More and more of you are choosing the electric bike .
Indeed, the eco-mobility revolution is underway and you want to be part of it to take advantage of the many cycle paths that are springing up in our cities.
Thanks to the electrically assisted bicycle, you will no longer experience any difficulties in getting to your destination. All this without releasing a single gram of CO2 .
You want to take the plunge but do not know which model of VAE to direct you to.
In this guide we give you the 8 essential criteria to take into account when buying your electric bike. How to choose your electric bike ?
An electrically assisted bicycle for what purpose?
Whether it is to move around town or to take trips on country roads, you will always find electric bikes adapted to your needs. But in one case or another the technical characteristics of electric bikes can vary and should therefore influence your choice.
An electrically assisted bicycle for use in the city
If your electric bike must take you from point A to point B every day, such as between your home and your place of work, it is interesting to select a cycle that combines practicality and good performance .
A folding electric bike , easy to store, can be a good solution in a case like this. Generally, folding models are lighter, which makes them practical for storing them at home, transporting them on a train or even parking them at work.
Electric bikes for all-terrain use
If you want to opt for a bike with a classic frame that can ride both on roads and on country lanes, it is better to choose a VTC, an all-road electric bike . This type of electric bike is the right compromise between a city bike and a mountain bike .
It is advisable to opt for a model equipped with 26-inch wheels and which has all the necessary accessories for use in town such as mudguards, a luggage rack or even a front headlight.
Electric bikes for off-road use
The last category includes electric mountain bikes (or Fat Bikes), these are intended for a more sporty use. They are generally equipped with larger tires to roll on the most difficult surfaces (like forest paths).
All-terrain electrically assisted bicycles (electric mountain bikes) are not equipped with specific accessories, but it may be appropriate to have mudguards.
The different types of battery for an electric bike
As you might expect, the battery is the most important part of an electric bike . It is therefore necessary to pay particular attention to the technical characteristics of the batteries before purchasing an electrically assisted bicycle.
Anticipate for example the replacement of this one by informing you near the salesman or the mark of bicycle on the availability of the battery with the unit in the years to come. Since 2021, the French government has obliged manufacturers to offer you spare parts for a period of 5 years after your purchase .
Also, find out about the e-bike's battery technology, range, and whether or not it's removable . There are several types of lithium batteries and they all have their pros and cons.
Choose a reputable e-bike manufacturer
The first criterion to check on an electric bicycle battery is the name of the manufacturer. It is already a guarantee of quality on its manufacture and the reliability of the announced characteristics.
Choose big brands like Samsung, Sony, LG, Bosch or even Tranzx . They have a long experience in the manufacture of batteries for electric bicycles.
The different types of batteries for electric bikes
In terms of e-bike battery, the best choice is to opt for Lithium-Ion technology as it is the latest and the most reliable . In addition, lithium batteries are lighter than lead acid batteries and above all they are not sensitive to the memory effect.
That is to say that you do not have to wait for the battery to be completely discharged to charge it. It's more practical for recharging your electric bike on the fly, and moreover, it does not impact the life of the battery in any way .
You can also find batteries with Lithium Polymer (Li-Po) technology, but they are not at all suitable for a product like a bicycle . If they are lighter, they suffer from heat instability and have a short lifespan. They are more often found in drones or in model making.
The technologies to be avoided are lead batteries and cadmium batteries because they are technologically outdated. The lead battery is heavier than the Lithium-Ion and has a shorter lifespan.
(Editor's note: In 2021, it is fortunately no longer possible to find lead-acid batteries on the French market. These, moreover, are therefore even less interesting because they are not concerned by the subsidy for electrically assisted bicycles.)
Battery performance of an e-bike
After opting for a Lithium-Ion battery you need to look at the performance of the battery. Basically, there are 2 criteria to look at to make the right choice, voltage and amperage in hours.
While there are several voltages in volts on the e-bike market, the most standard is 36V . It is then necessary to be attentive to the amperage expressed in ampere/hour (Ah) because this is what will condition the autonomy of the battery.
The capacity of e-bike batteries ranges from 8 Ah to 15 Ah . For example, with a 36V 8 Ah battery you can count on a range of only 30 km, with a 36V 10 Ah battery a range of 50-70 km and with a 36V 15 Ah battery a range of 80 km.
You should know that the ranges announced by the manufacturers may vary from reality because they depend on the weight of the user, the type of terrain on which you drive, if you drive all the time at 25 km / h or even the level of electric assistance used.
What motor power for an electric bike?
Once you've made up your mind on the type of battery you want, it's time to look at motor power. Indeed, if the battery will define the autonomy of the electric bike, the motor will be the element which will deliver the speed of the machine.
In France, the power of electric bikes is regulated by law so all bikes have the same maximum power of 250W . Even if the battery makes it possible to deliver a higher power, the manufacturers are obliged to restrict the motor to 250W (250 watts).
Indeed, above 250W an electric bike is considered by law as a moped. Also called Speedbike, this one must therefore be registered and insured. We then lose all the interest of simplicity of use of the electrically assisted bicycle.
The second constraint of the law concerns the maximum speed of the electric bicycle. It is set at a maximum of 25 km/h . Once this speed has been reached, the electric assistance must be cut off automatically. Ditto if the driver brakes or stops pedaling. It is therefore not legal to drive on public roads to use an acceleration trigger so as not to pedal, even below 25 km/h.
Most electric bikes can be unbridled to exceed 25 km/h, but in this case the machine can only be used on private roads. Impossible then to drive with it on the public road.
The position of the motor of an electric bicycle
On this criterion you will find 3 engine type options depending on its position on the bike. Be aware that the position of the motor is above all a question of feeling about the daily use of the device.
Motor located in the front wheel
If the motor is installed in the front wheel you will have a very linear driving feeling . That is to say, there will be little difference in power between two pedal strokes. To put it simply, it's as if someone were pushing you in the back while pedalling.
Motor located in the rear wheel
Ultimately, between a motor placed in the front hub or rear wheel of the bike there is little difference.
Specialists agree that if the motor is at the front, the bike will be less stable and will lack grip on difficult terrain. But in town or on the asphalt, you won't feel the difference.
Motor located in the crankset
High-end electric bikes are generally equipped with this system. The central electric motor allows for smoother acceleration that accompanies your pedal stroke.
If you want to install an electric bike conversion kit to give your old classic city bike or road bike electric assistance, it is to this last type of engine that you should turn.
Battery located on the rear luggage racks
The big advantage of putting the battery on the rear racks is the price. Indeed, this allows manufacturers to use classic bicycle frames and only attach a battery to them. The bike is then more compact and shorter.
However, the major disadvantage is that the rear of the bike then ends up being overweight . This will impact the machine's center of gravity and any additional load on the luggage racks will have a negative impact on the handling of the bike. This is an important criterion for choosing an electric bike or electric mountain bike.
Especially on folding e-bikes , it's usually better to have the battery inside the frame.
The type of electric assistance
There are two types of assistance on the electric bike market , the main difference of which is the nature of the sensors that activate the motor.
The rotation sensor for electric bikes
It is the most widely used in the electric bicycle market . The motor kicks in when you pedal and stops when you stop pedaling. It is fitted to most cycles because it is the easiest to maintain and the least expensive . Its only drawback is that the power is delivered in all or nothing.
To adjust this, you will have to regulate the level of assistance according to the terrain and the wind. Once the engine is activated, you are propelled at 11 km/h on flat ground, with the 1st level of assistance, and at 18 km/h with the intermediate level.
The torque (force) sensor for electric bikes
This technology measures the pressure exerted directly on the pedals. Basically, the harder you press the pedals, the more power assistance the motor gives you . It is therefore easier to climb hills, for example, because the bike immediately understands the level of difficulty in which you are.
The other advantage of the torque sensor is that it ensures better engine responsiveness and lower energy consumption (because the assistance is only activated in the event of effort to be provided). But all good things come at a price! And effort sensors are more expensive and you'll find it mostly on high-end e-bikes.
In either case you will have several levels of assistance that you can adjust using the controller attached to the handlebars.
The riding position of an electric bike
Another criterion to consider before buying an electric bike is the riding position. It is defined in relation to the shape of the frame.
This is the most classic position because it corresponds to that of a classic city bike with high handlebars and close to the cyclist .
The advantage of this type of frame is the comfort of use on an electric bike because it allows you to have your arms relaxed and your head and back straight, unlike electric mountain bikes.
It is found more and more in new models of electric bikes. The driver is then leaned more forward for a sportier feeling and increased driving pleasure .
This is commonly the case on electric mountain bikes or Fat Bikes which are rarely used for urban riding.
Changing gears of an electric bike
You will find 2 types of shifting system in the e-bike market.
Gear shifting by derailleur
It is the most used system and that everyone knows.
It allows you to change gear while pedalling . It is suitable for both classic and sporty driving. In the latter case, if it is coupled with a motorization in the crankset it makes it possible to obtain a greater torque.
The gear change in the rear hub
Less widespread than the derailleur, it still has many advantages.
First of all, with the shift in the rear hub you can change gears without pedaling.
Indeed, it is impossible to derail and it is no longer necessary to bother to maintain your bike chain regularly. The latter is protected by a closed system.
The importance of disc brakes on e-bikes
In terms of safety, it is essential to have an electrically assisted bicycle with front and rear disc brakes . With the thrust of the engine, it is essential to have good braking, especially on an electric mountain bike which requires quality braking.
These disc brakes can be mechanical or even better hydraulic for an even better bite when pressing the brake.
Availability of spare parts
To finish this article of the criteria on how to choose your electric bike, it should be added that you should always inquire about the availability of spare parts from the seller .
First, it will allow you to quickly gauge the seriousness of the seller . Indeed, if an electric bike seller tells you that he does not have spare parts, it is clear that either he is not serious or he is not an electric bike specialist.
Secondly, to know how to choose your bike, you must above all know if the battery of the electric bike will still be available as a spare part in the years to come in case you need to change it.
All electric bike batteries have different shapes and finding a compatible one from another brand can sometimes be complicated.