Should I get an electric bike with suspension?
Bicycle suspension is designed to make your ride smoother and more comfortable. Suspension can also be important for protecting your bike frame by cushioning impacts that would otherwise be harsh. Suspension is most common on mountain bikes and eMTBs but is also found on hybrid bikes which are designed for changeable terrain.
There are 2 areas that suspension can be located, at the front and at the rear. Bikes and ebikes with both sets of suspension are called dual suspension bikes and when a bike has front suspension only it is called a hardtail. It is very unlikely that you will find an electric bike with rear suspension only, however some saddle downpipes feature a little suspension mechanism which provides a smoother ride but doesn’t offer any protection to the frame. Electric bikes with no suspension are called rigid.
The most common type of front suspension utilizes a telescopic fork which works by using a spring and a damper. The front fork of the bike features a telescopic component that allows it to travel up and down to accommodate bumps and uneven terrain. The amount of movement in the fork is determined by the resistance of the spring which, on expensive rigs can be adjusted. Front fork springs can be either a physical spring or on more advanced systems, compressed air. The benefit of having a front suspension fork is that it offers considerably more control to the rider on uneven terrain. Rigid forks however tend to be lighter and require considerably less maintenance.
Most electric bikes with rear suspension will also feature front suspension, it would be rare to find a bike with only rear suspension unless it was on the saddle downpipe as mentioned above. The drawbacks of rear suspension on regular bicycles are that they can tend to bob up and down while pedalling, particularly when climbing hills which reduces your pedal efficiency. This is less of an issue on electric bikes because generally, the motor will be doing most of the work.
There are a number of styles of rear suspension, some simple and some complex each performing the same task to different degrees. The real benefit that riders feel from rear suspension is a smoother ride. Like front suspension, the spring loaded mechanism keeps the wheels pressed to the ground, increasing the riders level of traction and control.
The biggest benefit of suspension on an electric bike will be the added level of control that the rider experiences as a result of the tire being pressed into the ground when navigating uneven terrain. Secondly, the level of comfort a rider will experience is considerably higher than on a rigid frame. With this said, for the majority of commuters and everyday electric bike riders who their bikes on the street and don’t do any off roading, suspension is not necessary.