Electric Bike Buying Guide
Electric Bikes 101
Types of 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.
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:
• 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
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.
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.
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.
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:
• 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