Why it makes sense to try an electric bike before you buy

Why it makes sense to try an electric bike before you buy E-Bike Advice | 29.03.23

Many products can comfortably be bought online nowadays and delivered to your doorstep, yet some items are still best tried in person before committing the cash – think sofas, suits and yes, bikes too.

While it’s certainly not impossible to buy a well suited electric bike online, there are a number of reasons why it really makes good sense to visit your local bike shop, take a test ride, get some advice and ultimately make the purchase in person.

Getting the right frame size and, better still, a fit to your e-bike
Believe us when we say nothing can ruin the ride experience like purchasing the wrong size frame. If you buy too large then you’ll find yourself elevated too far from the floor and lurching over the bars to make the reach. This will ultimately make you unstable in the saddle, promote an out-of-control ride feel and substantially reduce your comfort in the saddle, which if you’re out all day could result in injury. 

If your local bike shop offers the service and you can afford it, it really makes excellent sense to explore a proper bike fit. Fitting a bike to your dimensions is not too dissimilar a concept as buying clothing that fits well. Just think of the discomfort and ridicule you’d get for buying jeans several sizes too small. Where a bike’s dimensions are aligned to yours you will find yourself falling into a natural ride position with no overextension or bunching up in the saddle. This will enable you to ride for longer and more efficiently.

A proper bike fit, should you commit, will potentially involve adaptation to the off-the-shelf bike to make it bespoke to you. All of this is in the name of science, that is the science of riding efficiency. You may or may not feel comfortable with the idea straight away, but for maximum pedalling efficiency, you may opt for clipless pedals and cleats on your shoes, although this is better suited to advanced riders and sometimes the assistance of the bike’s motor will be more than enough in the way of help.

A demo can make all the difference in choosing the right bike for you
Deciding what electric bike to buy is a big decision, both from a financial standpoint and taking into consideration that this piece of equipment is your ride partner for the foreseeable future. Being able to understand first and foremost whether you have the right bike style for the terrain you hope to ride is important. Be honest with the bike shop’s salesperson and ask lots of questions about the capability of the components to be sure that you have something more than sufficient for your needs.

Ten questions you may consider asking include:

  • Is this the right style of bike to ride on the road, off-road or down mountains?
  • Do you have the right frame size in stock for me?
  • Can you show or explain to me some basic maintenance tips?
  • How long does the battery take to charge and in this local area how long might I expect it to last?
  • Do you have any recommended local rides for me to try on this bike?
  • What warranty and service backup is available for this electric bike and can you easily source the spares?
  • Are the tyres tubeless and if not, which size spare tube should I purchase?
  • Are there any special features such as a suspension lockout, or a dropper post?
  • Are there any upgrade options, such as battery upgrades or range extenders?
  • Which of the components are adjustable and which are best to leave alone?

If you are struggling to meet the price, ask your bike shop about finance options, the possibility to buy on a cycle-to-work scheme, or whether they do leasing options.

A shop may let you hire an electric bike first
Want to be sure an electric bike is the right fit for you versus a pedal cycle? Your local bike shop may very well have a hire fleet that will let you experience a full day’s ride to truly understand benefits that are just not attainable by shopping online. You’ll come to understand the controls, and the degree of connectivity with your mobile devices and you’ll get a feel for how the motors blend seamlessly with your own pedal stroke. Should you then decide to make a purchase, some stores will discount the demo rate from your final basket price.

Developing a relationship with a trusted local store and mechanic just cannot be done online
At the end of the day, electric bikes are pieces of consumer electronics. If you’re not to tech or mechanically savvy then it pays to have a relationship with somebody who knows the answer and is easily reached. With the modern electric bike, most of the clever stuff is embedded inside the frames and is very plug-and-play in nature. That said, your local shop will have the diagnostics equipment, the specialist tools and probably a suitable bike stand for a heavier cycle. All of this investment in the right tools and knowledge to do the job is done so that you, the customer, needn’t worry in the slightest about how long you’ll be out of the saddle. Book in, sit back and wait for a call to say the bike is ready to be collected. 
With electric bikes, it is particularly not advised to have a go at repairing at home. Electrics, in particularly those connecting to batteries, can be volatile if damaged, even if accidentally, so it’s important to build a relationship with a store professional.

Occasionally our bikes will be found at organised demo days, or national cycling events where you can try an electric bike, get in-person advice and be connected with a retail partner, so keep an eye on our social channels for opportunities to see our bikes in the flesh local to you.

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