Electric bikes for beginners
What is an electric bike?
An electric bike is a bicycle with a battery-powered electric motor. Most modern e-bikes use what is known as a pedelec (or pedal assist) system.
When you ride a pedelec bike, the motor automatically offers assistance when you pedal, so you can't just sit back and expect the motor to do all the hard work. The motor also stops providing assistance above speeds of 25km/h.
The main advantage of an electric bike is that it makes it quicker and easier to get from A to B. This makes e-bikes a popular choice among commuters who want to ride to work without raising too much of a sweat, while there are also specialist e-bikes designed for a range of other cycling styles.
What to look for when comparing electric bikes for beginners
There are several factors you'll need to consider when buying your first e-bike. These include:
- Type of bike. What style of riding will you do on your e-bike? Will you use your bike to commute to work, pop down to the shops or tackle off-road trails? Once you have a better idea of how you plan to use your bike, you can narrow your choice down to a range of suitable models.
- Battery. Battery capacity is measured in Watt-hours (Wh), so check the specs sheet for this figure as well as how long it takes to recharge the battery. You can also check whether the manufacturer specifies how many charge cycles you'll get out of the battery before it needs to be replaced.
- Motor. Check the power and torque figures for the motor as well as where it is mounted. Hub motors tend to feature on more affordable models, while mid-mount motors that sit near the bottom bracket offer better weight distribution. Finally, check what riding modes are available and how much motorised assistance you can expect in each mode.
- Frame style. If you'll be riding your bike in a skirt or dress, or if you're not all that flexible, you may want to opt for a step-through frame rather than a step-over model.
- Frame size. Check the manufacturer's frame size chart to find the frame that matches your measurements.
- Wheel size. Larger wheels generally ensure a smoother ride. However, if you're looking for a folding bike or something that won't take up too much storage space, you may prefer a model with smaller wheels.
- Components. Next, check the specs sheet to find out what tyres, brakes and gearing system the bike uses? Are they all high-quality parts from reputable manufacturers?
- Size and weight. If storage space is at a minimum or you want something portable, consider a folding electric bike. If you'll need to regularly carry your bike for any reason, such as to store it away, you may want to look for a lightweight electric bike.
- Warranty. Does the manufacturer offer a warranty? How long is the warranty and what does it cover?
- Price. If this is your first e-bike, you probably don't want to spend too much cash upfront. There are plenty of entry-level models available in the $1,000-$2,500 price bracket, plus a wide range of bikes with better-quality components and features in the $2,500-$5,000 ballpark.