How to Choose the Perfect Electric Bike: Intro
Welcome to our six part video series on choosing the perfect electric bike. The purpose for this Video Series is to help you make an informed choice with the basic understanding needed for buying an E Bike, so that you are not misled.
There is a huge variation in quality and performance of E Bikes on the market today. In order to be able to buy a bike that fits your needs there is some basic terminology you need to understand. Armed with the information in this video series, you will be able to determine which bike is best for you.
In this video series we cover the topics below.
- Batteries: the ‘key’ to understanding electric bike batteries and how much power is needed;
- Motor and Power: how to compare these and what it means to you;
- True Range: how to determine true range of an E-bike;
- How to make sure the e bike will fit vs: a conventional bike fit;
- Women and Men: the differences in their Electric bike needs.
Chapter 1: 5 Factors in Choosing an E-Bike
Everyone has different needs when selecting an electric bicycle. There are 5 key factors that will affect the brand and type of electric bike you need.
Depending on your riding needs you will need a different size electric bicycle motor, battery and frame design. How often you ride your electric bike will also determine the quality you need and ultimately the price you will need to pay.
As well as your weight and how it affects motor and battery choice as well as frame design.
- Terrain – The terrain you ride on will affect the size of the battery and the motor needed. You need bigger electric bike motors and batteries if your terrain is hilly versus flat.
- Distance – affects the size of battery chosen.
- Speed you want to travel –speed is very important for a decision on power, battery, and motor chosen.
- Budget and quality – How often will you ride? Just getting started, or riding 150 miles a week? Entry level e bikes are a great value, but if you ride a lot, they will wear out quickly.
Chapter 2: How to Compare Batteries
The battery in an Ebike is like the gas tank in your car. Learn the new terminology of electric bike batteries and be able to compare batteries on different bikes. Batteries are the gas tanks of e bikes.
- The ‘key’ to battery energy is the size of the battery in Watt Hours.
- You will hear and see other terms like: Volts (or V)… Amp Hours (or Ah)… Watt Hours (or Wh)…
- The formula to understand is Watt Hours is: Volts x Amp Hours = Watt Hours.
- So, when buying an e bike look for Watt Hours, not just Amp Hours. The Watt Hours tell the total size of the gas tank of the bike.
Chapter 3: How to Compare Motors and Power
There are many types and sizes of electric bike motors. With e bikes, motors are rated in watts, rather than horsepower like car motors.
- Power in an E bike is measured in Watts (or W).
- Torque is the ability to turn the pedals and accelerate off a stop, or to pass someone.
- Power is torque x rpm, which equals the ability to go up hills.
- HUB Motors: hub motors drive the wheel directly, and are usually mounted on the back wheel.
- Mid Drive Motors: go through the gear system and use it, and this motor is in the crank between the pedals. Because the mid drive goes through the gear system it changes the torque so you can accelerate up hills and navigate variable terrain.
- HUB Motors are restrictive and inefficient on hills or variable terrain, they overheat and lose power. They are better for flat consistent terrain.
- Mid Drive Motors have greater ability for climbing big hills.
Chapter 4: How to Determine the True Range
The EPA lists a standard MPG for cars, but there is no such standard for the e bike industry. Every manufacturer of e bikes can list what they want, without any testing.
When choosing an e bike look carefully at the range declared. Range varies greatly with speed ridden. It takes twice as much battery size to travel at 21 MPH as it does at 15MPH.
To determine the range that is declared for any e bike model, include the following factors:
- Battery size in Watt-hours
- Speed – know how fast you want to travel,
- Terrain- terrain affects range,
- Weight – size affects range,
- Motor type – Hub, or mid-drive.
It’s important to think about these factors before you buy so you won’t be misled.
Chapter 5: How to Make Sure the Bike Will Fit
In a conventional bike or race bicycle the factors for fitting are different than an electric bike.
In a conventional bike people size up for perfect leg power, light weight, and a forward position, all for maximum efficiency.
For an e bike this is not as critical because the choice is for comfort instead. What was true for conventional bikes is not true for e bikes, so choices instead are made for:
- Easy off and on,
- A handlebar position for either an upright position or forward,
- A seat that is lower for less strain on knees and hips.
- More reliability and safety.
Chapter 6: Differences between Men and Women
Men and Women often have very different needs in an electric bicycle. What is the perfect electric bike for the man, may be a terrible fit for the women. And not everyone needs the same amount of power.
Example: A 250 lb. person needs twice the power to go up a hill at the same speed as a 120 lb. person.
Someone with a delicate or bad knee, or difficult hip, needs more power than someone who is fit.
The ‘key’ is to see who you really are because one size doesn’t fit all – and then to find an e bike that matches to your needs for all factors involved.