Electric Bikes Ultimate Guide

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Everything you ever wanted to know about ebikes. All on one page.

If you’re looking to get your first electric bike, then these are the things you need to know to make the right choice and get the perfect bike for you.

There are a number of factors that you need to consider when you’re investing in a new electric bike – the type of bike (such as a mountain bike or a fitness bike), what battery power you need (250w? 1000w?) and what brands to look out for (and which to avoid).

You also need to consider your budget, what style of riding you’ll be doing (commuting? Beach trips? Family park rides), what distances you’ll be traveling and how often you’ll be out cycling.

There’s a lot! So, what I’ve done is gather everything together into one handy resource, adding in answers to all the most common ebike questions. With this guide, you can get all the information you need to choose the RIGHT electric bike.

Ready? Let’s go!

Table of contents

Which type of electric bike is best?

The best type of electric bike for you will depend on a number of factors.

These include: what terrain you’ll be riding on (city pavement, backcountry trails, sandy beaches, or a little of everything).

What distances you’ll be traveling (a few miles to the grocery store and back, a 15-mile round trip daily commute, or a long-distance bike tour).

How much you want to spend (less if this is just for occasional use, more if it’s replacing a car and will get regular use).

There’s a lot to consider when you’re choosing an electric bike but, don’t worry, this guide will explain everything you need to know to pick the best type of bike for you.

What are the different types of electric bikes?

As with regular non-electric bikes, there are many different types of ebike, including electric mountain bikes, electric road bikes, electric cruiser bikes, electric hybrids, and electric touring bikes.

There are also different “Classes” of ebike (i.e. Class 1, 2 or 3), which vary in terms of their power output (how much ‘oomph’ you have going up hills) and how you make them move: ‘pedal-assist’ to full throttle, where you just twist and go.

Pedal-assist bikes will only engage the motor when you start pedaling – although you can still freewheel down hills and coast along flat roads on them no problem.

Full throttle bikes will engage the motor when you twist the throttle and don’t require pedaling at all – be aware though that this type of ebike has more rules and regulations and may not be legal to ride in your country.

Which brand e-bike is best?

The most exciting thing about choosing an ebike right now is that there are so many brands producing some really fantastic electric bikes (and at great value prices too).

For everyday cycling, some of the best ebike brands include Rad Power Bikes, Trek Bikes, and a ton of other new entrants, such as Vvolt.

If you love trail riding, then check out electric mountain bikes (eMTB) from companies such as Specialized, QuietKat and Liv.

Long-distance touring on ebikes is having a real surge in popularity as battery range increases (and prices tumble) – great brands include Cube, Haibike and Aventon.

What is the most efficient electric bike?

When it comes to ebikes, efficiency means different things to different people. Thankfully ebikes check most of the boxes here:

Electric bikes are efficient because they don’t require much effort (if any!) to cycle long distances up steep hills.

Ebikes are efficient because, with more and more companies competing to produce better bikes, you can get more amazing bikes at lower and lower prices – hurray!

And, electric bicycles are also efficient because they cost pennies to charge the battery. So rising gas prices are not something you’ll need to worry about ever again.

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What is the difference between an e-bike and an electric bike?

There is no difference between an e-bike and an electric bike – they’re both just different names for bikes with an electric motor fitted.

Oh, and whilst we’re on the subject, there’s no difference between an e-bike, electric bike, motorized bicycle, power-assisted bicycle, pedelec, power bike, or pedal-assisted bike!

But, there are BIG differences between ebikes (or whatever you like to call them) and regular non-electric bicycles.

Can I ride an e-bike as a regular bike without the electric power?

Yes – you can ride an e-bike exactly like a regular bike without using the electric power.

That’s the beauty of electric bikes – pedal with the power dialled down and you’ll get a great workout.

Then, when your legs are feeling tired, or you need a little extra boost to get up a steep incline, just dial the power up a notch and the motor will kick in.

And there’s no need to worry about a flat battery either – if that ever happens and you use up all the power, you can cycle the bike just like a regular bike to get you back home or to the nearest charging point.

What is the point of an electric bike?

The point of an e-bike is that it gives your legs a boost of electrical power, helping you to cycle further, faster, and up steeper hills than you might otherwise be able to do.

Who is this useful for?

Commuters who want to leave the car at home and cycle to work in the fresh air, dodging the rush hour traffic – but without arriving at the office in a sweaty mess.

Mountain bikers who want to keep their energy reserves for the (fun) downhill trails – they can use eMTBs to boost them to the top of the hills, rather than rely on an expensive uplift service or chairlift to shuttle them to the trailheads.

Seniors looking to have the grandkids chase THEM around the park, rather than struggle to keep pace with the young whippersnappers on a regular push bike.

Newbies wanting to begin cycling for fitness or weight loss but who are worried about obesity or lack of stamina holding them back on longer bike journeys.

Are e-bikes easier to ride?

Yes! E-bikes are not only easier to ride than regular pushbikes, but they’re great fun and incredibly addictive.

On shorter rides, or where you want to work on your fitness, you can set the power level low – this means that the motor will provide less assistance to your legs as you pedal.

On longer rides, for going up steep inclines, if you don’t want to get hot and sweaty, or if you simply want to kick back and enjoy watching the world go by just turn the power level up to the maximum and the motor will take the strain.

On most ebikes you can set the power level using a simple display on your handlebars – this normally takes just a push of your thumb, so you don’t even need to take your hand off the handlebars to do it.

What is the most powerful electric bike?

One of the most powerful ebikes on the market right now is the Juggernaut XD from biktrix.

It’s an off-road mountain bike that has a ton of power (2000+ Watts and 300Nm of torque) giving it the ability to blast up steep hills and even tow camping trailers(!)

Designed and tested in Canada, this ebike can travel at up to 30mph.

Check out their launch video below for more details:

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What are the disadvantages of electric bikes?

Electric bikes have many advantages, but there are also disadvantages that it’s worth being aware of before you buy one.

Firstly, ebikes tend to cost more than regular bikes. That’s partly because they incorporate electronic components (such as the battery and motor) and also because they have a more robust to cope with the demands of higher speeds.

Electric bikes can also weigh more than regular bikes, though you will often find that a top-end ebike can weigh the same or less than a pushbike.

All bikes require regular maintenance to keep them in good working condition and, because of the electronics, an ebike requires additional servicing – the most common being recharging the battery and replacing the battery periodically.

Is it worth getting an electric bike?

As with any significant investment, it’s important to weigh up the amount that you’ll be using your new bike vs the cost of buying it.

With ebikes, it’s also worth factoring in the savings you’ll make if, for example, you use your bike to replace a car or journeys on trains or buses.

For many people an electric bike gives them a whole new lease of life, allowing them to enjoy a leisure activity that they would otherwise find impossible to do – 3-wheel electric bikes are great for seniors who struggle with stamina and balance, for example. Tricycles aren’t just for the kids!

How far can you go on electric bike?

With medium power assistance on a ride with average gradients, you can expect to get 20-40 miles from a good quality ebike on a single charge.

Some ebikes are able to achieve much more than this – some are capable of over 100 miles.

It’s worth bearing in mind that you can increase the range of your ebike by carrying an additional battery with you (effectively doubling your bike’s range).

You can also get more miles by cycling out in the morning, stopping for a lengthy restaurant lunch (and asking the owner if you can plug your battery in to top it up), then cycling back in the afternoon – certainly my preferred option!

Can you lose weight riding an electric bike?

Yes, you can lose fat and build muscle riding an electric bike!

If you’re swapping the time on the couch, or car commuting, for electric bike riding then you’ll be burning more calories, increasing your stamina, and improving your mental health.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that the more pedal-assist you use, the less physical benefit you’ll get from your bike rides.

So, to get maximum benefit only use as much electric power as you really need to get you through the bike ride and finish with a little ‘gas in the tank’ of your legs.

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How much do electric bikes cost?

Electric bike prices vary considerably from budget models at around $600 up to the highest specification ebikes that cost $12,000 or more.

The average you should expect to pay for a good quality ebike for everyday use is in the region of $900-$3000.

The good news is that prices continue to come down as more and more companies launch new ranges of electric bikes.

Up until a few years ago, electric bikes for under 1000 dollars were generally best avoided, now many sub-$1k ebikes are highly recommended!

What is the cheapest electric bike in the market?

If you’re looking for one of the cheapest electric bikes on the market, that’s backed by one of the biggest and best names in the world of ebikes, then it’s worth taking a close look at the RadMission 1 from Rad Power Bikes.

True, you’ll find cheaper bikes, some as low as 500 bucks or less.

Trouble is, these are likely to be built from cheaper components, using less-powerful batteries that won’t take you far, and sold by companies that may not take after-sales support as importantly as you’d like.

The cheapest ebikes might also be sold “here today, gone tomorrow” companies – and that’s an issue when you need to source replacement components, such as batteries.

Can I charge electric bike at home?

Yes – you can definitely charge your ebike battery at home!

Unlike electric cars, which often require a special charging facility, ebike batteries can be charged from a standard household power socket.

E-bike batteries can either be charged whilst fitted to your bike, or by detaching the battery from your bike frame, depending on your bike model. On many newer model ebikes you can choose either option.

Your ebike will normally be shipped with a charging device – plug one end into your household power socket and the other end into the socket on the ebike/battery. Check the manufacturer’s instruction manual for the specifics for your bike.

Electric bike batteries cannot be charged up by pedaling – they have to be connected to a household power socket to charge them up.

If you’re wondering how much it costs to charge an ebike battery, then I’ve got some great news: it’s only about $18 per year! And that’s if you’re charging your bike battery 5 days a week!

How long do electric bike batteries last?

A good rule of thumb is that an ebike battery should last between 3 to 5 years.

Lithium batteries, the type that are most commonly used for ebikes, are measured in terms of the number of ‘charge cycles’ i.e. how the battery is discharged to a low level and then fully re-charged.

The batteries used for good quality electric bikes will usually be able to withstand between 500 – 800 charge cycles, before their performance starts to deteriorate with a loss of power and more frequent re-charging needed.

After that you will need to buy a replacement battery for your ebike.

Replacement ebike batteries generally cost between $400 – $500 and it is a good idea to buy these from the bike manufacturer to ensure compatibility with your ebike electronics.

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Buying guide to electric bikes

Ok, we’ve taken a look at some of the initial questions that people have about ebikes.

Now, let’s do a deep dive into the specific factors that you need to consider when you’re choosing the electric bike that’s right for you and your riding.

What are the things you need to know before buying an electric bike?

What should you look for in a new ebike? (and what should you avoid!)

1. Battery life

An average ebike battery should last for between three and five years before it will start to lose power and require more frequent charging.

When an ebike battery gets to the end of its life and its performance begins to deteriorate you will need to purchase a replacement – the cost of a new battery is usually in the region of 400 to 500 dollars.

You should charge your ebike battery with the charger supplied by the bike manufacturer according to their instructions.

Modern ebike battery chargers generally have a safety cut-out which stops the battery from overcharging.

It is good practice to detach the battery from the charger once it is fully charged and not leave it charging overnight.

2. Speed

The top speed of electric bikes is often set to a maximum level and this will depend on the country and the bike type.

In the US, there are three classes of ebikes, with maximum speeds as follows:
Class 1 (pedal-assist only, no throttle) 20mph
Class 2 (throttle-assist) 20mph
Class 3 (pedal-assist only) 28mph

In the EU and the UK, ebikes are limited to 25kph or 15.5mph.

There are many electric bikes which have faster advertised speeds than these figures, however these will only be suitable for off-road use.

In practice, the actual speed that you will be achieve on an ebike (whether it is 1000W, 500W, or 250W) will depend on a number of factors, including the combined weight of the rider and any cargo, the gradient of the trails or roads being cycled on, and the smoothness of the trail surface.

Many ebikes are actually capable of speeds in excess of the maximum and these tend to be capped electronically to bring the bikes within legal limits.

Some riders choose to remove the speed limited through various means, however this is not recommended as the bike may then become illegal to use, a danger to other road or trail users, and will cause faster wear to bike components and battery life.

3. Price

A good quality electric bicycle will cost between 900 to 3000 US dollars.

The cheapest electric bikes are priced much lower than this, with some being in the region of $200 – $300.

However, these cheap ebikes are likely to use cheaper less durable components in either the bike and/or the electronics.

They may also be sold by retailers who do not provide good after-sales support.

That said, ebikes of just up to $1,000 are becoming much higher quality – check out some the Rad Power Bikes range for great ebikes such as the RadMission 1.

Electric bikes of between $1,000-$2,000 are very popular, with a wide range to choose from and with excellent components on the bike and great quality motors and batteries.

Over $2,000 and ebikes get better and better electronics (more powerful motors and longer-lasting batteries) and lighter bike frames.

4. Brands

There are many great company names in electric bikes and we’ll take a look at the top ebike brands in a moment.

Given the global nature of the industry, it’s unlikely that any electric bikes will be solely manufactured in the US, or any other single country.

Sure, many cheaper ebikes are sourced direct from the lowest cost suppliers in countries where workers are paid minimal wages.

But, what the best ebike brands tend to do is select top quality components from the top manufacturers, wherever they’re based in the world – Samsung batteries from Korea, Bosch motors from Germany, etc.

Here is a rundown of some of the top ebike brands to look out for right now:

Highly regarded US bike manufacturer, known for its premium ranges of eMTBs and electric road bikes.

Headquartered in Germany, Northern Europe, GHOST-Bikes began with a hardtail mountain bike names after Hannibal Lecter. Some fava beans and a nice glass of Chianti later and they have a full range of ebikes, from mountain bikes to city and trekking bikes.

Designed and engineered in Germany, CUBE’s 400+ model range includes hardtail and full-suspension eMTBs plus electric hybrid bikes for touring and city commuting.

Women’s specific bike company, backed by the might of Giant bikes. Liv have a great range of ebikes including eMTBs, electric fitness bike and e-adventure bikes.

Part of the Trek and Bontrager family of brands, Electra love the laidback style of recreation bikes and have a fun range of commuter and cruiser ebikes.

Rad Power Bikes
North America’s biggest ebike company, Rad have an excellent range of bikes for cargo-carrying to city commuting to off-road riding. Many of the bikes can also be folded to easily store in tight spaces.

One of the new kids on the block, Vvolt is the sister brand of Oregon-based cycling apparel company, Showers Pass. Their aim is for virtually maintenance-free ebikes and they have some exciting electric vehicles in their future plans.

A great core range of ebikes from Ride1UP at fantastic prices, with many of the ebikes having hidden batteries giving sleek lines and a theft deterrent.

Manufacturing bikes for nearly 50 years, Trek now offer a full range of ebikes from city and recreational electric bikes to top-flight eMTB and e-Road bikes.

5. Type

There are a wide range of different types of electric bicycle to suit whatever style of riding you plan to do, these include:

Electric hardtail mountain bikes (also called front suspension mountain bikes) – lightweight entry-level option for trail riding
Electric full-suspension mountain bikes – for those looking to tackle the gnarliest of downhill trails
Electric cruiser bikes (also called recreational bikes) – perfect for beach trips
Electric hybrid bikes (also called fitness bikes) – a great all-rounder for many cyclists
Electric road bikes (also called racer bikes) – sleek lines and skinny tires
Electric touring bikes – with racks or rack fixings pre-fitted for cargo carrying
Electric folding bikes – pack away for easy storage
Electric commuter bikes – dodge rush hour traffic and arrive at the office sweat-free
Electric fat tire bikes – very wide tires (4”+) for smooth travel over soft surfaces like sand or snow
Electric hunting bikesebikes are a great hunting transport option to approach stands with none of the noise or smell that come with an SUV

In the US, there are also different Classes of ebike (which can be any of the different types of bike above):

Class 1 electric bikes are pedal-assist only and limited to 20mph
Class 2 electric bikes are throttle-assist and limited to 20mph
Class 3 (sometimes referred to as ‘Type 3’) electric bikes are pedal-assist only and limited to 28mph

Modern ebike batteries all tend to be Lithium and the batteries are sometimes mounted to the exterior of the bike (for example on the down tube or on the rear pannier rack) or are integrated into the bike frame (generally inside the down tube).

Having a bike with the battery placed lower down (i.e. in/on the down tube vs on the pannier rack) can improve stability as the weight is closer to the ground.

Electric bike motors are generally placed in one of two positions (on the rear wheel hub or mid-drive at the crank).

Motors can also be on the front wheel (many ebike conversion kits use this position) or on both the front and rear wheel hubs (normally this is found only on very high torque off-road hunting ebikes).

6. Distance

Looking for the best ebike for distance travel? Then the R22 Everest from Optibike in Colorado is worth considering with up to a 300-mile range.

If you’ve been trying to research how far an ebike can go…and not getting a straight answer…then there’s a good reason for that.

It’s because, whether you have a 1000W battery or a 250W battery, the actual distance that the battery can propel you along for depends on many different factors, including the weight of the bike, the rider and any cargo; the smoothness of the terrain; the steepness of the gradient; and whether you’re having to constantly brake for traffic or corners and then accelerate away.

Electric bikes don’t charge the battery when you pedal, however a few bikes are now starting to offer regenerative braking. This means that when you pull the brake levers the kinetic energy is changed into a top-up for your bike battery rather than heating up the brake pads.

7. Wattage

The best electric bike wattage depends on a number of factors (including what you intend to use it for, and where you intend to ride), it can also be limited to a maximum amount by law depending on what country you are in.

In the UK and EU, for example, 250 watts is the maximum power permitted for an ebike.

In general, the higher the number of Watts (250 Watt vs 500 Watt vs 750 Watt) the electric bike, the more torque it will have and the better it will be able to climb hills.

For city commuting and recreational riding, a 250W electric motor will normally be sufficient.

For intermediate trail riding or hillier commutes, choose a 500W motor.

For steep trail riding on a full-suspension eMTB, soft sand or snow on a fat tire ebike, or hauling large amounts of cargo (for example carrying deer and gear from a hunting trip) go with a 750W or even 1000W electric motor.

8. Maintenance

In general, electric bikes require the same amount of regular and annual maintenance as standard bikes.

This will include:

Before every ride – check tires are pumped up and free of damage, check brakes operate correctly, steering works normally and saddle is set to the correct height
After riding in the rain – dry your bike down with an old towel and apply chain lube
Once a month – apply a bike lube, such as Finish Line Wet or Rock N Roll Gold (or Muc Off Dry Lube, one of the best chain lubes for dry dusty conditions) to the chain and derailleurs
Annually (or more frequently if you use your ebike daily) – replace worn tires, brake pads and other components

Electric bikes are normally not high maintenance, although you will need to factor in replacing tires, tubes and brake pads more frequently than a regular bike due to the higher speeds you may be traveling at and the more aggressive braking.

Ebike batteries also need to be replaced every three to five years, depending on the frequency of battery charging (which also depends on the weekly mileage you do).

It’s worth getting a professional service carried out on your bike annually, this should be a similar price to what you’d normally have for a regular bike in your area.

If you want to carry out e-bike servicing for yourself, then it’s worth getting a repair stand (which holds your bike in the air for easier maintenance), a copy of the manufacturer’s assembly/maintenance instructions, and a good quality bike repair book.

9. Gears

Unlike regular bikes, most electric bikes don’t have gears.

Instead they rely on the electric motor and battery to give the power to climb hills easily and the acceleration to zip along roads and trails with less effort.

That’s great because it means that you don’t need to work out how to change gears.

You also don’t need to worry about maintaining troublesome gear derailleur mechanisms.

If you ride an ebike WITH gears, then you operate them in the same way as on a standard bike – downshift to a lower gear for starting off / accelerating / climbing and the shift to a higher gear for cruising at the same speed or going downhill.

10. Shipping, Payment and Returns

When you’re looking to buy an ebike, it’s worthwhile going for a bike from a reputable company which handles shipping, payments and returns in a professional manner.

Some bike companies try and cut corners (and add to their profits) by shipping ebikes in the smallest box possible, therefore requiring the bike to be more disassembled for transit.

Look out for companies that pride themselves on shipping ebikes that are almost fully assembled as this gives you less work to do and doesn’t require you to be a bike mechanic! (Rad Power and Vvolt are names to look out for here).

Check the small print on ebike websites when you’re buying bikes from overseas as some will pass customs fees on to buyers and charge for returning bikes – both of which can be significant sums.

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We get a lot of questions about ebikes and I though it would be useful to round these up in a FAQ section:

Do you have to constantly pedal an electric bike?

No – you can freewheel on all modern ebikes, riding without pedaling, just like you would on a regular bike.

In fact the only type of bikes that you can’t freewheel on are known as ‘fixies’ or track bikes – these are very specialist types of bike and never come with electric motors.

How do you ride an electric bike for the first time?

The best way to start is to find an area of smooth, level ground without any obstructions – an empty carpark or large backyard is ideal.

Turn the bike on (you might need to use the key for this) and dial the power down to the minimum assistance.

Get on and start pedaling – you might find it take a little while to get used to the bike handling if it is heavier than a regular bike.

Once you’re comfortable with cycling at minimum assistance level, turn the power up a notch and see how it feels – you’ll likely feel as if you have a slight tailwind gently pushing you along.

Repeat this process (get comfortable cycling – turn the power up a notch – get comfortable again – turn up another notch) until you get comfortable cycling the bike at the maximum power setting.

When you’re ready try out the bike on trails, roads and parks (wherever you plan on doing your cycling) – pick quiet areas and times of day first and start with lower power levels before building up as your confidence grows.

Is it hard to pedal an electric bike?

In general, it’s easier to pedal an ebike than it is to pedal a regular bike over the same terrain.

You can make it even easier by turning the power setting up till you hit the max power.

Do I need gears on my electric bike?

No, you don’t need gears because the electric motor does all the heavy lifting for you.

Should I charge my ebike after every ride?

It depends on the specific battery (so always read the manufacturer’s instructions that come with the bike.

However, as a general rule of thumb, you don’t need to charge the battery after every ride.

You only need to charge it when the battery level drops to around 30%.

Bear in mind that when you first start using a new ebike, you may need to charge the battery fully after every ride – this is called ‘balancing the battery’ and will be covered off in the manufacturer’s instruction manual.

Can electric bikes go up steep hills?

All ebikes will be able to take you up steep hills easier than you could do on a regular bike.

For better hill climbing ability, look for ebikes with higher torque (a measure of the turning force on the bike wheels).

Can you use electric bikes in the rain?

It all depends on the bike, though most modern ebikes are designed to withstand a moderate amount of rain – check the manufacturer’s instruction manual for your ebike.

Are e-bikes faster than normal bikes?

Depending on which country you live in there may be a maximum permitted speed for ebikes – 15.5mph in the UK and EU, 20mph or 28mph (depending on the Class) in the US.

Higher than these speeds and the electric motor will stop providing assistance.

Bear in mind that, just because the motor has stopped providing assistance, you could still pedal or freewheel the bike to higher speeds.

So, ebikes aren’t necessarily faster than normal bikes, but they do allow you to cycle along at up to these maximum speeds more easily than on a normal bike.

Why are electric bikes limited to 15 mph?

In the UK, ebikes are limited to a maximum speed of 15.5mph on roads.

At higher speeds than this they would be re-classified as motorbikes and you would then be required to pay road tax and have insurance.

How do electric bikes work?

E-bikes have an electric motor and battery that give a boost of power to help you pedal along more easily. The motor is activated either when you turn the pedals or twist a throttle.

Why do electric bikes have fat tires?

Some ebikes have fat tires (up to 4”+ wide) and these make it easier to cycle on soft surfaces, such as sand or snow, without sinking in.

A regular bike with fat tires is quite hard to pedal as the wider tires have more ‘rolling resistance’.

The electric motor on an ebike compensates for this, giving a boost of power to offset the extra resistance of the wide tires.

Do electric bikes go without pedaling?

Electric bikes with throttle-assist (Class 2 ebikes in the US) can go without pedaling.
Pedal-assist ebikes require you to turn the pedals continually in order to engage the motor.

However some pedal-assist ebikes also have a walk-assist feature – this has a throttle which will propel the bike at up to walking space allowing you to easily push the bike along and walk beside it.

What gear should you be in going uphill electric bike?

If your ebike has gears, then you should choose a lower gear (by downshifting) to climb up hills more easily.

When you reach the top of the hill you can upshift to a higher gear for flat terrain and going downhill.

Are electric bikes a good form of exercise?

Electric bikes can be a great form of exercise!

Especially when you use them to replace activities such as driving in the car to the office or the grocery store, or just sitting on the couch watching the TV.

But, remember, the more you rely on the ebike motor to do the work for you, the less exercise benefit you’ll get – so it’s worth dialling the power down a notch or two unless you really need it.

What is it like riding an electric bike?

What’s it like riding an ebike? So. Much. Fun.

How slow can an e-bike go?

You can go as slow on an ebike as you would on a regular bike.

Riding an ebike is like having a gentle tailwind pushing you along – use less power till you get your confidence and then dial it up once you’ve got used to it.

Do all electric bikes have a throttle?

No – some bikes don’t have a throttle at all (Class 1 bikes in the US, for example) and just have pedal-assist – so you turn the pedals to get the motor to operate.

Other bikes (Class 2 in the US) only have a throttle – you just twist and go without having to pedal at all.

In the UK, and many other countries, ebikes are only allowed to be pedal-assist and don’t have a throttle.

What is the difference between a Class 2 and Class 3 electric bike?

A Class 2 ebike uses throttle-assist only and can power the bike to a maximum of 20mph.

A Class 3 uses pedal-assist only and can power the bike to a maximum of 28mph.

How do you turn a regular bike into a motorized bike?

The best way to turn a regular bike into a motorized bike is by fitting an ebike conversion kit.

This normally comprises a battery, replacement front wheel with a hub-drive motor fitted, controller and wiring.

Bear in mind that regular bikes aren’t necessarily designed to handle the extra forces generated by an electric motor, however, and this may cause faster wear and tear on brakes, wheels, and the frame.

With the number of good quality affordable ebikes now available it’s worth considering swapping your regular bike for an ebike, instead of converting it.

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Like any industry, the ebike universe is filled with jargon and technical terms, which seem designed to confuse and befuddle the best of us.

Here’s a handy guide to some of the most common terms you’ll come across when you’re looking at electric bikes:

Class 1 ebike

An electric bike that uses pedal-assist to engage the motor and is limited to 20mph.

Class 2 ebike

An electric bike that uses throttle-assist to engage the motor and is limited to 20mph.

Class 3 ebike

An electric bike that uses pedal-assist to engage the motor and is limited to 28mph.

Electric beach cruiser bike

An electric bike that has a laidback frame design, often big balloon tires and bright colors and is great for trips to the beach whilst carrying a cooler full of sodas and possibly a surfboard.

Electric commuter bike

An electric bike with an upright frame, possibly a rear rack for your work gear and laptop and is perfect for zipping passed bleary-eyed rush hour commuter stuck in their gas-guzzling metal boxes.

Electric hybrid bike

An electric bike that is a great all-rounder – designed for a little of everything, this bike will give you a boost of power on family park rides, grocery store trips, and light duty trail rides.

Electric mountain bike (or eMTB)

An electric bike that is made for the mountains, at home on steep rocky ascents, and gnarly descents. Comes in two flavors: hardtail and full-suspension.

Electric road bike

Sleek and smooth, with skinny tires, this electric bike is designed to zip along pavement and roads bearing spandex-clad riders.

Electric touring bike

Touring on a regular bike is tough but fun. Touring on an electric touring bike is just…fun. All the enjoyment of seeing the sights, but with less of the leg pain.

Fat tire ebike

An electric bike that laughs at snow, sand, and other soft surfaces, gliding over them with ease.

Folding ebike

An ebike that’s designed for storage in small spaces – in your closet, under your office desk, in the trunk. No problem with an electric folding bike.

Front suspension mountain bike

A mountain bike with front forks that soak up bumps in the road. AKA a hardtail mountain bike.

Front hub drive ebike

An ebike that has an electric motor in the central hub of the front wheel.

Rear hub drive ebike

An ebikes that has an electric motor in the central hub of the rear wheel (more common than a front hub drive ebike).

Mid drive ebike

An ebike that has the electric motor positioned inside the crank (where the pedal arms fit) – common on many mountain bikes.

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