That’s the big question really, and the answer is down to budget, use, and limitations.
You can spend anywhere between around £500 to £5000+ on an electric bike. If you’re buying your first eBike and want a decent quality motor, battery and bike specifications then really you’re looking at around £1,000 to £1,500.
If you want to spend less than that then you’re either going to be compromising on the bike itself, i.e a small frame or fold-able frame shopper style bike, or you’ll compromise on the quality of the motor and battery which isn’t advisable as it will mar you’re electric biking experience.
Minimum specification you’re looking for really is 36v for your motor and battery. Anything less and you will get less than 30 miles out each charge and the bike may struggle with hills.
What are you going to be using your electric bike for?
- Commuting – you need to choose a bike that is comfortable, good quality and has a good battery (or buy an additional battery) to make your daily commute enjoyable. If you are going to be lifting your bike for storage at either end of the journey or switching to a train or other vehicle at any point then you definitely want to consider a lighter bike of 25kg or less. A folding electric bike may also be handy if storage is limited at either end of your journey.
- Leisure – if you’re using your bike more for leisure then you may need a folding ebike so you can move it around and store it easily when not in use. If you plan to do hill cycling or mountain biking then you will need to buy an ebike which can cope with this type of terrain. You can buy mountain bikes with electric capabilities, and also hybrid bikes more accustomed to road cycling. Another consideration is how much storage you need on the bike, so can a basket or pannier be added, which isn’t often possible on a fold-able bike.
It’s often advisable to try out different bikes in a showroom before you buy them. If there’s not an electric bike showroom close to you, just try out standard bikes, at least then you can decide what shape frame and size wheels etc you’d prefer. You can also consider their weight and decide what your limit is for picking your picking up and moving it. Some online ebike retailers do a free trial, allowing you to try out the bike before you buy it, so this could be a good option for you.
Most electric bikes have certain limitations which may mean they’re unsuitable for you. One of the major limitations is battery capacity. Some bikes will only cover 20 miles on one charge, whereas others will cover up to 50. You can of course buy a second battery, but they are heavy. So if you plan to do longer rides then make sure you pick a bike with a larger battery capacity.
Another limitation is the motor and gearing set up. Without going into technical details, you will probably want a geared bike if you plan to do mountain or steep hill cycling because if your battery does fail you really don’t want to be left half way up a mountain with a single gear bike.
A further limitation is accessories as some electric bikes use vital storage space on the bike for the battery and sometimes motor unit which can prevent you from having a pannier, water bottle, pump etc attached…which may mean you have to carry a back pack. So have a think about this before you select your bike.