Tower's 100-Point eBike Score Explained

Tower eBike's 100-Point Scale

Tower's eBike Repair Shop mechanics review electric bikes on the following 100-point scale:

86 - 100 = eBike of Highest Distinction
71 - 85 = Outstanding eBike
56 - 70 = Very Good eBike
41 - 55 = Mediocre eBike
0 - 40 = eBike Not Recommended

Electric bikes are holistically assessed and given a single score called the "Tower eBike Score". This single point rating encompasses seven core electric bike attributes and capabilities.

Single Point Ratings for E-Bikes

DISCLAIMER - The trademarks TOWER, TOWER E-BIKE SCORE, and the TOWER logo are owned by Tower Paddle Boards LLC, the parent company of the Tower eBike Repair Shop. Any other trademarks used herein are the property of the owners of those trademarks, and the use of those trademarks in reviews on this website does not indicate that the reviewer is claiming any interest in such trademarks or any affiliation with or sponsorship or endorsement by the owners of those trademarks.

The Tower eBike Score

The idea of the Tower eBike 100-Point Scale is we're trying to get a single point rating of every e-bike on in the market, so it gives consumers a better sense of what electric bikes are quality and what are not quality electric bicycles. We take the price point out of it. We don’t even mention that, so it doesn’t obscure what is a good electric bike and what is not a good e-Bike. Too often, consumers fall back on price as an indicator of quality along the notion of “you get what you pay for”. But that’s only part true in today’s world where some eBike are bought in retail and others are bought direct to consumer, and some brands spend millions on advertising (that the consumer pays for) and others spend none. Then some brands premium price their eBikes or exaggerate to try to convey quality, even when it's not there. The are a bunch of complicating factors.

The way our hundred point scale works when rating electric bikes is our seasoned eBike mechanics rate each eBike on seven attributes: materials quality, mechanical quality, low maintenance, hill climbing ability, range, comfort, and universal. Each of those attributes gets a 1 to 10 point rating, and then we normalize that to get a hundred point rating scale. The attributes that we rate are all rated in a very structured manner with a very specific methodology that we’ve designed internally at the Tower eBike Repair Shop here in San Diego with our collective electric bike mechanic and consumer experience expertise.

Review Categories

All eBikes
Beach Cruiser Electric Bikes
Electric Mini Bikes
City Electric Bikes
Fat Tire Electric Bikes
Folding Electric Bikes
Electric Mountain Bikes
Electric Road Bikes
Electric Trikes

(Alternatively) View by Brand >>

Who We Are

My name is Stephan Aarstol. I'm the founder and CEO of the Tower e-bike repair shop here in San Diego. We have a master bicycle mechanic, Ray Belden, that's been in the bike industry for about 30 years, helped us create the Tower eBike Score when he was a full time employee here and still helps us out occasionally. Another eBike mechanic and employee Andrew Thein, helped for years on this project, and may assist in the future.

We see hundreds of e-bikes in our shop from all different brands every month. We’ll have a couple of dozen electric bikes at any one time. So we get a really good look at e-bikes in use, not just when they're brand new, but when they have been used a little bit. We really get to see what components they have on them and how easy they are to work on. And we can really sort of separate the wheat from the chaff.

Why You Might Want to Trust Us

In addition to having our e-bike repair shop, we also run a direct to consumer e-bike brand called Tower Electric Bikes. But we just specialize in electric beach cruisers. That's all we make. Tower is actually a beach lifestyle company that primarily sells paddle boards. We’re a leading brand in the paddle board space and have been for almost a decade. We also sell surfboards, skateboards, apparel, and all things beach lifestyle… including electric beach cruisers. We even have our Tower Beach Club, which is an event space in San Diego. So we're not really directly competitive with most of the brands that we rate here. We don't make or sell electric city bikes. We don't do the motor scooter looking ebikes. We don't do electric road bikes, or mountain bikes, or cargo bicycles, or really any electric bikes beyond beach cruisers.

While we’re of course partial to our eBikes as we’ve conceived and designed them over 5 years, we think we're pretty independent party here because we work on all electric bike brands in our San Diego eBike repair shop and really get a close-up look at 100s of brands in the eBike market.

We’ve also been in the online space since 1999. We’ve been in the paddle board market since 2010, a booming market just like the eBike market with hundreds of competing brands. We’ve seen this movie before of what happens in these competitive markets. We’ve seen the consumer confusion, the shady marketing, the transactional brands, as well as the great brands and products and how hard it is for consumers to discern one from the next. We’ve also seen what happens for consumers when 80% of the brands in a market like this go out of business.

We have a lot of knowledge, so we thought we could really sort of assist people on understanding what is quality and what is not quality within the fog of war that is the eBike market. We created the Tower eBike 100-Point Scale to help.

Why Not Just Rely on Independent 3rd Party Review Sites

There are some pretty good electric bike review sites out there, and we highly recommend a few of them. There's a site called that rates eBikes and other electric vehicles. There's EBR, the Electric Bike Review. There’s Electrified Reviews. These are all great, informative eBike review sites.

A good number of electric bicycle brands will submit their eBikes to these sites for review and I would say they are pretty interesting and trustworthy reviews. That’s saying a lot as there are a lot of really bad review sites online in every product category, and many that are just plain misleading affiliate sites that churn out bogus reviews to make money on Amazon and their reviews have no basis in reality or even pretend to.

Those sites I’ve outlined above (and a few others, I’m sure) are worthy of a look, for sure. But even with the solid review sites, in general the reviews are a little generic. It’s pretty rare to get a review that says this eBike is horrible. It’s a lot of “This bike is approachable” and fluff that’s not overly critical or meaningful to compare side by side with another eBike. Great content, but more information overflow. How many 30 minute review videos do you really want to watch to research your purchase?

When a brand submits a bike to these sites for review, the brand typically has to pay them $1000- $2000 per eBike submitted, and then they'll review the ebike. We know this, because we've done this. They do this to cover their costs (and these above are really independent, non-biased reviews in my opinion) and make a modest profit. Nothing nefarious. But it’s just hard when a brand pays you $1000 to really hammer that brand. They don’t dole out scores because they probably don’t want to give anyone a 2 out of 10. And then there’s the fact that they don’t review all eBikes, just the ones that submit so you can’t get a good look at many brands or models or even a model that isn’t something with all the features instead of the base model.

What we're adding to the mix here for eBike consumers with the Tower eBike Score is we're giving you a very objective single point score. One overall score, then contributing scores on 7 individual attributes. We’re okay with giving an eBike a bad score. Our original Tower Beach Bum scored a 59. It got a 1 out of 10 on mechanical quality, and a 3 on “low maintenance”. So we improved it. Our 2nd model, the Beach Bum 2 scored a 79 because of those improvements, which also increase our production costs over 20%. Our Beach Babe gets an 83.

The fact that we developed regular beach cruisers first for 18 months starting back in 2016, and then followed that with another 18 months of eBike research, design and development and still only built a 59 (by today’s Tower eBike Score standard) is testament to the fact that eBikes are complicated. We studied this for years, and STILL were working with partial information. A consumer spending a few days shopping doesn’t have a prayer of weeding thru all the marketing nonsense, technical specs, and real concerns. Transactional brands that are more interested in sales than providing great products take advantage of this reality to use smoke and mirrors to sell you and thousands like you an eBike.

Another important element is that we also review any eBike we get our hands on. Brands don’t come to us. Some eBikes we track down if we know it’s a popular model, but many of these we rate just flow thru our eBike repair shop here in San Diego. We get out the tape measure, the scale, and start going thru our checklist to see what quality they’re using for everything. We take a highly structured and carefully crafted approach, which we believe gives an accurate assessment. We use this same scale to develop and improve our own eBikes. And you’ll find our Tower eBike Score ratings are pretty consistent. Look at a half dozen Tower Scores of eBikes you know and it’s going to quickly show you which eBikes use high-quality parts, which ones do not, which ones use a lot of proprietary stuff, which ones are comfortable, and which ones are not.

You can gain a lot of insight real quickly. That’s the whole point. You can zero in on certain attributes that are more important to you like comfort, or low maintenance or mechanical quality. Then go deeper on eBikes you like with some of the leading, highly trusted longer form review sites we've mentioned above.

The 7 Attributes of the Tower eBike Score

We've picked these very selectively because we've developed our own e-bikes. We understand what makes an e-bike quality and what the important things are from the consumer experience perspective. We understand the trade-offs brands face. And we understand eBike consumers because we are them and we talk to them and help them every day in our eBike repair shop. We have a good sense of what people are using eBikes for so we know what attributes are critical to keeping them satisfied.

With all the ratings, the higher score the better.

#1 – Materials Quality - This rating is pretty straight forward. Our mechanics can take a once over a bike looking at a representative selection of materials used and get a quick sense of if they’re using quality materials or low-grade stuff. Most consumers simply don’t have the experience to delineate this very well. Good looks doesn't always equate to the durability of those good looks.

#2 - Mechanical Quality – We look at this separately from materials because you can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig. While the materials quality is more about the touch points and durability, the mechanical eBike quality is more about the soundness and solidness of the engineering.

#3 – Low Maintenance – Maintenance is an afterthought for most consumers on traditional bicycles because you simply don’t ride them that far. You go 10x the distance on electric bikes, so maintenance can be a real issue, especially on bikes not designed properly. Many transactional brands just sell you an eBike and then it’s your problem, knowing full well you are going to have lots of maintenance issues. We see this everyday and the brand is 1000 miles away. There are ways to design bikes to minimize maintenance and improve the customer experience. This rating tells you if they cared enough to address the actual customer experience beyond the sale.

#4 – Hill Climbing Ability - When you get into an e-bike it's usually for transportation and so hill climbing ability is pretty critical. Oftentimes, especially in low end bikes, this is an overlooked attribute. Just as you wouldn’t want a car that couldn’t go up certain hills, you don’t want limitation in an electric bike. Powerful motors and high-grade battery packs are just part of this equation. Gearing is critical too. Maybe you're okay with a bike that doesn't do hills as you live in flat lands, but it's best to know what you're getting. Because just a high wattage motor isn't going to do it, regardless of what spin the brands tell you. 

#5 – Range – Large capacity, high quality batteries are the most expensive component of electric bikes, by far. You need them for achieving adequate range. Many brands skimp or pair a high watt motor with an undersized battery pack, which creates a product that won’t create a satisfying customer experience... beyond the price point. Range quotes from brands are notoriously convoluted and misrepresented, so we cut to the chase here to give you a good comparative score on what you could expect.

#6 – Comfort – It’s okay to be hunched over on a traditional bike for a short while that you’re using for exercise or recreation on, but when it becomes longer rides and more transportation like, then you want comfort. It’s critical. No one makes an uncomfortable car, unless it’s a specific purpose like a race car or off-road vehicle. Same should be said for eBikes. You need to think about comfort because you won't go on a 2 mile bike ride. It may be more like a 30 mile, half day eBike adventure! 

#7 – Universal – All cars have adjustable seats, steering wheels, and mirrors because they know people are all different kinds of sizes and shapes. They also know owners might let their friends use them. eBikes are similar, so this is a critical attribute to understand upfront.

Those are the seven key attributes that comprise the Tower eBike Score. We rate each on a 1-10 scale individually so you can see and then sum and normalize the overall score to give you a 0-100 score.

Kind of like the Wine Spectator 100-Point Scale which simplifies things for people who don’t spend their entire life studying wine and just want a shortcut to good, trusted information to make a purchase decision. Hopefully our Tower eBike Score can help you weed thru the 100s of electric bike brands, many of which have 5-10 models. And it's all very confusing to understand what is quality and what is not quality similar to how when I go shop for wine, I don't know anything about wine, but the wine spectator score gives me sort of a little cheat code that I know is a pretty reliable measure. It’s not the only piece of info I use, but it’s a helpful one.

Specialty Score

A subset of the Tower eBike Score called the “Specialty Score” takes those same 7 attributes and removes two: comfort and Universal. This second score works better for electric bikes where you don’t care about comfort and adjustability. For example, on high-end electric road bikes or premium mountain bikes they sometimes make 4-5 different frame sizes for different size people and they’re not designed for traditional comfort but rather are designed for a specific a specific activity where you are more “engaged” with the bike (comfort is not a primary consideration) than with more general electric bicycle use. For these types of eBikes, it’s often better to look at the “Specialty Score”.

Beyond the Tower eBike Score

Beyond the 7 core eBike attributes that we factor into the 100-Point Tower eBike Score, there are 3 additional attributes that are worth looking at but don’t always make so much sense to factor into our overall rating. We call these the 3 bonus attributes.

Bonus #1 - Weight – We roll an actual bike with the battery up on our scale and give you an accurate weight. These aren’t always accurately reported.

Bonus # 2 – Looks – We just give you a sentence of two of our thoughts. We get this is all very subjective, which is why we don’t put a rating to this, but it gives you some insight. Some bikes are just sort of slapped together parts, some are just goofy looking, while others clearly possess a highly considered design from first look. But this is just our take, so judge for yourself as you like.

Bonus #3 - Low Proprietary Risk – The last attribute we look at is what we call “low proprietary risk”. This is sort of an interesting rating because it’s a measure of how screwed are you if this company goes out of business, discontinues support for your model, or just stocks out of a proprietary part that you can only get thru them (which might be 3, 6, or 12 months!). You might balk at this, but this is a massive issue for electric bike consumers. We see nightmares every day at our eBike repair shop. Some brands use widely available, off the shelf electrical components and bike parts and other brands employ different degrees of using proprietary parts to sort of lock you into buying thru them or just to make things “cooler”. Even things like proprietary tires sizes and totally custom traditional bike parts (which is really weird). Doesn’t seem like a huge factor at the time of purchase, but it will be down the road.

The reason we include this score is because we've been in the online space since 1999. Our Tower Paddle Boards company is one of the leading brands in the paddle board market worldwide. Since we started that company in 2010, we’ve seen like 80% of the brands (and their factories) in that industry, go out of business leaving their customers up the creek if they’re using proprietary parts. In the eBike market this is even a bigger problem because of all the complexity of the product. There’s a eBike graveyard that shows some of the brands that have crashed and burned in years past, even ones that raised $100M and were run by big names. In the eBike market, we project 95% of the brands alive today will go under in the next 5 to 10 years. We’ve see this before. Even the biggest, flashiest brands, especially them if it’s anything like we saw in the paddle board market. So we highly recommend you consider this attribute seriously when you purchase an electric bike.

Check out the Tower eBike Score for the growing list of brands and models we've covered.

DISCLAIMER - The trademarks TOWER, TOWER E-BIKE SCORE, and the TOWER logo are owned by Tower Paddle Boards LLC, the parent company of the Tower eBike Repair Shop. Any other trademarks used herein are the property of the owners of those trademarks, and the use of those trademarks in reviews on this website does not indicate that the reviewer is claiming any interest in such trademarks or any affiliation with or sponsorship or endorsement by the owners of those trademarks.