The Ultimate Buying Guide for E-Bikes

Electric bikes - popularly called e-bikes - have taken the world by storm as of the last few years. While they aren’t anything new, having been used in China as early as the onset of the 2000s, recent advancements in technology have made today’s models far more impressive than previous options.

There are many reasons for buying an e-bike, such as living in a city where having a car is not a very viable option. We’re looking at you, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam. If the streets of your city are particularly narrow or the gas tax is far too high, then an e-bike would be an extraordinary choice.

E-bikes are particularly popular with older people, as most of the effort is taken away by the fact that they’re electric. No more pedalling! Well, not as much. It’s the perfect choice if you’re not quite in the physical shape that you used to be but don’t feel like giving up the joy of riding a bike.

These awesome contraptions aren’t just for older people, though. While they tend to have a certain stigma associated with them, we can say with utter certainty that e-bikes are great choices for people from all walks of life - especially those who have mobility issues like injuries.

All bike riders know how difficult it can be, for example, to ride up a steep hill, which can make you feel like you’re a watered-down version of Sisyphus. Biking against a strong wind is just as bad, making an outright herculean task.

You have a lot of things to consider if you’re thinking about buying an e-bike, though. First of all would be the cost, as e-bikes are not cheap at all, varying in price from about $600 to as much as $5,000.

You’ll also have to figure out whether or not you want to get an e-bike with a front, rear, or mid-hub motor, each of which have their own advantages. Mid-hub motor e-bikes are generally more expensive than their counterparts.

Which E-Bike Motor Should I Buy?

Electric bikes would be exactly the same as traditional ones were it not for a motor and battery. Most e-bikes are pedal-assisted, which means that the motor kicks in when the pedals start getting pushed. This makes it much easier to maintain momentum once you’ve started gaining some speed.

Motors can be placed in about three separate locations. That’s front-hub, rear-hub, and mid-hub, also called mid-drive.

Front-hub Motors

This type of motor is attached to the front fork of the front wheel and offers a good weight balance, as the battery is placed at the rear. The way that it functions is that it starts producing torque once you start cycling the pedals.

One of the primary advantages of a front-hub motor, besides providing balance, is that it’s relatively quiet when compared to a mid-hub one. You can also cycle backward! If that sounds like a weird advantage, then it’ll make sense in a minute.

Front-hub and rear-hub motors don’t require much maintenance at all, as they don’t make use of gears to function. They also don’t wear down the bike chain, either, as they power the wheel instead.

The cons of front-hub motors are that they can feel a bit weird before getting used to them. The front of the bike is heavier than the back, which can give you the impression that the motor is pulling you forward instead of pushing. On the other hand, this helps when pedalling uphill.

Rear-hub Motors

These motors are not so different from their front-hub cousins. Besides being placed on the rear-axle of the rear-end wheel, rear-hub motors are quiet, don’t require maintenance, and get going once you properly start pedalling.

Rear-hub motors don’t pull you forward like front-hub ones but instead provide a natural pushing sensation much more reminiscent of traditional biking. A downside is that you need a custom rear wheel that can hold the motor, so replacing it if it’s gone bad can be a difficult and possibly costly venture.

Mid-hub Motors

The big dogs of the e-bike world. Mid-hub motors are generally more expensive than the other two types yet offer their own distinct advantages. The weight distribution of the bike, to start off, is much more balanced, making it easier to use and carry.

Since the motors aren’t affixed to any of the wheels, it means that replacing them is significantly easier. You can therefore customize your wheel setup in any way you desire, giving you a breadth of diversity.

The main disadvantage of a mid-hub motor is that the drive chain can get worn out over time and will thus require a replacement. That is, of course, besides the cost. To make matters worse, you cannot pedal backward when using a mid-hub motor, as the crank is decoupled from it by a one-way clutch.

What E-Bike Battery Size Do I Need?

Not all batteries are the same. They run out at one point, which means you might want a larger battery if you’re planning long trips. Most are measured in Watt-hours (Wh) and generally range between 300 to 600Wh on average.

Your typical battery takes about five to six hours to fully charge and can last for as much as between 22-50 miles. That’s more than enough to pedal your way to work or the grocery store and back - several times!

A well-kept e-bike battery can last approximately 3 to 5 years. Battery maintenance primarily consists of keeping it in a dry place that is protected from temperature fluctuations, which can greatly damage and reduce its overall capacity.

Our recommendation would be to abstain from fully charging your battery unless you’re going to make use of the energy directly afterward. Almost all types of batteries degrade over time if fully charged (and even without), so keeping your battery between 40%-80% is a much better idea.

3 Great E-Bikes for Beginners and Hobbyists

Deciding on your very first E-Bike can be quite difficult. We’ve put together a small list of the most relevant e-bikes you might want to take a look at before making your decision. We haven’t gone into much detail, so we recommend you do your own, separate research for more information.

Classic LS Foldable 2021 E-Bike | GreenBike

The GreenBike Classic LS Electric Bike is a solid and affordable model that features a lightweight aluminum alloy folding frame, which makes it easy to carry and store. That is when compared to other e-bikes, which tend to be quite heavy.

It has a 350 Watt rear-hub motor that provides enough power to really give you a boost when cycling, being able to reach peaks of up to 500W.

  • Price Tag: $1,250.00
  • Motor: 350-500W, rear-hub.
  • Battery: 36 Volt 10.6 Ah.
  • Charge Time: 5 hours.
  • Total Weight: 56 lbs.

Big Dog Offroad E-Bike 2021 | GreenBike

The GreenBike Electric Motion Big Dog Off-Road Fat Tire Foldable Electric Bike (what a name!) is a much more powerful model than the Classic LS. It was designed to perform well both in off-road terrain and on city roads. Its 4” tires are perfect for taking on even the roughest of environments. 

This model has a powerful 750 Watt motor with a Shimano 6-Speed transmission and Tektro hydraulic brakes. What this means for you is that you’ll not only be zooming about with great speed but that you’ll also have an easy time when braking, which can be tricky with other e-bike models.

  • Price Tag: $2,300.00
  • Motor: 750-1000W, rear-hub.
  • Battery: 48 Volt 15.9 Ah.
  • Charge Time: 6 hours.
  • Total Weight: 61 lbs.

City Premium HD 2021 E-Bike | GreenBike

Need to slide through the city in style? Or rather, cycle? The GreenBike Electric City Premium Folding Bike sports the same lightweight aluminum folding frame the Classic LS model has, but also has a significantly more capable battery.

The thick 20” by 3” tires are perfect for city use without having to worry about obstacles such as small shards of broken glass popping them. Stay away from big shards, though. They’re just as devastating as you’d expect. This model takes longer to charge than the Classic LS but has a longer driving range by about 10 whole miles.

  • Price Tag: $1,799.99
  • Motor: 350-500W, rear-hub.
  • Battery: 48 Volt 15.0 Ah.
  • Charge Time:5 hours.
  • Total Weight: 55 lbs.

Life is One Long Ride

If you’ve gotten tired of having to pedal like a madman or if it’s just gone out of style, then you should definitely take a look at e-bikes. Some go so far as to claim that e-bikes make riding fun again, allowing you to eschew cars and public transport without regrets.

The popularity of e-bikes has exploded as of the past few years and it’s likely to increase. Jump on the bandwagon while there’s still some room. It might get crowded soon.