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How to Purchase an Electric Bike

If you think your next ride should be an electric bike (e-bike), you are not alone. All over the world, people are turning to more sustainable transportation choices and e-bikes are on that list. Deciding to purchase an e-bike is an important decision and one you should deliberate carefully to get the best possible option.

There are things you should factor into your choice, such as what style of bike is best for your needs? What about the power? How much do you want and when?

Answering these questions helps you target your purchase and get the product that fits your body and lifestyle. Unless you know about e-bikes, though, it's difficult to ask the right questions. So, use this guide to help get you there.

Focus on the Style First

E-bikes, like regular bicycles, come in categories, typically road or mountain. There are niche groupings, as well, such as cruiser, cargo, and hybrid. The right choice for you depends on how you plan to ride the bike. The two primary categories break down like this:

  • Road/cruiser — Paved areas
  • Mountain/touring — Rough terrain

That doesn't mean you can't ride a mountain bike in the city or find a road bike to handle dirt roads. What's important is that you get a bike that best fits your average use. If you plan to commute to work each day on city roads, then a cruiser or road bike is the most practical choice. If you plan to explore nature with the e-bike, then a mountain bike style makes sense.

Pick a Power Style

The next choice to make is the power style. There are three categories:

  • Class 1 — Pedal-Assist: The motor kicks in only when you are pedaling and stops when you reach a set speed, typically around 20 mph.
  • Class 2 — Power-on-Demand: The motor will work without pedaling. These e-bikes have a throttle that allows you to control the motor. The power is available whether or not you are pedaling. It will also cut off at a set speed, usually 20 mph.
  • Class 3 — Top power level: They work with or without pedaling, come with a throttle and go up to 28 mph.

Not everyone is looking to ride the bike without pedaling. They just want a little help on a hill or when they tire out. Their choice should be pedal-assist. Class 1 e-bikes may also give you more freedom when riding. The laws vary from place to place, but you may be able to take this e-bike on any city street and possibly on some bike paths.

If you want to ride without pedaling, then the only question is how fast you want to go. For causal use or commuting, class 2 would work in most cases.

Class 3 e-bikes work well for those commuters or those who use their e-bike to transport cargo. Some areas limit their use, though. For example, you may not be able to take a class 3 e-bike on some roads.

Find out the regulations for e-bikes in your city before you purchase, especially if you are considering class 2 or class 3 bikes.

What About the Motor and Battery Power?

These are also two critical considerations, and there is a connection. There is a trade-off in the design between performance (speed and torque) and riding range (how far you can go on one charge).

A more powerful engine provides speed to keep up with traffic and more torque to climb hills and move freight. But, unfortunately, a more powerful engine also depletes the battery more quickly, decreasing your riding range.

Riding ranges vary from design to design and are usually broad, such as 20-100 pedal-assisted miles. Too many variables affect riding range, which is why manufacturers can not be more precise.

Battery size is critical. Having a large battery can help you get farther on a charge. Battery power is identified in watt-hours (Wh), which means the number of hours the battery can sustain one watt of power before it dies. The larger the motor watt size, the more power it drains from the battery. For example, a 250-watt motor will drain power slower than a 500-watt, but it doesn't have the same power.

This choice means deciding what matters most: performance or riding rage. If you are only looking for a pedal-assist, a 250-watt motor might be the best option with a 500 Wh battery. If you want that extra power, a 500-watt motor with a 500 Wh battery will provide it.

More About the Battery Choices

There are other things to take into consideration when looking at batteries, such as charge time. A larger battery will naturally take longer to charge. Regardless of size, you can expect to charge the battery for three to five hours. If you decide to purchase a bigger battery, add time.

You can buy faster chargers, extra batteries, or even take a charger with you to work or on the road and charge while you go. Also, some e-bikes might allow you to use more than one battery at a time or to carry a backup.

Finally, ask about the battery mounting setup. There are models with batteries built into the frame. This leaves room for other things like a basket or bottle racks. Charging is more of a challenge, though. You need enough space for the entire bike.

External batteries take up frame space. They also make charging more accessible. You can take them off the frame and charge them separately.

Motor Location

The motor can be on the frame in the middle. For example, if riding the e-bike, a mid-drive motor would sit where the pedals turn. Having the motor in the center helps to balance the bike.

Hub-drive motors are in the back, inside the hub of the rear wheel. Some hub-drive models store the motor in the front wheel hub, too. Having the motor in either wheel can make changing a flat more difficult but allow for a standard drivetrain on the bike.

Choosing a Frame

The most significant factors to overall weight are the frame material and design and the size of the engine and battery. A heavy frame may make the e-bike sluggish. Look for the lighter model to get a better ride.

Also, find a retailer that will help you fit the e-bike. The right fit is the key to avoiding chronic injury and getting the best performance from your e-bike.

Those Cool Accessories

Some bikes come with modern, integrated accessories worth taking into account. You can also add accessories to your new e-bike.


A must-have safety feature in many cities, especially if you are riding after sundown. Lights can be in the front and the rear. Some manufacturers integrate them into the frame.

They can get their energy from a generator built into the hub of the bike. You can also get bike lights with external power sources like batteries.

Some high-end bike lights are sophisticated enough to detect cars as they approach the rear and flash to let them know you are there. The alteration of the pattern makes it easier to spot the bike.

Bike Racks

A sturdy rack will help support your cargo. It's essential to verify that an external rack will fit the model e-bike you purchase, though. If you want a bike rack, buy it at the same time as the e-bike to ensure it is a good fit.

LCD Display

This will come with many e-bikes, but it's worth the cost if you don't have one. A proper display sits on the handlebars and allows you to monitor:

  • Battery life
  • Pedal-assist mode
  • Miles ridden
  • Speed

These indicators will make riding the e-bike easier.


Some e-bikes allow you to connect a smartphone to it wirelessly using an app. Depending on the model and the app, you may be able to monitor your ride, follow GPS, keep track of service records and even unlock the bike using an integrated locking system.

Security Systems

An e-bike is an investment worth protecting. Some models may come with integrated security, such as locks on the batteries and frames. You can also purchase a system separately to secure the e-bike and its components, such as the battery, frame, and rear wheel.

Higher-end bikes may have more integrated components. When shopping, ask about the different accessories on the bike and what you can add yourself.

Tips for Buying the Right E-bike

Before buying your new e-bike, follow these tips.

Consider How You Plan to Use the E-Bike

Mapping out your plans for the e-bike will help you make some critical choices. For example, if you know you will be riding long distances, you want a larger battery. On the other hand, if the terrain is rough, choose a mountain bike or a cruiser with fat tires like the Sixthreezero Evryjourney Fattire 500W.

If power is your biggest concern, maybe you want to ride without pedaling more or live in an area with lots of hills, then motor size matters. But, again, focusing on your personal needs helps you know what features are the most important to you.

Make Your Comfort a Priority

Consider your comfort level, too. How does your body sit while you ride the e-bike? Does it offer an ergonomic design? If you have to ride all hunched over, you may end up with joint and muscle pain. Some bikes allow you to sit upright, so your hips and shoulders are in line for added pedaling power and comfort.

Choose the Manufacturer and the Retailer Carefully

Do some research to find a manufacturer that gets positive reviews, offers a warranty, and has a variety of purchasing options. Also, go with a retailer that has an excellent reputation. Then, walk into the store and get your initial impression of it and how knowledgeable the staff seems.

You might look for a bike shop that specializes in electric bikes, too. That way, you know their e-bikees well cared them for and not something that has been sitting in the back untouched for three years.

Look at the brand names the shop sells. Are they recognizable? Are you able to research the manufacturer? If not, then they might sell lower-quality products.

Plan to Test Ride Several Kinds of E-Bikes

You won't know how the bike feels unless you ride it. Test riding lets you put things like the motor and battery size out of your mind and just feel the bike.

Do you like the way the pedals turn? How does the bike fit your body? Can you climb on without tilting the frame? Get to know several models before choosing the right one for you.

Ask About the Warranty

A warranty gives you that reassurance that if something goes wrong, the manufacturer will fix it. You'll want at least two years on the parts, motor, and battery with no exclusions with everyday use.

Finally, Make Quality Your Standard

Whether joining the environmental revolution by choosing transportation with sustainable power or just wanting something cool to ride, look for quality. Can you get an e-bike for just a few hundred dollars? Probably an off-brand model but quality matters when it comes to electric bikes. They are not all created equal.

Keep your expectations for quality high, even if it means spending a little more money. There are lots of choices to make, but if you make quality products your standard, it will be hard to make a bad one.

There is a lot to think about when buying an e-bike. That's why you should look to purchase from a company that works with you to find a suitable model for your needs. To learn more about electric bikes, visit


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