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Things You Need To Know Before Getting An E-Bike

Things You Need To Know Before Getting An E-Bike

E-bikes are hugely popular right now and more people than ever are looking to e-bikes for their next bicycle or even their first bicycle, but just where do you start and what do you need to know before taking the plunge?

In this article we’ll look at the different types of e-bike available and demystify some of the tech jargon around these exciting bikes and help you make the right choice.


Things you need to know before getting an e-bike – at a glance

  • There are a vast range of e-bikes available including MTB, road and even cargo
  • E-bikes aren’t electric motorbikes – they are pedal assist bikes (you have to pedal for the motor to work)
  • They are limited by law to a top speed of 15.5mph (25kph) in the UK
  • It isn’t cheating – you still have to put effort in
  • The electric side of things is generally made up of three key components – motor, battery and control panel

Things You Need To Know Before Getting An E-Bike - Vast range of e-bikes available

Electric bikes have developed very rapidly in a few short years and most bicycle manufacturers big and small now offer a comprehensive range of choices. There are e-bikes for touring in the mountains, for tackling the most technical terrain, sleek and lightweight road e-bikes and even cargo e-bikes. Truly an e-bike or all purposes. So, choosing the right one is of paramount importance.

What e-bike you choose depends on what you want to do with it.

  • Do you want to ride in the woods? You’ll want an e-mtb.
  • Do you want to commute and carry your shopping? An e-cargo bike will suit.
  • Do you want to replace your road bike? You’ll want an e-road bike.

Only once you consider the type of riding you want to do will you arrive at the right type of e-bike to match your usage requirements.

They aren’t electric motorbikes

The important aspect about e-bikes is that they aren’t electric motorbikes. They are pedal assist – this means the electric motor assists you with your riding. The motor only kicks in when you are pedaling. The amount of assistance varies from one design to another, some are designed to offer gentle assistance while some offer lots of power. Most can be adjusted to offer higher or lower assistance. But all e-bikes require you to pedal. There is no throttle!

Limited by law to a top speed of 15.5mph (25kph)

While the pedal assist can be adjusted, all e-bikes are limited by law (in the UK) to a top speed of 15.5mph (25kph) at which point the motor cuts out. You can still pedal the bike beyond this speed if you want, but you’ll have to do it without assistance from the motor. This means if you have a tailwind or are riding a big downhill you’ll easily go faster. For most applications the speed limit isn’t restrictive but it’s important to be aware of it.

It’s a common mistake to think an e-bike is cheating and that you won’t get any exercise. This is not true. Because the motor only assists you when pedaling, you still have to put some effort in. How much effort depends on the level of assistance you choose. If you want a harder workout just select the lowest assistance level and you’ll be sweating in no time. The best thing about e-bikes is they remove and reduce the barrier of fitness that can put many people off enjoying the fun and freedom a bicycle offers.

E-bikes have three key components, a motor, battery and control panel

E-bikes have three key components, a motor, battery and control panel. The motor is commonly hidden inside the frame between the pedals or in the rear wheel, while the battery can be concealed inside the frame or mounted to the rear rack. The control panel for turning the motor on and off and adjusting the resistance levels is often found on the handlebar or the top of the frame. Some also allow smartphone connectivity for customisation.

Things You Need To Know Before Getting An E-Bike - Key distinction is the battery capacity

There are many different types of motor and battery on the market and they all have their pros and cons. But they share common features. A key distinction is the battery capacity. This is measured in Watt hours (Wh) and typically ranges from 250 to 700 in some cases. The bigger the battery the longer the range so if you have long rides planned choose the biggest battery you can afford.

While all batteries can be easily charged between uses, some can be removed from the bicycle frame for convenience while some can’t be separated from the frame. Depending on where you plan to keep the bike and access to mains electricity this can be an influence on the e-bike you choose.

Things You Need To Know Before Getting An E-Bike - E-bikes let you choose the assistance level

Regardless of their differences most e-bikes let you choose the assistance level. It’s common to have three modes of low, medium and high to help you find a setting to match your fitness and the terrain you are cycling over, as well as helping to improve the range where possible. A control panel will provide important information around the battery health and how much range it predicts you have.

Typically much heavier than regular bicycles

E-bikes are typically much heavier than regular bicycles, often as high as 25kg. This extra weight comes from the battery and motor but also the more durable components that e-bikes are often built with to cope with the high speeds and weight. This has two important impacts. The first is where you keep your bike, because the weight can make them tricky to manhandle up several flights of stairs. Some e-bikes can be folded for easier portability but weight is still higher than regular bicycles.

The other side effect of the high weight is if the battery runs flat during a ride. You really don’t want to pedal an e-bike with a flat battery because it’s going to be extremely hard work. Some modern e-bikes however are being made with lightweight components and frames designed such that you can actually pedal comfortably with the motor turned off so if ultimate range and rideability without assistance appeals to you, be sure to check out one of the latest lightweight e-bikes. 

Commonly more expensive than regular bicycles

The price of e-bikes makes them commonly more expensive than regular bicycles without motors and batteries. The high prices can be off putting so are they worth the money? That depends on what you want from an e-bike.

They can replace a car or bus for the daily commute

For many e-bike fans they are a price worth paying as they make cycling accessible and enjoyable for many more people who don’t call themselves cyclists. They can replace a car or bus for the daily commute to the office whilst allowing you to get some gentle exercise, arriving at the office invigorated rather than knackered. And the price of e-bikes is coming down all the time as more come onto the market and the technology improves so the price is becoming less of a barrier than ever before.


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