Unless you’ve been living under a rock, by now you know that electric bikes are the rage of the new decade. This small niche for bike enthusiasts has grown exponentially, mainly due to the many innovations in the technological aspects of production.
Because of the growth in production, the sheer number of e-bikes available in the market has increased by a large measure. Almost every category of bike has an e-bike variant available, and this both a boon and curse. While you do have a lot of options to choose from, sorting through tons and tons of choices can become a headache quite soon.
Before we begin the list of the best electric bikes of 2018, let’s take a look at what goes into the making of a good electric bike
What should you consider before buying an electric bike?
Now that you have decided to buy your first electric bike, knowing what factors to look for in a product can make the process a lot less daunting. The biggest advantage of electric bikes is that they breathe new life into the sport of cycling. If you suffer from knee ailments, or just wish to get more exercise in general, this vehicle can change your life.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind before your first purchase:
Each e-bike is different than the next and caters to different needs. The first thing you need to confirm is why you need the e-bike at all. Is it for recreational purposes, or are you going to use it as your daily commute to work.
Electric bikes are used for a variety of purposes, including and not limited to hauling cargo, cruising, mountain biking, road biking, snow riding and so on. So before looking for the perfect bike, make sure you know what you are getting it for.
Kind of Drive
E-bikes are mainly of two types- the pedelec, which is the most common variety and the twist-n-go. The pedelec assists your pedalling with a bit of motor drive. The amount of assistance you receive, however, is dependent upon the rate, power, and speed you go up to.
The power output of the pedelec is usually limited to 250 W and it can reach a maximum speed of 25kmph. There are motors which can go up to 45kmph, but acquiring them requires a special driver's license, plates, and insurance.
The twist-n-go is similar to the pedelec, only here you can flip a switch if you require the motor’s help.
The motor in an electric bike is also of two varieties. One of them is the hub motor assist, in which the motor is attached to one of the wheels of the bike. The second one is called the crank motor assist, where the motor is mounted on the crank area- the bottom of the bike's frame.
In a crank assist bike, sensors detect your speed when you ride the bike, and that decides how much assistance you get from the motor. Crank assist motors do very well as mountain bikes but are a bit on the noisy side.
On the other hand, hub assist motors are exceptionally quiet but falter when it comes to steep roads and rocky terrain.
Most of the modern electric bikes use a lithium-ion battery. Obviously, the quality of the battery will depend on the price- the higher the price, the better the quality.
Batteries tend to wear out after a while, so it would be wise to spend more on a high-quality one which comes with at least two-year warranty. Usually, lithium-ion batteries last for 800 full charge cycles. If you are careful about using the product, they will last for around 2000 cycles.
Charging the battery is the only frustrating aspect of an electronic bike since it needs to be charged for close to 6 hours for a 40-minute drive.
Range refers to the distance an e-bike can cover with one full charge. This is the most important aspect of the product. The range of the bike you choose should be conducive to the distance you plan to cover each day, especially if you will be using the bike for your daily commute. Again, if you won’t be travelling a long distance each day, then you don’t need a bike with an exaggerated range.
The range of the bike depends on the battery, speed, your weight, the terrain you travel, and the assistance you require from the motor.
It is smarter to buy a bike that has a slightly high range than what you require, to keep room for battery-related depreciation.
Ah, the million dollar question- is the e-bike pocket friendly?
We'll be honest; good e-bikes do not come cheap and are definitely more expensive than regular bikes with the same specs. While an ordinary bike charges you for the frame, brakes, and suspension, an e-bike will require you to consider the motor aspect as well.
Spending some extra dollars will bring you a better bike, one that will definitely last longer and save you a lot of consideration of maintenance costs.
When you’ve finally weighed all your options and settled on the perfect choice, don’t hesitate to ask for a test drive before sealing the deal. As much as you would want to depend on the internet and word-of-mouth, only you can be the best judge of what you want.
Also, once you try the bike on for size, you can be fully aware of how well it works for you. If possible, ride the bike on the road you would normally take with it, to assess how well it does on that particular terrain. Pay attention to the motor output, the brakes, the pedals, the comfort- basically everything you can think of at the moment.
The test drive is an important experience, especially because electric bikes are not inexpensive. You wouldn’t want to spend a pile of money on something that would not give you the results you want.
Advantages and Disadvantages of owning an e-bike
While e-bikes can be fun to operate, it does have some unpleasant repercussions. Listed below are some of the pros and cons of owning an e-bike:
- They provide higher speeds with lesser effort. Although the speed of the motor is limited, the rider can make the vehicle go faster with extra pedalling, this is especially suited to new riders or those who are trying to get in shape.
- Since it requires a minimum effort to drive an e-bike, you can use this as your transport to work each morning. You wouldn't have to worry about sweating in your work clothes. Also, you'll be able to avoid the city traffic during rush hours, because the e-bike can be ridden on the sidewalk, across a park, and through an alleyway. This makes it a better bargain than a car in many ways.
- E-bikes can also help older people to keep up with the younger riders with more stamina. Also, e-bikes are fantastic for long rides, because they prevent you from wearing yourself out too much, while still giving you the benefits of a whole workout.
- This being said, electric bikes are definitely way cooler than normal bikes. You might even be asked a few questions by curious onlookers once you’re on the road.
- Electric bikes have a complex frame. They come with more parts than a normal bicycle so that automatically means that there are more parts that can wear out. Although the electric bikes we have in the market today are very good, the possibility of something breaking down or malfunctioning completely cannot be eradicated.
- E-bikes are a lot heavier than normal bikes, mainly because of the extra attachments that they come with. Namely, these are the battery, electric motor, and controller. Normally this wouldn't be a problem unless the battery was to run out of juice and you had to haul the bike up just by pedalling.
- The batteries need to be charged for long periods of time after each rode. Also, batteries wear out every 2-5 years and need to be replaced. That does add a significant amount of money to the maintenance costs of this vehicle.
Why should you bike an electric bike?
After all, is said and done, the question remains- why exactly do you need an electric bike?
The only reason why you should own an electric bike is if you want to amplify your riding speed. This means you can trade a car ride to the office for a refreshing bike ride. How much effort you need to put in depends upon whether you buy a pedal assist bike or a motor assist one. Electric bikes can also be a viable option for those who cannot or do not want to take up cycling anytime soon.
Electric bikes do tend to raise a few eyebrows, because of how fast they can accelerate within a short period of time. This may create some issues with pedestrians if the rider is not careful enough. They also need special licenses, insurances, street legalities and many other government permits. But it is not different than getting a permit for riding any other vehicle. And e-bikes are a very harmless form of transportation too.
Also, the DIY e-bikes that you can create at home are also deemed dangerous by many. But honestly, it is all a question of who is on the wheels. In the hands of an inexperienced rider, even an innocent bicycle can injure quite a few people.
Top 5 electric bikes of 2018
We have covered why you should have an electric bike and how you can select the perfect one for you, now the only logical thing to do is to list the 5 best electric bikes of this year. The contenders on the list have been scrutinized heavily by expert riders, on the basis of the characteristics mentioned above, and have come out with flying colours. Without further ado, here are the best electric bikes of 2018 out there.
This powerful bike is made up of a combination of aluminium allow and carbon steel. It features a 21-speed transmission system. The rider can use without the pedals, or can also attach the pedals if he/she intends to work out. The top speed is around 25mph. Being a mountain bike, it can also work very well on rocky terrain. It has a sleek and modern design, which is very appropriate for modern settings. Its motor is very quiet while in operation. The front fork of the bike is made up of high strength carbon steel and is also endowed with heightened shock absorption, so this adds to the comfort of the ride.
The battery in the bike is a high capacity of 36V, 8AH and removable. So you can either charge the battery on the frame of the bike itself, r separately- whatever suits your convenience.
- Robust, durable build of the bike
- High capacity of the battery
- The assembly instructions are difficult to understand
- The battery removal system is not very easy
This cycle is meant for riders who are new to the art. The bike has the frame of a typical mountain bike and also has the quality of a premium bike. It comes with strong brakes, quick shifting gears, and Shimano gears. It also has 3 level assist modes- low, medium and high. It comes with a 250 W motor and can reach up to 15kmph or 24 kmph of speeds.
- The bike can be ridden for nearly 28 miles on a single charge, which is quite impressive in itself.
- It definitely gives value for money and is one of the best cheap electric bikes out there
- The mountain bike design is both sturdy and attractive to look at, providing an added edge to your ride.
- The main disadvantage of this bike is that it is pedal assist only, so bikers who require some additional support would not benefit from this choice.
This Canadian brand brings to you a fantastic bike with a 500W 48V motor and a 625 Wh battery. The stainless aluminium frame is accompanied by a Samsung battery, a Bafang motor, Tun Gun suspension fork, Shimano gear and Tektro brakes. You can go up to speeds of 20 mph on the bike, which is the legal limit. It is lightweight in comparison to other electric bikes of the same range and weighs only around 25.99 kg.
- The bike can hit the top speed really fast and with minimal effort.
- The price is good, considering the huge range of attributes it comes with.
- The removable battery makes it easy to charge.
- The front suspension and quick release front tire are worth mentioning.
- The instructions that come with the package are not very coherent, making it difficult for the user to assemble the bike.
- It does not have a tail light, which is dangerous and, in some cases, even illegal.
- It can be a little difficult to add extra accessories like a rear cargo holder.
Razor does know how to make a mean electric bike. One of its best feats, the RSF350 has 10 inch 3-spoke wheels and street tires, along with a rear suspension. It also has a variable throttle and hand-operated rear disc brakes. It is powered by two 12V sealed lead acid rechargeable batteries and a quick change compartment, which provides for about 30 minutes of continuous use. This bike can be used by young adolescents of 13 years and above and can support a weight of about 140 pounds.
- The hand operated disc brakes and retractable kickstand provide for extra support and comfort.
- The price is quite reasonable, and it offers a lot o extra features for the price point it comes at.
- The bike can only support 140 pounds of rider weight and equipment, which can be a problem if the user is not of an average weight or size.
- Some customers are of the opinion that the battery life of the vehicle has room for improvement.
This high-functioning electric bike has a carbon electric frame. The front fork is made entirely of high carbon-steel and packed with comfort shock abilities. What makes this product so alluring is its 6-speed transmission system, which allows the rider to choose the speed which you need. It has a front V brake and a rear expansion brake.The bike also has a removable 36V, 10 AH battery,
which in turn is equipped with a smart lithium battery charger. It can enable you to ride at speeds of 15-20 mph with only a pedal assist. You can also take the bike for a midnight ride around the block- the LED headlamp and loud horns will provide you with all the safety you need. The bike itself weighs around 75 lb. The motors make a very light humming noise while operating, which is conducive to the busy city life.
- The bike is really good for the price range it comes at
- The removable battery is an added bonus
- The one-year warranty is helpful, especially because the e-bike parts are free for the assurance period.
- The bike can go up to an impressive 18 miles on a single charge
- Can easily support riders who are of a taller frame
- Some customers have reported that the bike does not deliver on its promised battery life
- For some customers, the motor failed all of a sudden, and without explanation.
- This is more suited to occasional riding than as a regular commute.
Are electric bikes any good?
All in all, electric bikes are definitely worth every penny you spend on them, even if they might come at a higher price point than ordinary bikes. You can feel the wind on your face without all the huffing and puffing. You can cover around 35-70 miles from a single charge, and it takes only 4 hours for the battery to be fully charged.
But, there are some concerns. The main concern arises when the battery starts running out of juice. Because of the increased number of appendages, e-bikes are considerably heavier than their non-motor counterparts. That is why while it is easy to just haul a bike on your shoulders when the chain runs down, it is very difficult to move an e-bike when the battery dies.
Also, while there are some really good e-bikes out there, made while keeping each individual rider’s needs in mind, there are also many less than average ones out there. Sure, they are cheaper than the branded ones, and that can be a huge attraction, but you might find yourself stranded in the middle of your commute to work the very next day- because the motor gave up.
Also, while DIY bikes sound like the ultimate dream, they can be potentially life-threatening. There are no guarantees, and the motors allow you to go at dangerous speeds which are also illegal in most places. So steer clear of these options unless you want your safety to fly out of the window.
Thus, here you have the best electric bicycle reviews of 2018. These bikes offer different things to the rider and differ in aspects of price and speed as well. Ultimately, the choice depends on the individual needs of the user. The most advisable thing to do would be to test-drive a number of potential options before settling on one, just to try each one on for size.