A Wide Selection of Electric Bikes and Mopeds

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10/05/2024

e-Bikes Explained: 2024 Buying Guide

So you’re thinking about an e-bike but not sure where to start? This guide is true across the industry and not only applicable to our products, but, we will be using our products as refrences so check em’ out as they are all hand picked and are pretty sweet.

2024 e-Bike Buying Guide

So you’re thinking about an e-bike but not sure where to start?

This guide will get you up to speed and is true across the industry (not only applicable to our products), but, we will be using our products as refrences so check em’ out as they are all hand picked and are pretty sweet.

230705 Ebike Buyersguide

Index:

  • Section 1: Budget
  • Section 2: Form Factors
  • Section 3: Features & Legals
  • Section 4: Other Considerations

Note: This guide is true across the industry and not only applicable to our products, but, we will be using our products as refrences so check em’ out as they are all hand picked and are pretty sweet.

  • This guide is not intended to give advice on building or converting an e-bike
  • This guide is not intended to give advice on buying scrambler-style e-bikes or electric motorcycles

Section 1: Let’s Talk Budgets

Barribike

Cheap Bikes

Less than £1350

Cheap e-bikes will typically come from Amazon or Alibaba, from relatively unknown brands with weak customer support, if any at all.

  • Inexpensive components may be less reliable, lower performance, or, in the case of batteries, potentially dangerous (Seriously, we’ve had a workshop fire thanks to a AliExpress bike)
  • Relatively low occurrence of custom or proprietary parts in this price range, which means that they should be relatively repairable. But be sure to research your particular model as much as possible before buying, as there may be exceptions. (The recognisable parts are normally the bottom shelf stuff by reputable brands like Shimano, done so they can add the Shimano brand name to the product listing)
  • Some users have difficulty finding bike shops who will work on their bikes. (We are willing to work on these bikes but are very clear that we cannot garentee the work and often find we cannot complete a service due to parts like the controller being unavailable.)
  • Often bought from direct-to-consumer companies. (Often they offer great deals, but consider researching them before buying, when things go wrong, and they likely will at this price point, you want a company to take responsibility)

Check out this Reddit thread on the topic of cheap bikes

Ampere Deluxe Blue

Economic Bikes

£1350 – £2000

The most popular price point for new e-bike riders to get going on something that can offer an acceptable of quality, sometimes even fatastic value for money.

  • Offer direct-to-consumer (DTC) alongside small dealer networks, often have pretty good reputations for quality, decent components and performance, and large and in some cases have active online owners’ communities (This is where you would need to think about your options should anything go wrong)
  • Most of these DTC companies are young, highly marketing-driven, prone to boom-bust cycles based on private fundraising (Often tricky for those not in the trade to spot the red flags)
  • Drawbacks in this price range include uneven customer service (many DTC companies shed jobs during leaner times, leading to long and poor wait times for help), some highly-customized/proprietary components that leave you tethered to the company (This is where purchasing from a dealer is preferable as it should be the dealers responsibility to take care of the after sales support)
  • Some users have difficulty finding bike shops who will work on their bikes bought from DTC companies; consider researching this before buying. (Chain stores are notoriously bad for not helping, but they have also been known to not assist with anything not bought from them, another reason to go for an independant bike shop)
  • Most bikes in this range use rear hub motors with cadence sensors, many of them are able to have a throttle fitted. (Understanding what makes a good motor, controller and battery pairing is important, there are millions of possible configurations, but a choice pairing of components is quite rare, as a bike shop we have spent many hours curating bikes to find models we are confident in selling.)
  • More expensive bikes, closer to the £2000 mark, in this range may have some features more typically found on high-end bikes, like mid-drive motors, torque sensors, or belt drives

Check out our favorite economic bikes, Ampere

Samedi 28.7 Bosch Mid Drive

High-End Bikes

£2000 +

The most popular price point for new e-bike riders to get going on something that can offer an acceptable of quality.

  • Typically more established and recognisable brands. (There are also new premium brands that are exclusively electric that are outpacing traditional brands, see Moustache bikes here)
  • Usually sold through a dealer / local bike shop network, making it easier to test ride bikes (subject to inventory) and providing an easy servicing and repair location. (Premium brands ensure customer satisfaction is a priority even after the sale is done)
  • Most bikes in this price range use non-Chinese motors (e.g., Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano) and are mid-drive bikes with no throttle; although some of these brands have started launching entry-level bikes with hub drive motors. (Bosch mid-drive bikes are still considered the most premium option as Bosch is a very exclusive company that vets all brand and bikes that ship with their motors)
  • Note, components can be expensive to repair or replace once out of warranty, but the failure rate is often far lower than cheaper bikes so despite the price premium you often spend less on repairs long term.
  • Use higher-quality components that are well-known and well-supported by the companies and local bike shops, you can get your Bosch bike serviced and warrantied by any Bosch bike tech globally.

Section 2: Form Factors

Moustachebikes S10 Samedi27 X2 72Dpi 79 Scaled

Hybrid

Iceblue Cgo009 Tenways Uk
  • Somewhat upright riding position, but slightly more athletically engaged than a cruiser
  • Lighter-weight ebikes (often <50 lbs, some <40 lbs)
  • Some cargo capacity (~25 lbs on the rear rack), useful for commuting but not necessarily carrying a kid or lots of groceries Moderate-to-thin tires to increase speed
  • Examples seen here

Commuter (Dutch Style)

Tenways Ago T White
  • Comfortable, upright riding position
  • Less efficient / athletic riding posture
  • Decent cargo capacity (often ~50 lbs on the rear rack) Moderately heavy bikes (usually 50-70 lbs)
  • Medium-thickness tires to balance speed, traction & comfort Can be high-step or step-through
  • Examples seen here

Long-Tail Cargo

Yuba Bikes Studio Spicycurry Helloyellow Sideview
  • Great max carrying capacity (usually > 150kg). Can be heavy bikes (26Kg+)
  • Long enough to hold 2 kids on the back. Often have many accessories for kids/passengers available (e.g., passenger rails, weather enclosures) Medium-thickness tires to provide comfort and load capacity
  • Typically step-over or step-through (don’t kick your passenger in the face!)
  • Examples seen here

Basket Cargo

Yuba Super Cargo Bamboo Box
  • Comfortable upright seating position
  • Maximum carrying capacity
  • Very heavy bikes (29Kg+)
  • Many accessories to customize front storage space, including sometimes infant carseat adapters
  • All e-bikes of this type are fairly expensive (~£5000+)
  • Examples seen here

Folding Bikes

Tenways Uk Riders
  • Upright riding position, step-through geometry. Usually very accommodating for shorter riders.
  • Typically have medium-to-fat tires to maximize stability on smaller wheels
  • Weight varies substantially; some lighter bikes (17Kg or under), some heavier, depending on components
  • Can be folded up for convenient storage
  • See examples here

Mountain Bike

Tenways Uk Riders
  • Relatively upright riding position, but typically designed to be comfortable to ride standing up
  • Fatter tires to maximize traction and grip off road
  • Front suspension standard, rear suspension common Some cargo capacity, varies model to model. Rear racks especially difficult on bikes with rear suspensions.
  • See examples here

Cruiser Bikes

Tenways Uk Riders
  • Looks more like a motorcycle than a traditional bicycle
  • May have pedals but is designed to be mostly used without pedaling
  • Often has the ability to unlock higher speeds (22 mph+)
  • Typically 29Kg+
  • Gets dirty looks on shared trails
  • Elevated risk of getting regulated out of easy ownership
  • Fun off-road
  • See road legal example here

Size & Weight

Tenways Uk Riders
  • Ebikes are typically heavier than traditional bikes. If your ebike regularly has to travel up/down a flight of stairs, proceed with caution, because some ebikes may be too heavy for you. Look for bikes in the <19Kg range.
  • Note that the heavier ebikes may  not fit on a standard trunk bike rack on your car, most will fit just fine, this is more for the cruiser, cargo and fat tyre bikes.
  • If you are short (say, <5’5), pretty tall (say, >6’3), or on the heavier side (say, >120Kg.), be extra selective about size, fit, and payload, as some common ebike designs may not be appropriate for your needs.

Section 3: Features & Legals

These are the legal Requirements

In the UK, electric bikes (eBikes) must comply with specific legal rules to be considered equivalent to conventional bicycles. These regulations dictate how eBikes can be used on public roads, paths, and tracks. As of my last update, here are the key legal requirements for eBikes in the UK:

  1. Maximum Motor Power: The motor must have a maximum power output of 250 watts.
  2. Pedal Assistance: The eBike must be designed to propel itself only when you are pedaling, and the assistance must cut off once the bike reaches 15.5 mph (25 km/h). This means the motor should not assist you if you’re going faster than this speed.
  3. Throttle Control: eBikes equipped with throttle control (allowing the bike to be powered without pedaling) are allowed, but the throttle can only assist up to 6 km/h (about 3.7 mph). Beyond that speed, pedal assistance as per the standard rule applies.
  4. Minimum Age Requirement: Riders must be 14 years or older to ride an eBike on public roads.
  5. Helmet Use: While wearing a helmet is strongly recommended for safety reasons, it is not legally required for eBike riders in the UK.
  6. No Licence, Tax, or Insurance Required: eBikes that meet the above specifications do not require a licence, tax, or insurance to be ridden on public roads. However, they do need to comply with the same legal requirements as conventional bicycles regarding roadworthiness.
  7. Identification: The eBike must display either the power output or the manufacturer of the motor and, if it was manufactured after 1 January 2016, the maximum speed of the bike.

It’s important to note that if an electric bike does not meet these criteria, it might be classified as a moped or motorbike, which would require it to be registered, and the rider would need to have a driving licence, wear a helmet, and have insurance.

Section 4: Other Considerations

Mid-Drive Vs. Hub-Drive

This is a difference in where the motor is located and how it operates

Mid Drive

Mid-Drive

Mid-drive motors are located where the pedals attach to the frame, they apply power to the chain-ring (the part that you apply force to when you pedal)

Typical benefits of mid-drive motors

  • Almost always paired with a torque sensor (explained below); mid-drive + torque sensor gives the most “natural” pedaling experience
  • Higher applied torque; while the torque numbers given on spec sheets will often be lower than on hub motors (ignore spec comparisons between hub & mid bikes for this reason), in reality the applied torque available is higher because the torque can be scaled using your gears. As a result, mid-drive motors are typically preferred if there’s a lot of hill-climbing in your future.
  • Longer range, because the motor takes advantage of gearing for extra efficiency
  • Better center of gravity (weight is low and centered on the frame) Can be paired with an internally-geared hub
  • Easier to change a rear wheel flat because it doesn’t have a motor attached to it
  • Cleaner look with fewer exposed cables

Examples Found Here

Hub Drive

Hub-Drive

Hub motors are integrated into the wheel (typically the rear wheel, but not always) and directly spin the wheel, independent of the force you apply to the pedals & chainring

Typical benefits of hub-drive motors

  • Applies consistent power no matter what gear you are in, so no need to manage gearing to maximize torque or minimize strain on drivetrain (poor gear management can break the chain on a mid-drive motor)
  • Usually able to have a throttle, giving more flexibility in off-road riding, and allowing the bike to be used even in the event of a broken chain
  • Less strain on other components of your drive train, as the hub independently operates on your wheel (mid-drives wear through chains and cassettes faster)
  • Typically more affordable than mid-drive bikes

Examples Found Here

Cadence vs. Torque sensors

Featured Image Cadence Vs Torque Sensor
  • Every bike has sensors that tell the motor when to turn on and how much power to apply
  • Cadence sensors detect that you have started spinning the pedals with your feet, and tell the motor to engage
  • Torque sensors detect that you are applying pressure to the pedals, and tell the motor to engage
  • Torque sensors are typically more expensive but preferred,** because:
  • The power applied by the motor scales with the power you’re applying by foot, resulting in a more “natural” feeling application of power, vs. a cadence sensor whose application of power feels a little more like flipping a switch on and off and can be jerky.
  • Because cadence sensors rely on pedal revolution to activate the motor, there is a noticeable delay between when you start pedaling and when the motor turns on. Torque sensors respond almost instantly.
  • Virtually all higher-end bikes use torque sensors.
  • ** But not everybody agrees! And “current-based” cadence sensors are typically preferred to “speed-based” cadence sensors for a more natural pedaling response. Usually, you’ll have to ask a manufacturer which of these types of cadence sensor they use.

Gearing and drivetrain

Belt Vs. Chain

Blog Belt Vs Chain Banner
  • Some e-bikes are single-speed e-bikes, meaning they only have one gear. These are very simple and reliable but may not be as easy to use to climb hills, and/or may result in “ghost-pedaling” (pedaling really fast like you’re on a hamster wheel without adding much power to the bike) at higher speeds
  • Most e-bikes have gear cassettes, usually 7 to 9 gears. Ghost-pedaling can still be an issue if the highest gear isn’t small enough. Test riding is always recommended!
  • Some higher-end bikes have internally geared hubs (IGHS). These are sealed gear systems with some major benefits – they allow you to shift gears while stopped (making stop & go urban commuting easier) and they require less maintenance and are more reliable (but maintenance is more complex).
  • Some IGHS may be continuously variable (CVTs), some may be fully automatic (they change gears for you).
  • IGHS are often paired with belt drives, which replace bike chains with belts, which require far less maintenance and last much longer than chains.

Chain Drive Bikes

Pros:

  1. Compatibility and Availability: Chain drives are compatible with a wide range of bicycles and gearing systems, making replacement parts readily available and repairs easier to manage.
  2. Performance: For high-performance and competitive cycling, chains are preferred due to their efficiency in power transfer, especially under high loads.
  3. Cost: Generally, chain drive systems are less expensive than belt drives, both in initial setup and maintenance costs.
  4. Versatility: Chain drives can accommodate a wider range of gear ratios, making them suitable for a variety of terrains, from flat roads to steep hills.

Cons:

  1. Maintenance: Chains require regular cleaning and lubrication to maintain performance and reduce wear. Neglecting maintenance can lead to faster degradation and noise.
  2. Durability: Chains are susceptible to rust and wear over time, especially when exposed to mud, sand, and water, leading to more frequent replacements.
  3. Messiness: Lubricants used on chains can attract dirt and debris, making them messy to handle and maintain.

Belt Drive Bikes

Pros:

  1. Low Maintenance: Belt drives are virtually maintenance-free, requiring no lubrication and less frequent adjustments than chain drives.
  2. Durability: Made from materials like carbon fiber, belt drives are more resistant to wear and environmental elements, lasting longer than chains under similar conditions.
  3. Quiet Operation: Belt drives operate more quietly than chain drives, providing a smoother and more silent ride.
  4. Cleanliness: Without the need for lubrication, belt drives are cleaner to handle, reducing the risk of staining clothes or hands during maintenance or when transporting the bike.

Cons:

  1. Cost: Belt drive systems are generally more expensive upfront compared to chain drives, and replacement parts can also be pricier and harder to find.
  2. Compatibility and Availability: Belt drives require specific frame designs with a break in the rear triangle to install or replace the belt, limiting compatibility with many bike models. Additionally, there are fewer gearing options available for belt-driven systems.
  3. Difficult Repairs: On the road, a broken belt can be more challenging to replace than a chain, especially due to the need for specific tools and parts.
  4. Performance: While the efficiency of belt drives is comparable to chains, some high-performance cyclists prefer the feel and the slight efficiency edge of a well-maintained chain drive, particularly in competitive settings.

When choosing between a belt and chain drive bike, consider your priorities, such as the level of maintenance you’re willing to perform, the conditions you’ll be riding in, and the type of cycling you’ll be doing. Each system has its place depending on the rider’s needs and preferences.

Section 4.1: A Few More Considerations

Ebike Repair

Repairability

  • Your bike will need regular servicing, and things will wrong. Make sure you have a plan for how to repair it. Higher-end bikes should easily be able to be serviced at the bike shop you buy from
  • For other brands, consider prioritizing bikes that minimize proprietary parts (like motor, battery, controller) and have solid customer service reputations
  • Consider reaching out to a local bike shop or mechanic before you buy to see if they will be comfortable working on your bike. Many shops will typically work on the standard mechanical parts of your bike (assuming they are not highly unusual or proprietary) but may not service electronic components.
Ebike Accessories

Budget for accessories

  • Leave yourself room in your budget for accessories. These can easily add a few hundred dollars to the cost of your bike:
  • High quality lock: You will likely want high-quality locks to protect your investment, which can be expensive! More security tips on the next page.
  • Helmet: Keep your brain safe! Make sure you are riding with something that is at least MIPS certified and fits well.
  • Tools: You’ll probably want some basic tools to do maintenance, at a minimum a good tire pressure gauge, bike pump, and allen key set.
  • Passenger accessories: If you’re a parent, you might buy a passenger rail & child seat(s) and your total accessories cost (with all the other things on this page) could be around £1,000 or even more.
  • Miscellaneous accessories: You might buy front or rear racks or baskets, a side-view mirror, bungee cords, a cushier seat, suspension seatpost, lights for your bike or helmet.
Ebike Locks

Locks & Security

  • Practice good security from Day 1. I have seen lots of posts about people’s bikes getting stolen because they used a weak lock that they “had been meaning to upgrade.” Lock your bike securely as soon as you have it.
  • Buy high-quality locks only, from known brands like Kryptonite, Hiplok, Altor, Litelok, Abus.1 Do not use a cable lock as your primary lock. Make sure they are “Sold Secure Gold / Diamond“
  • The most secure approach to locking your bike is to use two different kinds of locks, like a U-lock plus a chain or folding lock. My simplest recommendation would be to pair a Litelok X1 with a Blackstone alarmed chain lock.
  • Register your bike for free with plenty of photos as soon as you have it. Keep your listings updated with distinguishing features.
  • Insurance is a must and gives you additional peace of mind. Homeowners/renters’ insurance may provide some limited coverage in some situations, but the limitations can be significant.
  • Lock your bike up in highly-visible, high-traffic areas
  • Never leave your bike unattended outside overnight! No lock is safe if a thief has all night to cut through it. If you have to store your bike outside, an ebike may not be right for you.
  • Lock your bike properly (lock the frame plus ideally the back wheel). Don’t lock it in a way that it can easily be lifted off whatever it is attached to
  • Consider bringing your battery with you if locking your bike in a high-risk situation for an extended period
  • If your front wheel has a quick-release spoke to allow for easy removal, replace it with a security spoke or make sure to lock it when you lock up your bike
Ebike Battery Care

Practice good battery care

  • Cheap E-bike batteries from bottom tier manufacturers can degrade and need to be replaced quickly, or, worse, catch fire, if they aren’t treated with care, and especially if they aren’t high-quality, UL-certified batteries.
  • Note, the risk of fire is extremely low when purchasing an eBike from a reputable manufacturer, Amazon and Ebay are not repuatable suppliers.Best practices for your e-bike battery:
  • It is good practice to not leave it on the charger for extended periods of time; do not leave them charging whilst your away. Try to be diligent about taking it off the charger when it’s full, or try using an outlet timer.
  • Do not charge your battery when the battery in very hot or very cold weather. If you’re coming in from a long winter ride, let the battery come up to room temperature before plugging it in.
  • Do not ride it all the way down to 0%
  • Store it indoors, avoid storing it outside in extreme heat or cold.
  • If the bike isn’t going to be used for an extended period of time (say a week) try to keep the battery in the ~50-80% range
  • Be careful not to drop your battery. If your battery is visibly dented or damaged, it is not safe to use.

Ready To Pick Your Next Bike?

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10/05/2024

Unleashing the Power of Electric Bikes: Mastering Hill Climbs with the eBike

The surge in popularity of electric bikes, or eBikes, has transformed urban commutes and recreational cycling, thanks to their convenience, environmental benefits, and the effortless joy of gliding on two wheels. A common query among enthusiasts and potential users alike is their effectiveness on varied terrains, specifically: Can eBikes handle hill climbs efficiently?

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