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An electric bike is a motor assisted bicycle, where a certain amount of effort you would normally put in is removed via the motor to allow an easier ride. Power is applied when you first turn the pedals and makes riding up hill or into headwinds much more enjoyable. The benefit of e-bikes is the user is in control of how much effort they want to put in, the power applied from the motor can be controlled via the on-board display attached to the handlebars at any point while riding or stationary allowing you complete control.
Electric Bicycles give you the freedom to explore further than you thought possible, compared to a standard do-it-yourself bicycle. You'll go further and see more of the places you love, find new places you didn't know existed and you'll fly up hills and power through headwinds with ease. You choose how much work you want to do at any given time during your ride, increase power for hills with Turbo mode, or tackle every other hill on Eco mode for a spot of exercise. The choice is yours.
The UK Legal limit on an electric bicycle is a very reasonable 15.5mph, any faster the motor simply stops assisting. So you can still fly down hills at 30mph+ like on your old bike, as soon as you slow to 15.5mph or less the motor starts again keeping you cruising at a consistent speed.
MOTORS & BATTERIES
The motor is the bit that makes you go, it applies power to your pedals and removes a user determined percentage of effort from your ride. Without the motor you're either going nowhere or doing it all yourself.
No, not all e-bike motors are made equal and their cost is determined by their quality. There are three main motor placements; Hub Rear, Hub Front and Mid-Drive. Hub motors are found on the budget to mid-range e-bikes and perform their duties very well. Hub drives are typically on the low to high torque scale and are capable of propelling you and your e-Bike uphill or through headwinds and take out a percentage of effort on the flats too. Mid-Drive motors are where things get interesting, and more fun! Mid-Drives, Centre-Drives or Crank-Drives as they are known produce much more torque than Hub Drives can deliver and they do it by driving the crank arms as opposed to pushing or pulling the e-Bike via the wheel hubs. This method allows a much smoother ride and a more premium feel. Mid-Drives typically produce from 40-120 newton metres of torque power, compared to 30 on average for the average Hub-Drives, which means you can ascend hills at a much greater pace, power through headwinds faster and gather speed much faster under greater strain. Mid-Drives typically also feature torque sensors which measures the pressure you're applying to the pedals to give you appropriate assistance for the conditions. This also has the added benefit of reducing battery consumption and allowing greater range.
Batteries typically start at 300 watt hours and increase in 100wh increments to around 500wh. Some in-tube batteries, which fit inside the frame, come in at up to 630wh. If you're considering one particular motor then the bigger the battery the longer the range will be, it's that simple! If looking at different motors, then depending on which motor it's paired with, the range will be affected. Some motors are much more efficient on battery consumption than others, think BOSCH. Typically mid-drives with Torque sensors produce the longest range. We recommend you decide how many miles you expect to do on average and then double it, this should give you an idea of what motor/battery combination you choose.
The range you achieve from your bike will generally be determined by the motor and battery combination you choose but generally speaking most e-bikes can achieve around 35-40 miles. Some e-bikes, typically mid-range to higher end, are able to achieve up to 125 miles in the lowest setting. Range is also affected by rider height and weight plus the conditions you're riding in. If you plan to stick to the road your range will be higher than those looking to do most of their riding off-road. Hub gears vs derailleur will also affect the range by a small but not insignificant margin, so generally we recommend going for the highest rated battery and most efficient motors you can afford.
There are several e-bike motor manufacturers, some of the best include Bosch and Yamaha that produce systems that are very evenly matched in terms of build quality and reliability. Generally speaking Bosch drive units are highly rated for their quality and longevity. Bosch also tend to achieve the greatest range, by being highly efficient on battery consumption being able to achieve up to 125 miles on a 500wh battery. Bosch also provide updates throughout the year to further increase the efficiency of their motors and add updates when they become available. This makes Bosch e-bike systems highly desirable and is something other manufacturers have not applied to their systems to date. Yamaha, another respected e-bike motor manufacturer, produce e-bike systems that achieve up to an impressive 100 miles range in the eco mode setting with a 500wh battery fitted. Although not quite as long-range as Bosch, Yamaha motors produce 'punchier' acceleration than Bosch motors and are typically favoured by off-road enthusiasts for this reason.
We generally recommend you buy an e-Bike with a range to exceed your initial expectations, this will allow you to go further if the mood takes you. Spare batteries can be purchased, and for some e-Bikes they can be mounted to the frame and connected to the motor to be used concurrently. This option is currently only available via Haibike's unique MRS system. Spare batteries can be useful if you plan to travel with your e-Bike to hilly areas or plan to travel into Europe. But generally speaking, the motor/battery combination on your chosen bike should be your first consideration.
FRAMES & DISCIPLINES
The type of e-Bike you need will be determined by the terrain you're looking to ride on. For road riding, the Tourer range of e-Bikes provide everything you need with the added benefit of being able to tackle light trails if you're careful. Hybrids or Trekkers are better for dual use, and their primary feature include a more appropriate moderate riding position with wider handlebars for better handling and also feature grippier tyres. Mountain Bikes are also popular with people that have no intention of going anywhere near a mountain and can even be fitted with more appropriate tyres for road use. Some eMTB's also feature fitted mudguards, lights and a stand. Extras you normally don't find on mountain bikes. That said, they can be easily added to any eMTB as required. Look for Haibikes new (2019) Street Edition e-MTB.
Your first port of call should be the Tourer range of e-Bikes, Particularly Bergamont. Tourers are designed for road riding and feature motors and battery combinations appropriate for road use. Most tourers have 700c wheels, which are favoured with road based bikes, and a range of gears suitable for the condition you find on-road. Tourers also feature the option to have either Derailleur gears or the popular Hub Gears. The benefit of Hub Gears is you can change gear in a stationary position which is ideal if you've stopped suddenly and find yourself in the wrong gear, especially on a hill. Tourers also feature a more upright, or Relaxed, riding position which is favoured by leisure and occasional cyclists. You'll also find unisex Step-Through frames in the Tourer range which make getting on and off your e-Bike much easier, especially if you have large pannier bags on your rear rack.
Off-road riding is not just the preserve of the muddy lunatics with expensive bikes, anyone can enjoy off-roading from young to old, and we really mean anyone! From light trails to the more aggressive trail riding to Downhill and Enduro riding, there's an e-Bike suitable. Off-Road e-Bikes start at the Trekking range (Hybrid), then to the Hardtail, Full-Suspension and Street Editions from Haibike, to the more capable Full-Sus XDURO range from Haibike. Whichever type of off-road riding you're planning, there is an e-Bike to match.
Suspension, particularly Full-Suspension, isn't just for off-road enthusiasts it can also produce a more comfortable ride by cushing and flattening the terrain ahead including on-road riding. Bergamont produce an excellent full-suspension range of Cross Country style e-Bikes suitable for trail riding and, as they have a low profile tread pattern, great on road too. But you don't need full suspension to enjoy some of the benefits of a cushioned ride. Front suspension, found on a lot of e-Tourers, can be paired with a suspension seatpost. Suspension seatposts simply replace the standard post and offer a bit of spring to absorb the worst of the shock, they're are also great value at typically under £30.