Which electric bike is right for me?
Have you a specific E-Bike adventure in mind, but are not yet sure what to make of the bike world’s jargon? Here we explain the difference between different styles of bike and what each is used for…
If you wish to take a bike onto a train, or perhaps inside the office after a commute then you’d be well-matched to a folding bike. These are versatile bikes, that rely on a series of hinges and magnets to reduce down to something like half (sometimes less) of the unfolded size. Accounting for this more portable size the folding bike is excellent for ‘last mile’ trips, where you take a multi-modal journey either by car or train, but have to cycle at either end for a comfortable and efficient door-to-door experience. What’s more, thanks to the ability to stash under desks or in cupboards, you can charge your electric bike comfortably out of sight, which has anti-theft advantages.
Convenience is really key and so when shopping the weight of your folding bike is something to consider. While you will be best paired with something robust and built to last, heavier folding bikes with batteries can be cumbersome, most noticeably when you are unfolding or folding, so try before you buy the whole routine to ensure you are comfortable. The good news? Folding electric bikes are much sleeker and lighter than they used to be, which should give you less reason to rush on the station platform.
If you’re concerned about your mobility range, or simply prefer the idea of being able to get aboard a bike with ease then a step-through may be a good match for you. While the bike industry has traditionally sold these as women’s bikes, that’s not strictly the case and most are built robust enough to take any rider. We highly recommend this style of frame if you have any hip mobility issues, are less flexible, or perhaps lack the confidence to mount and dismount safely.
Primarily you will find step-thru frames in the commuter or city bike sections of our retail partner’s sites, though that’s not strictly where the boundary ends as you’ll even find some off-road capable bikes on the market that have lower-slung top tubes.
Another perk of this style of bike is that very often you will enjoy an upright riding position, which is kind to the posture and gets your eye line comfortably up above the traffic, as opposed to a drop handlebar road bike that would have a more aggressive riding position.
Commuter and Trekking bikes
Feeling the pinch on your transport costs lately? This is where the fightback begins! Where train fares are trying to outpace inflation and the cost at the pumps is sky high, the electric bike’s costs have remained ultra-low. A few sensible estimates put the cost per charge at no more than 10 pence, which is pretty good value considering it costs about half that to boil a standard kettle.
So, cost aside, why does a pedal-assisted commuter bike just make sense? Let’s start with the traffic. Say you live in inner London, there’s little chance of you averaging over 7mph for long thanks to the motor vehicles keeping the city clogged. That makes you, on your shiny new and agile eBike twice as fast at full assist that the average car in the city. Your nimble, lightly powered pedal will guarantee consistency in your arrival time and you’ll arrive fresher thanks to not having worked up quite as much of a sweat (though as our FAQs explain, you’ll still be getting exercise).
On the subject of exercise, we think that’s the big plus of commuting by bike. Building active travel into your routine will make you feel less guilty about missing the gym and guarantee you start your day wide awake and happy, rather than growling at the car in front when rush hour build-up lands.
As for your options, there’s an abundance of choice, whether you opt for the convenience of the aforementioned folding bike, or grab a larger wheeled steed equipped with racking to carry pannier bags, there’s something to everyone’s tastes and needs.
The main consideration is perhaps the terrain you are using the bike on. If your commute is largely flat, then thanks to the motor’s assistance you need worry less about how many gears you’ll need as you’ll always be supported. If the topography is a bit steeper in parts we recommended choosing a bike with a range of gears, just to better set you up for all situations. In any case, the motor’s assistance will be most welcome at traffic lights, enabling you to get ahead of the traffic in confidence; something that our customers find particularly game-changing if they are nervous about riding on the roads.
Look out for other features increasingly delivered as standard on commuter bikes, such as full-length mudguards to keep your back dry, kickstands for quick stops and the option of a built-in rear wheel lock adorned directly to the frame. This means you’ll never leave the house without at least some security for your bike.
Whether you’re experienced on the trails, or looking at an electric mountain bike as a tool to reach the summits your legs alone may struggle with, the addition of a pedal-assist motor to electric bikes has broadened the horizons for adventurers the world over. These are ultra-capable machines and we guarantee you’ll be surprised by just how exciting they make off-road exploration.
Since the 70s the mountain bike has evolved, moving from the all-rigid ‘boneshakers’ of old to the slick geometry now finely tuned for everything from gentle cross-country tours to more extreme downhill ventures. Add to that high-tech suspension, vastly improved gearing and decades of adjusting the formula to understand ride characteristics and the machines of today are refined to let you get the most from your ride as safely as possible.
If you are considering how much suspension you may need, generally speaking, 120-140mm of travel will suit the majority of UK riding. Only if your riding is advancing to include jumps and fast downhills can greater travel increase your control over the bike.
With the integration of a motor the mountain biking genre comes alive once again. Very often placed down low at the crank, the centre of gravity is kept low, providing the rider with a planted feel on the trail and enough clearance to avoid too much clattering as you descend the odd rock garden. We recommend turning the motor right down on the descents, saving the battery for the hike back up the hill where you may wish to break out the turbo. With this strategy, we’re sure you’ll ride for a long, do more laps and come home with energy still in the tank for the next day.
Before pedal assistance really evolved into the lightweight and compact drive system products now clad in our bikes the cargo bike was something of a niche product. Nowadays, thanks to the evolution of the product and its newfound capabilities, the likes of Amazon, DHL and many other in the logistics business are using cargo bikes. Their reasoning is manyfold, but in simple terms, finding a parking space was taking too long and so business efficiency was harmed. With a cargo bike, no such trouble and you’ll save on insurance, fuel, tax, parking charges, fines, pollution charges and more. A cargo bike is a money-saving machine for businesses on the roads.
You’re probably not landed here looking to shift a warehouse full of goods, however, so if a cargo bike had your attention the more pedestrian uses are hauling children to and from school, or doing the weekly shopping. We’ve seen them employed often by tradespeople too for the same reason you’d choose an eBike to commute; they’re faster, cheaper and cleaner than vans, plus they can take a surprisingly large payload.
You may well have heard the term Butcher’s bikes, in reference to those selling meat and formerly known to make delivery by modified bike. Imagine that, but with a modern-day tech twist and a bunch of modular accessories that are built around your lifestyle. You’ll find everything from large capacity boxes, seatbelt-clad child carriage boxes and even accessories to safely cart surfboards available on the market.
The idea is simple; make one less car trip and that, nowadays, is more viable than ever.
The customer base for electric road bikes is smaller than most above, after all, those hitting the roads in search of speed on the tarmac are generally doing so out of love for the purity of road cycling. But what happens when you start to fall to the back of the peloton on the local club ride? Is there any shame in wanting to keep up the same cadence? We say absolutely not and in fact, there are former professional cyclists now avidly touting the benefits of the pedal-assisted road bike, promoting the idea that without such assistant the Tour stages once conquered would fall out of reach forever. Want to stay active into your older years, or just rehabilitate after an injury? This could be the tool for you.
For the uninitiated, road bikes are thin tyred, tarmac-suited bikes that will carry a wide range of gears and are some of the lighter bikes on the market. At the entry-level, you will tend to find metal frames in either traditional steel, more modern and lightweight aluminium or even titanium. Larger budgets will better align with carbon fibre which is the preferred material for those seeking top-end performance and a lightweight. The riding position is generally one of the more aggressive, with drop handlebars promoting aerodynamics and thus speed. With this in mind, many people find it beneficial to obtain a proper fit before they commit to buying a road bike. This makes it much more likely that you will be comfortable all day in the saddle and not cause yourself any injury.
Many road cyclists prefer to ride clipped into the pedals in order to maximise power transfer, but this requires a small amount of getting used to, so enquire at your local bike shop to be sure this is the right solution for you.
The perfect bike for forest fire roads and off-the-grid paths into the countryside, the addition of motors to the gravel bike was a dream come true for weekend warriors and so came the phrase ‘bikepacking’. This term is used to describe a rider who will literally disappear with all their camping gear adorned to their bike and return days later. If you can picture the middle ground between a road bike and a mountain bike, this is the area occupied by the gravel bike and as such it’s the weapon of choice for many seeking the best of both worlds.
Made immeasurably more capable with a little assistance up over the bumps on the path, the gravel bike is your perfect companion for long weekend exploration on the coast or in the hills, but it is likewise ideal for those who just wish to cover the maximum ground without relying on sometimes dangerous roads. These bikes can be ferocious climbers both on and off road, so if your only goal is to reach the summit for sunset then this bike style could be a match made in heaven.
For the most part, gravel bikes will come with a drop handlebar with the shifters and brakes found at either end under the hoods. Expect to find clad to the frame a number of mounts that will be ready to take bottles, bags and other compact gear. What’s more, off-road-ready tyres will give you far more grip on loose gravel and mud than the slicker tyres found on road bikes.