08/03/2021
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Electric bikes: buying tips

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  Electric bikes: The ultimate guide

Guide contents

 


Average electric bike prices?

Electric bikes start at around £500, though you have to be very selective at this price. Occasionally bargains of old stock can be seen at around half price so you might be able to get a good-quality bike for around £800 if you are lucky and do your research. Folders are a little more expensive on average than a standard electric bike.


Try before you buy!

Retailers with at least one 'bricks and mortar' shop are advised, allowing you crucially to try before you buy, to get the right fit and the right performance for you. Warners Shows are also an excellent opportunity to try electric bikes.


Guarantees

Look for a guarantee of at least two years on the battery and other components. The battery guarantee is the crucial aspect as this is the most expensive 'consumable' on the bike. Also ascertain the cost of replacement batteries so you don't get a nasty shock in a few years' time.


Know the law

Additional rules

There is now a clear European-wide definition of an electric bike, more formally known as a 'pedelec' and often shortened to e-bike. As the name suggests, the modern electric bike combines pedalling and electrical assistance.

In addition to the regulations for normal bikes, like having brakes, etc, there are some further requirements that must be complied with to meet the "pedelec" definition. In simple terms these are listed below.

European legislation (EN15194)

  • The motor must not give more than 250W of help (powered assistance)
  • The powered assistance must cease at 25kph (15.6mph)
  • You may only receive powered assistance when pedalling

NB: This eliminates the older "Twist & Go" bikes from the pedelec definition. It also removes the restriction on under 14s, who can now ride a pedelec!

All electric bkes sold should fully meet the European legislation (EN15194) and are therefore formerly pedelecs.  

Check before you buy

We strongly advise that you check this is true for any electric bike you're considering, as failure to do so places you firmly on the wrong side of the law. In the event of any accident, this could prove extremely costly. If you're in any doubt, please ask your local Trading Standards authority who will assist as appropriate. 

On a more positive note, the benefits of having a pedelec are considerable and are leading to large numbers of people enjoying cycling again. This is great for individuals, their health and happiness, but is also great for society with the reduction in pollution levels, easing of congestion and parking issues.


Buying secondhand

Apart from being aware that there will be no backup from retailer or manufacturer, you should also pay particular attention to the state of the battery on any secondhand electric bike you consider. While batteries are ever improving, it is still the single most important part to an electric bike. How much mileage has it had and how old is it? What range will it do? Perhaps most crucial, are replacement batteries available and, if so, what is the price?

These warnings taken on board, a secondhand purchase could save you a lot of money, especially where the brand is a quality one and widely established so that replacement parts and repairs are widely available; for example, a model with a Bosch or Kalkhoff motor.   


Is a kit for me?

Conversion kit pros

Kits could be ideal for you as they will electrify a lightweight folder that fits neatly into a car boot or motorhome (the range of available electric folders is more limited than traditional bikes). They also have the potential to produce a very lightweight electric bike by adding a kit to a very lightweight non-powered electric bike.

If you have a decent-quality 'donor' bike ready and waiting to go, a kit could be good value for money, too, meaning you get a good-quality electric bike for less than the equivalent price of a similar-quality off-the-peg solution.

Conversion kit cons

Against this must be weighed the potential technical pitfalls of integrating the kit with the bike's wheels, gearing and brakes and the technical DIY skills required for fitting. If this is beyond your abilities there are quite a number of specialist shops that will fit kits. Despite simple-sounding sales pitches, kit fitting can be quite involved and you need to check the kit will fit your particular bike correctly.


What about future trends?

The last couple of years have seen the emergence of 'smart' features on electric bikes. These range from gears that shift automatically for you without you having to do a thing, to displays that integrate with your smartphone (for example, the latest EVO system from Kalkhoff).


Brands to be aware of:

Electric bike brands by price

  • £900-£2,000
    • E-Ranger
    • BH Emotion
    • Gazelle
    • Heinzmann
    • Kalkhoff
    • KTM
    • Sparta
    • Scott
    • Gaint
    • Cube
    • QWIC
  • £2,000+
    • Haibike
    • Riese and Muller
    • Rotwild
    • Stromer
    • Besv
    • Ridgeback

Electric motor brands

Sometimes featured on 'own brand' bikes but usually used on other brands' bikes (Shimano's motor system appears on Ridgeback bikes):

  • BionX
  • Bosch
  • Ezee
  • Go SwissDrive
  • Heinzmann
  • Kalkhoff
  • Panasonic
  • Shimano
  • Yamaha

Recommended kit brands

  • BionX
  • Ezee
  • Heinzmann
  • Nano
  • Cytronex
  • Sunstar
  • Suzhou Bafang (also known as Fun8)

Browse electric bike companies


Finished reading?

If you have finished reading our Electric bike FAQs, return to our 'Electric bike ultimate guide'.

  Electric bikes: The ultimate guide

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