Should I Buy an Electric Bicycle? A few tips to help you making a decision

The electric bikes are here to stay. We remember not so very long ago that this kind of bicycles was rare and if you saw somebody riding one with apparently no effort —you were thinking “Look, I bet that bike has something else…!”

You heard that they help you (assist you?) pedaling, that the battery has a long durability, that you can go to your office not all sweated, and you start to ask your self… Should I buy and Electric Bicycle, right?

So,you will need to know a bit more about what an Electric Bike is, its components, the techy language, and get some advises.

So, Why Should I Buy an Electric Bicycle Anyway?


Let´s be honest, at least once,you saw a clicyst passing beside you riding an electric bike and you thought: “Lazy”…right?

Let me tell you that there is more than just “assistant” for an electric bicycle. This great partner can help you with these issues:

Maybe you are not in a good shape or your level of fitness is not at its 100%, and you appreciate that little “push” for uphills. You can do that trip you want to do this year, or this vacations and not really spend a lot of time and effort trying to get to the fitness level that this could demand.

When you are a busy grown man/woman, having to go pick up the children at school (maybe carrying a little trailer), or picking some food at the grocery store, and doing those daily routines. Or even you have a small business that demands to transport some equipment (tools, hardware, testers, etc…). For this extra-weight activities, the help that you can receive for you electric assistant could me more that welcome!

Do you have a Car? Keep Reading…

If you are considering a car alternative…this is a great choice. Did you know that a car driving through a city can travel as slow as 20 mph?. Electric bikes can ride at 15 mph, and most of the time you will not be stuck at traffic. It´s like a motorcycle, only “greener” option.

And don´t even think about the saving your make when you run an electric bike instead of a car. Do you know that an annual cost to maintain a car running is around u$s9.000?! And costing an electric bike will be no more that u$s400!

Doing some basic Math… A full tank of gas cost $30. And full charge of an electric bike around 50 cents. I know, I know,you could say that a full tank of a car can get you further….but not 60 times further!!!

How it works

So, in order to know if you should buy an electric bike, let`s try to understand how it works

There is 3 main component in an electric bicycle:

  1. Motor
  2. Battery,
  3. Drivetrain

Apart from this, it`s pretty much a “normal” bike.

Where the Motor goes?

This is the main component of an electric bike, and of course it`s the one that turn the bike into an “electric” bike ;). You should find 3 types of motors: Front Hub, Rear Hub, and Mid-Drive. Let`s show this with a picture (well..three)

When the Motor is located on the front wheel, it`s kind of a feeling that the bike is “pulled” forward. This kind of motors tend to give a filling that the bike is not quite balanced. At least this is happened to me when I tried it. But hey, I can be a little bit picky 😀

Having the motor at the back wheel gives you a more natural “push” feeling. Of course, this motor provides the power to the back tire.

And finally the motor located in the middle of the bike, gives the power, not to the well but directly to the drivetrain. This really provide a more natural feeling for riding. Personally, I believe that his kind of arrangement is the best for an electric bicycle.

I am starting to get this. So, what it’s really an electric bike again?

It is essentially a bicycle. As in traditional models,you have to pedal, but in that case with the help of an electric motor that assists you when pedaling

As We´ve already mantioned, the electric motor can be located on the front or rear wheel (direct hub motors) or in the bottom bracket (central motor). These ones, the central motors, are the most modern technologically speaking, since they have twice the torque than the wheel motors, which considerably increases their efficiency, autonomy and ability to climb slopes with the same horsepower and energy use

The Battery, the Fuel of your Ebike

The motor of the ebike is powered by a battery that is charged in the same way you charge your computer or your cell phone (no,you don’t have to carry the charger everywhere: D) The batteries are usually lithium ions, with a durability of 800 charge cycles, which provide a range between 25 and 65 miles per charge, depending on its capacity. That is like, during the life of the battery,you will be able to travel between 30,000 and 50,000 miles. Not bad!!

Basically, the planet Earth has a circumference of around 25,000 miles, so We could travel around the planet Earth twice! … I think is enough for a bicycle touring lifetime plans: D

In addition to this, manufacturers are focusing on improving the general user interface, designing and developing ebikes that can be integrated with users’ smartphones (of course…right? Nowadays seems that everything needs to be smartphones-integreated…) and provide them with real-time information about their trip and battery status. More compact motors, lighter and more efficient use of the power. Higher capacity battery and shorter charging time. ABS braking solutions, among many other innovations

Setting Trends for Ebikes

In markets such as European and Asian, electric bicycles have been growing at two-year inter annual rates since the last five years, with great technological innovations and the emergence of new brands specializing in electric bicycles. The demand for electric bicycles is increasing especially among young people, since their lifestyle and an environment commitment and adventure lean them towards practical solutions of low maintenance and minimal environmental impact

Categories

There are three main categories of electric bicycles depending on the user’s need.

Urban: With the increase in city, ebikes are starting to be seen as a very interesting and convenient transportation solution for short and medium distance. In addition, ebikes can be used as a complement to public transport or car, particularly solving the problem of parking near the workplace. Or when public transport does not arrive exactly where we want to (We´ve all been there, right?)

Mountain: This category (recreation and sports) have also been incorporated into electric bicycles, both road and mountain bikes. Mountain bikes in particularly, have been developed strongly because of their great versatility, allowing leveling the pedaling groups and reaching places that previously seemed impossible to reach, and in a very enjoyable way! (I mean, not getting there half dead and literally with no more air in your lungs :D).

Cargo: This category is the most benefited, as we said before, at a carrying-loads level, since the electric motor is really a great help when carrying a heavy load on the ebike, basket, cart, trailer, etc. In some Asian countries they have completely replaced traditional bicycles and combustion motorcycles in this category

Benefits of ebikes

  • Urban Mobility: Traveling in the city from here to there avoiding traffic jams, stress, wasted time behind the steering wheel, public transport and the search for a free parking space (this last one could be a nightmare!)

  • Environmental care They produce no noise or pollution from combustion of hydrocarbons. The electric motors used have a high efficiency, greater than 80%.
  • Enjoyment. The experience of riding an electric bicycle is unique, making the rides very relaxed. It allows you to get to work quickly, comfortably and fun. (oh … and dry)
  • Versatility. The assistance provided helps pedaling according to your needs. Are you tired? Increase assistance. Do you want to exercise more? Lower the level of assisted pedaling
  • Power Range. Greater than 25 miles, which allows you to move with no worries for a long period. And when you need it you can charge the battery in a couple of hours.
  • Economy. The cost is very low and only 0.002 u$s/mile (versus 0.13 u$s/mile for a car). This saves a lot of money. Not to mention the costs of insurance, taxes, maintenance.

Tips for Choosing an Electric Bike

  • Quality First. Since an ebike has many mechanical and electrical components, look for the best quality options and have certification stamps.
  • Choose brands that have representation in your region, since this way you can ensure a good after-sales service and availability of spare parts and accessories.
  • Check the battery. The battery is very important and the quality of its cells will define its useful life. Some brands of good quality cells are Panasonic and Samsung
  • For city, always choose an ebike that is comfortable and has an upright and comfortable driving posture. A folding bike is not always the best solution for the city, unless you really have a space restriction or have to load it daily in a car trunk. A 28 shot is a much better option in comfort and walking.
  • For mountain, look for an ebike with a central motor, since they have twice the torque of wheel motors with equal power. For example, if the power is 250W: 40Nw.m wheel motor; central engine 85Nw.m. It also uses torque sensor technology, which delivers engine power based on the ground requirement
  • Choose bicycles with disc brake systems and hydraulic disc brake if possible, since the ebikes develop greater speed and accelation and therefore you will need a more powerful brake system
  • Models with the engine and battery integrated into the frame generate less noise and provide better performance
  • The spirit of an ebike is assisting you when you pedal. We would not recommend using high power motors (> 500W), as they will put your safety at risk, in addition to making the ebike more expensive, heavy and with greater consumption

That´s it for a brief introduction to the Ebikes world and I hope you have some clearer information if you are thinking is should bike an electric bike.

Leave your comments if you liked this, or share your experience about ebikes!

Talk to you soon.

Jason

14 thoughts on “Should I Buy an Electric Bicycle? A few tips to help you making a decision”

  1. I found your article very interesting. I’ve learned a lot of stuff I never knew about an electric bike. I have a adult handicapped son who relies on his bicycle to get around because he isn’t able to get a driver’s license. He has seen electric bicycles and knows he’d be able to get further on one than with his regular bike. It would give him much more independence. Unfortunately, from what I’ve been reading, and something that wasn’t covered in the article, is that you do need some sort of license to drive these bikes. I hope you can cover this topic more for me, so I can make an informed decision as to whether or not my son could benefit from the product. Thank you for all of the great information.

    1. HI there Margaret, thank you for your comment. Yes, this could be an enormous help for your son. If you live in USA you will have to check State by State since some of them requires a license and other stats don´t. For example Alabama State requires a M class License, but Florida does not.

      It depends on how the state identify an electric bicycle (Motor-driven cycle, Motorized electric, Bicycle with helper motor, or just bicycle).

      We will addressing this topic soon in a next post. Thank you and keep tuned for more!

  2. Hi, this is a great cool post because this is the first time I heard about electric bicycles! I think electric transportation such as this electric bicycle and the very popular in my area, electric scooter etc will be the future of transportation because it is not only environmentally friendly and economic. I appreciate people like you blogging about these to spread awareness. Any particular model of electric bicycles that you would recommend? =)

    1. Thank you Hans! I appreciate you coming to our blog. You are absolutely right, ebikes and scooter as you mentioned exploited these last years. Do you know that in 2015 people bought 35 millions e-bikes?! And for 2050 the number will be 2 billions….!

      It´s a great choice 🙂

      Thank you Hans and keep in touch for more posts!

      Best Regards

      Jason

  3. This is a rich article, I was thinking about getting a new bicycle. But since my fitness is not that great I thought about Ebike! To be honest I loved them because of your article.

    But I have my concerns about them. electric bicycle can be a good alternative to cars and a good push to normal bicycle but people might misuse them to be another lazy “car” alternative. Which is bad for the body!

    Great article and I am thinking seriously about getting one now because of this article. Thanks!

    1. Hi there Mohammed, you are absolutely right about that concern. But, E-bikes are very far from laziness! Basically we need get the idea off our heads: Ebikes are not “Electric Motorcycle” no pedalling, no move . A lot of experienced bikers even train with ebikes!

      The things is that you can do more exercises, longer trips and at the end you will be training more. If you want, of course ;).

      Trust me, you will be biking more than before 😉

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for stopping by Mohammad!

      Best Regards
      Jason

  4. Some great points made here!

    It certainly is a greener option and much easier to weave your way through traffic in cities.

    I always have used a bike but I can certainly see the benefit for someone with a family or doing long journeys with hills.

    Thanks for sharing

    1. YEs Mike Absolutely! It´s really a great “family Friend” who will level up all the members :D. In my case I tried this out for a long trip, and you will have the best from both word. You will have that “help” just when you need it (not quitting your trip) and you will still be doing a lot of exercises (specially when you find the level of assistance you need).

      Happy E-bike Mike!

      Best Regards
      Jason

  5. Hi Jason,

    Thank you for the interesting post. I have never bought or ridden an electric bike but I see them popping up more and more and they seem interesting! You make a lot of really good points as to why we should consider an electric bike. A lot of the things you discuss I never really thought of. I wish my city was more bicycle friendly because I wouldn’t definitely consider buying one. Do they usually last for a while or do they wear out quickly? I’d be interested to hear your answer for that. I would think they get a lot of use so hopefully they are sturdy and can hold up.

    1. HI there Dan, thank for your comment, and yes, they really last, like a normal bicycle. It´s is in fact a “normal bike”. Batteries can be recharge and motors can be fix or change. So, do not worry, it´s really an amazing feeling trust me 😉

  6. Hi Jason,
    I enjoyed reading your article. I had no idea they were so readily available now. But then again, we live 45 minutes out of town, in the country, so it may not be too practical for us, lol.
    I am thinking it would be nice to have when we go to Houston to visit our son. It would be so much cheaper than renting a car for a longer stay.
    They both ride bicycles, but at our age, we probably couldn’t keep up, haha!
    Thanks so much for the information,
    Suzanne

    1. HI Suzzane, thank you for taking the time to share your experience. Well, that´s is the beauty of this, they “level up” the group. That´s a great way to not missing going out the entire family.

      Keep in touch!
      Jason

  7. This is a great post, very interesting and informative! I think classic bikes are excellent for cardio, fitness, and health, but I find them hard to use in a hilly place. An electric bike is excellent if you don’t want to sweat and get tired so much. It’s also perfect for getting through the city traffic and riding to the nearest beach or store. Thanks for the great read. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thank you Blanka, I am glad you enjoyed it! Yes, you are absolutely right. It´s really good for what you mentioned. And funny thing happen also when you use an ebike. Some how, due you feel great riding it, you will start to excercise and ride more :).

      Regards
      Jason

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