Ultimate Electric Bike Buying Guide

Do you know that electric bikes are the fastest-growing category in the global cycling industry? It is thanks to the benefits that e-bike has. It opens a lot of possibilities either for professional cyclists or non-riders and city commuters.

What Do You Need to Know Before Buying an Electric Bike in 2020

If you want to enjoy your riding experience with an electric bike ultimately, we suggest choosing the e-bike type that suits your needs. If you like hunting, the cruising electric bike wouldn’t be the best option. Evaluate the criteria which will help you to choose the best electric bike type. In this guide, you are going to find out everything that you need to know about e-bike, the types of it, and much more.

Electric Bike Classes in The US

All the bicycles that have a motor up to 750W are classified as electric bikes. Besides, there are three e-bike classes in the United States. The types are based on the motor and the pedal-assist level. Would you like to find out more?

1st Class Electric Bike

The electric bikes that are classified to a first-class have the low-speed pedal-assist mode. It means that the motor provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling up to 20mph. You can ride this electric bike on any road where the ordinary bicycles are allowed, as it delivers low-speed.

bosch ebike display
Bosch 1st class e-bike display

2nd Class Electric Bike

The main difference between the 1st and 2nd classes is the throttle. The electric bike that has a throttle-assisted motor keeps the bike driving. However, this feature only works if you are going up to 20mph. You can ride a throttle-assisted electric bike on any road where the regular bicycles are allowed.

3rd Class Electric Bike

The electric bikes are speed pedal-assisted and stop to assist when a rider reaches 28mph. It also is one of the fastest electric bike types, and it doesn’t have a throttle. The rider must be 16 or older to ride the 3rd class electric bikes; also, don’t forget about a helmet! If you have a 3rd class e-bike, you can’t ride on a regular bike path, unless you have permission to.

Which Type of Electric Bike is Right for You?

It is essential to choose the right type of electric bike. In this way, you can enjoy the experience of riding it. Besides, we have gone through the main e-bike classification in the USA, so it will be easier for you to choose the right electric bike for you.

Now we are going to give you information about the types of electric bikes and where you can ride with a specific type.

Hybrid (Commuting) Electric Bike

Best for:

  • City roads
  • A good condition unpaved roads
  • Commuting

Pros:

  • Upright seating position
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Won’t be that comfortable as MTB e-bike on offroad

Are you living in a city, and you need to find a way to save some cash and avoid the traffic roads? Well, the commuting electric bike is the best e-bike type for you. All commuter electric bikes have lightweight frames that you can easily carry if needed. They are specifically designed for reaching your destination and avoiding traffic jams in the morning and afternoon. The commuter electric bikes also offer a large luggage compartment where you can store your backpack or other important stuff.

Hardtail Electric Mountain Bike

Best for:

  • Unpaved roads
  • Bad quality asphalt roads

Pros:

  • Comfort on rough terrain
  • Front suspension
  • Sportive seating position

Cons:

  • Usually comes without fenders, rack, lights.

Hardtail mountain e-bikes usually come with an only front suspension fork, and it is a lighter and less expensive version of an MTB e-bike. If you are looking for an electric bike to experience hardtail outdoor paths, you should go for a hardtail mountain e-bike.

Wheels

  • 26” – small but fierce, they provide higher acceleration and high speed thanks to being light and firm.
  • 29” – go big or go home. The largest mountain bike wheel available out there, 29ers are wheels you want to take to cross country cycling. Even though they require more effort to accelerate, they will smoothly ride over any kind of terrain.
  • 27.5” – want benefits that both previous types provide? This is your choice. Their popularity is in rise due to being light almost as 26ers, yet traction and rolling capabilities are almost at the level of 29ers.

Full Suspension Electric Mountain Bike

Best for:

  • Unpathed rough roads
  • Downhill trails

Pros:

  • Comfort on rough terrain
  • Front and rear suspension
  • Powerful motor for hill climbing

Cons:

  • Expensive

A heavy-duty frame, full suspension, and a powerful battery with a motor make an excellent MTB electric bike. If you are a person that likes to take often rides in the mountains, you should get yourself an MTB e-bike. This type of e-bike is one of the most powerful in the market, and it would definitely provide you the best mountain riding experience full of power and shock absorbing suspension.

Cruising Electric Bike

Best for:

  • City roads
  • Bike paths
  • Commuting

hyper-e-ride-women-cruise

Pros:

  • Upright seating position
  • Big saddle

Cons:

  • Won’t be good for a longer rides

Some people often think that commuter bikes are the same as cruising bikes. Well, there is some truth here. The similarity between these two types is the less powerful motor and battery. However, the cruising electric bike is more suitable for relaxing beach ride instead of busy city streets. The frame provides you a relaxed and comfortable sitting position. Also, you can find a basket to store your beach picnic boxes. 

Check our list of the Best Cruiser Electric Bikes

Folding Electric Bikes

Best for:

  • City roads
  • Bike paths
  • Commuting

Pros:

  • Easy to transport
  • Easy to store
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Not suitable for rough terrain
  • Less powerful

Shoutout for all the space-savers out there! Electric bike manufacturers thought about the space-saving feature and created a folding e-bike. Besides, the folding electric bikes are great if you would like to take it on vacation with you. The frame is pretty much lightweight and straightforward. The folding electric bike has a simple motor that provides enough power for a short trip.

Check our list of 10 Top Rated Cheap Folding Electric Bikes

Fat-Tire Electric Bike

Best for:

  • Sand
  • Snow
  • Rough terrain

Pros:

  • Powerful motor
  • Easy to store
  • Very comfortable and soft

Cons:

  • Harder to maneuver
  • Weights a bit more than other types of e-bikes

Do you wish to experience different bike paths rather than concrete or mountains? Well, if you want to go for a ride in the sand or snow, you will need a fat-tire electric bike. The main reason why this is a unique type of e-bike to travel on unusual paths is that the e-bike has wide tires that offer great contact with the snow or sand. Having a fat-tire electric bike gives you an extended riding season because you can ride it even when there is a 10″ of snow on the ground.

Electric Road Bike

Best for:

  • Good quality roads
  • Long-distance rides

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Aerodynamic frame
  • Bigger battery range

Cons:

  • Quite expensive
  • Big discomfort on rough terrain

The electric road bikes are the latest category in the market. It takes the traditional aerodynamic efficiency of a standard road bike and gives a little of a pedelec power. As a result, you have an electric road bike that helps riders to tackle any mountain climb with more ease. If you are looking for an electric bike that you can take to a hilly terrain for a longer journey, the electric road bike is the best option to go.

Electric MopedBike

Best for:

  • Asphalt roads

Pros:

  • Comfortable and stable
  • Good looking design
  • Powerful

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have pedals
  • Heavy

The moped electric bike can look like a lightweight moped. It has a full seat and suits your needs when you are looking for a type of transportation over your car. It won’t be suitable if you are looking for a small and simple electric bike to reach your destination. However, the moped electric bike is an excellent choice if you want to go for a ride and take your partner with you.

Electric Tricycles

Best for:

  • Transporting stuff
  • Maximum comfort

Pros:

  • Very stable
  • Usually has a two baskets
  • Cheaper than cargo type e-bikes

Cons:

  • Requires more space for storing
  • Weights also more

The e-trikes are your usual tricycles with the electric-powered motor. It provides enough power to enjoy your riding experience with three-wheeled transportation.

Check our list of Best Tricycles for Adults

Electric Cargo Bike

Best for:

  • Transporting objects
  • Replace a car

Pros:

  • Very stable with a heavy load

Cons:

  • Usually cost more than regular e-bike

Finally, there is a perfect solution for small-business owners like florists or vegetable shops to transport their goods quickly and effortlessly. The electric cargo bike has a storage unit where you can put your stuff and transfer it from point A to point B. These types of electric bikes have a simple motor and a pedal-assist mode to help you quickly move your goods. It can be an excellent replacement for a town car!

Ultra-Budget Electric Bike

Best for:

  • Short rides

Pros:

  • Easy to transport
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Not enough power on hilly terrain
  • Not very comfortable for tall riders

Whether you are on a tight budget or don’t want to spend a lot of money on an electric bike, you can get a small e-bike that costs less than a few hundred. It will not have a powerful motor or long battery life; however, it will save you a lot of money and will be good enough for busy city streets.

Budget Electric Bike

Best for:

  • Beginner e-cyclists

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Come in various types, colors
  • Won’t be big loss then stolen

Cons:

  • Cheap components

If you are looking for an electric bike, want to stay on a budget and still have a decent motor power, the budget electric bikes are the best types to search for. The prices might vary from $500 to $1000, and you can still get a decent battery life, suspension features, and a great frame.

Electric Hunting Bike

Best for:

  • Forests
  • Offroad
  • Hunting
  • Sand

Pros:

  • Camouflage colors
  • Ability to transport a heavy load

Cons:

  • May cost more than a regular fat bike

Electric hunting bikes are an excellent way to turn an ordinary hunt into an adventure. Of course, not every electric hunting bike on the market will suit your needs. If you’re looking to buy an electric hunting bike, there are a few key things to keep in mind. Always focus on the type of motor. Generally, hunting bikes come in three varieties: rear-hub, mid-drive, and ultra mid-drive. The motor is essentially the hearth of the hunting bike. The power and placement determine how your eBike will perform. You’ll also want to focus on range. Range details the power and efficiency of the battery. Some hunting bikes will last longer on a single charge than others. When choosing a hunting bike, you’ll also need to focus on the weight limit. How much bulk can the bike handle? After all, shooting that prized elk won’t matter much if you can’t haul it back to camp. When on the hunt for the perfect electric hunting bike, keep these buying guide points in mind before you purchase your perfect bike.

Check our list of Best Hunting Electric Bikes

Electric Bike Motor Differences

Nowadays, most electric bikes have a motor system that perfectly suits a specific bike type. Also, you can find many famous brands like Shimano, Bosch, or Yamaha, that are creating great motors and provides excellent acceleration experience. Besides, the location of the motor is also essential. This is the main reason why there is a difference between mid-drive, rear hub drive, and front hub drive motors. Let’s find out the variation!

Mid-Drive Motor

The mid-drive motor is probably the most common motor type in the market. If you are looking for a well-balanced and stable e-bike, look for one that has a mid-drive motor. Because the power comes from the center of the bike, you are steady and secure while riding your electric bike. Besides, the power that comes to the drivetrain allows you to feel like you are riding a standard bike.

Bosch mid-drive motor

Rear Hub-Drive Motor

As you can guess, this type of motor is placed in the rear e-bike’s wheel. It gives you a feeling that you are being pushed from the back. If you are looking for a powerful electric bike that reminds you of a basic moped, the e-bike with the rear-hub motor can be very similar. However, the most significant disadvantage of this type of motor is that you are slightly losing control when riding on wet surfaces. Most of the mountain e-bikes come with this type of motor.

A rear hub motor

Front Hub-Drive Motor

The front hub-drive motors remain on the front wheel of your electric bike. It gives you a feeling that you are being pulled, as the power comes from the front. It is very inconvenient for a mountain e-bike to have a front hub-drive motor, only because it can struggle to go up the mountain or in uneven terrain. Also, the front hub-drive motor makes the front of the e-bike heavier than usual. It could be risky if you are speeding while turning on a slippery surface. Most of the e-trikes have this type of motor. If you are planning to ride in the busy city streets, the front hub-drive motor can be a great option.

Electric Bike Gearing Systems

Both standard and electric bikes need to have a gearing system. You need to select a specific type of gear if you want to enjoy a smooth ride or reach your destination quicker. If you don’t choose your gear correctly, you are going to end up pedaling a lot and not speed up at all — effortless, in other words. Just like a standard bike, electric bikes have different kinds of gearing systems for each type.

Single-Speed Gearing System

As you might find out from the name, the electric bike is going to have only one speed. Most of the time, people are choosing to buy an electric bike that has a single-speed gearing system when they are not going to use the e-bike often. What do we mean is that e-bike will be suitable for short trips. Folding small city e-bikes usually comes with a single gear, and they are enough to take a short ride to your school or grocery store.

Single speed E-Bike

Internal Gearing System

If you want to have minimum gear maintenance, get yourself an electric bike with an internal gearing system. You can find this gearing system in the hub of the wheel. You will get a casual riding experience, and your gearing system will be protected from all the mud and other things that might get stuck in the gears. If you want to switch the speed – twist your shift lever. Simple and easy. Also, having an internal gearing system allows you to change the gears without pedaling, so it makes it a perfect system for city riding when you have to start and stop a lot.

Derailleur Gearing System

First of all, we are going to explain what is”derailleur gearing system.” It is a conventional gearing system that most of the standard bikes have. The derailleur gearing system has a chain, cables, multiple sprockets, and a mechanism that offers a manual gear shifting. Most of the mountain electric bikes or the ones with a powerful motor have derailleur gearing system as it is suitable for extreme riding. Besides, it is excellent if you are going to ride off-road with an uneven surface. However, it requires some skills if you want to manage this type of gearing system. After a while, when you will master it, you will be happy with the combination of derailleur gearing system and a powerful motor.

A derailleur gearing system

Which Electric Bike Battery to Choose?

Lead Acid Batteries

The lead-acid batteries are economical and robust. They are cheap to recycle. However, they are heavy and bulky so that it won’t be suitable for a small commuter electric bike. Also, the lead-acid batteries are not the right choice if you are going to use your e-bike a lot as they don’t last for a long time. They weight a lot and provides less usable capacity than lithium-ion batteries.

Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) Batteries

The capacity of batteries is essential when you are choosing an electric bike. Well, nickel-cadmium batteries have more capacity than previous lead-acid batteries, that is for sure. However, there are a few disadvantages also. First of all, this type of battery is expensive. Second, cadmium is hard to recycle. Yes, they will last for a longer time, but because everybody is trying to find a way to get ecological, nickel-cadmium batteries are becoming the past.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

The most common battery type for an electric bike. Over 90% of e-bikes are using this type of battery and for a great reason. They last for a long time and generate a lot of power to a motor than most of the other batteries. However, for the great features, the price also rises. If you are looking for a cheap and small electric bike, they will not come with a lithium-ion battery package.

bosch battery
Bosch lithium-ion battery

Electric Bike Sizing Guide

As the electric bike industry continues to advance, so do the size and shape options in eBikes. This electric bike sizing guide will show you which size bike is best suited for you.

Extra small (4’10”-5’2”). If you’re of smaller stature your ideal frame size is between 13”-14” (33-37 cm)
Small (5’2”-5’6”). If you have a small stature, your ideal frame size is between 15”-16” (38-42 cm)
Medium (5’6-5’10”). If you have a medium build, your ideal frame size is between 17”-18” (43-47 cm)
Large (5’10”-6’1”). If you have a large build, your ideal frame size is between 19”-20” (48-52 cm)
Extra-Large (6’1”-64”). If you have an extra-large build, your ideal frame size is between 21”-22” (53-57 cm)
XX-Large. If you have an XX-Large build, your ideal eBike frame size is between 23”-26” (58-63 cm)

Make sure you measure your height accurately and check against manufacturer’s bike measurements. If you’re still uncertain about the right electric bike size, consult the company directly.

Wrapping Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide

We hope that a complete electric bike buyer’s guide helped to find out what type of e-bike is suitable for your needs and why there is a big difference between what motor type you should get and what kind of gearing system you should look for.

Electric bikes are becoming a great transportation, especially if you want to save money and reach your destination while avoiding traffic jams.

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