Finding the Right Electric Bike for Commuting or Hitting the Trails

Electric bikes are a convenient method of transportation if you don't want to use a car. They are also fun to ride in the mountains for those who enjoy mountain biking. You can find both new and used electric bicycles on eBay.

What types of electric bikes are available?

You can choose from city, mountain, cross, trekking, and cargo e-bikes. If you plan to use an affordable e-bike for transportation in your city, then you should buy a city e-bike. These are usually smaller bikes that allow for easier mounting and for storage. Some city electric bicycles are foldable. See the manufacturer's site for details.

There are some preowned electric mountain bikes, abbreviated as eMTBs, that have pedal-activated power assistance in the bottom bracket. The suspension configuration is usually hardtail or dual. The frames for eMTBs are typically made of carbon fibre or aluminium.

Cargo e-bikes are constructed with baskets, flatbeds, or large racks to make it easy to transport goods. Cargo e-bikes have a longer wheelbase and a modified frame with the intent of improving stability for carrying goods. Some of the more expensive cargo electric bikes have three wheels to assist in a comfortable ride with a heavy load on the bike.

Understanding the motor types

The motor is in the frame's centre or in one of the hubs. Where the motor is located influences how the e-bike operates. The three types of motors you'll come across are a front hub, rear hub, and mid-drive. Mid-drive motors help distribute the bike's weight evenly. Some electric bikes with mid-drive motors also have a torque sensor that works to smoothen the ride.

Essential options to look for in electric bikes

Before looking at your options in e-bikes, remember to check the laws where you live to know any limitations. Some countries have a maximum limit as to what power and speed an electric bicycle can have when operated on the road. Many mountain e-bikes, like the Vector Vortex E-Bike, are too powerful for city use. Once you know what your city's regulations are, consider these factors in finding the right e-bike for you:

  • Racks: Make sure the e-bike has racks if you'll need to transport small loads. For larger loads, choose a cargo e-bike to have more storage space.
  • Battery: Always check how far an electric bicycle can travel on a full battery charge. E-bikes can generally travel 50 kilometres to more than 150 kilometres on a single charge, depending on the battery.
  • Torque: Torque matters if you will ride the e-bike through hilly areas or haul heavy loads. Look for a higher torque to have more horsepower.
  • Pedal-assist levels: Some e-bikes have an eco mode to help you conserve power. Others have a turbo mode for when you need an extra boost.
  • Handlebar-mounted display: Choose an electric bike with a handlebar-mounted display to check battery life, kilometres travelled, and other important information.