Electric Bike Buying Guide

An electric bike allows you to choose between pedal power, battery power, or a combination of both. Take a spin through this electric bike buying guide to find the e-bike that’s right for you.

Electric Bikes 101

Imagine that you’re cycling into the wind or up a steep hill and wish you could just flick a switch for a burst of power, like suddenly getting a friendly boost from behind. Electric bikes offer the best of both worlds — your natural strength combined with battery technology in one, eco-friendly package. More riders are turning to e-bikes every day. They are basically regular bicycles with a built-in power source to enable you to ride further and faster while conserving your own energy. And unlike mopeds and motorized scooters, e-bikes fall under the same rules as regular bicycles in Canada. You don’t need a special license to own and ride one. 

Types of Electric Bikes


Electric Bikes

Pedelec or Pedal Assist Electric Bikes
The term “pedelec” kind of sounds like what it means. When you are actively pedalling, a pedelec or “pedal assist” e-bike will provide assistance when you need it. The motor will detect when you are working harder, like when riding up a hill or into the wind, and automatically deliver enough power to offset the extra energy that would normally come from you. You have the option of activating this feature to be on standby, or disable it completely if you decide to go it alone.
Throttle Assist Electric Bikes
If you’ve ever driven a scooter or motorcycle then you’re probably familiar with a throttle. If you prefer an instant burst of power without having to pedal at all, then a throttle assist electric bicycle might be for you. Instant power is dialled up (or down) by twisting a control on the handlebar grip. The throttle control links directly to the motor, which is independent of the pedals. In this case, you really are just along for the ride.

Electric Bike Buying Tips:

• Multi-speed gear sets are better for hilly terrain
• Alloy frames are lighter and provide a smoother ride
• Motors are either hub-mount (on the front or rear wheel) or crank-mount (near the pedals)
• Batteries are either sealed lead acid (cheaper) or lithium (pricier)
• A folding e-bike is great for commuters or vacations

Electric Bike Features

Motor +

E-bike motors fall into two main categories: hub motor and crank motor. A hub-mount motor is located on either the front or back wheel. A crank-mount or “mid-drive” motor is located between the pedals and directly engages the drive train and gears. There are pros and cons to both styles but many experts say a crank motor offers the most-balanced ride due to its low center of gravity in the middle of the frame.

Battery +

Whether it’s a SLA (sealed lead acid) battery or lithium version, the size and type of battery on your e-bike ultimately determines how fast and far you can ride before you need to recharge. In some cases the battery stays on the frame during recharging and in other cases it can be removed from the e-bike and recharged separately.

Sealed Lead Acid Battery +

E-bikes equipped with sealed lead acid batteries are less expensive than lithium-powered models. While they can cost about half as much they still offer almost all of the same benefits in terms of comfort, speed and range. On the other hand, the battery usually remains attached to the frame for recharging and the extra weight of a sealed lead acid battery makes the entire bike heavier and harder to carry.

Lithium Battery +

There are advantages to paying more for an electric bike equipped with a lithium battery. The battery itself is lighter and detachable so you can carry it to a power source for recharging. The e-bike’s overall weight is reduced which can improve mileage between charges (depending upon variables including the size and weight of the rider). Lithium batteries can be recharged more often and manufacturers are working constantly to improve the technology.

Console +

The console is located on or near the handlebars and provides vital information about the strength of your battery. If you’re counting on electric power to get you all the way home then the console is your best friend. It will let you know exactly how much juice your battery has left.

Frame +

E-bike frames are made of steel, alloy or a combination of both. They look much the same as traditional bike frames though may be customized with special mounts or a rack to seat the battery. While steel offers strength, alloy frames are lighter and more responsive to bumps in the road without sacrificing durability.

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Electric Bicycle Maintenance Tips:

• Carefully read your owners manual and follow the recommendations
• Clean your e-bike regularly as needed: a gentle hand wash vs. power washing is best
• Dry the entire bike thoroughly after all dirt is removed
• Repair or tighten any damaged or loose parts immediately
• Store your e-bike where it’s safe from harsh weather and theft

Converting Your Current Bicycle

Converting your own bicycle into an e-bike isn’t as difficult as it sounds. You might do this because you love the fit and feel of your own bike and want to keep on riding it, but like the idea of having a power boost when you need it. Specialized bike shops that do e-bike servicing sell conversion kits that range in price depending on the quality of the components. Converting is cheaper than buying a new e-bike and you get the personal satisfaction of doing it yourself, or as a family project.
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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