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August 03, 2022
This article is not a comprehensive guide to ebikes, but it will give you a ton of useful information, in hopes of helping you make good decisions when shopping for an electric bike.
After giving you a little background on myself and how I started Really Good Ebikes, I will review the brands we carry, the different styles of ebikes currently available on the market, how to choose your perfect ebike, key specifications to know and look out for, some of our bestsellers (and why they are so popular), and finally, ebike business opportunities.
Hi, I'm Steve, the founder of Really Good Ebikes. I started RGE in 2017, in my early 50s mind you, so that I could finally become my own boss. I was tired of being underpaid and working for people I didn’t respect. I wanted to take control of my financial future, and I wanted the freedom to travel the world for more than 2 weeks per year.
But what is Really Good Ebikes exactly? RGE is an online-only store, selling ebikes from our family of brands. We are here to help you find the perfect ebike and improve your life. We believe that electric bikes are transformative, and we want to help you transform your life.
Yes, we are a middleman, helping connect you with the world of ebikes. We do not have a storefront or warehouse, so when you buy from us, we ship directly from our brands’ US warehouses to you. We can also ship to local bike shops, if you would prefer to have a bike tech do the final assembly (e.g., attaching the front wheel, handlebar, saddle and pedals is all that’s required for most bikes to complete assembly).
Another important function we serve is educational. Most of our customers are new to ebikes when they discover my store, and they are far from ready to make a purchase. So we have written a number of informational guides to help you learn about ebikes. We do not want to sell you an ebike unless you are confident that it will meet your needs, and we have developed our content with this in mind. You can find all the Ebike Guides we’ve published here.
If you want to learn more about my journey from real estate analyst to online entrepreneur, you can listen to to my interviews with Sam Brown on the GenerationXit podcast and Chapin Kreuter on the Misfits & Rejects podcast. If you are inspired by what you hear and want to break free from your own daily grind, don’t hesitate to get in contact with me. And if you are interested in Ebike Business Opportunities, you can scroll to the last section of this article.
At present, we carry 16 brands of electric bikes, including Aostirmotor, Bakcou, Coastal Cruiser, Dirwin, Eunorau, Fiido, GreenBike, HJM, Leafy, Magicycle, Nakto, Quietkat, Revi, Snapcycle, Swell and X-Treme. Each of these brands is known for designing and engineering some really good ebikes, but more importantly, they all provide exceptional customer support.
Each of our suppliers maintains a Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) policy, where they set the retail price for each of their models, and dealers like RGE must not offer their products below this price. This creates a more fair marketplace, where we can offer a higher level of customer service and support. In the absence of MAP policies, dealers will compete on price alone, creating a race to the bottom where the customer ultimately suffers.
That being said, we do offer free shipping to the lower 48 states, no state sales tax, Extended Warranty Protection, Guide Shipping Insurance, and various discounts and other incentives to help you with your purchase. We also make it super easy for you to contact us, via daily chat, phone and email support. Our response time is near instant, and dare I say, there are few if any other ebike dealers that are so open and accessible to people visiting their store.
When you purchase an ebike from Really Good Ebikes, you become our customer, and we will support and serve you throughout the lifetime of your ebike. All the bikes we sell come with a manufacturer warranty, and if there is ever a problem with your bike, you should contact us first, and we will do all the necessary coordination with the supplier to make sure your warranty issue is handled quickly and completely. This is one of the hidden benefits of buying from us, rather than from another dealer or from the brands’ website directly: you not only get access to some really cool ebikes, but you get us as an advocate if anything ever goes awry with your bike.
Electric bikes come in a number of popular styles, and this is where I like to start when helping someone find their perfect ride. The worst thing is to ride a bike that feels uncomfortable or ill-fitted to your body. The ebike will probably end up gathering dust in your garage, which is the last thing we want to happen.
The main styles of electric bikes include cruiser, fat tire, folder, step-through, cargo, and mountain. However, you will find a lot of hybrids on the market which combine elements of one or more styles of ebike. For example, the Revi OG Cheetah, one of our most popular models, is a fat tire cruiser with a retro-style design.
So what are the main characteristics of each of these styles?
Fat Tire Electric Bikes. As the name suggests, fat tire ebikes come with fat tires, which are at least 4” wide, and may have a diameter measurement of 20”, 24” or 26”. The wider profile of fat tires offer more stability and traction than you find on narrower tires, making them ideal for off-road riding. Fat tire bikes perform better than other types when it comes to riding through sand, mud and snow.
It should be noted that fat tire bikes tend to be heavier than bikes with narrower tires, because of the extra material making up the tire and rims. You will often see circular cutouts in the rims of fat tires, which is used to reduce overall weight. Fat tire electric bikes can be found on mountain bikes, cruisers, folders and step-thru models. Some of our more popular fat tire electric bike models include the Revi Cheetah, Eunorau Fat-HD, and the Magicycle Cruiser Pro.
Step-Thru Ebikes. A step-through (or step-thru) electric bike has a frame where the top tube has been eliminated, allowing the rider to step through the frame to mount and dismount. Back in the day, these were known as women or girls bikes, but now they are popular with all folks, regardless of gender.
The low step-over height of the step-thru frame means that you do not have to lift your leg over the saddle to get on and off your bike, which is especially helpful for people with limited hip mobility or strength. Some of our more popular step-through ebike models include the Swell LR2 ST, Magicycle Ocelot Pro, and Snapcycle R1 ST.
Electric Cruisers. A cruising electric bike is all about comfort. These bikes will offer an upright riding posture, where your back is straight and your shoulders are relaxed. You will also find more abundant seats with extra cushioning, and often a front suspension fork to absorb the shock from bumps in the road.
Electric beach cruisers will often feature wide, curved handlebars and sprung saddles, adding to the comfort of your ride. Some of our more popular electric cruisers include the Coastal Cruiser 750W Fat Tire Step-Through Cruiser, Magicycle Mid-Step-Through (MST) Cruiser, and X-Treme Malibu Max Elite.
Electric Mountain Bikes. Electric mountain bike are designed for off-road riding, with a more aggressive (forward leaning) riding posture, stiffer frames, and higher-end components. The tires may be 26” x 4” fat tires, 27.5” x 3” plus tires, or some other tire size that is designed for riding on unpaved surfaces.
Electric mountain bikes are often designed for performance, and may include hydraulic (rather than mechanical) disc brakes, full-suspension frames, thumb throttles, and even mid-drive (rather than hub) motors. Some of our more popular electric mountain bikes include the Bakcou Mule, Eunorau UHVO and Aostirmotor S18-1500W.
Folding Ebike. A folding electric bike has a folding frame. There is a heavy-duty hinge and clamp mechanism at the center of the frame, and some models will also feature a folding tiller. The folding ebikes are folded, they can be stowed in small spaces and transported in the back of an RV or vehicle.
Many folding ebikes will come with 20” tires, and some have a low-step frame design as well. Some of our more popular folding ebike models include the Eunorau E-Fat-Step, GreenBike City Path, and Nakto Folding OX.
Electric Cargo | Utility Bike. An electric cargo bike has been purpose-built for hauling loads. These bikes will often feature an elongated rear rack, which can be used to carry groceries, kiddos or doggies, or some combination of these loads. Some models also feature a front rack and or basket, allowing for more stuff to be carried. And if you need extra hauling capacity, there are a number of ebike trailers you could hook up to your bike.
Just keep in mind that when hauling heavy loads, you need a strong motor and a battery with sufficient capacity to help you complete your journey. Some of our popular electric cargo bikes include the Eunorau G30, HJM Transer, and Fiido T1.
Deciding which electric bike is the right one you can be a challenge. That’s why I usually start with questions like ‘where will you be doing most of your riding?’ and ‘what kind of riding will you mostly be doing?’.
Answering these questions will help determine which frame style will best meet your needs. Once we know the frame style you are looking for, then we can narrow down the options by looking at individual components, to see how the options compare.
For instance, some people know they want a fat tire bike with a mid-drive motor, which will narrow down the choices to about 6 different models. Likewise, if you want a folding step-thru design, this will narrow down the selection to about 8 different models.
Electric bikes are still bicycles, and most of the component specifications will have nothing to do with the bike’s electronics. These include frame size, wheel size, suspension, brakes and gears. Electrical specifications usually include the nominal motor output, measured in watts, and the voltage and amp-hour ratings of the battery. Here’s what you need to know.
Frame Size. Most bicycles have a standard frame size of 19”, and a standard tire size of 26”. Smaller frames and wheels will lower the profile of the bike, making it more comfortable for shorter riders. To determine if a bike will fit, we recommend measuring your inseam, and comparing this to the minimum seat height of the bikes you are considering.
We also recommend that you try as many bikes as possible, whether or not they are electric, to see which types fit you the best. Please note that we provide recommended right heights for each model on the product page, as well as the minimum seat height. Use this information, along with our Bike Size Guide, to make sure you get a well fitting ebike.
Tire Size. People will often use the wheel and tire size interchangeably, with the most common sizes being 26”, 20” and 27.5”. There are models with 14” and 16” tires, which allow for a more compact design. And there are bikes with 29” tires, but these are not typically found on electric bikes.
The diameter specification of the tire will determine how “tall” your bike is, and will also have an impact on performance. A larger tire will cover more distance per rotation when compared to a tire with a smaller diameter, making them more suitable for long road trips. Smaller diameter tires, by contrast, will have a narrower turning radius, and may handle more like a scooter than a bike when steering.
Suspension. Like conventional bikes, electric bike frames may offer one or more suspension elements to smooth out your ride. A front shock or suspension fork will soften bumps encountered by the front tire. Front shocks use a coiled spring, air or hydraulic fluid mechanism to absorb shocks, and often feature a lockout device which allows you to turn the shock on or off. The amount of absorption in a shock is referred to as travel and is measured in millimeters.
Some electric bikes will also have rear suspension (along with front suspension), allowing shocks to the rear wheel to be absorbed within the frame elements. There are a variety of mechanical linkages and shock absorbing mechanisms that are integrated into full-suspension frame design.
There are other suspension elements that might be found on or added to your electric bike, including sprung saddles and suspension seat posts. These features will help to absorb shocks to the frame, which would otherwise bump your butt and lower back. This type of suspension is arguably more important than front or rear suspension, and can be added to any bike with after-market components.
Brakes. Brakes are an essential component to any bike, and if you are not confident in your braking ability, you will not enjoy your ride. Back in the day, bikes would often feature caliper rim brakes or V-brakes (aka direct-pull cantilever brakes), which would grip the rim of the wheel when the brake levels are pulled. These types of brakes work well enough, but are rarely seen on electric bikes. Instead, our ebikes come with disc brakes, which operate by pushing pads housed in a caliper against a brake rotor attached to the wheels’ hubs. There is a good reason for this, and it has to do with more efficient and consistent stopping, whatever the weather.
When you operate the brake by pulling on the brake lever, either it pulls a cable or pushes hydraulic fluid through a hose. In either case, there’s a physical line to the brake caliper from the lever; and in both cases, applying the brakes pushes pads against a braking surface (the metal rotor) to generate friction and heat to slow or stop the bike. Generally speaking, the stopping power of disc brakes is superior to that of rim or V- brakes; and the stopping distance for hydraulic disc brakes will be shorter than that for mechanical disc brakes.
Gears. Just like regular bikes, electric bikes have a mechanical drivetrain, which allows you to pedal the bike. The drivetrain consists of the front chainring (or sprocket), the rear cassette (made up of individual cogs), the rear derailleur and the chain. The chain connects the front chainring(s) and the rear cogs, so that when you turn the pedals you also turn the wheels.
The number of teeth on the cog and chainring combine to determine how easy or hard it is to pedal. The derailleur is the mechanism that physically guides the chain from cog to cog (or chainring to chainring) when you shift gears. Most ebikes will have a rear derailleur, whereas few have a front derailleur needed for multiple chainrings. Gear shifters are the controls (usually levers) that operate the derailleurs via cables. The most common gear configuration on an electric bike is the 7-speed, which has a single chainring and a rear cassette made up of 7 cogs.
Less common are ebikes which feature an internally-geared hub (IGH), which typically eliminates the need for derailleurs, cassettes and multiple chainrings. All the gears are built into the hub itself, and the connection between the front chainring and rear cog is via a belt drive. An IGH drivetrain will require less maintenance, is simple to use, and has the ability to shift gears while coasting or waiting at a stoplight.
Motor. Ebike motors are the electric powerhouse that propels the bike forward, either by providing a boost when you are pedaling, or by powering the bike with no pedaling required when you activate the throttle. The motor may be housed within the front or rear hubs of the bike, or both when it comes to dual motor all-wheel drive (AWD) systems. Mid-drive motor are located in the middle of an ebike, integrated into the bottom bracket where the crank arms connect.
Rear hub drives, dual hub drives, and mid-drives have nominal and peak outputs measured in watts. This is equivalent to the horsepower in motorized vehicles, with a higher wattage indicating a more powerful drive force. A 500W rear hub motor is the most common on ebikes, and will provide sufficient hill climbing ability for most riders. We also carry a few models with 1000W (nominal output) and even 1500W motors, which allow for towing heavy loads or carrying heavier riders.
Battery. Of course, an electric motor needs a power source, and all our ebikes are outfitted with lithium-ion battery package, consisting of a shell or outside case, a rack of individual battery cells, and a battery management system (BMS).
Ebike batteries have two primary specifications: voltage and amp-hours. Battery voltages are most commonly 36V or 48V, although some ebikes will have a 24V system, and others will operate at 52V. The higher the voltage rating, the more efficient the electronics operation, using less power compared to lower voltage systems. The amp-hour (Ah) rating of the battery is essentially a measure of its capacity (like the size of a fuel tank) and therefore the range of a battery. To learn more about ebike batteries, please see our Ebike Battery FAQ and Ebike Range Calculator.
With hundreds of models to choose from, deciding which is the perfect ebike for you can be a daunting task. Hopefully the information provided above will help guide you to narrow down your selection to a few models. People will often ask me which ebike I personally ride, which are best reviewed, which have the best performance specs, and which have the fewest complaints or warranty issues. That’s a lot of questions, and we have many of these in our FAQs. That being said, a few models are definitely our favorites, and these also tend to be our bestsellers.
Revi Cheetah. The Revi OG Cheetah is the original cafe racer electric beach cruiser, and the Cheetah Plus is the latest upgrade to this unique model. The OG Cheetah is one of my personal favorites, and not just because it looks like a vintage motorcycle.
The OG Cheetah is super comfortable and fun to ride, whether you are cruising through the urban jungle or riding through an actual jungle. The fat tires give the Cheetah good stability and traction, and can be deflated down to 5 psi if more cushioning is desired. The 750W rear hub motor is surprisingly powerful, and I really like how smooth the pedal assist system (PAS) operates, not to mention the half-grip twist throttle.
When outfitted with the free accessories bundle (a $499 value), including fenders, rear rack, pannier bags and light grill, the Cheetah is a real head turner.
Eunorau Fat-HD. The other ebike in my personal fleet right now is the Eunorau Fat-HD. This is the most affordable mid-drive on the market today, featuring a 1000W Bafang BBSHD motor for smooth and quiet operations.
The Fat-HD is definitely an off-road beast, ready to take on the steepest and roughest trails you can find. It’s paired with a 48V/15.6Ah downtube-mounted battery, which provides long range riding with each charge. You can also get a second battery if you need to extend your range. One of the cool things about the Fat-HD is the free 27.5” x 3.0” wheel set ($299 value), which can be swapped out for the 26” x 4.0” fat tires that come standard with the Fat-HD. This is a popular option with customers, allowing you to have essentially two different styles of e-mountain bikes.
Fiido T1. We have only been selling the Fiido brand of ebikes since the beginning of the year, but we are becoming super impressed with their lineup. And the T1 fat tire electric utility bike is best-in-class. The Fiido T1 features a sturdy low-step frame with an integrated rear rack, and a large LED headlight attached to the aluminum-tube front basket.
The T1 is outfitted with a powerful 750W rear hub motor, with a maximum assist speed of 28 mph. The motor is paired with a very long-range 48V/20Ah battery, which mounts behind the seat tube for easy access and removal (for remote charging). We have received some very positive customer feedback on this model, and think it compares favorably to the Rad Runner.
Aostirmotor S18-1500W. For pure power, few ebikes can match the Aostirmotor S18-1500W, which is outfitted with a 1500W (nominal output) rear hub motor. The S18-1500W has a uniquely curved full-suspension frame, which fully encloses the 48V/15Ah battery. Does anybody really need this much power?
Well, if you are a big guy climbing some steep hills, how much power is enough power? The more the better, right? In any case, the S18-1500W is not for everyone, but you’ll know if it’s for you.
With the growing popularity of electric bikes, and the rapidly changing economic landscape (i.e., the Great Resignation), many people are interested in the business side of ebikes. I have written about what it takes to start your own ebike business, and I continue to work with members of my Ambassador’s Club to give people demo rides and educate them before they make such an important purchase.
If you want to start your own electric bike business, give me a call. I love to talk business, and perhaps I can help get you started in this exciting field. If you already have a bike rental business, or any other business that you think could benefit from the addition of ebikes, don’t hesitate to reach out. I can offer a ton of free advise, and I also provide professional coaching services to beginning entrepreneurs.
Steve M. Appleton, Owner
Really Good Ebikes
With a background in environmental planning, Steve took his passion for sustainable development and started Really Good Ebikes, an online ebike store where he helps people find the best ebikes for their needs, and partners with ebike business entrepreneurs. He is the author of The Beginner's Guide to Ebikes, published on Kindle in 2020. Steve is passionate about animals, and spends part of each day volunteering at the local animal shelter.
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I really appreciate this article. You are very honest in stating why you are doing what you’re doing, and it instills trust. Keep up the good work.