4 Awesome Options to Match Your Riding Style and Budget
I think traveling by bike is one of the best ways to get from A to B.
Let’s face it though, sometimes it can be a bit intimidating. You might not be as fit as you once were, or you might be carrying an injury. You might even just feel out of practice. These niggles and worries build up in our minds and we end up taking the car instead… or even not going at all.
That’s where electric bikes come in. Using powerful motors to help whilst you pedal and whizz you along with a big grin on your face. Making getting from A to B easy, even when B is a long distance away from A.
I’ve researched the best available ebikes for long distance touring and have detailed my top 4 recommendations below. Hopefully this will save you some time for the more important things like planning the perfect kit list and deciding how many pairs of socks you can get away with packing.
Ready? Okay, let’s go.
What is Long-Distance Bike Touring?
I’ve always had a hankering for a really long bike ride. I mean the kind of cycling extravaganza that you can look up on a proper atlas and actually see the distance. Nothing puny like 50 miles or 100k. I’m talking Paris to Rome, NYC to SF or Perth to Sydney.
Now, I know for some people this is a walk in the park. But I’m just not sure my legs are up to it these days.
Do you know what I mean?
Well, it turns out that electric bikes are the answer. Battery technology has had major improvements in recent years, making them lighter and more powerful. Now more and more manufacturers are producing a wide range of ebikes to suit everyone’s budget and cycling.
Before we go on and check out the ebikes, I just wanted to give a quick recommendation for an awesome little tool I picked up recently. It’s got a huge number of incredibly useful tools packed into it. A multitool like this is an essential piece of kit if you’re planning any length of bike ride – from round the block to across the continent. This one comes with the 16-piece folding tool, puncture repair kit, tire levers, and a tough pouch to store everything away in.
Important Factors in Choosing Your eBike
First off, you need to be clear in your own mind about what you need the bike to do for you. There are several questions that you need to answer:
- What kind of terrain will you be traveling on?
- What quantity of kit will you need to carry?
- What distance will you be cycling each day?
- Will you have opportunities to charge the battery?
- What style of bike are you used to riding?
- What’s your budget?
Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail.
Will you be cycling on paved roads or rough tracks? On smooth roads you could get away with an urban or cruiser style bike. Off road you’ll need suspension, possibly both front and back, to stop you from being shaken to pieces.
Will the gradient be fairly flat, or will you have some steep hills that you need to climb up? Useful to bear in mind when you’re looking at the bike weight and be aware that power-assisted climbing uses up the battery faster.
If you’re traveling unsupported for an extended period, you’ll need to carry more gear than on shorter trips or if you’re getting your luggage transported to your destination.
Many bikes have options to fit racks on the front and rear of the frame. Although extra weight will sap the battery so it’s worth keeping the luggage to a minimum.
The one essential piece of kit? Keep safe with one of these. You know it makes sense.
Assuming you’re not planning a round-the-world-in-80-days trip, what sort of mileage do you plan on doing every day? Make sure the bike you choose has a battery that will get you to your destination or you’ll have to do more pedaling.
4. Battery charging
Electric bikes can take 6-8hrs for a full charge from a standard wall socket.
Will you be able to get access for an overnight top-up? If not, you may want to consider getting an extra battery for your bike. This can be useful if you’re planning on heading into the wilderness for a couple of days or you have a day trip of more than the standard range for your battery.
5. Bike Geometry
What style of bike do you like to ride? Do you prefer the laidback seating position of a cruiser or the more aggressive ride of a full-suspension mountain bike?
There’s a big variation in the cost of electric bikes. The more expensive bikes will tend to have better batteries and higher-end components. But these need to be balanced against your requirements – don’t buy fancier kit than you actually need.
Best Electric Bikes for Long Distance Touring
Now that you’ve got a clear idea of what you need your new ebike to do for you, let’s look at my recommendations:
The Schwinn Sycamore is a fantastic value bike. With an upright riding position this bike is great for cruising in comfort along country roads and watching the world go by as you clock up the mileage.
Look under the hood though and you’ll see that it’s got some quality features:
- SR Suntour NEX front suspension to smooth over the lumps and bumps in the road
- Front and rear disc brakes to keep you safe
- Powerful 350W rear wheel motor to let you sail up those hills without raising a sweat
- Comfort seat and handlebar grips
- Removable battery that will get you around up to 60 miles depending on the level of pedaling you do and the gradient of your route
It’s also useful to know that you can get replacement batteries from Schwinn in case you’re planning a longer touring route. Pop one in your pannier and you can swap them over midway and get double the distance.
This is gorgeous, isn’t it? The polished stainless steel frame and Italian leather accessories make this possibly the most stylish thing ever on two wheels.
It’s also got some awesome tech packed inside to complement that style:
- 350W motor that delivers up to 25 miles of travel
- Super light frame at only 46 lbs – ideal for when you need to load it onto a bike rack or carry it up to your apartment
- Fast charging battery – 3-4 hrs to full charge
This is a bike that is as at home on your city commute as it is on a long-distance tour.
This folding ebike is a great option if your tour includes a return trip on planes, trains or by car.
It’s also very practical for easy storage once you get home. The battery is stored on the front handlebars, so bear in mind that this reduces the amount of storage space you have to play with.
- No-frills specification to keep the price affordable
- 250W motor giving up to 31 miles of travel between charging
- Moulded wheels so no chance of busting a spoke miles from a bike shop
With such an attractive price tag, this is a very good bike for long distance routes, particularly those with rough tracks.
This ebike is an incredible machine and comes with a huge list of features.
It’s got front and rear suspension to smooth out the lumps and bumps on a long journey. The massive 750W motor can whisk you along at 28mph (bear in mind that this makes it a Class 3 ebike, so special rules will apply in various countries. Check locally). It has front turn and automatic brake lights to keep you visible. Plus a smart security system and GPS tracking. And on and on.
Oh, one more thing, it also has a Guinness World Record. For the greatest distance by an electric bike on a single battery charge. A mind-bending 236 miles.
So, if you’re looking to go really long distances, then this bike is worth serious consideration.
Before we carry on, I just wanted to give you a quick book recommendation. It’s ‘The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide’, a brilliant book I’ve just finished. There’s a massive amount of useful info packed in to it and I learnt loads of great nuggets about ebikes and what to look out for when you’re buying one.
There’s a paperback available and also a Kindle version. The Kindle book is amazing value and you don’t even need a Kindle to read it (I read it on my iPhone).
Electric bikes are an awesome option for long-distance touring. With the latest battery technology, they’re even more affordable and capable of longer distances between charges. So you can go further and explore more without getting too sweaty. Any of these recommendations will save your legs and give you a fantastic experience.
Now, what are you waiting for? Go buy that ebike and get planning your route!
Yours, in ecycling