Electric Bicycle Buyer's Guide
What type of electric bike fit my needs? Why are there such price differences between electric bikes? Discover the important points that compare electric bikes:
- Types of electric bicycles
- Power of electric bicycles
- The weight
- Quality of electric bicycles
- Service & Warranty
1 - The type of electric bike
A single rule to choose your electric bike: choose according to your needs. The driving position, the presence of suspensions or the type of saddle are important criteria that can enhance the pleasure of using your ebike.
City electric bicycles favor comfort and seating for users who make long rides to go to work or for riding around town.
Click here to find all our City electric bikes
Folding electric bicycles are lighter and easier to handle on public transport, in the cargo compartment of a motor home or to get up the stairs of your home.
Click here to find all our Folding electric bikes
The mountain electric bicycles emphasize performance and are equipped with harder saddles. They have a more dynamic driving position leaning forward.
The Beach Cruisers are designed for comfort and style. Riding down the beach, on a wooded trail, or commuting to work, you will experience a more relaxing ride. The upright riding position and large seat give you an easy smooth ride.
Click here to find all our Beach Cruisers electric bikes
Each type of electric bike adapts to different uses depending on whether you use your bike daily or on weekends, both long and short distances, whether you live in a house or an apartment. The best is to review your criteria and ideal use before choosing your electric bike.
2 - The batteries of the electric bike
The batteries of the electric bicycles represent 30 to 50% of the price of the bike. The battery technology therefore greatly influences the performance of the ebike but also its price. Each type of battery has a specific application, and has advantages and disadvantages. There are now 4 major battery technologies: lead, Ni-MH, Li-Ion, Li-Po batteries.
A) Lead-acid batteries are no longer used on top-quality electric bicycles. They are cheaper but also significantly heavier and more difficult to recycle than the others. With a performance of more or less 70Wh / Kgs, they are sensitive to self-discharge and negative temperatures.
Their service life is on average 300 to 400 charge cycles.
B) Ni-MH type batteries weigh about half the weight of a lead-acid battery. This technology is sensitive to the memory effect unlike the other technologies. They recycle well but do not support overload and require a suitable charger. They are sensitive to self-discharge. Ni-MH batteries support about 500 charging cycles.
C) Li-Ion batteries are the most used. They weigh about half the weight of a lead-acid battery, have no memory effect and are superior to lead or NI-MH batteries. They recycle well. The lithium Ion batteries support 600 to 1200 charging cycles.
D) Li-Po batteries are about five times lighter than a lead-acid battery and 2.5 times less than a Li-ion and Ni-MH battery. They have no memory effect and have equivalent performance to Li-ion batteries. They recycle well. Li-Po batteries support 600 to 1500 charging cycles.
A battery remains a chemical element that deteriorates over time. Follow manufacturer's recommendations to extend battery life.
IMPORTANT: Recharge your battery every month even if you do not use your electric bike. If you do not do so, and you request a warranty, the manufacturer may refuse it.
3 - Power of the electric bike
The battery gives the bike its autonomy and power. The performance of the battery is expressed by the combination of its voltage expressed in Volt (V) and its capacity expressed in Ampere-Hour (Ah).
To simplify things the more tension you have (V), the more power you will feel. The more you have amp-hour (Ah), the more autonomy you have.
The autonomy in Ah of the bike can be compared to the size of the tank of a car. If you operate in a hilly area the best is to choose a battery with a minimum of 36V to climb the hills. In flat terrain a voltage of 24V will be sufficient but you will have to "help" the bike uphill.
The autonomy of the bike depends on its capacity in Ah, we advise you a minimum of 8Ah if you have to make journeys of more than 15 miles and have a little margin. The weight of the bike and the driver, the mode of pedaling assistance chosen, the type of road and many other criteria have an enormous influence on the autonomy of the electric bike. In the end the manufacturers provide ranges of autonomy which are indicated on our site in the characteristics.
4 - Motors
If you have begun your research for your next electric bike acquisition, you may have noticed that there are several possibilities for the engine: in the front wheel, in the rear wheel, or in the center. Each manufacturer opted for one or the other of these variants, very often related to the types of transmission or to maximize the integration of the components:
- Engine at the front: It has the advantage of spreading the masses in an optimal way on the bicycle without hindering its maneuverability and its stability, and the traction is optimal. Moreover, it allows to have a transmission in the hub or gear box that is very practical in cities.
Example models: E-Trikers electric trike
- Engine at the rear: The real plus of the engine at the rear is its combination with the derailleur, which allows to have more speeds and more motor power. It is ideal for most of riding types.
Example of models: Elux Newport; Green bike USA GB3; X-Treme Trail Maker; X-Treme Alpine Trails
- Engine in the middle: While the engine in the crankset (Bosch, Impulse, or Yamaha technology) is powerful and will equip mostly sporty ebikes. It has the advantage of being independently associated with a derailleur or a gearbox. But it often remains expensive, especially for high-end versions.
Example of models: X-Treme Summit; QuietKat FatKat; Grace MX II
5 - The weight of a electric bicycle
The weight of electric bikes has greatly decreased in recent years but remains high and an important criterion of choice for your electric bike. The weight of electric bicycles varies between 20 lbs for the lightest and 65 lbs for the heaviest, the vast majority being in a range of 35 to 55 lbs. It should be noted that these 20 lbs difference is difficult to win for manufacturers and often explain the price differences for two bikes with equal performance, the weight of batteries and frames being inversely proportional to their price; plus a battery is light, the more expensive it is.
When the weight is an important criterion for the buyer, it will be useful to refer to the so-called urban or folding bikes which are simply smaller and therefore weigh less, even if they are a little less comfortable and efficient. It should be noted that in normal operation, a heavy bicycle can also mean greater power and therefore less effort on pedaling.
6 - Quality of the electric bike Price and comparison
First of all a figure, 95% of electric bicycles, big brands and small brands combined, are made in China.
The origin of bicycles is therefore not a criterion of differentiation in the matter. However, since the product is relatively new, the best goes hand in hand with the worst. Distributors must therefore be careful to work with demanding brands on the quality of materials used, coatings, adjustments and more. From this point of view, ebikecatalog only work with reputable brands that offer the best prices without sacrificing quality.
7 - Service & Warranty
The guarantee and the durability of the purchase have to be essential points in your comparison of electric bikes. Many manufacturers differentiate the warranty on the cycle part (the bicycle itself) from the engine and the battery. The warranty period extends from 1 to 3 years generally on the cycle part and from 1 to 2 years for the engine and the battery. Some manufacturers give a guaranteed number of charge cycles for the battery.
For more information do not hesitate to consult our FAQ