Electric bikes are becoming more and more popular seemingly every month. Long time cyclists and people who haven’t been on a bike in years are both finding electric bikes to be an appealing option. An ever increasing selection of electric bike manufacturers has come with that popularity. At San Diego Fly Rides, we want to make sure you are on exactly the right bike for you. We don’t partner with just any electric bike company. Instead, we choose manufacturers who have consistently offered premier electric bikes year after year. In this post, we’ll work on answering this important question: what electric bike should I buy?
The first question you want to ask yourself is, “what do I want to do with this bike?” By being super specific about exactly what you want to do with your new ebike, you’ll expedite and simplify the process. This will get you on the road or trails quicker (and happier!).
We carry electric bike manufacturers who are very versatile in their offerings. That said, I’d recommend different companies based on intended usage. Looking to tear up some of the most intense mountain biking trails in your town? I’d probably point you in the direction of Haibike or Bulls. Want a reliable commuter to get you from point A to point B without breaking a sweat? Maybe IZIP or Riese & Müller is more your bag. Space limitations? Check out the foldable electric bikes from Tern and Blix.
Of course, this is a very general overview of your choices. As you can see, there are many manufacturers to choose from. After that there are many bikes within those manufacturers to choose from. The best way to get specific on your exact wants and needs is to speak with an expert! You can do that on our website or by giving us a call.
Electric Bike Motors
Many of the electric bike motors on the market are going to offer similar experiences. But, there are some key differences that, if you know about them, can make your decision a lot easier. Most of the electric bike manufacturers partner with multiple motor companies, which is nice because it offers you a wider range of options.
Bosch Performance CX motors are widely considered to be the cream of the crop for ebikes. They offer 75nm of torque, a max speed of 20mph, and 500 watt hours for one of best ranges on the market. These motors are excellent for cyclists looking for the ability to climb steep hills and quick acceleration. Bosch also offers a Speed line that will take you up to 28mph. Your trade off here is slightly less torque. Speed motors offer 63nm, still plenty for most cyclists.
Brose is becoming one of my favorite motors. These premium motors are incredibly quiet, even at the highest RPMs. They also offer the ability to have a dual front chainring, which is great for steep hills. Their batteries offer 650 watt hours, which make them the biggest battery on the market.
Yamaha also offers high quality motors through Haibike. I think Yamaha is an excellent, if underused, electric bike motor. It was one of the first companies to offer zero-cadence ability, meaning you get assistance right out of the gate. In 2017, Yamaha also started offering a 500 watt hour battery, so they’ll get you about as far as the Bosch motors.
Of course, there are other motors to consider (Currie Electro-Drive, Bafang, and Shimano Steps for example). The more important aspect of the motors is that they are coming from an established brand.
Warranties are going to vary based on the company. Some manufacturers are going t0 offer lifetime warranties on the frame, some offer a few years warranty. When doing your research, you should definitely check that there is some sort of warranty and that it covers what you think is appropriate. Motors should also have their own warranties as well. Check out our blog on various warranties here.
Kickstarter Campaigns, eBike Wheels, and Things to be wary of
Many people consider these options when looking at electric bikes. They seem like great ideas to keep cost down, but there is a lot to think about before buying one of these.
As a buyer you should generally be wary of Kickstarter campaigns. I’ve seen plenty of situations where people pre-order what looks like a brilliant electric bike, but end up disappointed. This is not to say all Kickstarters for eBikes are bad. For instance the Tern Vektron, one of my favorite folding eBikes, started off as a Kickstarter campaign. The difference here was that Tern was already an established manufacturer of folding bicycles.
What I’ve seen happen time and again is that one of these companies starts their Kickstarter, has loads of interest, and then has to delay and delay and delay sometimes for years. Worse than that, I’ve also seen the bikes come out, and then the company goes under. This means there is no help should your bike have issues, or, if you can find help, very frequently the parts necessary for repair are difficult to procure or flat out unavailable.
For those of you who don’t know what eBike Wheel conversion kits are, it’s basically a way of Frankenstein-ing your existing bicycle into an electric bike. All of these companies claim a very easy DIY installation (hard to believe for me) that will instantaneously transform your bike. Sounds great! Couple of things…
First of all, the kits generally end up costing about as much as an actual electric bike. To me, this kind of (completely) defeats the purpose. Secondly, these are always hub motors. Now, some people love hub motors. That’s fine. I accept that. But, most high end electric bike manufacturers these days are moving towards mid-drive motors because they provide an overall better riding experience. My final issue is a legitimate safety concern not typically voiced by the companies that make those kits. Frequently, you actually need higher quality welding on your frame and better components to make those kits completely safe to use. So think before you buy!
As a rule, I would always consult with an electric bike expert before buying. As I mentioned up top, give us a call or chat with us at shopsandiegoflyrides.com, and we’ll be happy to point you in the correct direction.
By going through a reputable dealer and buying from a reputable manufacturer, you are more likely to enjoy your electric bike for many years. They’ll be able to size you, figure out the best bike for your intended use, and keep up on maintenance and warranty issues during the lifespan of your bike.
Pop in a comment below if you have any questions! Happy riding!
Author: Scott Nickley
Scott Nickley is a writer, actor, cyclist, runner, and cafe loiterer living in Los Angeles. You can find his work on the Fly Rides website and find him in the flesh following all cycling laws in your nearest bike lane.