bikes can offer several modes that vary the available power (Eco or Max), but there is no variation once started in all cases.

Read also: What is the ideal electric bike? – in this article. And, Here is why e-bikes are really cool! – in this article.

The evolutionary assistance is more advanced thanks to the addition of several sensors. It calculates the pressure you exert on the pedals and the speed of the bike and adjusts the power available for a much more natural feeling.

This system is mainly found on high-end bikes and is equipped with a motor in the crankset.

Battery

To power the motor, you need a battery. It is the real nerve of the war. The bike can travel longer or shorter distances in electric mode, depending on its capacity. It makes the electric bike heavier, paradoxically thanks to the battery we make less effort riding an e-bike.

Contrary to scooters and electric skates, almost all electric bikes sold in the market use lithium batteries. Except for its price and rare earth materials, lithium has almost nothing but advantages. High energy density, low weight, easy storage, and no memory effect.

Capacity

Its capacity is expressed in Watt/Hour and can vary greatly between models, from simple to triple! A bike with high autonomy will often do so at the expense of the battery, which is much larger and heavier on this model.

Easy E-Biking - KBO e-bike battery, helping to make electric biking practical and fun
Photo credit KBO e-bikes

If some electric bikes offer longer autonomies without bulky batteries, it is thanks to the progress made on the denser cells. These bikes are also much more expensive, the other side of the coin.

The nominal capacity does not say everything, several values, not necessarily indicated by the manufacturer, also have their importance.

Main elements:

  • The charging time: a battery that takes you far is good. A bike that charges quickly is better! Check the time needed to charge your battery fully. If it takes 6 hours to charge it fully, be sure that the announced autonomy covers your daily needs.
  • Maximum output power: a high-capacity battery does not necessarily mean a powerful battery. When climbing, a motor may require a very high electrical load. Check that the battery is capable of handling this load. If not, you risk premature wear of your bicycle…

Read also: What is the difference between e-bike batteries? – in this article. And, How to solve most common e-bike battery problems? – in this article.

External or internal battery

In the majority of cases, the battery of a VAE will be external. Easier to integrate for manufacturers. We often find these batteries on the rear rack or the seat tube. The best integrations allow the battery to blend with the frame, aesthetics, and practicality.

The external battery has several advantages:

  • Easier to charge: just remove it and take it home or to the office to charge. No need for the bike.
  • You can ride without the battery: if the battery is empty, you can still take your bike with you without the burden of a discharged battery.
  • Easier to replace in case of failure: if the battery dies, replacement is relatively easy. You change the battery, and… that’s it.

The internal battery is mostly present on top-of-the-range models. More complex, it requires more than the simple electrification of a classic bike. Aesthetically, it is clearly the best: it is impossible to distinguish a classic bike from an electric one for the general public.

The advantages?

  • Very high level of integration: there is almost no imbalance, the battery being perfectly fused with the frame from the beginning.
  • No theft is possible: the bike can be stolen, not the battery. No need for two locks.
  • High-capacity battery: the bikes with an integrated battery are for the great majority of high-end bikes. The capacities of these batteries are often higher. More miles or km for the same final weight.

However, you will have to take the bike with you to charge it, which is not always practical in an apartment.

Autonomy

The autonomy of an electric bicycle depends on several factors: the size of the battery, the power of the engine, the weight of the cyclist, and even the type of wheel used.

Read also: How much does an e-bike weigh? – in this article. And, What is e-bike range on a single charge? – in this article.

An electric bicycle always offers several modes of assistance, more or less high, which will influence theoretical autonomy. A bike with a range of 50 km (30 miles) can have this figure cut in half if the route is mainly uphill. This theoretical autonomy is only valid in assistance mode if only the electric engine is driving the bike, then count half of the announced value.

Bonuses and financial aid with the purchase

Compared to e-scooters and e-skates, electric bicycles often benefit from bonuses with the purchase and financial aid of the state and local authorities. The reason? A legislative framework is much clearer for e-bikes than for other electrical means of transport.

Not everything is rosy, however, as the granting of this aid is conditional on many factors, here are some examples:

  • The electric bicycle of 250 W maximum.
  • A new or leased vehicle.
  • Lithium battery only, no lead.
  • Prohibition to resell it within 365 days after its acquisition, not taking into account the 20 000 km (12 000 miles) minimum distance.
  • Domiciled in the country where e-bike is purchased
  • Not taxable on income in 2017 (yes, yes).

If you meet all these criteria, you will benefit from a purchase subsidy only if a local authority also provides you with a subsidy.

Read also: Best e-bike financing options in the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia. And, Rent, buy, or lease an e-bike? – in this article.

Aid amounting to 20% of the total cost of your bike for a maximum of 200 euros, which is not crazy if we consider the price of a bike, insufficient if we also consider the non-taxation…

Warranty and maintenance

Generally, electric bicycles are guaranteed for one, often for two years. However, not all parts are covered for the same period, especially the parts that wear off. The wheels, for example, are never guaranteed (which is logical), while the e-bike frame is usually guaranteed for life.

Easy E-Biking - Vanmoof e-bike, helping to make electric biking practical and fun
Photo credit Vanmoof e-bikes

The battery will also wear out gradually as it is charged and discharged. From 60% wear and tear, the difference will be noticeable at the engine level, as the latter will no longer be able to receive the necessary peak loads.

In terms of wear, you should check  the following components periodically:

  • Whether pad or disc brakes, they will wear out gradually, reducing their effectiveness.
  • Whether smooth or grooved, a tire also wears out whenever it is in contact with the ground. Check its condition and pressure regularly to avoid unpleasant surprises, and keep a set of tubes for non-tubeless tires.
  • The chain will also wear out over time, so grease it regularly to prevent it from seizing up, just like the derailleur. This does not apply to bikes with hub gears.
  • If you store the bike for a long time, remove the batteries. If this is not possible, store the batteries at about 60% charge, which will help them last longer. Avoid leaving the battery discharged for too long, as this can damage the cells.

Read also: How to maintain your e-bike when you know nothing about it – in this article. And, How to store your electric bike – in this article.

Equipment and where to ride

Equipment

An electric bike can be equipped with many accessories, like a classic bike. Among the essential ones we have :

  • The mudguards. If your bike doesn’t have them, get them quickly. Nothing is worse than getting all the residue on your face or seeing your nice shirt stained with mud.
  • Front and rear lights. They won’t allow you to ride in the dark, but they will help others spot you and avoid an unfortunate accident.
  • A bell or a horn. Once again, prevention is better than cure. A little “dring-dring” is better than a big “boom.”
  • A luggage rack. In the city, a luggage rack can be very useful. Of course, it makes your bike heavier, but since you ride electric…

Read also: Selection of our favorite e-bike accessories to help you find the right gear for your needs.

Connectivity

The most advanced models have Bluetooth and GPS connectivity. Once the phone is connected, it becomes your dashboard.

Easy E-Biking - Orbea Vibe electric bike, helping to make electric biking practical and fun
Photo credit Orbea e-bikes

Your last trips, instantaneous and average speed, the available autonomy, everything is displayed on the dedicated application. The advantage of this solution over the classic integrated control screen? The ability to update the bike and access more advanced functions.

Some models use the phone as a digital key to lock/unlock the bike. There is no need for a cumbersome lock, as it is directly integrated into the bike’s electric engine. In practice, however, keep a solid lock, a good small U, for example.

Where to ride

Bike lanes when available, roads when necessary. If you must use the sidewalk, put your foot down and push your bike.

Give priority to cars and pedestrians. Some cities allow bicycles to ride up one-way streets, so keep to the right and make sure the one-way sign confirms this right. Remember, “Priority by right does not mean priority by the fact.”

Read also: What is an electric bike? 5 reasons e-bikes are so popular – in this article. And, How to ride an electric bike? With a few tips – in this article.

Insurance

Electric bicycle insurance is not compulsory, but it is strongly advised, considering certain models’ prices. Comprehensive home insurance covers accidents that may occur to third parties, but adding all-risk insurance can be judicious. For theft, the insurance company will generally ask you for proof of purchase of a certified anti-theft device.

Protection

As we know, an electric bike can go very fast, very quickly. Suitable protection is recommended, although not mandatory. A helmet is essential. If it protects your jaw, it’s better than gloves.

Easy E-Biking - e-bike secure lock, helping to make electric biking practical and fun

Regular mountain bikers are probably already equipped with complete outfits: jacket, gloves, back protector, leggings, and a helmet. If this can be cumbersome in the city, you should know that protections are now adapted to urban use, like on a motorcycle.

Once started, an electric bike can reach 25 km/h (15.5 mph) at least, even more, if you have a good pedal stroke. Do not ignore this aspect.

Read also: How to protect your e-bike from theft? – in this article. Does it make sense to buy specialized e-bike insurance? – in this article.

Take the plunge!

The electric bicycle is an excellent means of transportation. With the strength of your calf and assisted by an electric engine, you can travel long distances without sweating too much. To choose the right bike, think of the bike first and then electric, so you don’t end up with a 25 kg (55 pounds) bike but electric.

The ideal electric bike has an integrated and removable battery, an engine in the pedals, many gears in the hub, a range of over 50 km (30 miles), and a weight of less than 15 kg (33 pounds). This type of bike exists, but it can cost a certain amount of money… to be relativized in front of the pleasure that a good bike ride can bring!

Read also: Complete Global List of Electric Bike Brands (550+), Models & Countries – in this article.

Riding, testing, and writing about e-bikes since 2017.

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