Electric Bikes: What Criteria to Use When Selecting One?

Easy E-Biking - e-bike retail store, TREK e-bikes, helping to make electric biking practical and fun

You probably see more and more of them in the streets. For tourism and walks, as well as for daily travels, electric-assisted bikes are on the rise and more and more riders are investing in them. 

Read also: Which electric bicycle to buy? Making your educated e-bike selection choice – in this comprehensive e-bike selection guide.

But what are the points to consider before buying an e-bike and how to choose well?

So-called “soft” mobility is booming: fans of futuristic gadgets dream of a hoverboard, those on a tight budget are settling with an electric scooter and those looking for a sustainable solution are considering an e-bike, a bicycle with electric assistance.

Read also: Are e-bikes good for the environment? – in this article.

A real investment, this “top-of-the-range” means of locomotion rarely costs less than €500 (for a basic one) and at least €1,000 if you have specific requirements (autonomy, finishes, lighting, luggage rack, etc.).

If you’re aiming for one of the top-of-the-range models, it often costs at least €1,500 and the bill can rise quickly up to 5000 euro and further. Obviously, the higher the price is, the more reliable the e-bike will be and the more functionalities and autonomy will be developed. 

Read also: Are e-bikes reliable? How to find a reliable one? – in this article.

As soon as you start to take a closer look at this product, you see that there are many alternatives: foldable, for city use, mountain bikes, for racing, and with different forms of assistance. How do you make the right choice? Here are the elements to compare to help you make your decision.

What seating position for what e-bike usage?

The choice of your electric-assisted bicycle should also be influenced by your environment and the location of your daily commute. Depending on these factors, a certain riding position, defined by the shape of your bicycle’s frame, should be favored.

Easy E-Biking - woman e-bike city, helping to make electric biking practical and fun

For example, if you ride exclusively in the city, it is best to choose an e-bike with the straight seating position. This is the most classic and comfortable position, the one used by Dutch e-bikes. It allows you to have a better view of your surroundings, but also a straight back and relaxed arms. Advantages not to be ignored. 

Read also: How to select the best e-bike for city rides? – in this article.

If you take public transports, consider a foldable model instead. This is the compact alternative that will suit you best and is by far the most practical.  

Read also: How to select the best foldable e-bike? – in this article.

For those who are considering a more polyvalent model, for riding in the city but not only, the sporty position is recommended. The frame is different (with a crossbar), the rider’s position is leaning forward and the tires are generally notched. It’s a little less comfortable, but by adjusting the stem, you get something completely satisfying.

Read also: How to select the best e-bike for cross-country rides? – in this article.

Gravel e-bikes or mountain e-bikes are the next choices for your. Parents may also decide to invest in a “cargo bike”, a practical way to transport their children. In short, as you can see, there are many possibilities. Also remember to ask for advice on choosing a frame adapted to your size. 

Read also: How to select the best cargo e-bike? – in this article.

In any case, remember to give your electric bicycle a good try before you buy it. It’s the best way to find out if it really suits you. In general, the models are expensive, so it would be a shame to make a mistake.  Most of the sales outlets are rather flexible on this subject and let you try out the model you are interested in, in exchange of a deposit. 

Autonomy and charging time

Depending on your own use and the ease with which you can recharge your e-bike, this criteria is of varying importance. On the market, depending on the quality of the electric bicycle brand, you can find batteries with a range of between 30 and over 100 kilometers, with an average charging time of 2 to 4 hours.

Read also: How far can e-bikes go? What is e-bike riding range? – in this article.

Of course, the further you plan to go without having to go through the ” recharge ” option, the more the impact on the price will be perceptible. Note also that the more you use your e-bike, the more you deteriorate its battery: you will notice a more or less fast loss of autonomy, depending on the intensity of use.

On average, a replacement battery costs around €400, but the cost will depend on the model of  your e-bike and type of battery you choose. 

Today, most batteries use lithium-ion. It’s a recent and reliable technology, but not really ecological on the other hand (its recycling is a problem in particular). As a general rule, the capacity of batteries varies between 250 and 600 Wh. 

Read also: How to recycle e-bike batteries in France? – in this article.

The greater the capacity is, the greater the autonomy is as well. The rule is not infallible, but it is true in most cases. Also note that you don’t have to wait until you’re completely empty to charge your e-bike’s battery.   

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

Again, be smart. If you do short trips on a daily basis, you don’t really need a range of more than 20 kilometers. Choosing an e-bike with a smaller battery may, in some cases, lower the amount you invest in your new vehicle. 

Read also: How much does a foldable e-bike cost? – in this article.

It should also be noted that how long can an e-bike go on one full charge is mostly theoretical. Several parameters such as the weight of the cyclist, tire inflation, or the transport of a child can make it vary a lot.  

Consider the weight of the e-bike 

It could be considered secondary on a bike that runs with an engine, but the weight is still important for anyone considering using it in the city. Indeed, at some point, you will have to climb a few steps and lift the whole thing, to get to work or back home, for example.

Paradoxically, a heavier bike may perform better, because it will have more power and require less pedaling effort. However, there is still a tendency to favor lighter alternatives for practical reasons, knowing that on average, this type of vehicle weighs between 17 and 25 kg.

Read also: How much does an e-bike weigh? Are e-bikes heavy? – in this article.

Folding city electric bike

Foldable and compact, ultra-lightweight e-bike features a “feather” weight of only 14 kg. Thanks to its average speed of 25 km/h, it is fully compatible with classic city use and very practical to fit in a tram or metro.

Read also: EOVOLT, the first foldable e-bike that folds in 10 seconds – in this article.

Easy E-Biking - EOVOLT folding e-bike, helping to make electric biking practical and fun

What about the engine?

In many countries, the power of e-bike motors is regulated. Manufacturers are often obliged to limit the motors to 250 W and a maximum speed of 25 km/h. Above this limit, the vehicle is considered as a moped and must be insured as such. 

Read also: Traditional or speed e-bike? – in this article.

Many of the recent models have their motor integrated in the crankset (mid-drive models). Still, there are also quite a few e-bike models with their motors integrated in the rear or front wheel. The mid-drive solution often seems preferable. Such e-bikes are more stable, more enduring, more balanced, and therefore easier to ride. 

Read also: Front, rear, or mid-drive motors, which one to choose? – in this article.

What kind of electric assistance?

Not all bicycles with electric assistance work in the same way: some of them constantly solicit the engine and make any physical effort unnecessary. Others, on the other hand, involve so-called “progressive” assistance: a certain amount of force is required to start the motor, and the speed depends on how hard you pedal.

In other words, if you want to keep some of the fun of riding a bike, you should rather bet on a progressive mode. But if you prefer the motor to completely replace your calves, opt for a motor in the wheel, which will be activated by simply detecting the pedaling (regardless of the force).

E-bike riding practicality

Whether on holiday or in the city, you don’t want to be bothered with huge bikes that don’t fit in the boot of the car, on public transport or in some small lifts, for example.

Fortunately, designers of electrically-assisted bicycles have copied the traditional market to develop models that can be folded, as is already the case with fully manual traditional bicycles.

They are not necessarily more expensive to buy, but they can sometimes have a slightly less powerful battery (the price of lightness!), which charges more slowly or which offers a lower autonomy.

Little extras for comfort

They do cost money, but they can make your day-to-day life much easier: a luggage rack, a starting aid, a more ergonomic seat, etc. All of these features enhance certain models of bikes with electric assistance and make them more attractive on the market.

Easy E-Biking - e-bike parked city, helping to make electric biking practical and fun

If it is not necessarily a question of looking for all the possible and imaginable options, a more or less sophisticated display may prove to be relevant, to check the battery level, and operate the controls more easily. 

Other accessories would allow a child to be accommodated in the rear seat, in compliance with safety standards.

Read also: List of my favorite e-bike accessories – in this article.

What other question should be helpful to ask?

For your safety as well as for your comfort, you should not rush the choice of your e-bike: certain points, such as the braking mode (pads or discs, mechanical or hydraulic) as well as the derailleur, also deserve some attention.

For example, hydraulic brakes are more expensive and more comfortable, but also less convenient than some mechanical brakes (especially V-Brakes).

As for gear shifting, two systems are common: derailleur or rear hub shifting. The first is the most classic, the one that offers the possibility of changing gears while pedaling (as on “classic” bikes). 

The second has a major advantage: it is impossible to derail and maintenance of the cycle is therefore easier. Gears can also be shifted when stationary. 

If you would like more information on these technical considerations, do not hesitate to ask for advice from professionals in the sector. 

What financial aids are available to purchase an e-bike? 

Depending on where you live, purchase of electric bicycles is encouraged by local and national governments and many incentives and even grants are available to help finance your e-bike. 

Read also: How to quickly recover the money, invested in an e-bike? – in this article.

Read also: Which financial aids are available in France to purchase an e-bike? – in this article.

Standard consumer credits are also easily accessible.

Here is a video from Bolton e-bikes to help you consider top e-bike selection criteria:

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