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Choosing an electric bike can be difficult. And with so many different considerations to make, it’s not surprising that it’s so overwhelming.
But we want to make this process easier for you.
So, if you’re stuck thinking “which electric bike should I buy?” this quiz is here to help you.
Answer up to six questions below and we’ll figure out what type of bike you should get.
Do the Quiz
Understanding Your Riding Needs
“Where, how far and how often do you intend to ride your electric bike?” This might sound like a basic question, but before buying an electric bike we’d recommend taking a moment to think it through.
You might want to ride an electric bike to get fit (spoiler alert, they can and in most cases they aren’t cheating), explore further afield or use the assistance to make riding to work easier or more enjoyable.
Although you could use a knife to eat your morning cereal, it’s probably not the best decision. It’s the same with electric bikes. You can ride an electric road bike off-road but it’s probably not the wisest decision.
Understanding your riding needs will also help you further down your buying journey. It’ll help you navigate the world of electric bike numbers and other frequently asked questions like “Do electric bikes charge while pedalling?”
Key Things to Consider When Buying an E-Bike
These days there are numerous electric bikes out there to choose from. When picking your favourite from a shortlist, here are some features to consider.
Type of Electric Bike
Perhaps the clearest way to define electric bikes is by using their type or sub-discipline. Like normal bikes, the main electric bike types include electric hybrid bikes, electric mountain bikes, electric road bikes and electric folding bikes – each is suited to different riding needs, tastes and styles.
Electric hybrid bikes are good all-rounders and electric mountain bikes are great for tackling tough rides off-road. Electric road bikes put more zip into long rides on the tarmac, whilst electric folding bikes are ideal for commuters or those tight on storage space.
From large, worldwide brands which produce electric bikes of all types to smaller manufacturers that focus on specific types, every man and his dog makes an e-bike these days.
Some e-bike brands sell via a traditional dealer model, whilst others sell directly to you via their website. This choice is only good for one person, that’s you the future e-bike rider!
E-Bike Brands We Recommend:
Here’s a big one. The cost of an electric bike is the consideration for most people. In our experience, most electric bikes cost £1500/$1500 or more.
That’s not to say there aren’t electric bikes available under £1000/$1000 though. Certainly, as the electric bike market has developed there are more and more e-bikes below four figures. Usually, cheaper e-bikes use motors placed in the hub of the rear wheel.
Pricer e-bikes tend to have their mid-mount motors, that’s one placed at the crank of the bike, between the pedal. At the very top end, electric bikes can easily top £15,000/$15,000.
Here’s a confusing statement. Electric bikes which meet the various legal requirements (this is usually a maximum assistance speed and motor power) should all have the same maximum top speed.
That’s not to say that you can’t ride faster than the quoted top speed, indeed that figure is just the speed at which the motor will cut out. Pedal faster or head off down that steep local hill and your speedo will still rise.
Where e-bikes can differ wildly is in their wattage specification. Although motor wattage is a complex beast, in simple terms, the more watts an e-bike has, the faster its acceleration will be. It will also offer better hill climbing performance and a greater ability to carry heavy loads.
It is worth noting that in the UK, electric bikes sold as legal to ride on roads and other public places, shouldn’t output more than 250W. In the USA (there are different rules in different states), this figure rises to 750W.
An electric bike’s battery capacity determines how far it can be ridden before it needs recharging.
E-bike batteries are measured in watt-hours or Wh. Typical iterations of battery size include 300Wh, 400Wh, 500Wh and 750Wh.
Often forgotten about, gearing is an important specification on every electric bike, especially in pedal assistance mode.
Extra gears can often mean smaller increments between individual gears, that way it’s easier to match the gear to your pedalling.
Unlike in the UK, where a throttle is an illegal component on road-legal e-bikes, Americans can enjoy the freedom and versatility a throttle brings to an electric bike. Unlike pedal assist mode, where the rider has to pedal for the motor to offer power, a throttle can provide assistance with a quick twist or push.
Suspension and Tires
Amongst other all the other buying considerations, an electric bike’s suspension and tires might seem a tad dull, but give them some attention and it’ll pay off in the long run.
Suspension can deliver riding performance or comfort and the right set of tires can be the difference between a bike ride filled with frustration and one filled with joy.
Types of Electric Bikes
Most electric bikes can be classified into one of ten different sub-categories. Here’s the lowdown on each of those.
Electric Hybrid Bike
An electric hybrid bike, sometimes known as a hybrid e-bike, combines the on-road performance of a road bike, with the ruggedness and utility of a mountain bike.
If you are looking for a versatile e-bike that can take on all kinds of rides then this is it. A hybrid e-bike is an ideal choice for riding to work during the week, before heading away from the hubbub at the weekend.
Common features that earmark an electric hybrid bike include a front suspension fork, flat handlebars, wide-ish tires and extra equipment such as fenders, a pannier rack and lights.
Some electric hybrid bikes will be more suited to fast road riding, while others will perform better out in the hills, off-road. Which type suits you depends on what kind of riding you like to do.
Electric Mountain Bike
Due to the demands of riding off-road (tricky terrain and steep gradients), the assistance of an electric bike has been welcomed with open arms by mountain bikers.
An E-MTB, to give them their acronym, are for sloshing about in the mud off-road. Whether that’s at a dedicated mountain bike park or something simpler, but equally as fun, closer to home. The assistance or throttle means riders can spend less time slogging up hills and more time flying down the other side.
Electric mountain bikes, like standard mountain bikes, feature either front suspension (hardtail) or front and rear suspension (full suspension). The ins and outs of each type aren’t for this article, but essentially full suspension electric mountain bikes are for the more extreme end of mountain biking.
Electric Fat Bike
Even though electric fat bikes come in all shapes and sizes, they’ll all have super wide, 4″ tires. By having extra contact with the riding surface, electric fat bikes can plough through deep mud, sand and even snow. For this reason, electric fat bikes are the ideal e-bike for reaching beyond traditional cycle routes and into lesser-explored areas.
Don’t think that electric fat bikes are solely for off-road use. The comfort and traction offered by these extra-wide tyres promote riding confidence on easier surfaces like tarmac and gravel. This stable riding base makes e-fat bikes appealing to occasional riders or those getting back into riding after a break.
Almost all electric fat bikes have suspension to give them extra versatility.
Electric Road Bike
Sticking to the tarmac and aiming to put the hammer down or put in a good shift in the saddle? An electric road bike is for you.
To chime in with the demands of riding fast, electric road bike systems tend to be lighter and less powerful than those found on electric hybrid bikes or electric mountain bikes. Almost all electric road bikes have motors in the rear wheel rather than at the crank.
Batteries and controllers tend to be equally discrete, as manufacturers look to keep their e-road bikes looking and feeling svelte to ride.
Electric Gravel Bike
Gravel bikes are a hodge-podge of features drawn from road bikes, mountain bikes and cyclocross bikes. They are designed to be ridden fast off-road, but when the tarmac appears again, they shouldn’t slow down.
Unlike electric hybrid bikes, their drop-handlebar design means they are for riding fast off-road. Think of electric gravel bikes then as a best-hits version of electric mountain bikes and electric road bikes.
Electric gravel bikes make a great option for a fitness rider who doesn’t like sticking to one type of riding surface. They’ll induce a smile when tackling fast-flowing singletrack, but also keep up with the pace during a road ride with friends.
Electric City Bike
Typified by a super comfortable, upright riding position, electric city bikes are for those looking to pootle from A to B in towns and cities across the world. Their specification is such that they aren’t designed for speeding across town, more
The best electric city bikes should include all other important features, like lights, a pannier rack, puncture-proof, reflective tires and even an integrated lock.
Looking at them on your computer screen, you could argue that electric city bikes are a further sub-discipline of electric hybrid bikes, but their ubiquity and popularity mean we think they deserve a category of their own.
Electric Single Speed Bike
With either pedal assistance or throttle to provide momentum, some e-bike riders like to do away with gears and ride an electric single-speed bike.
This kind of e-bike is an ideal choice if you live in flatter areas, but obviously without the gears, an electric single speed bike is really limited in its riding scope.
Removing the complexity helps reduce maintenance, but it also means that this type of e-bike can be much cheaper than a standard electric hybrid bike. Something to think about if you are on a budget.
Electric Belt Driven Bike
Belt drive bikes use a toothed belt rather than a metal chain to provide power to the rear wheels. Standard belt drive bikes have found favour with commuter, city and long-distance riders who laud the system for being long-lasting, quiet and clean.
Although they up the price of the bike, a belt drive system is a worthy addition to an electric bike. Electric bikes are there to help you ride more often and more frequently so with a tough, maintenance-free belt fitted you can pedal safe in the knowledge that you will arrive at your destination or return home with a smile on your face.
Electric Folding Bike
With their concertina design and fun-filled assistance, electric folding bikes really are a marvel of modern technology. With some folding electric bikes weighing under 15kg, they’re a great tool if you commute to work via different modes of transport.
To keep the weight of electric folding bikes down, most use smaller-capacity batteries and hub-based motors.
The growth in folding e-bikes has seen a further sub-category blossom. Electric mini bikes, take the smallest folding e-bikes and aim to further reduce their folded footprint. Usually, this is done by reducing the wheel size used on the bike. If you have a very limited space at home, then take a look at these bikes.
Electric Bike Brands
The electric bike market is a competitive space. From specific online stores to traditional bike shops which also sell e-bikes and consumer-direct brands, there is plenty of variety and choice out there.
Trek, Specialized and Cannondale are three of the stalwarts of the bike industry that sell all kinds of electric bikes. Brands like these sell their wares via traditional bike dealers although it’s becoming increasingly common for them to sell directly to you via their website too.
Don’t discount newer brands though. Many only produce electric bikes and thus put all of their design efforts into manufacturing the best e-bike they can. VanMoof, Cowboy and Cyrusher are brands like this that spring to mind.
Don’t just take note of the bike manufacturer either. More often than not, bike brands fit electric components from other brands into their e-bikes. Brands like Bosch, Shimano, Ebikemotion and Bafang are some of the most well-known.
Bosch is perhaps the leader in the field thanks to its experience in electrical devices of all kinds. It’s also worth looking out for Shimano e-bike systems thanks to the brand’s vast knowledge of bicycles and their components.
How Much to Spend on an Electric Bike?
A budget for an e-bike will obviously vary greatly, but it’s worth spending some time considering how much your budget for an e-bike should be.
Clearly, electric bikes are more expensive than regular bikes, but for something that could potentially be ridden every day, is there a price that’s too much?
Electric Bike Cost
As electric bikes have grown in popularity so has the variety of price points, but how much do electric bikes actually cost?
In our experience at current prices, a low price for an e-bike could be considered around the £/$1000 mark. On average most e-bike riders spend around £/$3000 for their bike.
Those spending big on their e-bike will be dropping £/$6000 or more. Today it’s not unusual to find the very top-end electric bikes, especially electric mountain bikes, electric road bikes or electric gravel bikes retailing for five figures and over – that’s £/$10,000 plus!
|Electric Bike Cost
Are E-Bikes Expensive?
Clearly, you could buy yourself a very, very nice standard bike for the price of an average electric bike. But in the grand scheme of things, even a high-priced electric bike isn’t a vastly expensive object.
Consider that an electric bike could replace your car and it’s not hard to see that buying an e-bike could be a wise decision financially.
Cheapest Electric Bikes
Shoppers in both the USA and the UK are well-catered when it comes to finding cheap electric bikes. Larger retailers like Decathlon and Halfords, as well as new entrants like Engwe, have seen the popularity of electric bikes rise and produced low-priced models as a result.
The choice below the £/$1000 mark becomes a bit patchy, especially if you are looking for something really specific, but there are still plenty of cheap electric bikes out there to choose from.
Electric Bike Speed
In the UK, legal e-bikes shouldn’t exceed 15.5mph. That’s the speed an e-bike will help take you up to before its motor cuts out. You can ride faster, but at speeds great than this, it will all be down to you!
It’s slightly different in the US and to confuse matters further e-bike speed rulings can vary from state to state. But in general, Class 1 e-bikes have a maximum speed of 20mph. Class 2 e-bikes have the same maximum speed but allow the use of a throttle. Those electric bikes in Class 3 are the fastest electric bikes – they have a maximum assisted speed of 28mph.
Wattage: What Size E-Bike Motor Do I Need?
A key consideration with many electric bike shoppers is the size of the motor on their chosen bike. The size is expressed as watts, or W for short. The majority of e-bike motors on the market today – from the likes of Bosch – are rated at 250W. But what is this rating and is a higher number necessarily better?
What is Wattage?
Electric bike wattage refers to the power output of the motor on the bike. Its exact rating refers to the calculation of the power leaving the onboard battery at the maximum rate set by the controller on the e-bike.
Does Size Matter?
Is More Better?
There are a number of circumstances where more watts might be better. If you’re a heavier rider than the average, you’re looking for an e-bike with rapid acceleration or one with excellent ability at riding up steep gradients, then an e-bike motor with a higher watt rating is for you.
That said, more watts aren’t always better. A higher-powered motor will have greater battery demands than one with less power so it might require a larger (and heavier) capacity battery to run it.
Another figure you can look for in relation to watts is motor torque. This figure is essentially how the motor delivers the power rather than the exact amount. Some motors can have the same number of watts but different levels of torque.
What E-Bike Wattage Do I Need?
The exact e-bike wattage you need on an e-bike will be personal to you. Whilst some riders wouldn’t dream of riding an e-bike with a 250W motor, for most of us and particularly those riding an e-bike for the first time, a motor with a 250W rating will be more than enough.
Battery Capacity: How Far Can an E-Bike Go?
A large capacity e-bike battery is like having an extra large fuel tank in your car – it will take you further on one charge than an e-bike with a smaller capacity battery.
The exact range of an e-bike depends on your chosen model and a whole host of other factors. From your weight and aerodynamics to the weather, the terrain and the rolling resistance of your tyres there are many factors that can reduce or extend the e-bike battery range.
Typically most electric bikes will have a range of around 20-50 miles or 50km. Electric bikes with the longest range will typically top over 100 miles or 200km before they need a recharge.
What E-Bike Battery Size Do I Need?
Electric bike batteries are usually tailored to the size of the onboard motor and the overall requirements of the e-bike in question.
Just keep in mind that costs to charge an e-bike are almost unnoticeable at best and negligible at worst.
Is a Bigger E-Bike Battery Better?
No. Small batteries are fine if you ride short, regular distances – like a commute to work – when a plug socket is always nearby. Plus, large-capacity batteries are heavy, can be unwieldy and are expensive to replace should they break or get stolen.
How Often Do E-Bike Batteries Need Replacing
Different e-bike batteries have different lifecycles, but to quote one figure, most will last around 1000 charge cycles before they start to empty faster or dispate their energy between rides.
Electric bike batteries are a valuable part of any e-bike and can be expensive to replace at the end of their lifespan so it’s a good idea to take care of them.
By following manufacturer advice on caring for an e-bike battery, you can extend the life of a battery and get the most out of it.
Do I Need Gears on an Electric Bike?
Whilst some electric bikes can be single-speed (1 gear) most will have at least 7 gears or more on board. Each gear (along with the assistance level) will help you tackle different riding circumstances on your e-bike. Occasions like riding from stationary, summiting a hill or riding fast.
E-Bike: Throttle or No Throttle?
Although vilified by some as cheating, throttles on electric bikes make sense, particularly for those riders looking to use an e-bike to replace their car, those commuting to work on an e-bike or those getting back into bike riding after a hiatus.
99% of electric bikes that feature a throttle also have a pedal assistance setting too, so that way you can spin your way to fitness, freedom or fresh air.
Suspension and Tires Choices
Suspension, whether at the front or front and rear, helps an e-bike find traction, particularly when it’s off-road. This is especially important for high-wattage electric bikes.
Plan on keeping your electric bike rides to the tarmac? Don’t dismiss an e-bike with suspension. Smaller amounts of travel (that’s how much squish the suspension has) provide gentle cushioning on rough, pitted roads or when negotiating speeds humps and curbs.
Tires are an important aspect of any bike, let alone an electric bike. Typically manufacturers will match the tire to the bike type, with wide, knobbly tires suited to electric mountain bikes, and slick, narrow tires paired with e-road bikes.
Take note of extra tire features like puncture protection or reflectivity – these will definitely come in handy on a feature bike ride we assure you.