When choosing to go electric on a bicycle there are certain factors you must take into account before choosing one. The main thing being – are you using your bike for short commutes? Or are you wanting something with more power and ability to use on off-road trails?
If you are looking for transport to work and you are mostly based in the city commuting a short distance to and from, with very little hill climbs then you are most likely more suited to a traditional e-bike. They have narrow tires for manoeuvrability and good traction for smooth pavements, making it easier to pedal through city streets but also to move out of peoples or vehicles’ way. They are much lighter to transport so if for example your commute requires you to get on a train, they are much easier to lift into the bike storage sections of the carriages, you won’t need to worry about hurting yourself or anyone else with it being lighter.
With a traditional electric bike you can get speeds of up to 20mph to 30mph, although this may not be suitable on the pavements with how busy cities can get, it certainly puts you at an advantage if you are mostly on the road. Though if you find that your commute is a bit longer you may find that you get more uncomfortable, as the electric bikes have dropped handles to help with speed and manoeuvrability, this coincides with the narrow tires and the ability to have more speed. Also, some bikes may have motors mid-mounted, this can give more speed but comes at an extra price.
Pedalling can conserve your battery power and traditional e-bikes have more gears to not only increase speed but to help reduce uphill pedalling, so if you find that most of your journey is flat, pedalling will be easier to conserve battery ready for when you do come across any hills during your commute. Some bikes also come with dual battery packs allowing for more battery time when needed, it is worth taking note that some batteries for e-bikes will need more charge than others, especially the hybrid e-bikes.
However, it is necessary to remember that a traditional e-bike is not suitable for off-trails, their narrow tires do not bode well with loose gravel and if caught unexpectedly can potentially make you come off the bike, especially at the speed that they can go at… with this, the narrow tires do not help with this as the traction and ability to turn is too easy and therefore you won’t have much control, although this is good for when you are commuting it may not necessarily be good for if you are at high speeds.
Going onto the Hybrid Electric bike, there are 3 different types of Hybrid bikes that you can get and it all depends on what you’re going to be using it for, but firstly I’ll explain the main features that all 3 have. You can ride off-road, on pavements and on trails with the hybrid electric bike, the wider tires and upright riding style allow for comfort and ability to tackle loose gravel trails, bumps and rocky roads along any of the trails you want to attack. The electric hybrid bike is very versatile and has a lot of functionality, it can be very affordable when you take into account that it is a bike that will last on tougher terrains as well as being able to get you to and from work.
However, they are a lot heavier to lift for storage and transportation, so bike racks for cars will need to be checked alongside the weight of the bike you will be transporting, also it would be harder to get started on a hill and without throttle will not give you the ability to give you that ‘push’ up the hill, especially if you end up stopping. It is a lot more energy to pedal on the bikes if you run out of battery as they are a heavier bike compared to the traditional electric bike.
Now onto the 3 different types of hybrid electric bikes, these are:
- Urban Hybrid E-bike
These bikes are still good for paved surfaces and are a good combination for a user who wants to bike in the city and on some off-road trails. The handlebars are much thinner and the tires are slightly smaller than a typical hybrid e-bike to allow for better grip on paved roads and control when turning, this one isn’t as quick as a traditional e-bike though.
- Off-Road Hybrid E-bike
These bikes are more suitable for adventurers, whether you’re looking at trying out Enduro races or just want to hit some trails, it can handle dirt lanes and gravel roads. With this, it does mean that it is not great on pavements as the tires are much fatter so that it can tolerate the loose dirt and gravel, it is easier to control and traction is improved, but this may cause you to pedal with more effort.
- Recreational Hybrid E-bike
This bike is good for short treks with not many hills such as around parks, lakes and other outdoor areas that are not necessarily trails, this type of bike does have some durability and traction for easy off-road biking with the functionality of a city bike.
A few other things to take note of when deciding to buy an e-bike or hybrid e-bike are the cost, comfortability and safety. Most bikes come with reflective paint and/or decals, reflective tires and integrated lights on the rims, if you find that on commutes you are traveling during darker hours it is important that you purchase the required lights needed and to read up on the ‘rules for cyclists’ before completing your purchases. If you are road riding as well you will be required to wear a helmet, it is important to try on several before purchasing one to ensure that it is 1. Comfortable and 2. Going to prevent injuries to yourself.
As spoken about the comfort depends on the bike, a traditional e-bike has dropped handlebars whereas the hybrid e-bikes have a more upright riding style, a wider seat and suspension to help over bumps and off-road trails. Again, the cost is also taken into consideration when you are purchasing and can only depend on what you need the bike to handle.
Overall, it is important to take in every consideration before purchasing a traditional e-bike or a hybrid e-bike, and hopefully this has helped. Always make sure you try out the bike and if you are unsure on how to adjust the bike to you, it may be beneficial to ask the shop to set it up ready for you (Halfords do this in store at no extra cost).