What to look for when choosing an electric bike

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Elec­tric bicy­cles are becom­ing an increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar mode of urban trans­port. But, since these are fair­ly new machines, most peo­ple have a rather vague idea about them. To rem­e­dy the sit­u­a­tion, we decid­ed to talk about the key points that you should pay atten­tion to when choos­ing an elec­tric bike.

Purpose of purchase

To begin with, you should deter­mine exact­ly how and why you will use the bike. For exam­ple, if you plan to ride short dis­tances and trans­port your bike in pub­lic trans­port, it makes sense to look for a fold­ing mod­el, or some­thing light­weight, up to 20 kilo­grams.

If you intend to make the elec­tric bike your main mode of trans­port, you should choose some­thing more reli­able. There are mod­els on the mar­ket that are more like a small elec­tric motor­cy­cle with ped­als. For exam­ple, Ger­man Unimoke can offi­cial­ly car­ry up to 150 kilo­grams of car­go, and unof­fi­cial­ly — much more.

Ger­man Unimoke elec­tric bikes look like light motor­cy­cles with ped­als

If you need speed, you should look for some­thing with a pow­er­ful engine. For exam­ple, S‑Pedelec elec­tric bikes have a 250-watt motor and can go up to 45 kilo­me­ters per hour.

Hav­ing decid­ed on the pur­pose of the pur­chase, it will be much eas­i­er for you to choose a spe­cif­ic mod­el. But still it is worth pay­ing atten­tion to some details.

Engine location

The main ques­tion is where the engine will be locat­ed. There are only three options — inside the front wheel, inside the rear wheel, or on the frame in the cen­ter of the bike. Each of the options has its own dis­ad­van­tages and advan­tages.

  • Front wheel motor: min­i­mal effort for instal­la­tion or removal, which means ease of repair and main­te­nance. It is also the cheap­est option. The main draw­back is the cen­ter of grav­i­ty shift­ed for­ward and, accord­ing­ly, the dri­ving dynam­ics, which you will have to get used to.
  • Frame engine: low cen­ter of grav­i­ty for increased ride sta­bil­i­ty and high mount­ing secu­ri­ty. The main draw­back is the need for a mechan­i­cal trans­mis­sion to the wheel. Usu­al­ly a chain is used for this, and this is the weak link of the whole struc­ture.
  • Rear wheel motor: Direct mechan­i­cal trans­mis­sion of engine rota­tion to the wheel and a good rear cen­ter of grav­i­ty. Alas, this option is the most dif­fi­cult to main­tain.

It can­not be said that any of these options is unam­bigu­ous­ly bet­ter than the oth­er two. Ulti­mate­ly, it comes down to per­son­al pref­er­ence. There­fore, when buy­ing an elec­tric bike, it is def­i­nite­ly rec­om­mend­ed to per­son­al­ly test sev­er­al dif­fer­ent mod­els.

Gear shift

An e‑bike needs a gearshift sys­tem. As with con­ven­tion­al bicy­cles, there are only two main types of derailleurs — exter­nal and inter­nal derailleurs.

How­ev­er, the choice of sys­tem should depend on how you plan to use the bike. If you intend to dri­ve main­ly in the city or on flat coun­try roads, a con­ven­tion­al cas­sette or plan­e­tary hub with three to sev­en speeds will suf­fice. If you plan to ride hills and off-road, it is bet­ter to have more gears. For this, a clas­sic switch with stars is suit­able.

Battery

Com­par­ing the capac­i­ty of e‑bike bat­ter­ies is mean­ing­less, since each mod­el has a unique con­sump­tion. This means that some­times a bike with a small­er bat­tery can go a longer dis­tance. In gen­er­al, the more the bike goes on a sin­gle charge, the bet­ter.

You should also pay atten­tion to the phys­i­cal loca­tion of the bat­tery. All elec­tric bikes are divid­ed into two large groups.

Bicy­cles with a built-in bat­tery look more ele­gant and neat. If the bat­tery is built into the frame, then out­ward­ly the elec­tric bike does not dif­fer at all from the usu­al one. But this solu­tion has seri­ous draw­backs. You have to con­stant­ly think about how and where to charge your car. The built-in bat­tery can­not be removed and tak­en to the office or home. If you plan to store the bike in a garage with­out elec­tric­i­ty, then this option is def­i­nite­ly not suit­able for you.

Bicy­cles with a remov­able bat­tery are much more prac­ti­cal. You can take the bat­tery with you and charge it any­where with access to elec­tric­i­ty. You can also car­ry a spare bat­tery with you on long trips.

Other systems

In gen­er­al, an e‑bike is still a bicy­cle, so the cri­te­ria for choos­ing these machines are large­ly the same. But there is some­thing to pay clos­er atten­tion to. First, it is the brak­ing sys­tem. Since the e‑bike moves at a high­er speed, the brakes must also be more reli­able.

Sec­ond­ly, it is strong­ly rec­om­mend­ed to have active light­ing on the e‑bike. At a min­i­mum, a head­light and a rear posi­tion sig­nal for dri­ving at night.



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