As you can imagine, there are several factors to weigh up when you're looking for the most comfortable electric bike for your riding, for example which type of terrain you will be riding over.
However there are features that you can look out for in every bike to make sure that you are as comfortable as possible when you're out enjoying a bike ride.
Sitting and Riding are not the Same
Find an e-bike that has the geometry and set of components to ride well over the terrain that you will be riding over the most.
While a Dutch-style electric bike is very often the most comfortable to sit on, it may not be the most comfortable to ride on if you are going to use it on rough terrain.
Similarly, a folding bike can be comfortable to sit on because you can have your feet firmly on the ground, but it may not be the most comfortable to ride on, if you are unable to extend your legs enough to release the pressure in your hip and knee joints.
Remember, just because it's comfortable to sit on, doesn't mean it will be comfortable to ride. A test-ride can show you the difference.
The human part of the equation - what we'll call the H-Factor - is as important as anything when it comes to a comfortable ride. Do you have any injuries that you are protecting? What are your limb proportions like?
Let's say you have a lower back issue. You may first look at upright, stepthrough e-bikes so that you don't have to lean forward. However, let's say that you are actually going to ride mostly off-road. Well, in that case it's probably best to look at a trekking electric bike with a higher front end otherwise you'll end up struggling to control the bike.
Every brand of bike has slightly different proportions to their frames. You may find that you are a medium size with one brand, but a large in another. If you have relatively long legs, you may find that you need to go up a frame size and then change the handlebar configuration to compensate for the longer reach.
This is why it's so important to come in and get fitted at your nearest showroom.
Soft does not mean supported
As e-bikers tend to ride for much longer distances than their unpowered brethren, the contact points of your bike - the saddle, the grips and the pedals - are extremely important to get right.
Lots of people make the mistake of going for the softest, widest saddle. While these are comfortable to sit on, they are not always comfortable to ride on. Remember, sitting and riding are not the same! Here's why...
Everyone has a different width of pelvis, and so the width of the saddle must match this so that your body weight going through your sit-bones is actually supported while you are in motion.
If your weight is unsupported while moving, your body has to expend a lot of energy restabilising your core and maintaining balance, increasing the chance of discomfort, and even injury.
Similarly, everyone has different sized hands, so if the grips aren't wide enough to support your hand, you will feel pain through your wrists and palms. We often fit ergonomic grips to tackle this.
In general, the larger the wheel, the more comfortable you will be going over lumps and bumps. Small wheels can be a little bit like the needle of a record player, getting into every groove of the vinyl.
Many people in the UK will have grown up with 26 inch wheels and then when they sit on a bike with 28 or 29inch wheels here at the showrooms feel uncomfortably high off the ground. However, sitting and riding are not the same!
Once you are riding, the stability of larger wheels, their ability to cope with bumps and their ability to maintain momentum make larger wheels more comfortable.
In general, if you have suspension, you'll be more comfortable. Suspension is often missing on non-electric bikes because they are a heavier component that unassisted riders can find too much to cycle with. With an e-bike, and the extra assistance, the weight of suspension units is not a problem.
Suspension can be found in the front and rear of your bike. Mountain bikes will have traditional suspension forks on the front and a rear shock for the back end, while city electric bikes may opt for smaller suspension units that fit inside the seatpost and headstem.
Even the folding electric bikes that we stock have suspension. Check out the little suspension unit in the back of the MiRider!
Here it's important to figure out what you don't like as much as what you do like.
Do you want to feel pushed, or do you want to feel like you are doing the pushing? Do you want to get away from a standstill sharply, or do you prefer a slower, steadier acceleration? Do you prefer a faster pedal cadence like a road-rider, or are you what our mechanic calls a 'grinder' who uses slower, high pressure pedal strokes?
Some people love the sharp acceleration of a Yamaha motor, but for others the steadier power curve of the Bosch motor is more comfortable. It's important to test-ride the bikes so you can let your body decide which is best.
You may be interested in these articles:
- One tip I always give first time electric bike buyers
- Stepthrough electric bikes are not what you think
- Can an electric bike really replace a car?