How to Choose The Best Electric Bicycle

When researching electric bicycles, you undoubtedly come across a myriad of choices and options. To help you choose the right bicycle for you, there are a few things worth taking into consideration:

Style and Bike Components

A2B Metro MotorRemember that an electric bicycle at its core is still a bicycle. So, you need to look at its overall components and style and see whether it would still be a bike that you’d ride without power. At the end of the day, no matter how good the electrical components are, if you put them on a cheap or unreliable bicycle, it will not give you a good experience.

Battery Chemistry

With the electric bicycles, the old adage that you get what you pay for stands true. Sometimes, you can find cheap - $500-1,000 bicycles in Walmart or online sellers – and oftentimes, the savings are achieved with using a worse battery. Some chemistries, such as Sealed Lead Acid, are unreliable and are very heavy (20lbs or much more depending on capacity), have a very short lifespan (about A season, and only if maintained properly) and a limited range (10-15 miles).

In the long-run, you will be better off spending more upfront and getting a quality battery (e.g. Lithium) that will give you a longer range (20-40 miles) and several years of use, so you don’t have to buy a new one every year.

Motor Type

EVELO AuroraMost of the electric bikes on the market will come with a hub motor – either on the front or rear wheel. These are popular and cheap, so most of the manufacturers will use them. If you are considering a hub motor, make sure to look at 500W and above, as anything under that will feel underpowered. The downside of this is that the battery will be drained faster with a bigger motor as well.

Some of the more high-end bikes will now use a mid-drive motor which is mounted on the bottom bracket and is connected directly to the crankset. Mid-drive motors are much more efficient because they use the existing bicycle gears to provide more torque or speed when needed. Consequently, a smaller mid-drive motor can offer more power and be more conservative on the battery consumption than a hub motor.

Range

Most of the electric bicycles will offer 15-20 mile range in electric-only or 30-40 miles in pedal-assist modes. It’s important to consider what your needs are for 80% of your riding time. For most riders, the majority of trips end up being from 3 to 8 miles, so a 20 mile range will be perfectly adequate.
If you are commuting to work and you have a commute of about 10-15 miles each way, you can also consider purchasing an additional charger to keep at work. This way, you can recharge your battery while you work and virtually double your daily range.

Be careful when a a bike manufacturer advertises a range of 50+ miles, as that may mean that it will come with a very heavy battery. If the majority of your trips are under 15 miles, that will mean that you end up with a heavier bike that for the benefit that only comes in handy 10-15% of the times.

Warranty

Since an electric bicycle is a long-term investment, check to make sure that the company you are buying from offers at least a 12 month warranty on parts replacements and allows you to purchase parts separately after it expires. This way, even if a part fails several years down the line, you can simply replace it and continue to enjoy your bike.