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E-Bike Buying Guide for the 2024 Alberta Bike Show

Updated: Mar 17

E-bikes come in many different shapes, sizes, and prices.


There is plenty of marketing language used to try and sell you on "important features". How can you know what matters to you? You know a low price doesn't necessarily mean a great deal. A low price can be enticing, but with e-bikes, you get what you pay for and with low prices, it's usually a bike that quickly can become a headache. Below are 5 questions you need to ask yourself before buying an e-bike, 5 questions you need to ask a dealer before you buy from them, and 5 general tips for buying an e-bike that you'll ride, enjoy, and will last.




5 Questions to Ask Yourself


1. What is my budget? Having a number in mind is helpful when looking at bikes, you may need to adjust it as you learn more. Surveys show more people wish they’d spent more on an e-bike than less.


2. Where will I be riding? 99% of your riding will probably be on a bike path or the road. The other 1% will be on gravel or dirt pathways. This means you probably won’t need suspension or fat tires. Those will add weight and harder to maintain components.


3. Am I trying to exercise? Getting an e-bike that’s comfortable, easy to ride and feels like a bicycle will help you ride more often and ride in a way that will help you be more active. Pick a bicycle style e-bike compared to a moped style.


4. What type of activities will I be doing on the bike? Are you going to be riding to the grocery store or bringing food with you? You will want a rack or a basket to carry things. Are you just meeting friends? Are you riding with other people? All these types of things will change what you’ll need out of an e-bike.


5. How long will my average trip be? This question can be a tricky one. Many people will only ride 3-5 km on a regular bike, but an e-bike increases many people’s average ride to 20-40 km at a time. It’s easy to ride for 2 hours and 50 km. Will the bike you’re looking at have enough battery capacity to handle the range you’d like to ride? Battery anxiety greatly reduces ride enjoyment.



5 Questions to Ask Your Dealer


1. If I have a problem, who will make sure that it gets fixed and dealt with? What’s the process for making that happen?


2. How long will the motor and battery be supported for service? You want to hear an answer longer than 7 years. This is separate from a warranty. A standard warranty is 2 years. Support means, after the warranty, the major components of your bike will be available if they need to be replaced. This also includes software updates.


3. Do you know if the charger and battery management system in the battery have surge protection and automatic shut-off for overheating and when the battery is fully charged? If they don’t know, it’s probably a no. If they say no, I wouldn’t risk buying it.


4. What is the average timeline to replace the battery, motor, or display? You want to hear less than 2 weeks.


5. Can you let me talk to a customer who has this bike? This is a helpful question to know if a dealer has positive relationships with their riders. If it’s a good product and the dealer takes care of their riders there should be a strong group of people willing to talk to you about their experience.




5 General Purchasing Tips


1. Make sure you feel comfortable on the bike - If you don't feel comfortable, you won’t ride it. It is that simple. Try and ride it for 30 minutes to get a feel for if you’re comfortable turning and handling the bike. Saddles can be changed, but make sure your back, shoulders, knees and wrists are in comfortable positions.


2. Make sure your bike has a torque sensor - A good torque sensor is the difference between an e-bike that feels smooth and natural and an e-bike that feels like a bike that gets a little bit of a boost. A torque-sensor matches the assist with the rhythm of your pedaling.


3. A mid-drive motor is the way to go - Mid-drive motors have higher-build quality than hub motors, keep the weight of the bike more balanced and have better resale value.


4. Make sure you have someone to service your bike - you will ride your e-bike more than you think. It is a bike. It will need maintenance and service. Having someone you trust to take care of your bike will make the experience easy and worry-free which will keep you riding long-term.


5. Buy as nice a bike as you can - Many e-bike riders all bought their first bike not knowing if they’d use it much. After they ride it for a month or so, they often say, I wish I’d bought a nicer one. It can be difficult to understand the value of an e-bike until you’re regularly riding it. My first e-bike I bought thinking I’d use it similarly to my regular bike. I was wrong. I rode it 9000 km in my first year. The studies on e-bikes reveal similar stories of people who don’t bike that much regularly significantly increasing their riding.


 

We hope you have found this guide helpful.


One last piece of advice - the best way to know if an e-bike is the right bike for you is to get on it and ride it.


If you think the TuffHill e-bike might be what you're looking for, we'd love for you to feel how it rides "out in the wild" at Confederation Park. You can learn more about our test ride opportunities on our website or come introduce yourself to Sean and/or Brian at the Bike Show.



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