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If you are just now taking note of the not-so-quiet e-bike revolution taking place in this country, this article is for you. It explains what goes into an electric bike that makes it more expensive than a reliable conventional bicycle, and why so many riders are purchasing e-bikes for work, recreation, and local errands.
E-bikes are opening for many would-be riders for their extreme convenience, agility, and economy. The e-bike has found strong support among commuters, health and fitness groups, tour guides, maintenance workers, delivery personnel, police departments, aging riders, special needs riders, geographically isolated riders, people without driver’s licenses, college students, people who mostly rely on public transit, trail riders, beach riders, park and recreation rangers, and many others. E-bikes are the perfect all-purpose vehicle for trips between 1-35 miles.
So what does this new technology cost? For entry level models with first generation cadence technology (this is the basic assistance technology using magnets instead of torque sensors), expect to pay anywhere from $1000-$1900. The bigger more respected companies have better warranties because they use better parts, and demand tighter tolerances in the manufacturing process. This is critical for servicing your e-bike after you’ve put a few thousand miles on it. Bikes made with exacting tolerances and solid respectable components will vastly outlast those with loser tolerances and assembled with all economy parts.
Companies with strong reputations will have dealer support networks to support your purchase. The brands we most recommend in this price range include: Big Cat Electric Bikes, Magnum Electric Bikes, Volton E-bikes, and BH Easy Motion.An e-bike begins as a bicycle, but it’s frame, tires, brakes, fork, suspension, are reinforced and outfitted with superior components to withstand the stresses of motor and rider. The 3 essential components; that define its nature are its motor, controller, and battery. What makes these components so valuable is their ability to calculate the pressure you put on the pedal and then add whatever extra in energy is needed to get you going and keep you going. No electricity is wasted, and no unnecessary assistance is provided (unless you dial in that you want a lot of assistance).
This type of technology is a hybrid of human and electric energy. It empowers the rider to be the main power plant, but with backup power that picks up the additional energy needs for hills, or maintaining higher speeds. Behind the scene, the controller is calculating the physical energy produced by the rider (in essence, waiting first for the rider to put something into the equation) and then filling in the difference to get the job done. The result is this: there’s no stopping to push the bike up a hill; and there’s no slowing down or standing up on the pedals to get more leverage on the bike. What most first-time riders experience on the system is a feeling of super-power - as though they have a bionic implant that enables them to pedal the bike at higher gears and up steeper hills with less physical exhaustion. Some have commented that they feel like Superman pedaling up very steep hills.
If you are looking at spending less than $1000, please don’t even think about risking your hard-earned dollars on an e-bike you see advertised on Amazon or E-Bay for $600 or so dollars. The odds of getting a working model that will last at least 1 year are against you. We see a number of these bikes in our repair shop on a weekly basis. Most of the issues are failed components that require the owner to purchase replacement parts, and then wait for upwards of 8-10 weeks to have them shipped from China, and then hope that the cost of installing doesn’t outweigh the cost of the bike. After the first replacement is made, it quickly dawns on the owner that the savings they realized has evaporated. Be smart. Save for a quality bike by a manufacturer with strong dealer network. This ensures that parts and repairs services are within the continental U.S.
The vast bulk of quality e-bikes are priced between $2000-$3000. Bikes in this category are engineered as e-bikes. They are also designed by dedicated e-bike manufacturers who have a lot invested in building their brand. Many of these bikes will have won awards or substantial praise by industry insiders who test and review these models. These bikes are also more likely to be aesthetically pleasing. Brands that dominate this price range are big names in the e-bike industry: BH Easy Motion, Pedego, Specialized, Faraday, Trek, Prodeco, Giant, Haibike and A2B.
For the shopper looking for quality and the latest technology, the next generation of super e-bikes are now making their way into the e-bike showrooms. These e-bike manufacturers are introducing efficiency in torque sensing that are producing distances of 60-80 miles on average. We have already seen models with effective operating ranges of 50-80 miles per charge with price tags to match. For truly amazing performance, expect to pay between $4,000 and $8,000 or more. These bikes are the “best in class” bikes and the experience of riding one definitely seals the deal for most fence sitters. Some of the brands we represent in this category include Vintage Electric, Stealth, Italjet, BH Easy Motion and Pedego.