Which is the Best Electric Bike for Me
Today’s e-bikes are lighter, easier to ride and have better battery capacity than previous-generation models. They are more practical and available in a wide range of types and styles. You can find an e-bike for city commuting to long-distance road-tripping. You can even find electric mountain bikes (eMTBs) for off-roading and cargo e-bikes designed to transport heavy loads.
If you are considering getting an electric bike, we have several models available at Upway. Check out our detailed guide to learn about each type of electric bike and how to find the right e-bike for your needs.
Understanding Your E-Bike Needs
If you are purchasing your first electric bike, one of the most important factors to consider is your riding needs. Most electric bikes fit into five broad categories. They include city commuters, electric mountain bikes, road e-bikes, cargo e-bikes and folding electric bikes.
City commuters, also known as city electric bikes, urban e-bikes or hybrid e-bikes, are primarily designed for riding in cities and urban environments. City e-bikes are intended for daily rides and typically feature high handlebars and a soft saddle. Many city e-bike models feature small cargo baskets, luggage racks, a child seat or mounting points to install your own.
While city e-bikes have lower battery capacity than other e-bike types, the lighter batteries help keep the bike’s overall weight down, improving maneuverability. Most electric bike manufacturers have at least one city commuter model in their lineup.
Electric Mountain Bikes (eMTBs)
An electric mountain bike (eMTB) is an e-bike designed for trail and off-road applications. The most common feature of eMTBs is their wide, knobbly tires, ideal for riding on dirt, sand, gravel, mud, grass and numerous other surfaces.
In addition to offroad tires, eMTBs may have features to facilitate sport cycling away from the beaten path. For example, numerous eMTB models, such as the Giant Trance X E+ 3Pro, feature high-torque electric motors, giving your e-bike the extra power to climb the steepest hills.
Many eMTBs come equipped with full-suspension systems. They typically have a suspension fork over the front tire and shock absorbers above the rear tires, similar to a rally car’s coilover suspensions. Full-suspension systems are ideal for tackling rough trails and unfriendly terrain without causing undue wear and tear.
Road Electric Bikes
Although they may look similar to standard city commuters, road electric bikes are engineered for sport or long-distance rides. They are ideal for long road trips, fitness cycling or keeping yourself active during the weekend.
Due to their focus on sport, road e-bikes generally feature lightweight and aerodynamic designs, with low handlebars and narrow tires. Depending on the type of tire fitted, a road e-bike may be exclusively intended for asphalt surfaces or mixed-surface capabilities.
Cargo Electric Bikes
Cargo e-bikes are unique electric bikes designed to let riders transport heavy loads. While they are similar to traditional cargo bicycles, which have existed since the early 20th century, cargo electric bikes offer numerous advantages over their unpowered counterparts.
Cargo electric bikes leverage high-powered electric motors, high-capacity batteries and electric assist systems to allow a single rider to transport hundreds of pounds of cargo. For example, the Urban Arrow Business Cargo comes with a high-capacity cargo box rated at up to 770 lbs.
A cargo e-bike can be an excellent choice for running errands like grocery shopping, giving you an eco-friendly alternative to the car. Some models also let you fit child seats inside the cargo compartment, making them ideal for bringing young kids on a weekend ride.
If you are a business owner, cargo e-bikes are 100% emissions-free vehicles with numerous applications. Examples include last-mile package delivery, passenger transportation, mobile street shops and event promotions.
Folding Electric Bikes
A folding electric bike combines a city commuter’s practicality and lightweight design with the convenience of a folding mechanism. With a folding e-bike, you can ride anywhere a standard e-bike can then fold it into a compact shape when you’ve reached your destination.
Folding electric bikes are ideal for riders with limited space or those who want a more convenient solution for charging or storing an e-bike. When deployed, a folding e-bike is as agile and easy to ride as its non-folding counterparts, meaning you retain all the basic functionalities of a typical city commuter.
For example, if you regularly use public transportation to commute to work, you can use a folding e-bike like the Gocycle GS or Brompton Electric Bike to get to a station, fold it while riding the train, finish the trip on your e-bike and then store it at work.
E-Bike Features to Consider
Electric bikes come with many specifications, features and functions. Here’s what you need to know to find the perfect e-bike for your riding needs.
Electric Assistance Type
The main benefit of riding an electric bike is access to the electric assistance mode. This feature allows you to ride over longer distances without becoming fatigued. Electric assistance is also eco-friendly; you can go faster than on a regular bicycle without burning fuel or emitting toxic exhaust gases.
Two electric assistance systems are available on most e-bikes: pedal and throttle assist.
- Pedal assist: An e-bike with a pedal assist system senses how fast you are pedaling and draws a proportional amount of battery power to boost your pedaling. It allows you to reach and maintain the desired speed with less effort than on a regular bicycle, reducing riding fatigue.
Most e-bikes come with multiple modes, allowing you to adjust how much power the pedal assist system draws from the battery. Economy modes provide minimal assistance to extend your range. Sport or high-performance modes maximize electric power to prioritize speed.
- Throttle assist: E-bikes with throttle assist feature a twistable throttle, similar to a motorcycle’s gas throttle. When turned on, the motor draws power from the battery and sends it directly to your wheels, eliminating the need to pedal to gain speed. It allows you to ride your e-bike nearly effortlessly, making it ideal for casual or leisurely rides.
Electric Motor Power
All e-bikes feature an electric motor, which draws energy from the batteries and transmits it to one or both of your wheels. Like a car or motorcycle engine, the two numbers to look for are power, measured in watts (W), and torque, measured in Newton meters (Nm).
- Motor power: The number of watts on an e-bike motor represents its maximum power output. The higher the watts, the more powerful the motor. High-powered motors can help e-bikes reach their top speed more easily, support higher cargo loads and ensure electric assistance works on all terrain types.
- Motor torque: The torque of an e-bike motor represents its acceleration capabilities. The more Nm an electric motor outputs, the harder it can accelerate. E-bikes with high-torque motors accelerate more quickly, ride up steep hills more easily and are generally more agile and responsive.
Generally, the higher the power and torque, the faster and more powerful your e-bike is. However, high-powered motors tend to be larger and heavier, increasing your e-bike’s overall weight. They may also drain your battery more quickly, reducing its maximum range.
High-performance electric motors are most suitable for off-roading or cargo transportation, whereas lower-powered motors are ideal for daily commuting or long-distance cycling.
Battery Capacity and Range
How long an electric bike lasts depends on the battery’s capacity. An e-bike’s battery packs are similar to a car’s fuel tank: they contain the electrical energy that powers the assist features. Consequently, the larger the battery, the more range your e-bike has.
A battery’s capacity is measured in watt-hours (Wh). Your real-world range will vary depending on many factors: the e-bike’s weight, rider and cargo weight, level of electric assistance and terrain and weather conditions. However, Higher Wh values generally correlate with higher ranges.
For instance, a city e-bike with a 400 Wh battery and pedal assistance, such as the Giant Roam E+ STA, is rated to provide up to 34 miles on a single charge. A similar city e-bike with a larger 672 Wh battery, like the RadPower RadCity 4, can achieve up to 45 miles instead.
Most electric bikes come with a gearbox ranging from 3 to 14-speed. The more speeds (gears) your e-bike has, the more complex the gearbox and the higher its versatility.
E-bikes with fewer gears, such as the Specialized Turbo Como SL 4.0 and its 5-speed Shimano Nexus, are simpler, easier to use and cheaper to maintain. They are best suited for city commuting, helping keep your e-bike lightweight and easy to maintain.
If you’re looking for a more versatile e-bike, a gearbox with more speeds is more versatile. E-bikes like the Specialized Turbo Vado SL 4.0 feature an 11-speed Nimbus Sport, letting you find the most efficient gear for your current speed and terrain more easily, making it ideal for off-roading or hill climbing. However, these gearboxes are also more mechanically complex and require frequent maintenance.
Legal Considerations for Your Location
Maintaining an electric bike is essential to ensure it runs efficiently and lasts several years. While e-bikes are relatively low maintenance compared to traditional bicycles, they still require proper care to ensure longevity and optimal performance. When looking for an e-bike, maintenance considerations should include:
Choose an e-bike with a high-quality battery and ensure you’re comfortable with the charging routine. A removable battery can be more convenient as it allows for indoor charging and easy replacement.
Disc brakes are preferable due to their effective stopping power and ease of maintenance, which is crucial given the additional weight and speed of e-bikes. Know how to tighten the brakes on an electric bike to ensure they function properly.
Each e-bike has different tire sizes and tread types suited for different terrains and purposes. For example, the Aventon Sinch has 4” fat tires, improving ride comfort on most terrains.
E-bikes like the Trek Domane+ have narrow, semi-slick sport tires for maximum performance on asphalt. Use the tires on their intended surface and keep them inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure to minimize tire damage.
Find Your Perfect E-Bike at Upway
Understanding your needs, considering key features and factoring in maintenance considerations is essential for finding the right e-bike. Upway offers a range of affordable e-bikes at 60% off new prices from popular brands like Aventon, Benno, Haibike, Gazelle, and RadPower, making it a great place to start your e-bike journey.
With our generous warranty and rigorous 20-point inspection process, you can ride with confidence, knowing you’ve made a reliable and cost-effective choice. Explore Upway’s collection of affordable electric bikes and step into a world of eco-friendly biking.