There are hundreds of electric bikes (or e-bikes) being released every year now and no doubt you’ve heard from friends or family about how great they are. With an e-bike, you get the advantage of breaking through wind resistance, climbing steeper hills, and increasing your range. Plus, you can minimize asthma or knee pain when riding an electric bicycle. It’s the perfect way to get back into shape, join friend’s for a ride, or even arrive at work without breaking a sweat.
While the benefits of getting an electric bike are clear, it’s not always easy to choose the best electric bike. So here is a quick guide to choosing the right e-bike for you!
Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or using it to commute, you can find the best electric bicycle for you. In the end, it’s up to you to decide what is important and communicate that to your local bike shop. First and foremost, you’ll want to figure out where you’ll be riding your e-bike most frequently. You might want to use your e-bike for different activities, such as commuting to work, cruising along a beach, road biking, or going out for groceries. Make sure you have in mind how you’ll be using the bike before going to your favorite bike shop to check one out.
One of the more important decisions to make is whether to buy an e-bike with a lithium-ion battery vs lead-acid battery. Some of the less-expensive knock-off brands will come with a lead-acid battery. If you find an e-bike with a lead-acid battery, RUN! While it may seem nice to save a couple hundred dollars on a new e-bike, lead-acid batteries come with several drawbacks. Lead-acid batteries are almost three times as heavy as lithium-ion, have shorter lifespans, and don’t run at the near 100% efficiency that lithium-ion batteries run at. Populo e-bikes are made with lithium-ion batteries exclusively.
An electric bike’s range is the distance you can travel on one charge of battery. While most e-bikes can travel about 20 miles distance on a single charge, we have seen customer reports of up to 50 miles on a single charge on our Populo Sport (eco mode). The range can vary from person to person, depending on your weight, assistance levels, battery capacity, average speed, and profile of the commuting tour. The best practice is to map your typical ride and check the range of the electric bike you are interested in to make sure you can make it on a single charge.
The two most main electric bike drive types are “pedelec” and “throttle” . Pedelec is the most common, which is the kind of system that monitors the rider’s pedaling and engages the assistance of an electric motor as needed. The amount of assistance is usually dependant on rate, force, and speed. Most countries limit the top speed of an electrically assisted bike but can range between a max speed of 20mph-28mph. When the bike has reached its top-speed, the motor automatically switches off. While there are some electric bikes that can achieve speeds of up to 50mph, users need to have a special driver’s license, plates, and insurance. Bikes with throttle drive-types have the same limitations as pedelecs, except the motor can be engaged by twisting a throttle on the handle bar.
You’ll notice that Populo electric bikes come with one of three motor mount types; front-drive, mid-drive, rear-drive. Front-drive and rear-drive motors, also known as hub motor assist, are built into the wheels. Hub motors tend to be quieter and provide a nice, smooth ride. A mid-drive motor, or crank motor assist, is directly connected to the bottom of the frame. Mid-drive systems have a reputation for doing well on steep hills, but can sometimes be a little on the noisy side. While mid-drive e-bikes generally perform better, they tend to also come at a higher cost, which brings us to the next point - budget.
Having a budget in mind before you buy an electric bike is a good idea, especially since e-bikes can cost anywhere from $1000-$10,000. We, at Populo, want to make e-bikes attainable for almost any budget. That is why we released the first sub-$1000 electric bicycle( click here to see the Populo Sport). As we expand our line of products, the selection will increase from entry-level models up to e-bikes with added features and newer technologies.
After doing your due diligence, go take one on a test ride! This is probably the most important part of buying an electric bike (and not to mention, the most fun too). As much as you can read about it or watch the videos, there is nothing quite like getting on one and going for a ride. Use our dealer locator to find a local Populo Dealer and take one out for a spin.