Ebike Buying Tips for Newbies

Chris Crossed

Ebikes are growing in popularity. They even outpace electric cars in terms of sales. The problem is you have lots to choose from and the sheer amount of models on the market can be confusing to new ebike buyers. At last count there are already 100+ makers of e-bikes selling online.

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Chris Crossed

There are lots of questions to ask about ebikes. For example, should you buy a rear hub motor or mid-drive? Should you get one with hydraulic brakes? How big of a battery will you need? What's your budget.

All good questions.

I'd say rear hub is just fine for the casual rider (plus those ebikes are cheaper to buy). Mid drives are usually found in higher end ebikes and offer more power/efficiency form the motor.

I prefer hydraulic brakes since they are better at stopping and when it comes to battery size buy the biggest one you can afford. 20ah (amp hours) is better than 10ah.

The average 10.4 ah battery will get you 20-30 miles depending on how you ride. A 20ah version will double that range.

As someone who has immersed themselves in the e-bike world I have learned a thing or two over the past year about e-bikes, more than the average buyer. So here's my take on what else you need to know before making that e-bike purchase.

Budget

The first thing is determining how much you want to spend as that will limit your choices. Generally speaking expect to pay over $1,000 for even the most entry level ebike model.

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Foldable Lectric XP's are perhaps the best e-bike for sale at around $1,000 and they come in two colors and are perfect for the average rider. They are one of the most common ebikes on the market that new buyers gravitate towards.

There are a slew of ebikes in the $1k-2k ranges but anything over $2k is considered a more premium ebike with better parts and battery life.

The name brand ebikes like Trek, Specialized and Harley Davidson's new line called Serial1 are one that range from $3k to $10k for some very pricey electric mountain bikes. For those you are paying for the brand name as well as the ebike.

Use Case

Next thing decide where and how you will ride your ebike. Do you plan on commuting with it or just casually riding the local rail trail on weekends? If commuting you'll want something with good brakes (hydraulic) and a big enough battery to get you home and back.

If you'll just be riding casually then you open yourself up to more options. Most ebikes can go anywhere road, trails dirt paths...only eMTBs are really made for the hard core trail rider.

Most ebikes today are marketed as commuter style city, light gravel riding and casual bike path use.

Size

One of the most important things about choosing an ebike is making sure its the right fit for your body type. At six feet tall I gravitate to taller stance ebikes.

Origianlly I had the Lectric XP with 20x3 inch wheels and though its a great ebike I felt it was too small for my frame. My main rides now are an Espin Sport Commuter ebike with 27 inch x 2 inch tires, an Espin Nesta with 20x4 inch fat tires and the Dirwin Pioneer that features 26x4 inch fat tires.

All these ebikes have a taller footprint and fit my body better in order to get good leg extension.Pay attention to the minimum seat height to make sure you can stand over the bike easy. Consider a step through design if you are shorter.

For heavier taller riders I would first go to ebikes such as the Rad Rover, Dirwin Pioneer or Wallke X3 Pro just to name a few suggestions. Look at the max payload for the ebike to gauge how heavy a rider it can allow.

Weight

As a rule ebikes are on the heavy side when it comes to weight. The more expensive ones made with carbon fiber like those eMTBs from Trek and Specialized are lightweight (30 to 40 pounds-ish) but you will pay $$$ for that weight savings.

The majority of ebikes sold today are around 55-65 pounds from my experience. Keep that in mind if you will be transporting. You will need a beefier car rack that can handle the extra weight.

Style

Some ebikes can be stealthy looking and not even look like an ebike. If that's the look you are going for there are cetainly ebikes like the Espin Aero which looks just like a regular 10 speed bike. These are basic ebikes that won't cost much but still give you a boost when needed. Plus no one will suspect it's an ebike.

Fat Tire ebikes are also wildly popular and come in all different shapes and sizes. Commuter and beach cruiser type ebikes are another popular style you will see online.

Motor

When it comes to motor sizes, ebikes generally come in versions from 250 watts to 1000 watts. The thing to note here is that more wattage = more power. For climbing hills I recommend getting something with at least 750 watts. They are much better at hill climbing vs the ubiquitous 500W motors.

Where to Buy It

I have bought all my ebikes online through DTC (direct to consumer) ebike companies. Almost all are manufactured in and shipped from China. You order online and eventually it makes its way to your doorstep through Fedex.

But there are a growing number of Ebikes shops cropping up in nearly every state so do some googling and see if a local bike shop near you has them in stock and lets you test drive a few of them so you can get a feel for how they ride.

TIP: want something built in the USA? Click here to see my list of ebike companies that build and assemble their bikes in the U.S.

A few of my Youtube followers also said this about ebikes;

Beata wrote: There are many different ebikes out there. Folding, cruisers, fat tires, to name a few. Some you can only buy online. Test different brands at different bike shops. Some bike shops carry ebikes and regular bikes. Some bike shops only carry regular ones. Some only carry ebikes.

Some shops will do maintenance on them, so won't. Some have pedal assist with throttle. Some only have pedal assist. Some will have the throttle that will help you start off, while others will only let you use the throttle when you are pedaling. If you are able to ride a regular bike without difficulty than that won't be a problem.

I've had a knee replacement and my leg is weaker, so the throttle is important. Some places carry them in a variety of sizes, like 24", 26", and 29" sizes. Some only come in one size. Can you imagine that a 5'2" woman can ride the same bike as a 6'2" man? Ask the different shops which size would be good for you. And one other thing how much do they weigh and can you lift it yourself if you needed to.

Eric: Don't forget about diy options. Buying a turn-key factory bike is usually about compromises. Why do that when you can add ebike components to a conventional bike you already have that better fits you and your riding style, usually for less money all things considered.

Susan: I would add a couple of things. First, my bike has a USB charging port on it. I consider this a must because I like to navigate with my phone. Second, good lights with flashing feature should come integral to the controller. Finally, when buying any bike, especially highr end ones, you should plan how you will transport it and secure it. These things are getting stolen left and right.

Conclusion

Once you get on an ebike you won't want to get off so I am just warning you ahead of time, ebikes are addicting! You'll want to ride it every day!

Just remember one thing…You get what you pay for.

So get out there and buy yourself an ebike. I hope to see you on the trail sometime soon! Be sure to check out my Chris Crossed Eike channel on Youtube.

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Ebike enthusiast and blogger.

Norwalk, CT
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