Why Buy An E-Bike?
An e-bike is a bicycle outfitted with an electric motor. The motor assists your pedaling and propels you forward so you can increase your miles and decrease your effort.
There are e-bike offerings in each bike category: mountain, road, commuter, and gravel. And the reasons to choose an e-version of one of these bikes vary widely: from saving gas to extending your daily mileage. We’ll list a few here, but your own reason for choosing an e-bike could be yours alone! There are no wrong reasons!
- Many riders choose e-bikes simply to extend their miles. Expend the same amount of effort and go twice the distance.
- Some riders want exercise, but the prospect of riding a non-motorized bike is still out of reach. One can still get ample exercise on an e-bike.
- E-bikes are a fantastic car alternative for commuting. Save gas and reduce your carbon footprint while also getting exercise.
- E-bikes put out more power than many riders could produce with the legs alone. They make it possible to climb hills that would normally be too steep—it’s not always just about distance.
Different Classes Of E-Bikes
An e-bike's power delivery type is one of three main classes: 1. pedal assist, 2. throttle, and 3. max assisted speed.
Class 1: Pedal Assist
These bikes have a motor (750Wh max) that assists pedaling at any speed lower than 20mph. To ride faster, you'll have to rely on gravity or your own strength.
Class 2: Throttle
This is the least common type although it is gaining popularity. These bikes have a throttle that propels the bike forward without pedaling and maxes out at 20 mph.
Class 3: Max Assisted Speed Pedal Assist
These pedal-assisted bikes are essentially the same as class 1 except they max out at a higher speed, 28mph (you can still ride faster, you just won't have the electric power support). This is as fast as an e-bike is allowed to go without being classified as a motorcycle.
Types Of E-Bikes
The bike you choose will be determined by your personal needs. Where do you plan to ride? Do you need a little pedal assist climbing for your local trails? Or do you need a car alternative for running errands? The following breakdown will help you decide which category of e-bike is right for you.
- E-MTB: An e-MTB (electric mountain bike) is typically a full-suspension mountain bike with a pedal assist (class 1) motor. If you prioritize the fun-factor of the send, you might like this type of mountain bike over a non-motorized bike so you can get a few extra laps in before dusk.
- E-Commuter: E-commuter bikes make grocery store runs and work commutes a breeze. Folks who don’t have a car or want to save on gas may choose e-bikes as a quick and efficient daily mode of transportation. Plus, you won’t get as sweaty commuting on an e-bike, so you can roll into that important job interview on time and refreshed!
- E-Road: These bikes are great for road riders who want to cover a lot of ground—more than they’d be able to if they had to pedal with leg power only.
- E-Gravel: Want to cover big miles over mixed surfaces? An e-gravel bike may be your best option.
Safety & Speed Considerations
Whether you’re riding a regular bike or an e-bike, accidents are possible, so always wear a helmet and follow traffic rules. There are also a couple of variables that make e-bikes a bit different. The increased speed of the e-bike could result in more severe injury in the case of an accident. Plus, there’s a learning curve unique to e-bikes. Practice in an empty lot before taking your new e-bike out into traffic. It will feel different than a regular bike, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with the sensitivity of the throttle, pedal assist, and overall feel and handling of the bike prior to hitting the road.
What You Need To Know About E-Bike Batteries
- Battery capacity is measured in watt hours (Wh): a unit expressing how much electrical energy is used in one hour. Batteries with higher Wh have a higher capacity. The battery commonly has double the Wh of the motor to optimize efficiency and range.
- Battery charge time: It takes 3 to 5 hours to fully charge an empty battery.
- In general, larger batteries will take longer to charge than smaller batteries. You can carry your charger with you if you want to charge at the office, for example. Or just take along an extra battery for long days on the bike!
- Extra batteries: Some e-bikes are equipped with two batteries to extend the bike’s range.
- Battery mounting placement: Some batteries are integrated into the frame to make the bike look more like a non-e-bike and preserve precious frame space for water bottle cages. External batteries can look conspicuous and bulky, but they have their benefits as they’re often easier to replace (and service).
- To make sure your e-bike battery lasts as long as possible, use ONLY the charger that was made for your battery. Plugging your battery into a different charger could damage it, even if the wattage claims to be the same.
- If you’re riding frequently, keep your battery charged to around 80–90% in between rides.
- If you won’t be riding for a while, store your e-bike with the battery about half-charged. Storing your e-bike with an empty or a fully charged battery could decrease the lifespan of the battery.
- Try to ride at least a couple of times per week to maintain your battery’s health (and your own!).
E-Bike Motor Options
- Torque: E-bike motor torque is measured by newton meters (Nm). This is something to pay attention to if your commute involves hills, you’re climbing steep single track on the daily, or if you’re hauling tons of groceries. E-bikes might range from about 40 Nm to 80 Nm. The higher the number, the more torque the bike will have. E-MTBs often have relatively high torque due to the steep grades of off-road travel and the heavier weight of the bike.
- Motor Placement: Most e-bikes will have a motor in a mid-drive (bottom bracket) position or inside the rear hub. Mid-drive pedal-assist e-bikes tend to provide the rider with a more natural feeling ride. Plus, the centered position and low center of gravity allows for stable riding. One may notice a feeling of being pushed from behind on e-bikes with rear hub-drive motors or a feeling of being pulled along if the motor is on the front hub. Changing a flat on a wheel with rear hub drive can be challenging.
E-Bike Brands To Know
We carry several excellent e-MTB options from these trusted brands:
These brands make top-of-the-line e-bikes for road riding:
Check out our amazing assortment of commuter and cargo e-bikes for all of your round-town needs:
How To Size An E-Bike
Like any bike, you want it to fit well so that you don’t become fatigued after a few hours in the saddle. In general, you can follow the same guidelines for sizing in your non-e category of choice. Contact a Gearhead to help you size your e-bike.
- LCD Screen: Some e-bikes feature an LCD on the handlebars. The screen typically displays battery usage, pedal-assist info, speed, and distance ridden.
- Smartphone Integration: You can pair some e-bikes with your phone to track info like battery usage on an app when you’re off the bike and use your phone’s GPS on the bike’s screen while you’re on the bike.
- Security: Because e-bikes are expensive and can be targeted by bike thieves, some come with integrated wheel and battery locks.
- Lighting: E-bikes often have lights that are integrated into the power system. This is especially common on commuter e-bikes.
- Racks: Many commuter and cargo e-bikes come with integrated racks for panniers or baskets. Haul groceries, books, or gardening supplies with ease!
How To Decide Which E-Bike Is Best For You
- Set a price limit for your e-bike purchase. Are you willing to pay for the best of the best? Or do you just need a reliable entry-level e-bike.
- Decide on your bike category: mountain, road, gravel, or commuter.
- Which class of e-bike do you want:
- Pedal assist
- Max assisted speed
- Within the category and class you’ve chosen, identify how much range, and therefore how many watt hours, you will need.
- Determine the features you’d prefer your e-bike to have: racks, LCD displays, security locks, etc.
- Contact a Gearhead to help you find the perfect e-bike for you. In fact you can make “Contact a Gearhead” step 1 if you’re not sure what you want or if you’re overwhelmed with all the options. We’re here to help! Chat with us online or give us a call at 1-800-409-4502.
E-Bike Kit Must-Haves
- Helmets: Whether your bike has an electric component or not, you should always wear a helmet. Choose one based on the type of riding you’ll be doing the most. That said, most commuting, road, gravel, and MTB helmets have the same general design and are meant to be sleek, lightweight, and cool.
- Layers & Style: Both the season and your mission will determine what you will wear on your e-bike. Supplement your work attire with a rain jacket or gloves to help thermoregulate and seal out the elements.
- Shoes: If you want to get the most performance out of your e-MTB or e-road bike, grab some ride-specific shoes. If you’re commuting, maybe all you need is a flat-soled shoe that will look decent in the office too.
- Tools: Always ride with repair tools like tire levers, flat kits, extra tubes, inflators, and a multi-tool with bits that fit your particular e-bike. Depending on the length of your ride, you may also want to bring along an extra battery or your charger.
- Hydration packs: Longer, hotter days call for extra water. These packs are also great for toting layers, food, batteries, and tools.
Q: How long do e-bike batteries last?
A: Most lithium e-Bike batteries last for roughly 1,000 full charging cycles (0-100%) which translates to about 3-5 years.
Q: How Much Does A Battery Cost For An Electric Bike?
A: E-Bike batteries range between about $500–$1000. In general, bigger batteries packing higher wattage hours (Wh) will cost more.
Q: Is It OK To Leave An e-Bike Battery Plugged In All The Time?
A: Some newer batteries are designed to automatically cut off the flow of electricity when the battery is full so it doesn’t get damaged by overcharging. If your battery does not have this feature, it can be damaged by overcharging.
Q: How Much Does An E-Bike Cost?
A: E-Bikes range from about $1,000 to over $10,000, with e-MTBs and e-road bikes landing at the higher end of the spectrum. If you’re looking for an entry-level commuter, expect to spend between $1,000 and $3,000.