Best Electric Bike: How To Choose the Right One for You

Posted by Kenneth Poon on

Electric bikes are making a wave not only in the cycling industry but in the motor vehicle industry as well. Not only is the e-bike simple and easy to use - it is also giving the rider the range of spending minimal costs and exerting minimal effort but is getting the most out of it.

The sales of electrical bikes have skyrocketed in recent years. More and more manufacturers are also jumping on the bandwagon and creating their own line of electrical bikes. With numerous options to choose from, most consumer have a difficult time deciding which electric bike will best suit their needs and lifestyle.

Before you go ahead and buy your very own ebike, you should ask yourself first: "What my primary use?" Take some time to think about this question because it is the most important question to ask yourself to know which is the best ebike to suit your needs.

How far are you traveling every day? How far are you planning to use the ebike? What type of roads will you be traveling on? Are you planning to use the electric motor all the time or will you use the pedaling option as well? Are you going to use it every day or occasionally? How fast would you like to go?

After you have determined how you will be using you electric bike, you would need to know that there are various options available. What are the options and decisions you need to make while choosing the best electrical bike for you?


Am I going to buy a pre-built electrical bike or get one of the electric bike kits available?


When choosing an ebike, you have two categories to choose from. You can either purchase a pre-built electric bike or if you have a bicycle that you want to turn into an electrical bike, you can also purchase an electric bike conversion kit.

Pre-built electrical bikes have a lot of different setups and styles. You also have an option to fully customize it and turn it into something of your own personality. You may opt for an electric mountain bike or you may also choose a commuter. You may select different motor and battery configurations depending on your riding style or your preference. What is good about pre-built electrical bikes is that they are clean and stealthy. All the electrical components and wirings are built into the bike already. A lot of people are choosing pre-built electrical bikes because they work great plus there is no need for any conversion anymore.

Electric bike kits, on the other hand, are sold separately. They can be installed directly to any traditional bikes. However, they are harder to setup. In order to install one to your bicycle, you need to have the basic mechanical skills. That is why it is suggested to have professionals install it. The good thing about electric bike kits is you have the ability to choose the standard bicycle you will be using. Unlike the pre-built ones, you can also change and upgrade the components that it has. Also, the conversion kit will also allow you to get better power and speed. If you are a heavy or tall driver, conversion kits are highly recommended for you. You can choose a larger bike that has greater power and weight carrying capacity, install a conversion kit, and turn it into a battery powered bike. Those who are living in mountainous terrain who needs additional torque to handle extremely large inclines or hills will also take advantage of conversion kits. Since they are providing more flexibility for the user, you may use a specific bike model and go faster - the choice is yours.


Pedal Assist VS Throttle Control


There are two methods in operating these battery powered bikes: Pedal Assist and Throttle Control. 

Pedal Assist, from the name itself, assists you in pedaling. With Pedal Assist, a torque sensor is picking up your stress or movement. It determines your power requirement as a rider. You do not have to worry about inputting anything because everything is fully automated. There is no need for you to think about anything. You just need to jump on and start riding. Although there are some bikes that need multiple settings, there are also others which need just one setting along with the throttle control. Depending on your need, pedal assist can either help you a little or may also help you a lot. 

If you will be using lower settings, pedal-assist is almost not noticeable. However, it helps you in extending your range. If you will be using higher settings, the power of the pedal assist will feel as if a strong wind is at your back since the motor will do all the work while you are also pedaling along.

On the other hand, the throttle control will not require you to do any pedaling at all. With the same concept as a motorcycle, you just need to twist and hold the throttle back to control the speed and power of your e-bike. Although it is not required, you may also opt to assist in pedaling.

There are electrical bikes that operate in pedal assist only. There are also others which make use of throttle. Some e-bikes also have both options.

If your electric bike operated on pedal assist only, it will provide you multiple power settings to help you with customizing your ride, perfect for beginners and alike. Ebikes with both pedal assist and throttle assist will have limited pedal-assist options. With these e-bikes, it is the throttle-assist that provides full control and the pedal assist is just a second option.


The Motor Types


Nowadays, a lot of electric bikes are using a brushless hub motors that are built in either the bike's front or rear wheel. There are also a cheaper setup that are using externally mounted and chain driven motors. Although this cheaper alternative will not cost you much and also provides a decent amount of torque, it is not as efficient, quiet or stealthy as the hub motors which are being used on a lot of e-bike models.

With the hub motor category, you can choose the following motors:


Geared Hub Motors

A lot, if not most, of the pre-build electric bikes, use the brushless geared hub motors. These geared hub motors have internal planetary gears that can help in transferring power from the motor to the wheel.  Since it has an internal gearing, the geared hub motors have limited top speed. However, they provide excellent torque. Plus, this improved torque also means that your bike will have better take-off and hill climbing powers. In addition, they are small and lightweight. These motors also have less wattage requirement.

For pre-build bikes, the geared hub motors range from 200 watts to 500 watts. They also go up to 20 miles per hour. If you are planning to purchase a conversion kit, they can go as powerful as 1000 watts with increased top speeds. You will also get huge amount of torque which is perfect for extremely hilly terrain.


Gearless Hub Motors

There are some electric bike kits and pre-built bikes that use direct-drive motors. These gearless hub motors work by sending alternating signals to magnetic windings inside the motor. Since there is no contact and no gearing between the moving parts, these hub motors can last you for years. They are also capable of higher top speeds.

However, since these hub motors are gearless, they have lesser torque. They also require more power in order for the motor to speed up. Gearless hub motors are also larger and heavier in size. They run at 350 to 500 watts and can reach up to 25 miles per hour.


Motor Configurations

There are two configurations available for hub motors: These are the front and the rear mounted configurations.


Front Mounted Hub Motor

This hub motor configuration can be seen mostly on pre-built bikes. They are mounted at the front wheel. If you are converting a traditional bike, this is also the easiest configuration to setup because there is no derailer or chain needed.

Most of the electric conversion kits available in the market today includes batteries mounted to the rear rack. If you will be using a front mounted hub motor, it can help equalize the weight of the bike making the bike easier to handle. However, the risk of the front fork to fail is higher - the main reason why it is important for you to use the front mounted hub motor on a steel fork only. If you will be using this in a pre-built bike, it will not be an issue because the motors are lower powered.


Rear Mounted Hub Motor

The rear mounted hub motor is installed on the bike's rear wheel. This is commonly seen on pre-built bikes since they are installed at the factory. If you opt for a conversion kit, it is a little harder to install compared with the front mounted hub motor because the rear mounted hub motor contains gearing, derailer, and chain. However, rear mounted hub motors provide more torque. They are also less noticeable than a front mounted hub motor.


The Battery


The biggest factor on how much your bike will cost is the battery. There are a lot of battery types and they come in different sizes and shapes. For pre-built ones, they are limited to Li-Ion or SLA batteries. However, if you want more options, you should choose conversion kits.


Sealed Lead Acid

This is the most affordable battery available. However, it is also the heaviest one with the least battery life. If you are a beginner or if you are on a tight budget, then, SLA batteries is the one for you. These batteries can last 300 to 500 charges or 1 to 2 years. They are very sensitive and may damage immediately when if you drop it below 75% charge.


Nickel Metal Hydride

A moderately priced battery option, nickel methal batteries or NiMh are smaller and lighter in weight when compared with SLA batteries. They last 2 to 3 times longer than SLA too. You can charge them 400 to 600 times or 2 to 3 years.


Lithium Ion

The Li-Ion battery is the longest last and the lightest weight option for you -- but they are also the most expensive one available. Since Li-Ion batteries have a lot of options such as the Lithium Cobalt, Lithium Polymer, Li Manganese, and Lithium Phosphate, make sure that you are buying the right one from your favorite dealer or manufacturer.


The Perfect Bike Still Depends On You!


If you'll first look at it, choosing an electric bike for yourself may seem too intimidating. However, do not be too overwhelmed by the different types of bikes and motor options! Again, the first thing you should ask yourself is "How will I be using this e-bike?"

Once you are done determining how you will be operating it, you can easily eliminate all the other options and just focus on the thing that you really need and want. Always remember that the bigger is not always the better. In cases of e-bikes, a bigger e-bike means a heavier one. So if you will be running at 30 miles or more, do you think it will help you?

Know which are the most cost effective or fitting your budget. Will you choose a Li-Ion battery over an SLA? If you want to get more speed and more power, it will also cost you more. Do you think it is worth the extra cash to get faster speed and higher torque?

Are the roads you will pass by flat ones or are there hills and inclines? Are you planning on pedaling or will you make your bike do all the work for you?

Knowing what exactly you want and what you want to accomplish is important. Also keep in mind the goals you want to achieve and the rest will follow.

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