What specification of E-Bike do I need? Or put another way how much should I SPEND?
OK, make a coffee and read on…
Bikes have major components that come together to give you your overall riding experience.
The design and manufacturing quality of the bike are also very important as they affect not only the riding experience but the whole OWNERSHIP experience including aesthetics and life expectancy/reparability.
Most of the cheapest bikes (and some of the expensive ones!!!) come from China and the Far East. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you know what you are getting; basic design and quality that’s built to a price.
EUROPEAN bikes tend to have more consideration given to ergonomics and functionality of design and the smaller manufacturers have more ownership over the quality and service back-up.
Lets look at some of the components in more detail
Here we look at design, materials and quality.
Cheaper bikes can have steel frames which are heavier and can rust but most frames are made from aluminium now and are all of pretty acceptable quality.
On more expensive bikes, better design costs more to make but is worth-it for its stiffness, light weight and functionality.
Look for things like quality of the welds and paint quality and things like sliding drop-outs. They will tell you that the frame has been designed and made to a quality and not a price!
Especially in step-through frames, the stiffness and weight determines the ride experience, it can easily be felt when bikes from different price ranges are ridden together.
Again this is fine if you are aware of the REASON one bike is cheaper than another.
The same principle applies except they are easier to change.
They fall into 3 broad groups: rigid, coil spring and air spring and prices range from £30 to £1500+! Make sure you know the difference and just as always decide what you need them to do and how much comfort you can afford. There’s no point in paying for what you don’t need but you’ll kick yourself if you make the wrong choice.
SADLY the bike manufacturers are clever at making money so BUNDLE some things you need and don’t really need together to make you buy a more expensive bike!
Again there are choices but not wrong ones if you know what’s important to you.
Perhaps the most important is the type of gear, standard derailleur where the chain moves up and down the external cogs. Hub gears where this mechanism is internal in the hub and continuous-variable transmission.
Possibly the most important factor is how easy is it to change gear but as you get more experienced with your bike …things like ratios and ease of maintenance become factors. Electronic and fully automatic gear systems are becoming more main-stream now at the high-end.
More expensive gears give you more ratios (‘speeds’) and snappier changes. You can spend a LOT of money on high specification gears.
Cable or hydraulic, disc or rim?
Things like drum brakes and back-pedal (coaster) brakes should ring alarm bells .. they are not usual on UK spec. bikes and to be honest a bit of an acquired taste!
Again, it depends how much riding you will do and under which conditions.
A rim brake or cable operated disc bike is a cheap option if you don’t think you will often ride in wet and muddy conditions.
Hubs, wheels, tyres, handlebars stems, saddles, seatposts, pedals, lights, rack…..
Here are areas where manufacturers also sometimes try and save money. Some are important, others less so and all can be changed to a lesser or greater extent.
Motor and Battery
Together these form the foundation of your bike’s performance. Commonly used motors are listed below
- Shimano Steps
- Panasonic (2019)
For the motor, the most important thing is that it does what YOU need! Before we get into engineering, ask yourself what you need from your bike and how much you can afford or want to spend. DON’T buy on price, at least without discussing with a specialist trying all the different options.
Hub motors have simple control systems and deliver a fixed amount of help depending on the level you set on the display.
Crank motors are more interactive and deliver variable amounts of power depending on both what you set and the steepness of the hill.
In summary: Crank motors give a more authentic feel to an experienced rider and generally better hill-climbing (not always!)
Warning: Not all motors are the same. They deliver different amounts of TORQUE. Torque can be simplified as “hill climbing ability” or “How steep the hill can get before the motor runs out of puff”. Higher torque= higher price, heavier, noisier and more battery use …. so choose well according to your needs.
Note also that higher torque on paper doesn’t always mean a better ride!!
That’s why we use the BAFANG motor in all our bikes. It has the highest torque on paper but also we believe delivers the best all-round riding experience.
That’s a whole another story…come and talk to us…and don’t be led by the name on the downtube!!!