E-Bike Buying Guide: How to Choose the Right Electric Bicycle
E-bikes can cost between 1,000 – 4,000€ on average, so it’s worth researching the different makes and models available before making an investment. Key considerations include weight, range, motor, design, price, warranty and regulations. Below are 7 questions you should ask yourself before buying an electric bike. As you answer these questions, it should become clearer what kind of electric bike is best for your needs.
How often will you need to carry your bike?
With an e-bike, you can’t just leave it outside all the time. Depending on the bike battery and how frequently you use the bike, the motor may need to be charged a few times a week or even daily.
If the e-bike has a removable battery, you can simply detach it and bring it indoors for charging. If the battery is integrated into the bicycle frame, you’ll need to bring your bike indoors (or a garage) for charging. Also, in cold weather conditions, you’ll want to keep your bike indoors in order to preserve the battery.
The average weight of an e-bike is around 20 kg, but there are models that are as light as 13 kg and as heavy as 43 kg. If you don’t have a power outlet in your garage, chances are you’ll need to lift and carry your e-bike up the stairs every day to lock it or charge it.
Weight also plays a role in the usability of the bikes when you’re lifting the bike over the edge of the pavement. All of this is why you need to consider the weight when making the choice – the lighter, the better.
How far will you be riding?
An e-bike’s range is how far you can ride it on just one charge. Since different e-bikes have different ranges, it’s a good idea to estimate how much and for what purpose you’ll be using your e-bike before making a purchase. Assess your daily commute or average weekend ride and go from there.
Ampler bikes’ top range is around 120 km, however, keep in mind that this is affected by factors such as weight, riding style (economic vs frequent stops and acceleration), road quality, tyres and weather conditions. If your daily routes are longer than 50 km, or if you are planning on doing some long-distance touring, you should get an e-bike with a long range. If your daily rides are mostly within 10-20 km, getting an electric bike with a 60-70 km range should be more than enough for your week rides. Also, consider that your e-bike’s maximum range will likely be different than the one that is advertised.
Several factors can shorten the battery range, including:
- Heavier rider and cargo weight
- Frequent stops and starts
- More difficult and hilly terrain
- Windier or other adverse weather conditions
- Age and condition of tyres and battery
- Faster speed and harder pedalling
Where will you be riding on your e-bike?
When it comes to e-bike motors, you can choose between the hub and mid-drive motors. These motors can come with 250 watts, 500 watts, 1000 watts etc of power.
Which motor is best for you will depend on your usual path. If you’ll be using your e-bike on hilly roads a lot, you might need a more powerful mid-motor that can give you enough assist on steep hills. If you’ll be riding mostly in a city environment and you prefer a quiet motor, a bit less-powerful hub motor will be just fine.
Also, you’ll want to consider your weight and average cargo load. Heavier riders or those with a lot of cargo may want to get a more powerful motor.
What’s your style?
As with regular bikes, your e-bike needs to fit your body. The design of your e-bike should not only cover your basic functional needs, but it should also suit your personality. On the functional side, you’ll need to consider if you’re more comfortable in an upright sitting position or if you prefer a more sleek and sporty feel.
You’ll also need to decide between gears or single speed. As you think about how you’ll use your e-bike, you may realise that you need a rear carrier, front basket, mudguard or all of the above. Another thing is the frame size. Most bikes come in multiple sizes, but before you have your heart set on one, make sure it is available in the size you need.
On the personality side, e-bikes come in a range of colours and frames. Fit is important, but so is looking good as you ride, right?
What’s included in the price?
Given the investment you’ll be making, make sure you know what is included in the price. Basic accessories such as lights and mudguards should be included. In some models, a rear carrier or front basket may be included as well.
You may need to pay extra for test-riding, shipping and returns as well as for supplemental accessories such as locks, additional chargers or real axle adapters. Resellers and retailers add their own margin to the bike’s price, as well. These details can increase the end price substantially, so be sure you know just what you are paying for.
When it comes to price, remember you need to get the best e-bike for you, not necessarily the best one on the market. While it can be tempting to go with the fanciest top-end model, you may not need all these bells and whistles depending on your e-biking plans.
What will happen if things break?
Beyond the cost of the e-bike, you’ll also want to consider maintenance costs. No matter how premium and expensive e-bike you have, bicycle components still wear off over time and can break occasionally.
You can fix most of the issues by yourself, however, sometimes you might need a helping hand from a professional bike mechanic — especially if there’s something wrong with the bike electronics. In these cases, you should get a bike that can be easily and affordably maintained by regular bike shops.
Another thing to consider is the return policy and the warranty. Every professional bicycle manufacturer should offer at least a 7-day free return and a 1-year warranty with the e-bike. If there is no warranty offered, it’s best to avoid buying from these brands, no matter how good the deal may sound at first.
Are there any restrictions on riding e-bikes in your country?
For each type of bikes, there are specific regulations around where you can ride, what types of bikes are allowed and how fast you can go.
In Europe, the general rule for e-bikes is that the e-bike can have a 250 W electric motor providing the top speed is limited to 25 km/h. Also, the motor can only assist, rather than replace pedalling.