With the popularity of e-bikes (electric-assist bicycles) and the many options available, here are some of the many questions we answered at HaveFunBiking.com. The top question, along with the price of an e-bike, was how the new government rebate programs worked. What are the e-bike types and styles along with battery/motor options available? Followed by the range or distance you can expect to travel on a charge. Riding in rain and snow, and the maintenance tips. In conclusion, after reviewing the following tips, to narrow down the right bike for you, visit several bicycle shops that carry electric-assist bicycles. Ask them specific questions to we have touched on here. And like buying a car, test-ride the e-bike you are interested in.
Top 10 questions asked when selecting an e-bike.
1. An e-bikes cost, and what about the Minnesota Tax Credit
There are many variables when buying an electric assist bike, including the distance you can ride and how you will use it; the number of times you can charge the battery; its weight (bike and battery); the warranty; and whether you will need to take out a loan to finance the bike? Along with a good warranty, the quality of standard parts or upgraded parts on the electric bike can increase the price from $2,000 to $6,000 or more. Plus, having adequate insurance coverage for possible damage, theft, and liability can increase the price.
See more information on the cost of buying an e-bike here.
What’s the skinny on the MN Electric-Assisted Bicycle Rebate
The Minnesota Transportation Finance and Policy bill included a new electric bike rebate program that takes effect July 1, 2024. In the 2023 session, four million dollars was appropriated for the 2024 and 2025 calendar years. This will allow the Rebate Program $2 million to be used starting July 1, 2024. Then again, consecutively, 2 million dollars for 2025, that will be available until June 30, 2026.
Depending on your income, the credit maximum is $1,500. To qualify, an Individual must assign the credit at the time of purchase after July 1st to an eligible retailer that they have selected. This will reduce the cost of the e-bike purchased. For more information on the rebate, contact your local bike shop or see Minnesota Tax Changes.
2. Consider payment options to get the right e-bike
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 a no- or low-interest loan, 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. Check the bike warranty, and then insure it
Many bikes come with limited or full warranties. Typically, e-bikes may come with a 2-year warranty on parts, motors, and batteries. Some e-bike brands have a 5-year, “no questions asked” comprehensive warranty. So, learn what sort of warranty is being offered before you buy. A reputable e-bike company will have its warranty information on its website.
It is recommended that you Insure your new bike. 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 for your e-bike, similar to automobile insurance. Many companies, like AAA and Velosurance, even offer roadside assistance for bicycles and e-bikes.
See more information on warranties and insuring an e-bike Here.
4. E-bike types and gear options
There are so many types of e-bikes available! First, what is your primary use for buying an e-bike? Is it for commuting, hauling cargo, off-road riding, touring, or riding in winter conditions? Once you know how you will use the bike, check out the nationally defined classifications below and your state DOT statutes for e-bikes:
- Class 1: e-bikes are pedal-assist only, no throttle, with a maximum speed of 20 mph
- Class 2: e-bikes with pedal assist and throttle, with a maximum speed of 20 mph
- Class 3: e-bikes are pedal-assist, with or without a throttle, with a maximum speed of 28 mph.
Most states consider e-bikes with a maximum speed of 20 mph “OK to 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?
The general rule is that a 36-volt, 10.5Ah (ampere-hours) battery should get 20 to 40 miles per charge, with the average weight of rider + gear & cargo being less than 200 pounds in ideal weather conditions. You’ll get fewer miles the higher the assist level you use. You may enjoy 50 miles or more on a single charge on low assist. To maximize the life of your e-bike battery, try to charge it before it is close to empty.
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. Weight limits, and a size that fits you
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 reduce the range or increase maintenance, including wheel spokes repairs.
Most e-bikes weigh between 30-65 pounds, with the battery weighing 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) will go up, too.
For more on weight limits and restrictions, click here.
7. Maintainance and your options to have your bike repaired
Like a regular bicycle, always start with an ABC’s (Air, Brake & Chain) check before you ride to maximize your e-bike investment. You should schedule a tune-up every six months or every 1,000 miles you have ridden. This will protect your warranty. Check the manufacturer’s service recommendations to what they specify.
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 select. Bikes with Bosch drivetrain systems are well respected and offer the following information for care and longevity.
For more information on maintaining our preparing an e-bike, click here.
8. Riding an e-bike in the rain or snow
Like most standard bicycles, E-bikes are water-resistant and can be used in most weather conditions. You may need 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 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 at any time in the winter.
Click here for more information on riding an e-bike in rain or snow.
9. Keeping your new 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 public storage areas). Another anti-theft device to consider is a GPS track tag. Ask your local bike shop for their recommendations. Again, having adequate insurance coverage for possible damage, theft, and liability is wise.
For more information on securing your e-bike, click here.
10. What else should I do before purchasing?
Have fun and test-ride the e-bike(s) you want to focus on. One of the essential parts of buying an e-bike is taking the model(s) you are most interested in for a test ride. Like buying a car, test-ride 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. So grab your helmet and go for a test ride. Consider these questions while test-riding that new e-bike:
- Does the e-bike fit the way I like it to
- Do I feel comfortable on the e-bike climbing hills
- And finally, is the quality and functionality over everything I expected while riding?
Now that you are back from your test ride, does the e-bike you like fit into your budget, and does it have a warranty? An e-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!