A Buyer's Guide
What To Look For When Buying an E-bike: A Buyer’s Guide
Electric bikes are no longer a rare sight in the UK. The streets are brimming with them and their increasing popularity won’t be stopping anytime soon. But don’t take our word for it. Take a look around next time you pop to the shop or for a walk in the local park and you’ll spot one zipping by.
If you are reading this, it is very likely that you have been thinking to join the pack and upgrade your cycling routine. At Youre-bike, we are conscious that with a wider range of models, brands and price tags on the market than ever before, it has become quite difficult to navigate catalogues and eventually make the right choice for you. So we have put together a short comprehensive guide that will help you to understand the different specifications and what to look for when purchasing an e-bike.
1 - E-Bike Styles/ Types
Like when buying a pair of shoes, the first rule of thumb is: consider what you will be using the e-bike for. The type of terrain you will be riding your e-bike on and what distances you are thinking to cover are crucial as the model and style you choose depends on these key elements.
One of the most common and popular types is the urban e-bike. Generally featuring a flat bar and hybrid style (suitable for both trail and road use) this is the perfect choice for those who are thinking either of sporadic leisurely rides or daily use in the city. Unlike electric mountain bikes, these are mostly more compact, lighter and nippier. On the whole they feature a medium capacity battery, which, with a full charge, can averagely last a 30-mile ride when used on full-assist mode.
Electric mountain bikes, on the other hand, are perfect for rough terrains and muddy hill trails. Because of their nature, they usually come equipped with a higher capacity battery and extra components, so can be heavier than their urban counterpart.
2 – Battery: Capacity and Range
Secondly you need to understand the battery specifications as these can have a big impact on how you are planning to use your e-bike. Always consider the battery capacity and its charging time.
Most of manufacturers express the battery capacity either in Watt Hours (Wh) or Ampere Hours (Ah). They basically express the same thing in different ways. To convert Wh to Ah, just divide the value by the voltage, which is mostly 36V. The capacity of the battery will determine its range, which brands express in miles or km. In order to have an estimate of how many miles or km you can ride in full assist mode with one full charge, just divide the Wh by 20. Of course, the performance will always be affected by other variables, like any weight you are carrying, the terrain or the tyre pressure, so always take the estimates with a pinch of salt.
Charging times vary from brand to brand, but generally a good battery takes 4-6 hours to fully charge. You might also want to consider if the battery is removable, as this will give you much more flexibility and make charging more practical. Solid Lithium-ion batteries can last up to 800 cycles, which translates to 3-4 years of usage if the battery is taken care of. Last but not least, always check the warranty on your battery and expect to receive at least 2 years.
3 - Motor: Hub Drive Vs. Crank Drive
Another thing to consider when choosing an electric bike is the type of motor. Again, the decision comes down to your riding style. There are two types of motors on the market, a hub drive one which is either located on the front or rear wheel, and a crank drive which sits on the crank at the centre of your bike. Both they have their pros and cons.
Generally speaking, hub driven motors are cheaper, require less maintenance and are great if you are planning to ride mostly on the road and flat terrain. Hub driven electric bikes always feature two driving modes, full throttle or pedal assist (you can read about it on our blog).
On the other hand, crank driven motors are great for hilly and rough terrains and because of their position at the centre of the frame, they give the bike a more stable feel. They always feature a torque sensor, which automatically adjusts the level of boost you need based on the pedalling power. That means they are more energy efficient and will give you a more intuitive riding feel. The drawback is of course the cost and usually manufacturers can only repair them.
4 - Cost
Electric bikes are not cheap but you should consider them as an investment. In the last few years more and more brands have come on the market, which of course means more competition and a wider range of price points.
High end electric bikes with light frames, excellent components and unique features can cost thousands of pounds and are not affordable to most, however be assured that you will be able to find great deals and exceptional products also in the £1,000-£1,800 range. Lower end e-bikes can be a false bargain and you could end up paying much more in maintenance for example, as many parts and components might not be replaceable or repaired. Always choose reliable manufacturers and if you are not sure about something – write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
5 - Frame Size
What is the right frame size for me? As with many other components there are some general recommendations as to what to look for in terms of frame sizes, however a lot will depend on your personal preferences. Some riders like big, chunky bikes and they feel comfortable riding these. Others prefer smaller, slimmer bikes so they can be in a full control. Below are some simple tables to look at if you are not sure what frame size would suit your height. Please remember that both seatpost and handlebar stems are adjustable to increase the comfort of your cycling.