What Is An Ebike?
Electric bikes provide extra power when you are pedaling. In simplified terms, it is a motorized bicycle. The build of an ebike is usually sturdier than a standard bicycle, with a specific frame and components that can withstand the additional stress caused by a drivetrain that is heavier and more powerful.
What Are The Popular Ebike Classes? Pedal Assist vs. Throttle
Class 1: Pedelec (or Pedal Assist)
This is the most common type of electric bike. As the rider pedals, a motor assists the rider which increases the power transmitted to the back wheel. This means that cycling is far less energy intensive (even in high gears) allowing the rider to travel faster and climb hills effortlessly.
The rider can control the amount of assistance that they receive using the settings, but in order to be considered a ‘Class 1 Ebike,’ there are limitations to the maximum speed. In America, the speeds are higher allowing for 32 kilometers per hour (20 miles per hour). In Europe, the system should not provide assistance over 25 kilometers per hour (15 miles per hour). Class 1 ebikes are allowed on most roads, and paths where regular bikes are permitted and do not require additional licensing.
Class 2: Throttle
Throttle ebikes operate like a scooter or motorcycle, are operated with a throttle that moves the bike forward without the need for pedaling. The speed of the bike is controlled by how far the throttle is pushed. Throttle bikes are, for the most part, found in America and China where their usage is not as limited by legislation.
Class 3: Speed Pedelec (or Spedelec)
A speed pedelec ebike is a similar design to a normal pedelec, but they allow for higher top speeds (around 45 kph or 28 mph). Legislation around spedelecs is tighter than for pedelecs and requires riders to be licensed. Additionally, the bikes are required to be used in the same manner as a motor vehicle (rather than a bicycle).
What Electric Bike Style Is A Good Choice? Mountain vs. Commuter
The most popular electric bike styles are mountain bikes and commuter bikes. But ebikes come in a wide range of shapes and styles and as such there are also ebike versions of casual cruisers, road bikes (for training, exercise and fun), trikes (with 3 wheels for better balance), hybrid bikes (with features of both road and mountain bike), cargo bikes (for transporting heavy loads) and fat bikes (for snow and sand).
Electric Mountain Bikes
This is a powerful all-terrain, rugged off-road specialist that will expand your horizons, allow you to travel further in a shorter time and speed up the hills so that you can enjoy the downhills. There are many different types of ebikes, including full-suspension and hardtail ebikes, which means that there is an ebike to suit any riding style or terrain.
Ebikes allow for a morning ride to work that won’t leave you sweaty at the end of it, as well as being very reliable. For these reasons, as well as environmental concerns, commuter bikes are becoming increasingly popular in urban areas, they are also more budget-friendly than some of the other ebike categories. Some important features to consider include battery range, speed options, and practical additions such as a kickstand and lock.
Which one should I choose?
The two most important factors to consider are first, what you will be using the bike for and secondly, where you will be using it.
Looking at the different ebike styles, think carefully about where you are most likely to use the bike. If you are wanting to reduce your reliance on public transport or driving your car, a commuter bike would be a good option. If you are a mountain biker already, you would likely get more use from an electric mountain bike.
When selecting the class of bike, a pedelec ebike (Class 1) is likely to be more useful as there are legislative limitations being put in place to regulate throttle and spedelec bikes.
Take some time to understand the different components of an ebike such as the best battery setup, which motor to choose and the different drivetrain options. These all affect the price of an ebike, and an understanding of how they work together can help a buyer decide which features are important, and which aren’t.
Remember to ‘try before you buy,’ the increasing popularity of ebikes means that there are specialist stores in most local areas so visit one and chat with the staff. They’ll be able to offer guidance as well as allow you to test different bikes.
Ebikes are proving to be more than a fad, with 91% of Americans ebike owners riding them daily or weekly. Learning about the classes of ebikes and the most popular styles will help you understand which option is a good match for you, and provide guidance on which one to buy.