What To Look For When Buying an Electric Bike

John Clark, Velospeed
John Clark 10.07.20

Deciding what to look for when considering buying a power assisted bike (e-bike) can be tricky business. Luckily our guide below should help you prioritize what is important and what elements to consider before making a purchase. Either that or you will simply find out what you need to know in order to glide up that monster hill without your forehead bringing on a monsoon! After reading this guide you can check our list of the best e-bikes for each category.

Think carefully about what you will actually use the bike for. Then pick an appropriate category of bike to suit

Yes that shiny hi-spec suspension looks the business, and those massive offroad tyres really make the bike stand out, but do you need them? Are they practical? Really consider what you intend to use the bike for and decide from that which parts will be important.

If you intend to commute every day along a route that is predominantly tarmac or concrete pathways over several miles, then choosing an off-road e-MTB may not be the best choice. Yes, of course it will still get you there but are you paying extra for things you don’t need, and could that money be spent on a more suitable hybrid or road e-bike that has a larger battery for the longer commute?

Equally if your intended use is recreational but you live in a hilly area, then maybe a bike with a higher powered motor should be top of your consideration list.

Whatever your requirements are, list them and then match them to the most suitable category of e-bike and stick to purchasing one within that category.

Research your bicycle components

This point follows on from the first, now that you know what type of bike you need, research the components of the bikes that fall within this category and use the same process to figure out what is most important to your specific needs.

At first the terms may not make much sense, but it pays off in the long run when you can figure out at a glance if a prospective electric bike has the battery capacity you require, or if the gearing setup is suitable to your needs.

An easy way to start this is to click on a couple of bikes within your category that you like the look of, scroll down to the specifications and start comparing and looking up the differences in the parts. Before long you will be able to tell which bike has the right tyres or what the difference between two gear sets is.

Shop locally where possible

This isn’t a plug to send everyone near our stores to shop with us (though why wouldn’t you?), but at the very least know where your nearest local bike shop is so that when it comes time to service your e-bike or even get it setup correctly in the first place you know where to go.

Bike shop staff have invaluable knowledge that can help you get the most out of your electric bike and keep it running in optimal condition. Not only that but any questions that spring up, or concerns you may come across have probably been dealt with hundreds of times by your local bike shop. So knowing where they are and building a relationship with them definitely pays off in the long run.

Test ride a bike before committing

This is another benefit of using a local bike shop. You can arrange to test the bike, or several bikes, before parting with your hard-earned money. Specs and parts aside, feeling if the bike handles and rides in a way that works for you is important.

The test ride is the time to see if an ebike fulfils your needs, how does it go up an incline, is it comfortable to ride, does the motor have enough power etc… Really do take advantage of this time and try a few bikes to make sure you are happy with the e-bike you end up choosing.

You get what you pay for

There is no beating around the bush when it comes to an electric bike, they can be expensive! Equally though, there can be a large variation in price on seemingly similar electric bikes. When it comes to expensive parts, like batteries, motors, forks etc. the difference in price equates to a difference in quality.

Paying that little extra for a bike with a better quality motor may cause the initial price to be higher, but if it lasts you twice as long and requires less maintenance then it’s money well spent that over the bikes lifetime actually costs you less. Not only that but the reliability of expensive parts like motors is more important because they are not cheap to fix, plus if that goes it can leave you stranded at the bottom of a steep hill!

Paying extra for a higher torque motor, for example, may be more painful at the time but will be money well spent if you need more assistance climbing those long hills. That larger battery increases the price of the bike, but will also get you further on a single charge. A frame that’s specifically designed for the electric motor it carries will be better balanced and lighter, and will just feel better to ride.

Of course stick to your budget, but be mindful of the important parts of the bike and make sure the money is invested there. A well-made reliable motor, battery, and gearing setup is more important than spending your money on a bike that just looks good. A bike that feels right will entice you to use it!

A good warranty is important

We have already established that electric bikes can be expensive and that choosing a bike with quality parts is important, which is why making sure the bike comes with a good warranty is equally as vital.

You should expect a minimum of a two year warranty on the battery and motor from most electric bike manufacturers. Beware vendors that sell cheaply online and disappear without trace!

Make sure you find the bike attractive

After everything we have just said this may sound counter-intuitive, but you will be less inclined to use your ebike if you think it’s ugly, or worse, embarrassing. So make sure you like the way it looks, at a minimum. Ideally, you will love the way it looks and can’t wait to show it off to your friends, just as you did as a child.

Of course you can settle for a nice or smart looking bike with killer features and a comfortable ride, but make sure you don’t think it’s ugly or you may just end up taking the car on your next trip!

Lastly we just recommend doing your research thoroughly

You want to be confident in such a large purchase and really enjoy the day you get your new e-bike so that you get to enjoy the perks of power-assisted riding from the get-go.

This is why it’s so important to really look into what is important to you and your intended use for the bike. You should be confident you are making an informed decision and a couple of 20-minute research sessions will ensure you make the purchase well informed.

You don’t need to become the next leading expert in electric motors but knowing your basics will help you make an informed purchase you are comfortable with. Personal recommendations are a great way to find the right bike, or vendor.

And, of course, ask us – or your local bike shop – for advice!