Helpful Buyer's Guide
So, you are thinking about getting an e-bike, but don’t know where to start? No problem! There are a few things to consider to ensure you get the right e-bike for your lifestyle and needs.
Why an e-bike?
What is the goal you wish to accomplish with your new bike and how are you going to use it? Most people say they get a bike for the exercise, and you are sure to get that, but let’s be honest, once you start riding an e-bike you will realize how easy it is to get around and how much fun it is to get around quicker than you expected, with less effort. You will find yourself taking it on errands instead of your car, you will be doing some trail hopping because you can, you might even join the weekly neighborhood ride because now you can keep up with those fitness junkies on the long treks. Whatever your reason for getting an e-bike, picture yourself on the ideal model then go find it on our site.
Obviously, e-bikes aren’t free to acquire but there is a model to fit your budget. You can get an awesome looking, well-performing e-bike for less than $1000, or you can go for a tricked out, top of the line specialty model for less than $2000. If you have money just burning a hole in your pocket, we can even find you a few models that run you more than that, like a trike or low-rider. We even have financing available if you would like to take advantage of that.
What type of e-bike did you picture yourself riding? Are you an aggressive rider who likes trails and dirt and need a mountain style or fat tire? Are you laid back and just want to cruise in comfort? Will you be riding this bike as your daily commuter? Do you plan to haul things, or have a riding partner? Did you say “yes” to more than one but have limited storage or cargo space? Perfect, we have an e-bike for you, just pick the one that makes you feel happy.
What motor size and battery size is right for me?
There are two specifications to consider when choosing the right motor, are you more interested in speed and power, or do you need traveling range? Motor wattage (W) and voltage (V) is a gauge of how much instantaneous power and speed a bike will have. A 350 watt bike has plenty of power for most riders and the throttle will carry you at 20-25 mph without pedaling. A 450 watt motor can take you even faster and will react quicker with heavier loads or steeper hills. Of course, any e-bike has the ability to go as fast as you can pedal, just like any other bike, but pedal assist speed is limited depending on what “gear” you select. In general with a 5-speed motor, the first setting will assist you as you pedal until you hit around 8 mph, second goes to around 11 mph, third gets you assistance until around 13 mph, fourth goes to around 16 mph, and the fifth setting takes you all the way up to 20 mph. Above these speeds you will be pedaling on your own but the motor will kick in again if you slow down below these limits. Of course, these are estimates and can vary depending on the terrain and rider weight.
Amp hours (Ah) will tell you about how far your battery will last under normal conditions and the size of your motor controller will also determine the max wattage your bike will have. For instance, if you have a 36 volt controller with a 10 amp battery, your motor is rated at 360 watts. If you need your bike to have more power and stamina, you can select a higher volt controller and/or higher amp battery and get more watts. Of course, the manufacturer has figured all this out and couples motor wattage, with battery amps and controller volts so you don’t have to worry about your motor overheating.
Bottom line: more amps means more range, more volts means more speed/power, and more watts means more instantaneous energy transfer to your drive train (think throttle power).
Does the overall weight of the bike matter?
That all depends on how you plan to ride your e-bike. If you are planning to use a lot of pedal assist power or cruise with your throttle more often than just the occasional quick start at a stop light or to get you up a tough hill, then the weight of the bike doesn’t really matter too much. Keep in mind that this type of riding will use up your battery quicker, but to each their own. However, if you are planning on using lower power assist settings and doing most of the pedaling to get where you are going, then you might opt for a lighter bike weight. It’s just common sense that a heavier bike will require more energy expended to get it where it needs to be, and that energy will either come from you or your motor.
What type of brakes are better, rim or disc?
There are two types of brakes on bicycles. The traditional bike rim brake involves a claw-like caliper that squeezes the rim of your wheel when you engage it. These can be a bit challenging to adjust and if your wheel is wet, your stopping power is reduced until you get enough revolutions to dry out the outer edges of your wheel. The disc style brake is very similar to what cars use. It involves a disc-like rotor connected to the hub of your wheels. A caliper squeezes on each side of the rotor to stop your motion. It is less likely for this part of your wheel to get wet, but if it does there are holes in the caliper to dissipate water and heat, so disc brakes are generally more efficient than the rim style. If you are planning on going faster on your e-bike that on a traditional bike, you might want to choose the disc brake style that will gives you the most efficient braking.
What size of tire or bike frame to I need?
The best advice I can give you about this one is to find a bike that fits you. You need to be able to touch the ground as well as you want adequate extension of your legs while pedaling. If you get a bike that is too tall, then you can’t safely stop and put your foot down. If you get a bike where the pedal reach is too short for your legs, then you won’t have an efficient pedaling motion and thus lose energy and power. Since you are buying a bike online here are a few parameters that can help you properly fit your height to your bike:
- If you are 5’4” or less – get a bike with 24” wheels and a 15” frame.
- If you are from 5’ to 6’4” – go with a 26 “ wheel and a frame that is between 15-21”
- If you are over 6’ tall – a 26-27” wheel and 21” or larger frame may be more comfortable.
If you are unsure of what bike will have the best fit for you, maybe because you have unusually short or long legs, try going to a local bike shop and find a size that works best for you. Also, we have a fit guide in our Help Center FAQs that may be of assistance. If in doubt, give us a call.
What motor location is best for me?
There are two locations most of our bikes place their motors. One is the mid-bike motor while the other is the rear-hub motor. You may also see front-hub motors from other manufacturers. The mid motor is located near the pedals and power the pedal sprocket below the rider’s seat. Basically, this motor efficiently moves the pedals and intense riders like this motor because they can use different gears to feel the power directly tied to their pedaling action and the extra weight is centered on the bike. The hub motor turns the rear wheel while you are pedaling and is very popular with leisure riders because it provides more power quickly. It directly drives the speed of the bike and engages to make your pedaling easier. Either way, the motor on an e-bike helps you perform better and gives you the assistance you need to start quicker, ride faster, and make it up those tough hills without zapping your energy so you can ride further than ever before.
Pedal assist with throttle, or not?
All our e-bikes have the pedal-assist option because that is basically the essence of an e-bike, you want to get some exercise but sometimes you need or want some help. The pedal assist power can be selected depending on how hard you want to work and only engages when you are pedaling the bike. Having a throttle on your bike, very similar to that on a motorcycle, gives you the extra option to let your bike get under power without having to pedal your bike first. This option is very helpful when you are getting started from a stop, especially if you are facing up a hill, or if you just need a break from pedaling but want to keep your speed up. I think it is beneficial to have both and you will find that if your e-bike has pedal assist and a throttle, you will find a way to use them both efficiently and you will love them.