The invention of the wheel has been a blessing. It is mankind’s greatest invention and is the mother of modern transportation. The metamorphosis of transportation has been taking us through a captivating journey so far, the electric bicycle being a revolutionary addition to it. Although slightly expensive, electric bikes are life changing and looking at the macro factors, they are here to last.
With the changing road scenes, in them being crowded and tiresome, and with the increasingly sedentary lifestyles that we lead, e-bikes have the potential to be the future of transportation that can bring a positive impact on our lifestyles as well. By choosing an e-bike, you also make a small contribution to the environment. There is an e-bike for every kind of person out there.
On this account, if you are planning to make the switch to a convenient, reliable and joyful mode of transport, here’s a quick guide on choosing one that’s for you.
Anatomy of an Electric Bicycle:
Before we delve into the details, here’s a look at the key parts of an e-bike.
Things to keep in mind while choosing an e-bicycle:
An electric bicycle, in addition to the regular parts of a cycle, has a motor, battery, controllers and a display unit. You need to understand the functionality and types of each feature, before deciding.
Consider the purpose your cycle will be serving. Are you going to use it for long commutes every day? Will you be using it for hill-riding or difficult terrains? Do you need more battery life or prefer more comfort? Do you want to take up cycling for fun or exercise or both?
Electric bicycles can be adapted to different people and purposes. Consider your needs and the features you would like your cycle to offer.
The electric motor assists the rider while pedalling. There are three types of motors in e-bikes. Based on your requirements, you can choose from
- Front motors
- Rear hub
- Mid-drive motors
Hub motors are placed in the centre of either wheel and are the most commonly used motors in e-bikes. The motor provides propulsion by spinning on the tire it is mounted. Depending on whether the hub is placed in the front or rear wheel, the bike either feels pulled or pushed along.
Mid-drive motors are placed in between the pedals. They give good load balancing and stability. Long rides and rough terrains can be handled efficiently by mid-drive motors.
The batteries power the motors for pedal assist. Most e-bikes come with detachable batteries for ease of charging and replacing. Majority of these batteries are powered by lithium ion cells. The commonly used ones are 5.7 AH, 8.5 AH and 11.5 AH batteries. If you are a person who does long rides frequently, you can go for the 11.5 AH batteries. Otherwise, the 5.7 AH and 8.5 AH batteries will serve you well with the latter being a better choice as they can sustain longer on one charge.
There are two types of sensors that are used in pedal-assist bikes.
- Cadence sensor
- Torque sensor
Cadence sensors turn the motor on when you start pedalling and turn it off when you stop. There is a certain amount of effort that you need to put every time you stop pedalling and start again.
The torque sensors on the other hand, measure the actual force you apply on the pedals and engage the motors accordingly. Look for e-bikes that have torque sensors or both the types of sensors. A cadence-only sensor is not advisable.
The display unit on an e-bike gives you vital information such as the level of pedal assistance being used (there are usually 4 levels of assistance), how much power you have left etc.
The most commonly used displays in India are LCD and LED. However, some of the other countries have started upgrading their displays. Mobile phones are integrated with the bikes and are used for displaying all the information through an application, in addition to helping the rider in navigation. This seems like the way to go and soon we may find e-bikes in India with this feature.
Comfort is key while riding. As a thumb rule, always keep in mind that the parts of your body that are in contact with the cycle need to be the most comfortable while riding. On this account, it becomes essential for the saddle, handlebar grip and pedal to be designed for comfort.
There are plenty of styles and colours of e-bikes in the market. However, while choosing an e-bike it is even more important to go into a few details such as the size and material of the frame. Choose an appropriate size based on your height.
Frames come in various materials such as steel, aluminium and carbon. Steel frames are heavy while carbon frames are the lightest and are expensive. Aluminium frames are light-weight and easy to maintain.
Check for safety features of the cycle which include high quality LED lights (front and rear), and reflectors with high visibility in both the rear and the wheels.
The security features on your bike are important to consider. Detachable batteries offer better security. Some e-bikes come with alarm locks as an accessory. This feature along with GPS integration can provide protection against theft.
Buying an e-bike is a big investment, therefore a warranty is most essential. Most bike companies offer a one-year warranty. Look for companies that offer slightly more than that. A two-year warranty for the motor and battery is reasonable to expect.
There are e-bikes starting at Rs 19,000 and the high-end ones go beyond Rs One Lakh. The higher you want to invest, the better the features and functions available. E-bikes with adequate features, good quality and comfort are normally available in the Rs 60,000 to Rs 80,000 range. Also, see if the cost includes the key accessories.
E-bikes are here to stay and choosing the right one may seem daunting. Do adequate research, ask a lot of questions and take your time to decide the one for you.