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Ultimate Electric Bike Buying Guide

Ultimate Electric Bike Buying Guide

What is an Electric Bike?

An electric bike is a bicycle that is made with an electric motor that provides the rider with pedal assistance or completely powers the bike with a throttle. There are traces of electric bikes dated as far back as 1880 but in the late 1989 they developed the pedal assist function and changed electric bikes forever. Before that they were only able to use the throttle and they acted more like an electric motorcycle. Adding pedal assist allowed it to also be ridden as a normal bike and turned it into the versatile ebike we now know today.
Guy on electric bike

Electric bikes popularity exploded in Europe and expanded globally as more and more people see the clear benefits electric bikes can provide. They come in many different shapes and sizes and are becoming a great way to equalize all riders. Whether you are an athletic 20-year-old or a 60-year-old with a bad hip, there is an electric bike that you will love!

Read below to understand what you need to know before purchasing an electric bike! We have specific articles on most sections within this article, but this gives you a good overview to get started and make you feel comfortable.

Different power types

There are 2 ways electric bikes are powered:

  • Pedal Assist
  • Throttle

Pedal Assist

Pedal assist gives the rider an extra boost every time they pedal. They generally come with different levels of to allow the rider to customize how much assistance they want. There is also two different types of pedal assist: cadence sensor and toque sensor. Cadence sensors act like a switch turning the pedal assist on and off when you pedal. Torque sensors measure how much force you are putting in and gives assistance based on that. The torque sensor tends to be in more expensive bikes.

Throttle

The other power method is throttle. This is like a motorcycle where when you hit the throttle the bike just goes without you having to pedal at all. It doesn’t come on all electric bikes, but it can be a really nice feature if you are just looking for the easy transportation. When an ebike has a throttle, it will also have the pedal assist function.

Different Style of Motors

There are 2 different types of motors on electric bikes, hub motors and mid drive motors. As a general rule most hub motors use cadence sensors and most mid drive motors use torque sensors (there are some exceptions).

Mid Drive Motors

Mid drive motors are built around the crank of the bike. They came after hub motors and have some clear advantages and disadvantages. Mid drive motors are lighter and blend in with the bike better. They attach to the chain and provide more power in the same way that pedaling harder does. It works directly with the gears and allow the bike to feel more like riding a normal bike with extra power. That being said if the chain breaks on a mid-drive motor it is a much bigger deal and requires more maintenance.

Mid Drive Motor

Hub Drive Motors 

Hub motors are motors built into the front or rear wheel. They are massed produced and are generally a lot less expensive. They are enclosed and require less maintenance than a mid-drive motor. If the chain breaks on a hub motor bike it can be easily replaced. One disadvantage is that it’s a lot harder to change wheels on a hub motor because the motor is actually built in.

Bafang Hub Motor

There really isn’t a right answer for which motor is better. I know this isn’t the answer you are looking for but again, it is all personal preference. If you want to learn more in depth about the benefits and disadvantages of the motors you should read electrek's article on hub motors vs mid drive.

Different Electric Bike Styles

There are many different styles of electric bikes. They are all completely different and there is not one that is better than the other, it’s all about personal preference. This is the case with a lot of aspects when buying electric bike. Here is a list of some different styles, people have many different names and many more categories, but this is how we like to break them up to keep it simple. Keep in mind that most overlap. (For example: you can get a folding, fat tire electric tricycle)

We will briefly explain the benefits of each style and give our best example below. When reading there are two main questions to help you find out which electric bike suits you best. What do you use it for and what are you looking for in appearance?

Electric Beach Cruisers

These are electric bikes that are built for style and comfort. They are best for cruising down by the beach on a nice ride. They often have baskets and racks so that you can bring a towel or surfboard and they can come in many different styles. Some are step through cruisers, some look like a chopper, some have fat tires for riding on the sand. They are all beautiful and fun to ride!

Xtreme Newport

Our Top Selling Electric Beach Cruiser: X-Treme Newport

Electric Mountain Bikes

Electric Mountain Bikes are built for functionality. Although some people use them for their daily commute, they are often tougher and used for trail riding. There are many different levels of electric mountain bikes and you should make sure you get one that is meant for the style of riding you need. They are pretty much all fine for a normal trail ride but if you are looking to hit big drops and sharp turns you should make sure to get one that is high quality and built for that.

Emojo Wildcat Electric Mountain Bike

Our Top Selling Electric Mountain Bike: Emojo Wildcat

Fat Tire Electric Bikes

Fat tire electric bikes are bikes are built for riding on rough terrain. They have wider tires with lower tire pressure that allows them to absorb bumps better than a normal tire. They are also good for riding on sand and snow because they have a wider surface area and get more grip. Many normal riders also like them because they provide more stability when riding.

X-Treme Rocky Road

Our Top Selling Fat Tire Electric Bike: X-Treme Rocky Road

Folding Electric Bikes

These electric bikes are built for storage and transportation. If you live in the city and have a small apartment, a folding ebike can be the perfect way to save yourself some space and fit your bike in. They are also great if you don’t have a bike rack and want to your transport it in a car. They just provide an extra level of functionality then the average electric bike.

Revi Rebel Electric Bike

Our Top Selling Folding Electric Bike: Revi Rebel

Step through electric bikes

These electric bikes are easy to get on and off. The bar in the middle drops down to make it easier to get your leg over. They can be used by everyone but they are extreme beneficial for some people who have less mobility or have shorter legs.

Emojo Panther Electric Bike

Our Top Selling Step Through Electric Bike: Emojo Panther

Electric Tricycles

Electric Tricycles are perfect for people that struggle to stay balanced on the bike. Although you need to be careful while taking turns these electric bikes make it way easier to get started. They also often have storage to make it the perfect tool to go run some errands comfortably.

Emojo Caddy Pro Electric Tricycle

Our Top Selling Electric Tricycle: Emojo Caddy Pro

Regular Wheels vs Fat Tire Wheels

Another big consideration that we briefly touched on in styles is whether or not you want fat tires. They have some clear advantages and disadvantages, and you should understand them before purchasing your electric bike.

Fat tire wheels allow you to ride on rougher terrain and absorb bumps easier. They also allow you to ride on sand or snow making the bike work for all seasons. The tire pressure and wheel width make the bike have more traction and make the bike overall more stable. That being said some disadvantages are that the extra traction requires more power from the motor and also make the overall bike heavier. To learn more in depth read our article about the pros and cons of fat tire electric bikes.

Electric Bike Terms Explained

There are 3 main terms you should understand when purchasing an electric bike.

  • Volts
  • Watts
  • Amps

This picture below does a really good job explaining how each term adds to the bikes power.

Electric Bike Terms Explained

Volts or “voltage” is the flow of energy, or in this case how much power goes to the motor. The majority of ebikes are 24V, 36V, or. This impacts your speed and acceleration.

Amps could be thought of as the bike’s gas tank. More amp’s generally means a longer range, but it also means a heavier battery.

Watts acts as a combination of the two and controls the batteries maximum output. If you are just going on casual rides with pedal assist, then 250 watts can be a great choice, but if you are looking to climb hills or carry a large load, then 500 watts or more is better.

Accessories

An underrated part of purchasing an electric bike is figuring out what accessories you can add on to it. Sometimes having that extra functionality, you can add to the bike can entirely change your experience. Sometime just having a bag to store your items in can make your ride a lot more enjoyable. A good example of this is the surfboard holder, it goes from struggling to hold your board as you ride with one hand to comfortably cruising like you aren’t holding anything. No to mention it is also much safer! There are more and more accessories coming out every day but these are some of the basics you may want to check for before purchasing your electric bike.

  • Basket
  • Rear rack
  • Light
  • Bag
  • Phone holder
  • Fenders
  • Surfboard Holder
  • Trailer

The 3 Electric Bike Classes

Electric bikes fall into 3 different classes. It is important to know which class an electric bike is before you purchase it so that you can know where you can legally ride it. It varies from state to state so make sure to check you states laws before purchasing an electric bike. You can check your states laws here.

Classes of ebikes

Any electric bike with a max assistance of below 20 mph with out a throttle is a class 1 electric bike. Any bike that goes that speed with a throttle is a class 2 and any electric bike that can go up to 28 mph is a class 3.


CLASS 1

CLASS 2

CLASS 3

Pedal assist

Throttle

Maximum Speed

20 mph

20 mph

28 mph+

In Conclusion

We hope this buying guide helped make you feel more comfortable purchasing an electric bike. We understand that it is a big investment and can be daunting. There are a lot of different things to think about and it can sometimes feel overwhelming. If you feel like you need more help deciding, reach out and our staff will be happy to help guide you through the decision! Feel free to give us a call at +1(657)205-8045 or talk with us through live chat. Safe riding!

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