How to Choose An Electric Bike
February 1, 2019
As the e-bike market continues to grow, there are hundreds of electric bikes (or e-bikes for short) being released every year. No doubt you’ve heard from friends or family about how great they are!
However, once you end at a bike store, you can't help but ask yourself, "which electric bike should I buy?" Choosing an electric bike can sometimes be challenging when you don't know exactly what to look for in an e-bike. The bike market in 2020 is vast, which is why we have come up with an e-bike buying guide listing all the things you should be aware of before making your purchase.
With an e-bike, you get the advantage of breaking through wind resistance, climbing steeper terrain, and increasing your range. Plus, you can minimize asthma or knee pain when riding an electric bicycle. It’s the perfect way to get back into shape, join friends for a ride, or even arrive at work in comfort without breaking a sweat!
While the benefits of getting an electric bike are clear, it’s not always apparent how to choose an electric bike that's most compatible with your lifestyle. So here are factors to consider when choosing an e-bike!
1. WHERE YOU'LL USE IT
The first step in how to choose an electric bike is to figure out why you want one in the first place. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or using it to commute, you can find the best model for you. In the end, it’s up to you to decide what you're looking to get out of the vehicle and communicate that to your local bike shop.
First and foremost, you’ll want to figure out where you’ll be riding your bike most frequently. An ebike that is designed for commuting to work or running errands in the city will be built differently from a rough road bike or electric mountain bike.
You may also consider whether you want a folding electric bicycle. A folding bike can come in handy if you need to carry or store your bike as part of your daily routine.
Make sure you have in mind how you’ll be using the bike before going to the shop to check one out.
2. LITHIUM-ION BATTERY OR LEAD-ACID BATTERY
One of the more important decisions to make on how to choose an electric bike is whether to go with a lithium-ion battery vs. lead-acid battery.
The battery is the most expensive component of an e-bike, which makes selecting the type of battery a critical thing to consider. Batteries typically last riders anywhere between 30 to 60 miles. They can be removed from the bike for easy transport to the home or office or wherever charging is most convenient. For each battery type, there are various models that give riders more or less power and autonomy.
Additionally, when choosing which battery is right for you there are three popular types of batteries:
- Lead-Acid: More economical, but rather hefty and sensitive to climate variations.
- Nickel-Cadmium: Lighter batteries, but suffer the most performance impacting defects.
- Lithium-Ion: The most optimal and longest battery hours, but also the most expensive.
Some of the cheaper, knock-off brands will come with a lead-acid battery. If you find an e-bike with a lead-acid battery, RIDE AWAY!
While it may seem nice to save a couple hundred dollars on a new e-bike, lead-acid batteries come with several drawbacks. A lead-acid battery will be almost three times as heavy as a lithium-ion battery. Not to mention, it will have a shorter lifespan, and it won’t run at the near 100% efficiency that a lithium-ion battery will run at.
Aventon e-bikes are made with lithium-ion batteries exclusively. In order to make sure that you are caring for your battery correctly according to 2020 guidelines, make sure to read our "Caring For Your E-Bike Battery" blog!
Having a budget in mind before you buy an electric bicycle is a good idea, especially since an ebike's price can range anywhere from $1000-$10,000. We at Aventon want to make the best e-bikes attainable for any budget. That is why we released the first sub-$1000 electric bicycle and we were featured on Bicycling Magazine for having one of the most affordable e-bikes. Check out the Sinch, our folding electric bike, one of our best electric bikes.
Consider how much you want to invest in your bike, especially given our unique situation in 2020. If you live in places where public transport is still closed or sparse, you may benefit from having an alternative form of transport. In this case, you might want to spend on a better unit that can keep up with changing needs during this uncertain time.
As we broaden our line of products this 2020, the selection will increase from entry-level models up to bikes with added features and newer technologies. Keep an eye on our selection as we expand with different ebike styles and models., and more!
4. How it Drives
After doing your due diligence, take a bike on a test ride! This is probably the most important part of how to choose an electric bike (and not to mention, the most fun too)!
Possibly the most essential and fun part of purchasing an electric bicycle is the test ride. Testing out an electric bicycle lets you put aside specifications and testimonials and research to answer straightforward questions about the bike's overall performance.
The best way to do this is by renting the ebike you’re considering purchasing for the day and see how it rides. Most electric bike shops charge a fee for daily rentals, but the expense is worth it considering the investment.
When test riding your e-bike, be sure to ask yourself the following questions
- Do I like this bike?
- Can it climb hills or bumpy trails the way I want it to?
- Does the bicycle fit the way I'd like it to?
- Does it have the quality and performance I'd like from an electric bicycle?
Use our 2020 dealer locator to find a local Aventon Dealer and take an ebike out for a spin.
5. ASSISTANCE Drive-TYPE
The two most main electric bike drive types are “pedelec”and “throttle”.
Pedelec (pedal electric cycle) technology is the most common, which is the kind of system that monitors the rider’s pedaling and engages the assistance of an electric motor as needed. The amount of pedal assist is usually dependent on rate, force, and speed.
Most countries limit the top speed of the pedal-assist on a bike but can range between a max speed of 20mph-28mph. When the bike has reached its top-speed, the pedal-assist motor automatically switches off. While there are some electric bikes that can achieve speeds of up to 50mph, users need to have a special driver’s license, plates, and insurance.
Meanwhile, electric bikes with throttle drive-types have the same limitations as pedelecs, except the motor can be engaged by twisting a throttle on the handle bar.
An electric bike’s range is defined as the distance you can travel on a full charge of battery.
When you’ve found the electric bike you would like to purchase, the next step is to consider its range. This is typically described in terms of the number of miles a rider can go before needing to recharge the battery. The type of battery you choose will be dependent on the sort of riding you plan on doing with the bike.
If you plan to utilize more motor power than the bike’s pedal power, then you are going to be using your battery's charge much faster and will, therefore, need to shop for a bigger battery. However, if you plan to pedal a lot and use the motor assistance less frequently, you will probably be looking at purchasing a battery with a smaller range.
Furthermore, the length of your rides also affects the sort of battery you will need for your bike. If you have a long daily commute, then you will probably be looking to purchase a battery that gives you more range, compared to someone who only rides for a couple of miles each day.
Be sure the type of ebike you are looking to purchase will conveniently cover the kind of traveling you plan on doing with the bike.
While most e-bikes can travel about 20-mile distance on a single charge, we have seen customer reports of up to 50 miles on a single charge on our Aventon Pace 500. The range can vary from person to person, depending on your weight, assistance levels, battery capacity, average speed, and profile of the commuting tour.
Effectively combining the mechanical performance of the bike's drivetrain with the torque and power of its motor is among the best ways to optimize the overall performance of an electric bike fully. You will want to know whether the bicycle is single speed or if it’s multiple gears.
Single-speed restricts your ability to fine-tune your riding experience and may force you to rely more heavily on the bike’s motor, while multiple gears give you a more extensive selection of riding options and makes it much easier to climb hills.
One of the most essential components of an electric bicycle is its motor. There are two kinds of motors that are suited to different uses of the bicycle: mid-drive and hub-drive.
The mid-drive motor generates considerably more torque than the hub-drive, giving riders much more power to climb steep hills. Additionally, energy in the mid-drive motor also offers riders a more natural feel while riding the bicycle. That being said, mid-drive motors are also the more expensive type of motor.
The hub drive motor, on the other hand, often includes a similar power output as the mid-drive motor, but doesn't benefit from the same torque and rotational reduction of its counterpart.
Because of this, hub-drive motors are typically less capable of climbing steep hills compared to mid-drive motors. However, hub-drive motors are much more affordable and are an excellent first choice for anyone purchasing their first ebike.
The speed you want your bicycle to travel is determined mostly by where you live, how fast you want to ride, and how heavily you intend on using the e-bike's motor.
Generally speaking, e-bikes capable of hitting 20 miles per hour are the most convenient and beneficial types of bikes, allowing riders to run errands, commute to work, and get riders practically anywhere they need to be as quickly and economically as possible.
Understandably, the maximum speed at which an electric bike can operate will depend on state laws. In some places, electric bikes can't legally go any faster than 20 miles per hour, but under that threshold, there is still some substantial variance in the speeds that different ebikes can achieve. In other states, ebikes are allowed to go up to 28 MPH.
Be sure you check the expected power output so that you can pick the speed that's right for you.
Buying a bicycle is a significant investment, and with any big investment, it’s critical to make sure you protect it. One of the great things about riding an ebike is that nearly all repairs can be done quite easily using standard bicycle components by a mechanic at a local bike shop.
However, because electric bikes also use their distinct components, it’s essential also to consider purchasing a warranty for your bicycle, just in case anything goes wrong.
When shopping for an electric bicycle, try to find a warranty that covers the frame, fork, components, and electrical parts, including the battery. A quality e-bike should last you somewhere between five to ten years with regular maintenance. Warranties give peace of mind knowing that your money is well-spent.
Whether you need road bikes, mountain bikes, or just a basic set of wheels to get you around the city, we've definitely got something for you!
E-bikes are quickly becoming a new standard of transportation in cities across the world. If you’re considering joining the movement, but aren’t sure where to start, contact Aventon today. We will do our best to answer any questions you might have about electric bikes to make the decision-making process as easy as possible.
Visit the Aventon website today to look at our 2020 line of electric bikes and choose the one that's best for you.