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January 08, 2022
There are many types of electric bikes on the market today. These include fat tire electric bikes, folding ebikes, which can also come with narrow or fat tires, cruiser style models, some of which have a low-step or step-through frame, cargo slash utility electric bikes for carrying groceries and such, and specialty ebikes for hunting. There are also electric trikes, and electric tandem bikes.
Other ways to differentiate electrics bikes is by their components. For example, there are hardtail electric mountain bikes with front suspension (front shocks), and other electric bikes that have full-suspension.
The most common placement of the motor on an ebike is in the rear hub, but there are also many ebikes that feature a mid-drive motor mounted around the bottom bracket. Some ebikes feature a front hub motor, and there are others which offer all-wheel drive, where there is a motor in both the front and rear hubs of the bike.
Fat tire ebikes are some of the most popular models, and for good reason. Because of their wider footprint, these tires offer more traction and stability, and perform well on unpaved and rugged surfaces. You should be aware that with their larger size, fat tires add weight to the bike. This is not necessarily a problem when riding the bike, since you have the motor to assist you when pedaling, but if you need to lift the bike onto a rack, the heavier weight could be an issue. Check out our Fat Tire Electric Bike Showdown for more information about fat tire ebikes.
Deciding which electric bike you should buy is a very personal decision. The best way to make this decision is to try a number of models, and see which one that fits best and feels like it would offer you a good riding experience.
As a starting point, we often ask our customers where they will be doing most of their riding. If they plan on rough mountain trails, then a sturdy fat tire ebike might be best for their needs. But if you are looking for something that is lightweight and can fold up for easy portability, then we would start by looking at the different folding ebike options.
If you plan on going for very long rides, you should look for an ebike with a large capacity battery. And if you are shorter rider, look for a bike that has 20” tires and a low step-over height. Also check the minimum seat height, to make sure that you will feel comfortable when riding your bike, especially when starting and ending rides.
It’s hard to say which is the best electric bike. What might work well for one customer might be a terrible fit for another. The best electric bike is the one that fits your body well, is comfortable to ride, and doesn’t break the bank. Keep in mind that price is not always good measure of quality, and you should do your research to see what reviewers are saying about the models you are considering. A good place to start is Electric Bike Review, where many popular models are evaluated in great detail.
All electric bikes have a motor which helps propel the bike forward, either by providing assistance while pedaling, or by moving the bike with no pedaling required when you engage the throttle. The motor can be mounted within the front hub or rear hub, at the center of the wheel, or in the middle of the bike where the bottom bracket is located.
All ebikes are green, so to speak, because they are powered by electricity rather than fossil fuels. Of course that electric power needs to be generated at a plant somewhere, and it may do this by burning fossil fuels, gather power from wind turbines, or capturing the energy of water flowing through a hydroelectric dam. When you ride an electric bike as an alternative to driving a gas powered motor vehicle, you are substantially lowering your own carbon footprint. Ebikes are in fact one of the greenest forms of mobility available today.
Ebikes do not come with training wheels, but you certainly could attach training wheels to an electric bike. If you know how to ride a conventional two-wheel bicycle, then you should have no problem mastering an ebike. For those with balance issues, we recommend getting an electric trike, which is highly stable due to the fact that it has 3 wheels instead of 2.
While most ebikes have traditional spoked rims, there is a growing number of models that feature blade rims, often made from a composite magnesium alloy. If you get a bike with blade rims, you will not have to true the wheel, and you may notice that the wheels are a little stiffer than a conventional bike wheel. They also look really cool.
If you plan to ride off-road, on dirt trails or other unpaved surfaces like sand or snow, then an electric mountain bike might be a good choice. Just like regular mountain bikes, an electric ebike is designed specifically for off-road conditions. They typically will have a powerful motor, oversized disc brakes, a forward-leaning riding posture, and straight handlebars.
The best electric bike manufacturers are those that build high-quality products and provide exceptional customer service and support. The worst thing that can happen when you get a new ebike is for a component to fail, and when you reach out for support from the manufacturer, they respond with indifference or not at all.
The best electric bikes for hunting will have exceptionally strong frames with impeccable welds, high-performance components (drive trains, brakes, and electronics), with designs that meet the unique needs of the hunting community. A few of the models have are highly regarded by hunters include the Bakcou Mule and the Eunorau Fat-HD models.
Ebikes are great for commuting. When you ride an electric bike to work or school, you don’t have to worry about getting all sweaty, and you don’t have to pay for parking or deal with the hassles of traffic. Some of the best electric bikes for commuting are those that offer an upright riding posture, such as cruisers. Many riders also like step-thru models, since they do not have to swing their leg over the saddle to get on and off the bike. Just remember to get a good bike lock, so your precious ebike is not stolen while you’re at your desk
If you plan on carrying your precious pet while riding an ebike, we recommend getting a pet trailer. These are usually enclosed, highly visible, and provide you pet with a safe space to sit while you ride. If your dog is small, it could be placed in the front basket, but just make sure it can’t jump out and get hurt. Most ebikes have a carrying capacity of at least 250 lbs, so as long as your furry friend is not a giant, they will probably be able to go with you on your rides.
Most ebikes either come with a rear rack, or can be fitted with one after-market. These racks allow you to carry items strapped to them, and most also have attachments for pannier bags. These are great for carrying small items, such as those you might pick up at a grocery store. You can also attach a basket to the front of most ebikes, giving you another place to haul your stuff. If you really have a large amount that you want to carry, we recommend getting a cargo trailer. These have larger carrying capacities, and attach to the rear part of your ebike.
We like fat tire electric bikes for off-road riding, because they offer more traction and stability than their conventional counterparts. Some of the best ebikes for off-road riding include the Dirwin Seeker, the Eunorau Fat-HD, and the Nakto OX fat tire folder.
There are a few ebikes that weigh less than 50 lbs and are therefore considered lightweight. These models achieve their lighter weight by reducing the size of the wheels and tires, reducing the size (and range) of the battery, and by using lighter weight frame materials such as carbon fiber. Our favorite lightweight models include the Aostirmotor S03 (55 lbs), Eunorau E-Torque (54.5 lbs) and the Nakto Fashion (48 lbs).
All electric bikes come with a battery, since it is required to give power to the motor. But batteries are removable on most models, which makes the bike slightly lighter and allows you to ride it like a conventional bicycle. There is no drag if you ride an ebike with the motor turned off and the battery removed.
Electric bikes without a throttle are know as Class 1 ebikes, and there are still a few models available on the market. The vast majority of electric bikes have either a twist or thumb throttle, and are designed as Class 2. If you are concerned about regulatory restrictions that prohibit the use of a throttle, then you can simply remove or disconnect the throttle on your Class 2 ebike, rendering it effectively a Class 1 model.
Almost all bicycles, including electric bicycles, have a chain. The chain transmits the rotational energy of your pedaling to the rear wheel, propelling the bike forward as you ride. There are a few bikes on the market that use a belt drive instead of a chain, and this has same functional effect as a chain while eliminating the use of a derailleur or the need for lubricants. There have also been a few experimental bikes produced which use mechanical linkages between the bottom bracket and the rear wheel (shaft-driven), eliminating the need for a chain.
A shaft-driven bicycle uses a drive shaft instead of a chain to transmit power from the pedals to the wheel. Shaft drives were introduced over a century ago, but were mostly supplanted by chain-driven bicycles due to the gear ranges possible with sprockets and derailleurs. Recently, due to advancements in internal gear technology, a small number of modern shaft-driven bicycles have been introduced, but these do not include electrical components found on modern ebikes.
Yes, there are a few brands that make single speed ebikes. The Nakto Skylark is also a single-speed ebike.
We are not aware of any ebikes models that do not have a pedal assist system. If you want a throttle-only electric bike, you could buy any model that has pedal assist and simply use the throttle only. There is no requirement that you use the pedal assist system, even if it is present on the bike you ride.
No, electric bikes are not legally defined as motorcycles. They are technically and from a regulatory perspective bicycles, and can be ridden anywhere bikes are allowed. Some models of ebikes exceed the Class 2 rating by having motors that exceed 750W nominal output, and be classified as a moped. All ebikes are required to have operable pedals.
Dirt bikes are a kind of motorcycle designed for off-road riding, whether they use electricity or fossil fuels to power the motor. There are many ebikes that are designed for off-road riding, especially ones with fat tires, but these are not dirt bikes.
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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January 08, 2022
This was really helpful and fun to read. Thanks.