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Thinking of buying an electric bike? From commuter bikes to e-mountain bikes, there's an increasing range of models available to suit cyclists starting out in the e-bike world.
But navigating all the technical jargon and finding the e-bike that's right for you is a tricky task. Keep reading for our simple guide on the specs you need to compare to find the best electric bike for beginners.
What is an electric bike?
An electric bike is a bicycle with a battery-powered electric motor. Most modern e-bikes use what is known as a pedelec (or pedal assist) system.
When you ride a pedelec bike, the motor automatically offers assistance when you pedal, so you can't just sit back and expect the motor to do all the hard work. The motor also stops providing assistance above speeds of 25km/h.
The main advantage of an electric bike is that it makes it quicker and easier to get from A to B. This makes e-bikes a popular choice among commuters who want to ride to work without raising too much of a sweat, while there are also specialist e-bikes designed for a range of other cycling styles.
Your options include:
- Commuter e-bikes
- Cruiser e-bikes
- Folding e-bikes
- Cargo e-bikes
- Road e-bikes
- Mountain e-bikes for off-road.
5 options if you're comparing electric bikes for beginners
NCM Paris Max. The Paris Max offers a Bafang mid-drive motor and a 504Wh battery, plus it folds away for easy and convenient storage.
Vintage style option
Dyson Tilba. Combining classic styling with a wide and comfortable seat, the Dyson Tilba combines good looks with functionality.
Orbea Optima E50. This step-through e-bike comes with front and rear lights, a rear rack and eight-speed gearing, making city commuting easy.
Polygon Path E5. Featuring Schwalbe Super Moto-X tyres and a 504Wh battery, the Polygon Path E5 has a claimed maximum range of up to 185km.
NCM Moscow Plus. The Moscow Plus features a 768Wh battery, Shimano gearing and Schwalbe 2.25-inch-wide tyres.
What to look for when comparing electric bikes for beginners
There are several factors you'll need to consider when buying your first e-bike. These include:
- Type of bike. What style of riding will you do on your e-bike? Will you use your bike to commute to work, pop down to the shops or tackle off-road trails? Once you have a better idea of how you plan to use your bike, you can narrow your choice down to a range of suitable models.
- Battery. Battery capacity is measured in Watt-hours (Wh), so check the specs sheet for this figure as well as how long it takes to recharge the battery. You can also check whether the manufacturer specifies how many charge cycles you'll get out of the battery before it needs to be replaced.
- Motor. Check the power and torque figures for the motor as well as where it is mounted. Hub motors tend to feature on more affordable models, while mid-mount motors that sit near the bottom bracket offer better weight distribution. Finally, check what riding modes are available and how much motorised assistance you can expect in each mode.
- Frame style. If you'll be riding your bike in a skirt or dress, or if you're not all that flexible, you may want to opt for a step-through frame rather than a step-over model.
- Frame size. Check the manufacturer's frame size chart to find the frame that matches your measurements.
- Wheel size. Larger wheels generally ensure a smoother ride. However, if you're looking for a folding bike or something that won't take up too much storage space, you may prefer a model with smaller wheels.
- Components. Next, check the specs sheet to find out what tyres, brakes and gearing system the bike uses? Are they all high-quality parts from reputable manufacturers?
- Size and weight. If storage space is at a minimum or you want something portable, consider a folding electric bike. If you'll need to regularly carry your bike for any reason, such as to store it away, you may want to look for a lightweight electric bike.
- Warranty. Does the manufacturer offer a warranty? How long is the warranty and what does it cover?
- Price. If this is your first e-bike, you probably don't want to spend too much cash upfront. There are plenty of entry-level models available in the $1,000-$2,500 price bracket, plus a wide range of bikes with better-quality components and features in the $2,500-$5,000 ballpark.
Where to buy electric bikes for beginners online?
If you're ready to buy, visit one of the following sites.
With a great selection of electric bikes available and a free 14-day test ride offer, you're guaranteed to find an e-bike to suit your needs at Bicycles Online.
- Free delivery to most Australian postcodes
- Free 14-day test ride
- Afterpay available
Pros and cons of electric bikes for beginners
- They offer an easy way to get around. Like cycling but don't enjoy sweating, strenuous exercise or battling up steep hills? An e-bike can help.
- They can improve your fitness. Pedelec e-bikes offer motorised assistance as you pedal, so they still let you work on your cardiovascular fitness while you ride.
- They encourage adventure. When you can ride further than you would on a traditional bike, there are more opportunities to explore new places.
- There's an increasing number of affordable options. There's a huge range of electric bikes to choose from, including plenty of models to suit buyers on a tighter budget.
- They can be expensive. Even entry-level e-bikes aren't cheap, with most models costing more than $1,000. There are some competitive deals to be found if you're looking to stay under $2,000.
- They're usually heavy. Many beginner e-bikes weigh well over 20kg, so manoeuvring them around when you're not pedalling can be difficult for some people.
- They're often quite basic. Electric bikes for beginners tend to be basic models with cheaper components. If you decide that you want a bike with a longer range or a more powerful engine, you'll need to spend extra cash to buy a high-end model.
Whether you're looking to get fit, commute to work or just cruise around town, there are lots of situations where an e-bike can come in handy. But there's a lot of jargon to wrap your head around if you're a newbie, so it's important to do your research before you buy.
The key consideration is to think about the style of riding you do. This will determine the type of bike you want — commuter, city cruiser, e-mountain bike or some other option — and what models are available. You can then start comparing models side-by-side, test-riding them if possible, to find your perfect introduction to the world of e-bikes.
Frequently asked questions
How far can I ride on an e-bike?
Maximum range varies depending on battery capacity, your weight, the terrain and a range of other factors. Many manufacturers will provide a range estimate, but keep in mind that this figure may not be attainable in the real world.
How long does it take to recharge the battery?
Recharge time varies depending on the battery and the charger used. As a rough guide, most batteries take 3-5 hours for a full charge.
Are e-bikes legal in Australia?
Yes, provided they satisfy certain requirements. For example, pedelec-style bikes can have a motor of no more than 250W. Check the regulations in your state or territory for more information.Back to top
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