For anyone new to the world of electric bikes, it can be a little overwhelming. Some of the marketing on e-bikes is starting to get quite convincing, but what does it all boil down to?
When you’re trying to wade through the ads and specs of a lot of products, do you know what you’re looking for and why? When a company is deciding how to sell a product, they’ll almost always choose the best aspect about it to advertise. But is this the most important information for you to make an informed choice?
Price point is by far the biggest factor, closely followed by power. There are a lot of things manufacturers can do to drastically lower the price of electric bikes, some of them markup less than others, some use extremely cheap components. Will product ‘x’ for $1,000 from brand ‘a’ be the same quality as product ‘y’ from brand ‘b’ for the same money? Unfortunately, for ebikes under $3,000 the answer is usually no.
If you’re shopping for non-premium (Bosch, Gazelle, Haibike) bikes, then your best bet is to find a brand that has been around for more than two years and that sells electric bikes in more than one target market. If company ‘x’ only sells one or two models and they are priced at the very low end of the spectrum, it’s most likely their first container from China. This also means that it’s most likely their first production run, this is a recipe for disaster because they potentially have a container of duds. This might not be true for all, but I know that it is for a few and I’ve seen people lose a lot of money by doing this, some rebuild and learn from it by going over to China and testing productions, most don’t.
Hopefully you’re not still considering finding the cheapest and buying that. But if you are, keep in mind that no matter how good the company is, it’s still a cheap bike. It will not have brand name components installed, it will have the absolute basics – Motor (usually brushed DC), controller, battery (usually Sealed Lead Acid). Don’t expect to commute 30 km’s every day and for it to not have issues, these are built to do short trips, on sealed flat surfaces, preferably with no hills. All you can hope for is that the manufacturer is experienced enough to have improved them over the years, stocks spares for warranty claims and has argued/man-handled the factory that makes them to a point where they are satisfactory and consistent.
Picture this, you’ve got your electric bike, either online or in store. You’re so close to taking it out on the first ride and something’s not working. Or you’ve been riding it for a week now and the motor has started making strange noises. Who you gonna call?
If you didn’t check that the company responds to emails, or even has a phone number before you bought this bike then you’re going to feel like a bit of a goose. No product is perfect, even premium ones. Whoever you purchase from must have these in my opinion:
- A phone number
- A contact form
- A warranty
I would also highly recommend finding or asking for product manuals. A good indication of an experienced company is how much effort they’ve gone to in providing exhaustive information on their products. Is there a troubleshooting guide in the manuals, informative photo’s and descriptions?
With these main points hopefully taken into consideration, you’re ready to make your choice based on your specific needs. Frame type, do you need it to fold? are your hips not what they used to be and need a step-through frame? Do you want power and speed, maybe some off road capabilities?
So ask yourself before you buy an electric bicycle, will the company be there for me if I need them in 12 months time, am I managing my expectations when it comes to cost vs quality, and what am I going to use it for mostly. If you follow these steps, you should drastically narrow down your choices when it comes to the sea of products available.