Beginners' Guide To Buying An Electric Bike

In this section:

1) What to look for in an Electric Bike

2) Basic Guide to Electric Bike technology

3) Styles of Electric Bikes

5) Best Electric Bikes for Beginners

6) Best Electric Bikes or Commuters

For more advice, pop into your nearest branch or give us a call. Contact details are at the foot of the page.

6 Things To Look For In An Electric Bike

If you are used to a particular style of bike, you might fall in to the trap of trying to find an exact electric replica of what you already have. However, it is important to bear in mind that there are differences in the way they behave.

For example, if you had been avoiding a stepthrough frame because you were worried that they were too heavy, or not stiff enough, you would be happy to know that the electric stepthrough bikes overcome these issues. This means you can finally have that comfortable frame without worrying about it being clunky.

We aim to stock the widest range of electric bikes styles in the UK. If you want to try out different styles of electric bike against each other, simply book an appointment at your nearest branch.

According to our research and research from around the world, e-bikes double the amount of cycling that people do. Therefore, you will want the bike to be as robust and comfortable as possible. There is nothing more disappointing than buying an electric bike that cannot stand up to the rigours of frequent riding. Invest in comfort features, and make sure you choose a brand that can supply spare parts.

Most of the staff at Energise E-bikes ride their electric bikes daily. Ask them for advice about making your bike comfortable.

If you spend the money on an electric bike, please make sure it fits you. Not only will you be riding more frequently, you will also be riding for longer periods of time. A poorly fitted bike can lead to strain injuries on your back and joints. Many people avoid cycling for this very reason. Make your new electric bike purchase the time that you finally get a bike that fits. If you need assistance figuring out what size you need, there is no substitute for actually riding.

Every e-bike on display in our showrooms is available for test-riding. Simply book an appointment.

Electric bikes are multi-faceted items. The bike components are one thing, and the motor, battery and display unit are quite another. They will all need special attention at some point to keep them in good working order. Always make sure that your bikes are maintainable – spares should be easily attainable from the manufacturer, there should be a warranty, and make sure there is somewhere convenient you can have your annual service.

At Energise E-bikes, all our brands have a 2-year warranty, spare parts are available, and we also have trained technicians who can repair and maintain your e-bike.

We also keep diagnostic apparatus for the major motor brands. Very few bike shops in the UK have this facility. We do. 

Not only are there different forms of e-bike motor, and not only are there different brands of motor, but each brand of motor may have several variations offering different advantages. For example, you may have read about Bosch electric bike motors. However, there are now five variations of the Bosch motor, each offering different levels of ‘torque’ – this affects how well it climbs hills, and also the power consumption. Make sure you know what it is you’re prioritizing: mileage or climbing power.

The only way to know for sure if one motor is better for you than another is to give them a go side by side. Simply book a test-ride slot at your nearest showroom and you can do just that. 

When it comes to e-bikes, weight and performance are not related in the same way as in conventional bikes. With conventional bikes, the lighter it is, the easier it is to pedal, and the better the ride will feel (In general, that is. naturally there are many factors which alter the way a bike performs).

With electric bikes, lightness does not equate with performance. It simply does not follow that the lighter the e-bike, the better the ride. Yes, we understand that this goes against everything you have ever know about bikes!

We also understand that you still want to have as light a bike as possible because it will make it easier to put into a car, or to manoeuvre around barriers in the countryside etc. but in terms of performance, comfort and mechanical reliability, the lightest e-bike is not necessarily going to cut the mustard.  

There are electric bikes out there which are light-framed and have light components, which then have a motor and battery kit added on. We don't sell these, but we know about them because we see them come into our workshop pretty much every week when the owner wonders why they're not keeping up with their friends' e-bikes. 

When you add together a strong, hill-climbing motor, a long-range battery, plus a frame and components that are robust enough to take all that extra power, you get a heavy bike.   

In short, if you want power, if you want comfort, if you want long-range, if you want reliability and maintainability, you will probably end up with an e-bike that is heavier than you first envisaged...and, believe us, you will love it.

Basic Guide to Electric Bikes

Basic Guide to Electric Bike Technology

These are an older more basic technology of the two types. They spin either the front or rear wheel at a certain speed, while you turn the pedals.

The speed of a hub motor is dependent on how fast your wheels are turning. Unfortunately, that means that on steep slopes, where your wheels are turning slowly but you generally need the most support from the motor, it produces the least power. 

These are the more sophisticated of the two types of e-bike motor (the other being hub drive). This system is far more efficient than the hub drive system and can deliver more climbing power and far more mileage – practically double. Both the human pedal power and the electrical motor power drive the bicycle chain at the same time.

This makes the bike a much smoother ride as well. Around 90% of the electric bikes that you will find at Energise E-bikes are crank drive e-bikes. These include motors by Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano and Fazua.

Your battery is your fuel tank, so the bigger you go, the more mileage you should get. Some people will use a big battery (500wh and above) so that they can ride on full power for most of their ride, even if they don’t have a very long way to travel.

Most of the e-bikes at Energise E-bikes will be 500wh and above. This gets rid of what we call ‘battery anxiety’ which is the fear of running out of battery before you’ve finished a ride. You will always know how much battery you have left, as there are battery level indicators on each e-bike. On a 500wh battery, we cautiously estimate a 60-65 mile range. Many people will get far more out of it, but many factors will affect this. 

Some of the road and gravel style electric bikes, which are easy to ride even without extra power, have smaller batteries. This keeps the bike as light as possible, in keeping with that style of bike.

Electric bikes cannot ride on motor power alone. Since 2016, electric bikes powered by a throttle have been phased out.

These days, electric bike motors can only apply power when the rider is turning the pedals as well. If you are free wheeling downhill – that is to say without turning the pedals – then the motor will not be adding its power. The moment you start turning the pedals again, the motor will kick in again.

They also cannot provide motor assistance above 15.5mph. You can ride the bike above 15.5mph, you'll just be doing that with the assistance of gravity and momentum and your gearing alone, not with the motor which will cut out automatically above that speed. 

We have been a specialty electric bike retailer since 2011. We have seen many, many conversion kits come into the workshop. Some seem OK, but the biggest issue with them is that they alter the ride characteristics of their ‘host’ bike. Conventional bikes are not designed to take the stresses that an electric motor can put them through and so sooner or later the converted e-bikes develop wear and tear issues.

Often electric bike conversion kits are sold by online-only agents who cannot provide technical back up. All the electric bikes at Energise E-bikes come from reputable suppliers who can offer technical back up

Styles of Electric Bikes

E-bikes for Beginners - Confidence building bikes

What features on an e-bike can help a beginner rider to build their cycling confidence?

Check out our tips and recommended e-bike models in our special guide below.

Learn More - E-bikes for Beginners

Best Electric Bikes for Commuters

The health benefits to both you and the planet are significant and the more people who commute by bike or e-bike the better for all of us.

There is no short answer to the question of what the best electric bike for commuting is because it really depends on the route that you will take. Can you take a shortcut using an off-road path? Perhaps look at a mountain bike or trekking bike.

For example, a high proportion of our customers who buy an electric hardtail mountain bike will go on to use them as their commuter vehicle.

Commuting electric bikes also need to be all-weather vehicles and will need to be as efficient as possible for road riding, but also reliable and resistant to things like punctures and other types of damage that might slow your journey down.

The other thing is to make sure that you get the most comfortable fit possible. Riding a commuting e-bike that is the wrong fit is a bit like wearing the wrong shoe size. You can get along for a while but eventually your body will respond with some sort of injury/pain.

Our recommended commuting bikes, that pass all those above tests, include:

The Vado Range By Specialized

Lightweight and supremely smooth, there will be few ways to get to work with as much fun and style as a Vado. Even if you forget to charge up your Vado – which would be exceedingly rare indeed – it is a lovely bike to ride even without power.

The MiRider

This bike would be particularly good for taking on trains. While other electric bikes are a little hefty and cumbersome for this purpose, the MiRider is the most compact and neat electric bike that we have found; even more suitable for carrying on trains than the famed Gocycle.

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