eBike Buying Guide
What is an eBike?
eBikes, short for electric bikes, are bicycles equipped with an integrated electric motor and battery. The motor provides assistance to the rider’s pedaling, making it easier to ride, especially on hills and over long distances. eBikes typically come with different modes of assistance, allowing riders to choose the level of motor assistance they desire.
eBikes have gained significant popularity in recent years for several reasons:
Commuting and Transportation: eBikes offer a practical and eco-friendly alternative for commuting and transportation. They allow riders to travel faster and farther with less effort compared to traditional bicycles. eBikes can be particularly appealing for individuals who have longer commutes or face challenging terrain.
Fitness and Health Benefits: While eBikes provide motor assistance, they still require the rider to pedal. This means that riders can still get exercise and enjoy the health benefits of cycling, even if they have physical limitations or are not in peak physical condition. eBikes can be a great way to encourage physical activity and lead a more active lifestyle.
Accessibility: The electric assistance provided by eBikes makes cycling accessible to a wider range of people. It allows older individuals, those recovering from injuries, or people with disabilities to enjoy cycling and explore the outdoors. eBikes can level the playing field and enable more people to participate in cycling activities.
Environmental Impact: eBikes are considered a greener mode of transportation compared to cars or motorcycles. They produce zero emissions during operation and contribute to reducing air pollution and traffic congestion in urban areas. Choosing an eBike over a motor vehicle can help to mitigate the environmental impact of transportation.
Fun and Enjoyment: Riding an eBike is simply fun! The motor assistance adds an element of excitement and makes cycling a more enjoyable experience. It allows riders to cover longer distances, explore new routes, and enjoy the outdoors without excessive physical exertion.
Cost Savings: While the upfront cost of an eBike may be higher than that of a traditional bicycle, they can offer long-term cost savings. Compared to cars or motorcycles, eBikes have significantly lower operational and maintenance costs. They require less fuel or electricity, and maintenance needs are often similar to regular bicycles, making eBikes a cost-effective transportation option.
Fitness Equalizer: E-bikes are getting to be fairly prolific on the trails and can be great for commuting and for riding with a friend who’s at a different level of fitness—typically a spouse. Many couples are mismatched on what a comfortable pace is, which prevents many people from riding together. Many avid cyclists are opting to get an eBike for their spouse so they can keep up with the same pace.
Your eBike will need service and repairs
E-bike-curious folks that use the internet to do research will find lots of great-looking bikes and tempting deals. Main Street Bieks works with an assembly fulfillment group that can be selected by folks purchasing a few brands so we have assembled quite a few of them. MSB does not service and repair these bikes.
I hope these motors and batteries last more than five years, because at the moment, there are no traditional bike shops that will service those aspects of the bike. Saving money by purchasing an online deal is appealing, but spending over $1000 on a bike is a lot to spend on something that possibly will not be fixable in 3-5 years.
Models recommended by MSB
The models we carry (Giant, Trek, iZip, Diamondback…) typically have a mid-drive motor, designed by Bosch or Yamaha.
Bikes that use Bosch can be serviced by Main Street Bicycles and some other local shops. The components (brake, drivetrain, tire dimensions) on the bikes are standards in the bicycle industry.
The advantages of these are:
- Better weight distribution
- Quieter performance
- Less torque (smoother)
- Longer range (over 100 miles)
I’d love to say our systems are bombproof and are way more reliable than those found in online e-bikes, but only time will tell. We have seen issues with all kinds of e-bikes, caused mainly by improper battery management. It is possible that e-bikes and their batteries will become more robust and or easily rebuildable, but that is not the case at the moment.
You can damage the battery and age it prematurely if you:
- Keep running the battery down until it dies
- Leave it on the charger for days (after fully charged).
- Expose the batteries to temps to long periods well below freezing or above 100. You can remove the battery to store indoors if the garage gets really cold or super hot.
The really bad thing is having the battery rebuilt poorly. Currently, there are no highly reputable firms I am aware of that I can recommend. At best, a poor-quality rebuild will leave you with a battery that does not last long and was a waste of money. The scary part is when the rebuild was bad enough that the battery overheats and catches fire—a fire that cannot be extinguished by water or normal household fire extinguishers.
An e-Bike as a Long-term Investment
Buying an eBike from a local bike shop that can provide service and repairs over the life of the bike is generally considered important for several reasons:
- Technical Expertise: eBikes have specialized components and electrical systems that require knowledge and expertise to maintain and repair. Local bike shops that are familiar with eBikes will have trained staff who understand the intricacies of these bikes and can provide accurate diagnoses and efficient repairs.
- Warranty and Support: Purchasing an eBike from a local bike shop often ensures that you receive proper warranty coverage and support. If any issues arise with your eBike, the shop can assist you in navigating the warranty process and help you get the necessary repairs or replacements.
- Convenience: Having a local bike shop that can service and repair your eBike is convenient, especially if it requires regular maintenance or unexpected repairs. You won’t have to go through the hassle of shipping your bike to a remote service center or waiting for an extended period to get it fixed.
- Local Economy Support: Buying from local businesses helps support the local economy and promotes a healthy business ecosystem in your community. By choosing a local bike shop, you contribute to the sustainability of a shop that you need to keep your bike running—and out of a landfill.
- Long-Term Relationship: Establishing a relationship with a local bike shop builds trust and allows you to rely on their expertise for future needs. They can provide advice on maintenance, suggest upgrades or accessories, and keep you informed about the latest developments in the eBike industry.
That being said, it’s essential to do your research and choose a reputable local bike shop with a track record of servicing and repairing eBikes. Read reviews, ask for recommendations from fellow eBike owners, and ensure that the shop has experience with the specific brand or model you’re considering before purchasing.