Really Good Electric Bikes 2019 eBike Buyer's Guide - Really Good eBikes

Really Good Electric Bikes 2019 eBike Buyer's Guide

2019 ebike buyer's guide

Introduction

We prepared this Ebike Buyer’s Guide for customers of Really Good eBikes, and anyone else interested in learning about electric bicycles (aka ebikes). It includes all the basics you’ll need to become an informed ebike shopper and a competent ebike owner.

Really Good eBikes is an online store for electric bikes, conventional bikes, electric scooters, kickbikes, and other modern forms of personal transportation. We do not carry any gas-powered vehicles.

We are based in Buffalo, Wyoming, with suppliers nationwide. We offer free shipping on all products in the Continental US via UPS and FedEx.

If you have any questions about our products, or if would like to check the availability of an item, please click the Chat Icon in the lower right corner of the website, and we will personally do our best to help. Or give us a call at 888-883-3350. We love to talk about ebikes.

Table of Contents

1. In the Beginning...
2. Benefits of eBikes
3. What Makes Ebikes Unique?
4. Classes of Ebikes
5. Ebikes vs. Cars
6. Where to Buy an Electric Bike
7. More on Motors
8. Power, Range & Batteries
9. Ebike Pros and Cons
10. Ebike Maintenance

1. In the Beginning...

In this Buyer's Guide to electric bikes (ebikes) we are going to help you understand the different types of ebikes on the market, and guide you through the process of deciding which ones might be best for you and your family. We hope that you find this to be of great value, but if we missed something (or you would just like to talk about ebikes) let us know.

Ever since the late 1800s, inventors have tried to add a power source to conventional bicycles, including motors powered by fossil fuels, electricity and even steam. It wasn’t until recently, with advances in battery technology and electric motor design, that the idea of creating an electric bike become truly viable.

The idea of an electric bicycle can seem perplexing at first, so it is important to remember that an ebike is - first and foremost - just a bicycle. While ebikes share a few things in common electric scooters or mopeds, the vast majority are fundamentally the same as conventional bikes.

Ebikes have similar frame geometries as conventional bicycles, and standard-size components such as wheels (rims), tires, seatposts, saddles, handlebars, stems, forks, braking systems, and multi-geared drivetrains.

This makes it relatively easy to find replacement parts, perform maintenance, and make basic repairs, just as you would with a regular bicycle. Below is a diagram of all the major parts of a regular bike, and these names equally apply to most ebikes.

conventional bike anatomy

An electric bike adds three (3) important components to a conventional bike, which we discuss in some detail in this Buyer's Guide. They include: (1) an electric motor, (2) an electric battery pack (including individual cells and a battery management system), and (3) a computer controller which regulates the flow of power from the battery to the motor. There will also be controls mounted on the handlebar to control these systems, including a pedal assist controller, often a throttle, and also quite often an LCD display.

Conventional bicycles can be modified to add these components using a Conversion Kit, or you can get an electric bike where these components are integral to the overall design of the ebike.

When considering an electric bike, it is good to think first about what kinds of regular bikes you enjoy riding (or have enjoyed riding in the past), and the kind of bicycle riding you hope to do in the future.

Do you like a casual beach cruiser with a step-through frame and ease of operation? Would like to go off-road with a full-suspension mountain bike? Are you a student or office worker who would like an ebike for commuting, as an alternative to driving a car?

We have developed a short questionnaire to help you figure this out, and we also offer our customers a free ebike consultation - just contact us by email info@reallygoodelectricbikes, phone 888-883-3350, or chat with us - and we’ll work to find the right ebike for your needs.

2. Benefits of eBikes

Since you’re reading this Buyer's Guide to eBikes, you probably already have a good idea of why ebikes are so awesome, and how profoundly they can improve our daily lives. Take a conventional bike, add an electric motor, power it with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and you have a boosted bike, allowing you to go faster, and farther with less exertion of physical energy.

Not only are ebikes a great convenience - allowing you to arrive at your destination without being a sweaty mess - they also get us out of our cars, saving money on gas, registration, insurance, maintenance and parking, reducing our impact on the environment, and saving us the daily hassle of traffic and gridlock.

diagram of the benefits of riding bicycles courtesy of really good ebikes

Ebikes give us all the freedom, satisfaction, and exhilaration that comes from a good bike ride. But they also eliminate many of the obstacles that people have for getting on a bike, such as steep hills, headwinds, or long commutes, that can leave a rider tired, sweaty and messy.

We like to think of ebikes as an attractive alternative to conventional cars or bikes. I know for myself, I often see bike riders at Trader Joe’s, and I think about how cool it would to avoid the hassle of traffic and parking, and just cruise to the grocery store on a cargo bike, whether or not it has electric power.

The same could be said for my past professional life (before I started this online store) when I worked in an office downtown, and had to decide every day if I was going to drive to work, walk to work for the exercise (43 minutes each direction), or just hop on a bike and cruise to work.

Electric bikes are becoming popular among a number of demographics. Older cyclists may be looking for a low impact form of exercise combined with leisurely bike rides. Young professionals commuting in our modern urban jungles. And everyone who might be interested in lowering their carbon footprint, getting out from under their car, saving money on gas, insurance, parking, and traffic.

family riding bicycles together

Many people will rent ebikes or borrow them from a friend before buying one for themselves. Another option is to take a trial ride at the Ebike Expo, which travels around the US each year, giving many people the opportunity to try ebikes from a number of different manufacturers.

3. What Makes Ebikes Unique?

Electric bicycles today are quite diverse in style and design, allowing for people at all levels of fitness and physical ability to enjoy the benefits of cycling. With the rapid growth and dramatic improvements in bicycle engineering and ebike technology, the prospect of owning and riding an electric bike has never been greater.

Ebikes are perfect for leisurely rides, commuting to work and shopping, and for low-impact exercise. And when you turn off the motor (and remove the battery to reduce weight), you have a regular bicycle that can give you a real workout if you like.

At Really Good eBikes, we carry about 300 models of ebikes from a wide range of top-rated brands. We have grouped these models into a variety of collections, to help you find the perfect ebike your your unique needs. You can search by riding style, frame design, and even drive mode. Our major collections include Fat Tire, Step-Thru, Folding, Commuter, Cruiser, Comfort, Trikes, and Mountain.

We also carry a number of speciality bikes, such as conventional and electric tandem bikes, electric and conventional kickbikes, electric skateboards, drift trikes, and a wide range of mobility scooters.

Ebikes are like hybrid cars, a new form of sustainable transportation that comes with several new technologies to understand and embrace. But the cool thing about electric bikes is that the technology is really not that complicated when you break it down: there are basically three (3) things that make an ebike different than a conventional bike.

Motor

All ebikes come with an electric motor that helps propel the bike forward, by itself or in combination with human-powered pedaling. The motor can be mounted within the front hub or rear hub (known as hub motors), or integrated into the bottom bracket where the crank arms and pedals connect to the frame (known as mid-motor or mid-drives, because they are located in the middle of the frame).

mid drive electric bike motor

The electric motor on an ebike can be controlled by the rider in several ways, depending on the model. Pedal Assist Systems (PAS) can be triggered simply by exerting force on the pedals; the ebike has sensors which detect this torque pressure and kick-in automatically, matching your force with an equal amount of electric power.

That’s one of the reasons why ebikes are so much fun to ride - they just seem to have a magical force that propels you forward, like a strong tailwind. The electric motor can also be engaged with either a trigger-throttle (a thumb-controlled lever or button) or a twist-throttle which is similar to those found on scooters and motorcycles.

As you will learn later, ebike motors have two typical ratings: nominal and peak output, with the nominal (or normal) rating ranging from 250 watts (W) on sub-compact, ultra-lightweight models like the VeloMini+, to 1000W on the high-end electric mountain bikes (e-MTBs) like the Rambo R1000XP. Keep in mind that under federal guidelines, ebikes with nominal motor ratings of greater than 750W are not considered street-legal.

Battery

All ebikes have electric battery which holds energy to fuel the motor, just as a gas tank is the storage container for the fuel that powers your car. Most of our ebikes come with lithium ion (Li) battery chemistry, but there are also a number of models with lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4), lithium-polymer (Li-Po) and sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries.

 

ebike batteries

It is important to know that your electric battery is sourced from a reputable manufacturer, because not all ebike batteries are built the same. Just have we have seen with cell phones and hoverboards, when poorly engineered batteries fail, they tend to explode into fire. At Really Good Electric Bikes, we only carry ebikes from suppliers who source their batteries from reputable manufacturers.

Controller

Third, every ebike has a controller, which is used to control the energy flow from the battery into the motor. This is one of the most sensitive parts of an ebike, and should be kept dry at all times. The controller is typically enclosed within the battery case, but can sometimes be found in a separate case next to the battery.

ebike controller

Because of these added components, electric bikes tend to be a little heavier than conventional bikes, so it is important to consider where the motor and battery are located, as this can affect the overall balance of the ebike and how it will perform.

We carry a few ebike models, however, which are actually lighter than many conventional bikes, including the VeloMini+ and Fairweather by eProdigy. We also have a number of folding bikes which are perfect for stowing away in car trunks, trains, planes and yachts.

4. Classes of Ebikes

As noted above, electric bikes are basically conventional bikes with the added feature of electric power. All of the rules of the road that apply to regular bikes apply to ebikes, including stopping at red lights and train crossings, staying off sidewalks, and wearing helmets.

Ebikes are more akin to conventional bicycles than mopeds or motorized scooters. Which means, in most cases, that they can be ridden in bike lanes, bike paths and other places where regular bikes are allowed. Now that ebikes are becoming more popular in the United States, federal law has defined several classes of ebikes which you should be aware of as you begin shopping.

classes of e bikes

Class 1: Pedal Assist

Class 1 ebikes have pedal assist and are known as pedelec (pedal electric). The electric drive system on a Class 1 ebike can only be activated through pedaling and is limited to relatively low speeds. The sensors in the motor measure pedal movement, pedal torque or bicycle speed (sometimes all three). In the US, this class has a motor power speed of limited to 20 mph (32 kph) with motor wattage up to 750 watts.

Because Class 1 pedal assist ebikes operate at lower speeds and require pedaling, they benefit from the same rights and access privileges as conventional bicycles and are be able to be used on streets, bike lanes, multi-use bike paths and off-road trails.

Class 2: Throttle On Demand (power on demand)

The electric drive system on a Class 2 ebike can be activated through a throttle element such as a grip-twist, a trigger or a button located on the handlebar. Like Class 1 ebikes, Class 2 ebikes are limited to lower speeds, and have the same rights and access privileges as conventional bikes with respect to roads, bike lanes, multi-use trails and the like.

On Class 2 ebikes the motor system can also be activated through a pedaling action. In the US, this class is limited to a motor powered speed of 20 mph (32 kph) with motor wattage of up to 750 watts.

Class 3: Speed Pedelec

The electric drive system on Class 3 ebikes is known as Speed Pedelec (from pedal electric cycle) which can be activated through a pedaling action to reach higher top speeds (~28 mph).

In the US, Class 3 ebikes may still be considered a “low-speed electric bicycle” if human power propels the bike above 20 mph and as such, does not require special licensing; this class is often combined with Class 2 which results in an ebike that has a throttle element capable of powering the rider up to 20 mph on motor power only, as well as a pedal assist mechanism capable of powering the rider up to 28 mph.

Class 4: Moped or Motorcycle

The electric drive system on Class 4 ebikes can be activated through a pedaling action or throttle. The top speed is above 28 mph. Class 4s are considered motor vehicles which require licensing and registration, and are limited to certain off road trails or traditional roads.

When figuring out which type of ebike is right for you, think about what you would like to get from your cycling experience. Are you looking for a low-impact exercise to stay in shape? Do you want to go on rides with family and friends and keep up without worrying about keeping up? Perhaps you want a true replacement for the car, using your ebike to commute to and from work, go to the grocery store, and jet around town?

Thinking in this way will really help you find the ebike for your needs. And as we mentioned before, we are always here to help guide you through this process.

5. Ebikes vs. Cars

Wouldn’t it be nice to reduce your carbon footprint while getting some exercise? Wouldn’t it be awesome to stop paying for gas, and perhaps ditch the car altogether, saving money on registration, insurance, parking and traffic? It’s all possible with an ebike.

e bikes vs cars

Electric bikes represent a viable alternative to gas-powered cars, especially for those of us who live in urban settings and use their cars mainly to commute to and from work, go shopping, visit friends and family, and drive to places where you can park, get out and enjoy nature.

Ebikes offer the unique opportunity to combine some level of physical activity with day-to-day transportation needs, helping to contribute to more active and fitness oriented lifestyles.

6. Where to Buy an Electric Bike

Ebikes are growing in popularity, and if you live in an urban area, you might be lucky enough to have an electric bike store in your town. Ebike stores may carry a single brand - such as Pedego - or a number of brands with various models at different price points. Some conventional local bike shops will also carry a few ebikes, but this is not as common.

Interestingly, because ebikes are such a unique type of hybrid vehicle, it is also possible to find ebikes for sale at car dealerships, sporting goods stores, and even electronics stores that sell TVs and refrigerators.

bike shop interiorThere are several drawbacks to shopping for ebikes in a brick-and-mortar store, the biggest being limited availability of different models and brands. In the case of branded stores, you may be able to choose from a variety of ebike styles, but they will all be from the same manufacturer. In the case of traditional bike shops, you will typically see only a few brands represented, and even fewer models.

Another drawback is that physical stores which sell ebikes are typically located in urban areas with lots of foot traffic, so if you live in a suburban or rural area, you may be out of luck.

Shopping online is the best way to solve these problems. Not only is our online store always open, and conveniently accessed from your computer or mobile device, but we are here 24/7/365 to answer any questions you might have, and help you understand all of your options. For your convenience, we have also created list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and an eBike Encyclopedia, both of which should help with any questions you have.

Moreover, by shopping at our online store, you will have access to ebikes from over 40 brands, representing a wide range of designs and price points, as well as frequent discounts, free shipping, free professional assembly, and/or and one-year free roadside assistance No brick-and-mortar store can offer all that.

Wherever you end of getting your ebike, make sure it is of high quality. There are two main elements to look for when shopping for electric bikes: the electric and the bike. While the quality of an ebike has a lot to do with the quality of the electronic components, it is still fundamentally a bicycle. A poor-quality bicycle with high-quality electronics will not be good for you in the long run, nor will a high-quality bicycle with more quality electrical components.

A good electric bike should have all the components that make a conventional bike shine: a durable frame (whether steel, aluminum or carbon-fiber), high-quality shifters, an effective braking system, strong wheels, a stable fork, and a comfortable saddle.

7. More on Motors

As discussed throughout this guide, the electric motor on an ebike is one of its most important components. Getting to know more about ebike motors, therefore, is an essential part of becoming an informed consumer.

One of the questions we frequently hear from customers is how the different types of electric bike motors work, and which is the best for different riding styles. In this section, we discuss each of the three major types of ebike motors - mid-drive, hub and all-in-one motors, and talk about their various applications.

Mid-Drive Motors

Mid-drive motors - sometimes just called mid-motors - are centrally located around the bottom bracket. The bottom bracket is the cylindrical shell at the center of the frame in which the crankset and pedals are attached. In this location, the mid-drive motor provides for a low and centered distribution of weight, which is especially important for ebikes since they usually weigh more than conventional bikes.

e bike mid-drive motor

Mid-drive motors provide the greatest amount of power compared to other ebike motors, and are ideal for long, steep climbs, because they are able to leverage the lower gears of the bike and keep the RPMs in an efficient range without getting bogged down. Mid-drives tend to feel more like a “normal” bike, because its power is directly driving the pedals.

Mid-drives also work well when traveling at higher speeds on flat or inclined roads or pathways, as they are capable of leveraging the higher gears of the bike. Mid-drive motors work closely with the bike’s drivetrain (chain, gears, and derailleur) amplifying the mechanical advantage they provide. This is true for newer belt driven drivetrains, which have the added benefit of being a cleaner alternative to the greased chain and derailleur.

Yet another benefit of the mid-drive motor is that it makes repair and maintenance work on the front and rear wheels easier, since there is no hub motor to get in the way of changing a flat or doing other maintenance.

Most mid-drive systems use a chain, cogs, and derailleur drivetrain, and some systems are compatible with internally geared hubs and belt drives. Some of the more sophisticated mid drive systems have sensors that measure pedal power, wheel speed and crank speed, to automatically provides levels of assist that blend with the rider’s own powering, creating a very intuitive ride feel.

There are also sensors that can reduce the when the system senses that the rider is slowing down and shifting gears, making the speed transition very smooth. Some of the most sophisticated mid drive systems are electronically integrated with shifting systems.

Mid-drive systems are powerful, and therefore place a great deal of stress on the drivetrain. This can add the wear and tear of these components (chain, cogs, derailleur, etc.) and way require that they be replaced more frequently.

Hub Motors

The hub is the centermost part of a bicycle wheel. The hub is the part of the wheel where the spokes attach to and the axle is housed, and it is also the point of connection between the wheel and the bicycle frame.

Hub motors are are housed within the hub and powered by the battery. Hub motors can be located on the front or rear wheel, and may include internal gears. Hub motors are the most common types of electric motors on ebikes. While hub motors are not exceedingly heavy, their placement in the front or rear wheel will affect the overall weight distribution and balance of your ebike.

e bike rear hub motor

Direct drive hub motors use the whole hub shell, while geared hub motors are smaller, and use planetary gears to drive the hub shell. Direct drive hub motors are faster and more durable, but have less torque. These motors have few moving parts and are relatively quiet when compared to geared hub motors.

In addition, we are starting to see a number of all-in-one electric wheel systems, which house all of the electric bike components in the hub or wheel, including the motor, battery and controller. The following section discusses the various pros and cons of each of the major hub motor types.

Front Hub Motors

Because of its forward location in the front wheel, a front wheel hub has the effect of pulling the ebike forward. One of the main benefits of the front hub motor is that it creates an effective all-wheel-drive system - it drives or pulls the front wheel forward, and you are free to power the rear wheel by pedaling.

ebike front hub motor

This type of power combo is really useful when trudging through uneven surfaces such as snow or sand. However, front hub motors have a tendency to feel bogged down on long steep climbs.

Another benefit of the front wheel placement of the hub motor is that it allows for a variety of bike drivetrains to be used to power the rear wheel. This includes the traditional chain-driven gear cassettes with derailleurs, or internally-geared hubs driven with a chain or belt drive. Many riders prefer belt drives because they do not require grease and are thus much cleaner than chains.

Also, unlike rear hub motors, front hub motors are relatively easy to remove from the bike, since they do not connect to a chain or belt drive system. This is useful if you need to fix a flat tire, or if you want to change out the powered hub for a conventional front wheel. The forward location of the front hub motor also helps to distribute the overall weight of ebikes which have batteries located on a rear rack or behind the seat post.

Front hub motors tend to be less powerful than rear hub motors, typically in the 250 watt to 350 watt range). One reason for this is that in the forward location, the only support the motor gets is from the front fork, whereas a rear hub motor is supported by the structural platform of the seat and chain stays. For this reason, if you are looking at hub motors, make sure the bike itself comes with sturdy forks, larger spokes and strong rims, especially for higher-powered models.

Front hub motors typically have a throttle and/or cadence sensor pedal assist configuration. Torque sensor systems, which sense the amount of energy you are using to move the pedals, are more common in mid-drive and rear hub motors.

Rear Hub Motors

In contrast to front hub motors which pull the bike forward, rear hub motors have the effect of pushing the bike forward; because conventional (non-electric) bikes also push forward when exerting energy through pedalling, the rear hub motor feels more familiar to most riders.

There are many benefits to rear hub motors. Rear hub motors come in a wide range of power options, from about 250 watts all the way 1000 watts, which is made possible by a structural platform (seat and chain stays) that can handle the high torque from the motor.

ebike rear hub motor closeup

In a rear hub motor configuration, there is less tendency for the rear wheel to spin out when riding over gravel or other uneven surfaces, when compared to front wheel drives. They can also be setup to provide electric power with a throttle and/or cadence or torque sensor pedal assist.

One thing to consider before buying an ebike with a rear hub motor is the fact that they can be a little cumbersome to install or remove, because you will need to work around the gear cassette and derailleur (unless, of course, the hub motor is internally geared).

Also, rear hub motor powered ebikes may tend to bog down on long, steep climbs when compared to mid-drive ebikes (but less so when compared to front hub motor drives). Make sure when shopping for a rear hub motor ebike that it has larger spokes and sturdy rims, which are needed to handle the extra torque.

All-In-One Motors

While not as common as hub or mid-drive motors, some ebikes come equipped with all-in-one wheels, where the motor, electric battery and controller are all housed within the front or rear wheel. The pulling effect of front hubs motors, and the pushing effect rear hub motors, described above, would also apply to all-in-one configurations.

All-in-one systems are typically easy to install, and can be found as aftermarket add-ons for conventional bicycles. However, with all the weight of the motor and battery combined in one location, rather than distributed across the frame of the bike, these types of systems are typically less balanced than other ebikes.

all-in-one ebike motor

Because all-in-one systems house the battery and motor together, excessive heat from the motor can affect the performance and lifespan of the battery. Some higher end bikes with all-in-one systems have addressed this issue with proper insulation, but a buyer should review each system on a case-by-case basis.

Whichever motor you decide is right for you, alway make sure that you buy your ebike from a reputable supplier who warranties their products. And it should go without saying, please always wear a bicycle helmet, even for the shortest rides in the safest places.

8. Power, Range & Batteries

Battery technology continues developing rapidly, and every year we are seeing safer batteries with higher densities and longer lifespans. However, just as with cell phone, laptop and other modern devices that use batteries, poorly designed or manufactured batteries, especially when exposed to extreme temperature changes, present very real explosion and fire hazards.

Therefore, we also recommend that you check the ebike brand to ensure that they are only using batteries from reputable manufacturers.

ebike battery fire

Never leave charging batteries unattended. When finished charging after about 3-4 hours, all batteries should be unplugged to prevent overcharging. This is true even when using a charger with automatic shut-off controls.

An electric battery contains the fuel for an ebike, just as a gas tank stores the fuel for you car. Most of our ebikes come with lithium ion (Li) batteries, but we also carry a number of reliable models with lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4), lithium-polymer (Li-Po) and sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries.

amps volts watts water diagram

Amp Hours (Ah)

Amp-hours (Ah) are a measurement of the capacity of the battery, analogous to the size of a gas tank in a car. The bigger the tank, the farther you can travel on one tank of gas. Typical ebike batteries Ah ratings are 8.8Ah, 10.0Ah, 13.0Ah, 14.0Ah, 11.6Ah. 14.5Ah, and 17.5Ah. The price of ebike batteries increases greatly as Ah goes up.

Voltage

Voltage (V) is a measure of potential power or throughput capacity. It determines how much energy can be supplied to the motor. Voltage is analogous to water flow through a pipe - the larger the “pipe”, the more water (or electrons) that can flow through per unit of time. Volts (V) represent the potential power of an ebike battery, which is similar to horsepower ratings in cars. The higher the voltage, the more power the battery has to drive the motor. The most common ebike battery voltages are 24V, 36V, 48V and 72V.

Watt-Hours (Wh)

Watt-hours is a measure of the stored energy of the battery. It can be calculated by multiplying the amp-hours of the battery by the voltage (Ah x V = Wh). For example, a 48V battery with 11.0Ah would have 538Wh.

An electric bike will typically use somewhere between 8Wh and 16Wh per kilometer of travel, depending in part on home much the rider pedals and how flat or hilly the terrain. So if you take your battery’s calculated Wh and divide it by your estimated Wh/km, you will get a sense of how far you can go one a single charge. For example, if you have a battery with 400Wh and are traveling in a flat area where you expend 8Wh/km, then your range will be 400Wh / 8Wh/km = 50 km (31 miles). With the same battery, a hilly terrain might use up to 16Wh/km, and the same 400Wh battery would only get 400Wh / 16Wh/km = 25km (15.5 miles).

As they say, your mileage may vary. Other factors which may affect battery performance include wind speed, the combined weight of passengers and cargo, and whether or not the tires are properly inflated!

Newer battery systems will provide you with real-time range indicators, factor usage, and provide estimated miles-till-empty figures. By managing power usage and your pedal to the metal, you never need to worry about running out of juice in the middle of a ride. But just in case, we offer one-year of free roadside assistance to every ebike customer.

Finally, almost all ebike batteries are removable, so that they can be charged remotely, without having to bring the bike to be close to an outlet. We are also seeing many batteries now that have one or more USB charge ports for cell phone, and integrated front headlights.

9. Ebike Pros and Cons

Well, if you’re read this far, you know that I am somewhat biased when it comes to ebikes. My favorites are give me the feeling that I’m flying, and I’m in the pilot’s seat. But this wouldn’t be a very good guide if it didn’t consider some of the pros and cons of ebikes. So here we go.

Cons

Ebikes are expensive. A few years ago ebikes were very expensive, but just like cell phones, the technology has advanced rapidly and it has never been cheaper to have so much power at your fingertips. Not only that, but we offer financing through either PayPal or Klarna, which lets you pay off your new purchase over 6 months.

Not only that, but when you compare the cost of ebikes to cars, taxis, busses and the like, there’s no comparison. With ebikes the daily cost to keep the battery charged is less than $0.50, and there are no costs related to registration, insurance, and parking. But even more so, the cost in lost time while sitting in traffic, is completely eliminated with ebikes. What price can you give to that freedom?

Heavier Than Regular Bikes. Ok, you sort of got us there. Batteries, motors and controllers have weight, but bikes are designed to carry loads much greater than this (like the human body) so what really matters is how that weight is distributed. Low and center is best, since it helps balance the bike.

That’s one reason (but not the main one) why mid-motors are so popular. Likewise, batteries which are attached to the downtube, built into the downtube, or attached to the seat tube are well-positioned on the ebike. But some would argue that placing the battery in a cylindrical format around a hub motor is equally beneficial to the balance of the bike. In the end, balanced weight distribution is certainly important, but so too is keeping your tires properly inflated.

Maintenance Will Be An Issue. This really depends on how you approach the issue of bicycle maintenance. Many riders enjoy maintaining their own rides, and it’s really not that difficult when you learn the basics. Check out our blog post on bicycle maintenance. If you prefer to take your bike into the shop for regular maintenance, it really depends on how close the shop is to you. As a service to our customers, we will contact bicycle shops in their area and find out how much they charge for assembly and fitting, maintenance and repair.

The question really has to do with maintenance of the electrical components of the ebike, separate from the regular maintenance that is expected with conventional bike ownership. Well, as you remember from reading above, the three unique components of an ebike are its controller, its motor, and its battery.

The controller and motor do not require regular maintenance. They should operate fine for at least one year (the duration of the warranty) and typically much more than that. The battery, however, must be taken good care of. First, never leave it outside if you can take it inside. Batteries do not like extreme temperatures, or extreme changes in temperature. Second, make sure you have the original charger that came with your ebike, or one that you are assured has been UL certified and has the proper voltage for this application. Third, never leave a charging battery unattended. Check a charging battery to ensure it does not overheat or catch fire, and when it’s finished charging, unplug it. Charging batteries may be warm or even hot to the touch, but not burning hot. If a battery is too hot to touch, unplug it immediately.

Pros

Inexpensive Transportation. When compared to other forms of transportation, ebikes are extremely inexpensive. Less than a dollar a day to operate, inexpensive to maintain, requiring no registration or insurance, parked for free, and giving you back time wasted in traffic. That’s true value.

Improved Health. Ebikes are just bikes with motors, and if you turn the motor off, they are just bikes. And riding them brings great health advantages. Bicycle riding is a low-impact form of cardiovascular exercise, which works every part of the body, including and especially the brain. Ebikes require balance, focused attention, and heightened awareness. The exhilaration you feel when riding a bike has beneficial health effects that are only being discovered now. Improved digestion. Reduced inflammation. Enhanced sense of smell and taste.

More Time With Family and Friends. Going for a bike ride with friends and family is one of the greatest joys in life, and it’s free. You get out of the house, breathe fresh air, and enjoy physical activities with the ones you love. And now, with ebikes, any fear that you might not be able to keep up are eliminated. With a push of a button or a crank of a pedal, you can be racing up hills with the best of them.

Travel Farther. Another benefit of ebikes is that you can cover longer distances and go farther than you might on a regular bike. As a general rule, and ebike will double your travel distance over a conventional bike.

Sweat Free Commutes. This is a big one. A game-changer. What if you could leave the car behind when you commute to and from work. In the past, if you wanted to ride your bike to work, you and to worry about finding a shower (is your gym close to work?), having a change of clothes, and having to carry a satchel or backpack for your workout clothes. No more. With an ebike, you can cruise to work with limited physical effort, never breaking a sweat or soiling your clothes. And with belt-driven models like the Enzo 350W folder, you eliminate the greasy chain, cassette and derailleur.

10. eBike Maintenance

New electric bikes are so much fun to ride, but what happens when the chain starts to squeak or you get a flat tire? We always encourage our customers to get regular tune-ups, just like you would any conventional bike. How often you perform regular maintenance will largely be determined by how much you ride your ebike - the more frequently you ride, the more frequently you will need to perform routine maintenance.

garfield with bicycle flat tires

When to Perform Regular Maintenance

Common issues are, for example, when the derailleur is out of adjustment because the gears aren’t switching smoothly; the brake cable stretch and adjusting; and sometimes with heavier riders, the spokes can get stretched and need to be tightened up and trued.

What Can You Do At Home?

There are two things we tell our customers. First, keep your battery maintained by charging it on a regular basis.

Second, you must keep your tire pressure maintained as indicated on the side walls and in the user manual. All bicycle tires can lose pressure within a few days or a week, especially in areas where the temperature changes on a daily basis. Low tire pressure can affect range, ride performance and handling, among other factors.

Tire Inflation and Types of Valves

Bicycle tires come with one of two types of valve stems. The small diameter of the Presta valve, and the larger diameter Schrader valve (the latter being the type found on car tires). The Presta valve has a locking twist nut at its base, which needs to be kept tight against the rim of the wheel.

bike valve type photo

To inflate the Presta valve you need to unscrew and loosen the tip (to free the stem) and either use a pump with a Presta locking mechanism, or screw on a Schrader valve adapter, which would allow you to fill the tires with air at a gas station or by use of a more conventional tire pump.


Most bike pumps these days are adaptable and can be used with either a Schrader or Presta valve. After filling tires to the right pressure, make sure to put on the stem caps.

Maintain Your Chain

Most people can maintain their bike chain at home by keeping it both clean and lubricated. This would not be required for a belt drive, however, which is an alternative transmission system found on many newer ebikes.

First, we do not recommend using standard WD40 alone, because it is a penetrant, not a lubricant, and will dry out the chain. Instead, can clean your chain with standard WD40, but you should use a product like Tri-Flow, or the WD40 chain lubricant afterwards, to make sure the chain is properly lubed.

bike chain lubes

A properly lubed chain should not be dry to the touch, but instead should a greasy residue on your fingers; however, don’t over-lubricate the chain to the point where it is dripping lube. A properly lubricated chain will prevent rust and facilitate the movement of metal-on-metal parts.

If the derailleur is making noises, then the cable used to shift gears may require an adjustment, which, depending on the type of setup you have, may either be made at the derailleur or at the gear shifter at the handlebar mount.

How often should you clean and lube your bike? It really depends on how you use it, and how often you use it. For example, if you’re going off road and mountain biking, every time you return would be a good time to fully wipe down your bike, and clean and lube the chain.

Likewise, if you are taking your ebikes camping, every time you come home, the bikes should get a good cleaning and lubrication. If you are just staying on paved roads, it would probably be ok to clean and lube the chain every couple of hundred miles.

Disc Brake Squeaking

A common complaint with disc brakes, which are commonly found on many ebike models, is that they begin to squeak. To fix this problem, first check to see if the pads are properly aligned with the rotor, and not brushing up against it when the wheel rotates; if they are not, make the necessary adjustments by loosening the caliper tightening bolt, grasping the brake (which has the effect of centering the brake pads around the rotor) then re-tightening the caliper bolt.

bike disc brake diagram

If the squeaking continues, you will need to take the caliper off, take the pads out, spray the disk with a disk brake silencer (like SwissStop). If this doesn’t remedy the squeaking, it could be an indication that the rotor is bent, which will require further alignment or replacement.

Bottom Bracket and Crankset

When you first take your new ebike out of the box, make sure the bolts at the crankset and bottom bracket are properly tightened with the correctly sized Allen wrench. This is particularly important with mid-drive motors which are integrated into the bottom bracket - otherwise there is a risk of damage to the cadence sensors and connector cables.

Are Electric Bikes Waterproof

Most ebikes on the market today are water resistant, with an Ingress Protection (IP) rating of 45. The first digit indicates the level of protection that the enclosure provides against access to hazardous parts (e.g., electrical conductors, moving parts) and the ingress of solid foreign objects. Rating 4 indicates >1mm and includes most wires, screws, etc. The second digit concern protection of the equipment inside the enclosure against harmful ingress of water. Rating 5 indicates the object size protected against is Water jets (water projected by a nozzle (6.3mm) against enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects).

That being said, ebikes are not waterproof, and it is always a best practice to wipe down your bike after each ride. Getting water on the the display or throttle should not be a problem.

The most sensitive part of an electric bike is the controller, which is often located in the battery case. If this part were to become submerged in water (for example, if the bike fell of the dock when you were getting on your boat), then this could cause some real problems.

Flat Tire Freakout

What happens if you out on a trail or far from home, and you get a flat tire? First, we do not recommend that you take the wheel and tire off the bike and try to change out a tube. Instead, we recommend that you carry a patch kit, because 9 times out of 10 the flat is a result of a puncture and not a blow out.

If you bring a simple pair of tire irons with you (and a patch kit) they can be used to remove the bead of the tire (the part the tucks into the rim) from one side, try to find where the puncture is located. Listen for a hissing sound, look for the puncture point, wet the tire to look for bubbling where the air is escaping, or even put the tire close to your face to feel where air is escaping. Then you will need to deflate the tire, put the patch in place, then re-inflate the tire.

However, if you are comfortable fixing a flat in the field, don't hesitate to call for roadside assistance, which is one of the great benefits of buying your ebike from Really Good Electric Bikes.