Electric Bike Shopping Guide
We are going to be going over some tips for shopping for an electric bike. There are hundreds and hundreds of different electric bike brands, and every brand has about ten different models with various different styles and electrical components. All these options and information can feel intimidating and overwhelming. That is why we are here to help you zone in on some things you should keep an eye for in order to get an ebike that will serve you well.
Choose an eBike That Fits Your Lifestyle
If you are shopping for an ebike, before anything else, we advise you to give some thought on what you want to get out of an electric bike. There are many styles of ebikes in the market. There are mountain bikes, road bikes, cruiser bikes, and hybrid bikes, to name the most common ones. You want to find a bike that fits what you are looking for and what you would use it for.
If you're looking to cruise around town, getting a mountain bike might not be the best for you. If you do get one, you may end up spending a lot of money on features that make it great for riding in the street or on the tail end of that. Conversely, if you're trying to get a bike that you can ride absolutely anywhere, getting a beach cruiser or some city hybrid style bike may not be the best for you. We see it all the time in our shop; people spending lots of money trying to convert a bike that’s really not styled for what they want to do. These expenses could have been avoided when at the very beginning they just purchased an ebike that fits their style perfectly.
Go for Hydraulic Disc Brakes
Now that you have decided what type of ebike you want to buy, let us proceed to the components you want to have on your ebike. The type of brake system is the aspect that is the first thing we look for. When it comes to ebikes, stopping power is very important as ebikes weigh more and travel faster than traditional bikes. It’s a very simple matter but a lot of brands, even some big ones, tend to cheap out on braking power. Always check and go for ebikes with hydraulic disc brakes.
You might see an ebike with a disc brake and think to yourself that it is already a big upgrade over the traditional rim brakes. And you would be right to think so, as disc brakes are much better than rim brakes. However, not all disc brakes are the same. Many ebike brands will cheap out on their brakes by putting mechanical disc brakes instead of the more reliable hydraulic disc brakes. If you come across a really good ebike which seems cool and cheaper than others, chances are that they skipped out on the essentials and chose to put mechanical disc brakes.
Mechanical disc brakes work by taking the signal from the rider as he squeezes the brake lever, which gives tension to the cable, and in turn, activates the piston to push the brake pad into the rotor and into the other brake pad. This configuration means that the brake pads are not being pushed at equal rates. Due to this, you would therefore need to readjust the calipers , realign the inner brake pad, and adjust the cable tension. Regular and constant maintenance must be done on mechanical brakes to ensure optimal braking power. Additionally, this brake system relies on your hand strength. This is fine if you’re starting out on the ride but if you’re riding for a long duration your hands might be tired and you may not be getting the same braking power.
On the other hand, hydraulic disc brakes, like the ones on the Tower Beach Bum, are relatively maintenance-free and are more reliable. This type of brake comes from the motorcycle world and was originally adapted for mountain biking because of how well it works even in rough conditions and how reliable its stopping power is. Unlike mechanical brakes, the pistons on the hydraulic brakes come out at equal rates from either side. This saves you the hassle of constantly needing to readjust and realign it. Additionally, the brake lever does all the work for you. It doesn’t matter how tired your hands are, if the brakes are engaged, it will give you the same reliable braking power every time. Because of all these, it is no surprise that we highly recommend always going for ebikes with a hydraulic brake system.
Choose Comfort over Quality
A lot of people will only focus on the battery capacity or power of the ebike. While those are important things, they do not comprise the whole picture and experience of having an ebike. The “bike” components of an ebike are just as important. It doesn’t matter what the electrical system is in there, if the bike components are cheap and not good, it will not be a pleasant experience for you.
Another aspect that many brands cheap out on is the materials for ride comfort. We can’t stress this enough, but for you to enjoy your ebike, you must be comfortable riding it and not just looking cool. If you’re not comfortable with it, you might end up not wanting to use it as often and it would be such a waste of a purchase.
Don’t get us wrong, big ebike brands, like RadRunner and Juiced, produce great ebikes. However, they tend to invest heavily on really solid electrical components and focus on these aspects as their main advertising points. To keep their prices low and competitive, they seldom cheap out on other aspects. Some of them are small quality of life parts but they do contribute a lot to your ebike experience. You might be saving on the initial purchase of the bike, but in the long run, it might cost you more because you either don’t like using your ebike or you need to replace many low quality and uncomfortable parts.
An example of a quality component you don't want to overlook are seats. For example, a comfortable saddle like a Velo seat will go a long way. Also, be careful with ebikes that have their seat post fixed with the saddle. In all our years in the bike shop industry, the seat post combination on the RadRunner is not the most ideal one you want. Not only is the seat uncomfortable, but the post is permanently attached to the post. So even if you want to replace the seat with a more comfortable one, you will have to buy a whole new seat post for it as well. This is just an unnecessary expense. Having good quality pedals, grips, derailleurs, and such will also save you money down the line. You have to think of things that are important that will impact you on a day-to-day basis of using the ebike.
Be Careful of False Advertising
Now, let us talk about the “e” on ebikes. As for the electronic components, many brands will have misleading claims on their motor or battery. Brands will advertise big numbers for their motor’s power to differentiate and entice buyers that they have a more powerful ebike. For example, they might claim that their motor is 750 Watts, but in reality, while it can peak at 750 watts, the sustained power is really only 500 watts. The appropriate label for such an ebike should be having a power of 500 watts. A consumer needs to be careful to not be swayed about misleading information.
Another misleading thing with electronics is about the battery. You may look at the specs and see that it has a big battery with a high amp hour capacity and be misled to think that it is a good one. Brands can also cheap out on the battery cells that they put in. However, not all battery cells are the same and there are really low tier cells which perform poorly and will degrade faster. You want to make sure that you will be getting an ebike with a high-quality battery especially from reputable brands like Samsung, LG, or Panasonic, that will last you for a long time. Batteries are expensive and you could spend $300-600 on a brand-new battery if you ended up buying an ebike with a cheap battery that malfunctions after a short while.
There are a lot of different aspects to look out for on ebikes. However, don’t let it daunt you into choosing the best kind of ebike for you. To sum it all up, you must know the style of ebike you want, choose comfort and quality, and don’t fall for false advertising. For more tips, be sure to follow our channel as we rate and evaluate different ebikes that come in our shop.