What is the right type of e-bike for me?

With the popularity of e-bikes on the rise, many questions regarding electric assist bikes are surfacing at HaveFunBiking, com. Many of these questions covered below emerged earlier this year at the E-bike Challenge Minneapolis and now at the Eco Experience at the Minnesota State Fair. Of the ten most asked questions, one of the first usually asked is what does an e-bike cost? Then it’s about the best battery/motor combination for your riding style and eight more that you can read about below.

Different types  of e-bike displays in the Eco-Building at the MN State Fair

Top 10 questions asked when selecting an e-bike.

1. What does an e-bike cost?

Has the idea of using an electric bike, called an e-bike, piqued your interest? If so you are in luck, the E-bike Challenge is coming to Minneapolis, MN.

Has the idea of touring by e-bike piqued your interest?

There are many variables when buying an electric bike, including the speed of the bike, distance, uses, weight (of the bike and battery), warranty, number of times you can charge the battery, and whether there is e-bike financing. Along with a good warranty, the quality of standard parts on the electric bike can increase the price from $2,000 to $6,000 or more. Plus, the added expense of having adequate insurance coverage for possible damage, theft, and liability.

See more information on the cost of buying an electric bike here.

2. What are the payment options?

Enjoy the Micro-Mobility experience for hauling cargo or kids.

To get an electric bike that will fit your needs over the next two to five years, find out if the bike shop or bike manufacturer (if buying online) offers no- or low-interest loans, often for six to 36 months. Some lending institutions, like Affinity Plus, offer low-interest bicycle-specific loans and let you borrow 120% of the cost of the bike to allow you to buy accessories like helmets, locks, baskets/panniers, lights, etc.

See more information on financing here.

3. Does an e-bike come with a warranty, and how can I insure the bike?

Many bikes come with limited or full warranties. Typically, e-bikes may come with a 2-year warranty on parts, motors, and batteries. Some brands/companies have a 5-year, “no questions asked” comprehensive warranty. So, read the warranty before buying. A reputable e-bike company will have its warranty information on its website.

A warranty should be a part of the purchase price.

Insuring your bike is also recommended. Check if your car, renter’s, or homeowners insurance can bundle an e-bike into your policy. If not, look at an insurance company that often covers theft and collision protection, similar to automobile insurance, for your e-bike. Many companies, like AAA and Velosurance, even offer roadside assistance for bicycles and e-bikes.

For more information here on warranties and insuring an e-bike.

4. What are the different types and speeds of e-bikes?

There are two types of motors, the wheel hub type and a center crank model pictured here.

There are as many types of e-bikes or elect-assist bikes available! First, ask yourself, is your primary use for commuting, hauling cargo, off-road riding, touring, or riding in winter conditions? Once you know what your primary use will be, check out the nationally defined classifications below and your state DOT statutes for e-bikes:

  • Class 1: e-bikes are pedal-assist only, with no throttle, with a maximum speed of 20 mph.
  • Class 2: e-bikes with a maximum speed of 20 mph allow for throttle assistance.
  • Class 3: e-bikes are pedal-assist only, with no throttle, with a maximum speed of 28 mph.
    Most states consider e-bikes with a maximum speed of 20 mph “bicycles that can use all non-motorized bike routes.”

See more on the types and speeds of e-bikes here.

5. What’s the battery’s range and life before recycling?

A centerpost battery for an electric bike

A center post battery mount is standard for many electric bike models.

The general rule with a 36 volt, 10.5Ah (ampere-hours) battery should get 20 to 40 miles per charge with the average weight of rider + gear & cargo less than 200 pounds in ideal weather conditions. You’ll get fewer miles the higher the assist level you use. On low assist, you might be able to get 60 miles or more on a single charge. To maximize the life of your e-bike battery, try to charge the battery when it’s near empty. Then ride your e-bike a lot and charge it often.

Recycling your battery: Call2Recycle is helping e-bike owners recycle their batteries. On the right side of their website, please type in your zip code to get a list of places that will recycle your e-bike battery when it’s time to replace it.

For a more in-depth look at how volts x amps = watts can give you an approximate range, click here.

6. What is the weight limit of an e-bike, and what do they weigh?

There are many sizes and types of e-bikes and trikes to test ride.

Most manufacturers recommend a maximum combined weight of around 275 pounds for a rider and gear & cargo on an e-bike. Cargo bikes are meant to carry small people or big loads and can accommodate riders + gear up to 400 pounds or more. Typically, e-bikes can handle total weights more than described by manufacturers’ specs. However, it may result in reduced range or increased maintenance and might require more repairs on bike parts like wheel spokes.

Most e-bikes weigh between 30-65 pounds, and the batteries weigh anywhere from five to 15 pounds. The weight of the battery goes up as the voltage goes up, but the capacity (range of the battery) goes up, too.

For more on weight limits and restrictions, click here.

7. How do I maintain an e-bike, and what if it needs to be repaired?

Just like a regular bicycle, do an ABC (Air, Brake & Chain) check each time before you ride to maximize your e-bike investment. On average, you should schedule a tune-up every six months or every 1,000 miles you have ridden. To protect your warranty, check their recommendations for service, as they may differ.

If you’re buying an e-bike online, see what sort of repair service or online support the company provides, or make sure your local or favorite bike shop can fix the electrical components of the e-bike you are selecting.

For more information on maintaining our preparing an e-bike, click here.

8. Can I ride an e-bike in the rain or snow?

Electric assist bikes work well year-round.

Electric bikes, like most standard bicycles, are water-resistant and can be used in any weather. Though, you may need some accessories (like rain gear or studded tires) to ride safely. Most e-bike models also provide a high-quality, water-resistant casing to protect your battery when wet and cold. You can ride an e-bike at any temperature, but the colder it is, the more it may impact the battery’s range. Bring in your battery (or the entire bike + battery) inside if you’re not riding it. Do not leave the battery on the bike if parking the e-bike outside in the winter at any time.

Click here for more information on riding an e-bike in rain or snow.

9. How do I keep an e-bike safe and secure?

To protect your e-bike investment, consider using a U-lock with a cable lock when locking your bike outside (also recommended for indoor storage). Consider having adequate insurance coverage for possible damage, theft, and liability.

For more information on securing your e-bike, click here.

 

The perfect place to test-ride the model you like before purchasing.

 10. What else should I do before purchasing?

A test ride should be part of the plan indoors or out before purchasing.

Have fun and test-ride the e-bike(s) you want to focus on. One of the essential parts of buying an electric bike is taking the model(s) you are most interested in for a test ride. Similar to buying a car, a test riding the e-bike will help you finalize your decision once you have narrowed the selection down. Visit several bicycle shops that carry the e-bike brands you are most interested in. To answer the most basic question, which e-bike do, I love the most?

So put on your bike shorts and helmet and test riding an e-bike:

  • Does the bike climb hills the way you need it to
  • Will the e-bike fit you the way you would like it to
  • And finally, is the quality and functionality what you expected while riding?

Now that you are back from your test ride, does the e-bike you like the best fit into your budget, and does it have a warranty? An electric bike is a significant investment, whether $1,500 or $10,000. So, with a warranty, you can rest assured that your investment is well covered. For more information on scheduling a test ride, click here.

Have fun on your new e-bike. We would enjoy hearing about your experiences here at HaveFunBiking!

With an e-bike, it’s easy to bring along your faithful friend or haul cargo.

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