If you are thinking of buying an electric bike, you will probably come across many models, different powers, forms of acceleration, components that a conventional bike does not have and specific terms you did not know about.How to make the right choice? See these tips.
The couple Jorge and Maria Angelica were looking for an alternative means of transportation to use in their city. “We live in Pato Branco, in Paraná, a city with many climbs, which makes it difficult to use the bicycle,” says Maria. It was when they met a novelty that flashed as the solution to the problem. “We knew the electric bicycle and realized that it would be the salvation of the crop. We buy and now we use it to work and walk around the city.We opted for a foldable one, so it goes together for the holidays, “celebrates the couple.
And you, have you also come across a similar situation? Perhaps the topography of your city intimidates you to pedal, or you are not confident of facing a larger mileage on a regular bike. Even if you have limitations of physical mobility due to age or some disability, you can leave the car aside and move in a sustainable and humanizing way.
If you choose to buy an e-bike, many points need to be weighed. If the goal is leisure, comfort is more fundamental. If you want to use the e-bike during the week as the main means of transport, and the city has a very rugged relief, the focus will be on a more powerful engine. If the concern is to win a great path, the battery’s autonomy is important.If you need to carry luggage, an e-bike with cargo compartments, such as chests or baskets, may be the best option. Finally, understanding your needs is the first step in getting your vehicle right.
We’ve put together some tips to help you buy your e-bike. Follow it.
1. Consider Your Needs
Evaluate in which situation you will use e-bike: whether it will replace the current form of daily commuting (commuting to work, school and commerce), or whether it will be used for leisure and sightseeing. Based on this, before you buy your electric bike, list what you want: save on car expenses and public transportation, have more power to win a hill, have more autonomy to reach greater distances, among others. This information will guide which is the best e-bike for your case.
2. Useful Accessories
See which accessories are included in the e-bike, such as padlocks, horns, lights, flaps, shock absorbers, exchanges, cargo trunks etc. They make a big difference in the day to day. Discuss what are most important to your use of e-bike.
3. Learn About Electrical Components
Take some time to learn about the different accessories that e-bike has. Know the types of engines, batteries and acceleration forms available. Note that the location of the engine and battery may vary depending on the model of the bicycle.
For this first contact with the structure of the electric bicycle, we indicate the reading of matters that we have already published on the subject in previous editions, especially in edition 003 (January/February/2011) and 021 (October/2012), participation in forums in Internet and interaction with people who already use e-bikes. Try to clear your doubts with those who already have experience with this means of transport. This prior knowledge will be very important for you not to buy cat by hare.
Once you know what the use of your electric bicycle will be, and know a little about the components, it is time to evaluate some of its characteristics.
The battery is the source of the power that powers the motor. As it has a useful life, its replacement is what represents the biggest cost of e-bike. So when buying your e-bike, ask about the price to change the battery, and if it is easy to get it.
In the Brazilian market, lead-acid batteries, similar to car batteries, are quite common, but are gradually losing space for lithium batteries, similar to notebook batteries. The use of lithium batteries has been growing a lot and is the most promising battery chemistry.When you buy your e-bike, you can choose between one model and another evaluating the following items.
4.1 Autonomy: what determines the battery life is the amperage. The higher the amperage, the greater the battery life. In the market you will find batteries of 5, 8, 9, 10 and 12 AH, the one of 5 AH will have the lowest autonomy and the one of 12 AH will have the greater autonomy, maintained the same conditions of weight, aclive etc. When choosing your e-bike, take into account the autonomy required for your daily routes, such as the return trip, plus intermediate trips.
4.2 Weight: Lithium batteries are much lighter than lead batteries. Lithium is the lightest of metals used in batteries, and provides the highest energy density by weight. A lithium battery has a weight up to six times lower than a lead-acid battery. There are lithium batteries with just over 1 kg, up to about 3.5 kg, while lead batteries weigh more than 10 kg.
If the priority is to have a light bike, prefer the battery of:
) LithiumP() Lead (
4.3 Self-discharge: The batteries lose a little charge, even when they are stopped: this is called self-discharge. Lead-free batteries have one of the lowest self-discharges between rechargeable batteries, lasting up to twice that of lithium batteries. This information is useful if the bike will be used seasonally. But be careful as the battery can not be stored without charging: even when you do not use the e-bike, it is mandatory to recharge the battery periodically.
If the priority is seasonal use, choose the battery of:
) Lead () LithiumP(
4.4 Longevity: Every battery has a life cycle, based on the number of recharges and its aging, which occurs independently of the use. On average, the life of the lithium battery comes close to 1,000 recharges, while the lead battery has a life of about 400 recharge cycles. Even so, after approximately one year the batteries show a decline in their ability to store energy due to aging.
If the priority is longevity, choose the battery of:
) LithiumP() Lead (
4.5 Price: lead-acid batteries are cheaper than lithium batteries. They are simpler to manufacture because their technology is already mature, reliable and well known.Because they are more popular, they are easily found in the market. Lithium batteries, relatively new, for now are about 40% more expensive to produce. Obviously, the value of lithium battery replacement is also higher than the lead battery.
If the priority is price, choose the battery of:
) Lead () LithiumP(
4.6 Recharge time: lithium batteries are faster to recharge. Lithium-ion recharges usually take 2 to 4 hours to complete, while lead-acid batteries usually take 6 to 8 hours. Another drawback of the lead battery is that it should be plugged in for recharging every time after use regardless of the level of power you still have.
If the priority is to have the bike recharged quickly, choose the battery of:
) LithiumP() Lead (
4.7 Portability: The lithium battery is easy to remove from the bike, allowing you to leave the bike parked and carry only the battery to recharge. The lead battery, because it is heavier and bulky, is usually fixed on the bike, ie when you recharge, you will need to take the whole bike close to the power outlet.
If the priority is to have a portable battery, easy to handle, prefer the battery of:
) LithiumP() Lead (
There are two types of engines. Brush is the motor with brushes, and Brushless, which is the brushless motor. The latter is more efficient and quiet. With regard to the motor, the most important item to be analyzed is the power. If your course is flat, you maintain a constant speed and do not overload the bike, a motor of 180 to 250 watts is enough.These engines usually have the option to pedal together, meaning the energy that moves the bike is divided between you and the engine. If you can not pedal too much because of a disability, or you will face terrain with more prominence, the 350-watt version is more appropriate. 600-watt motors are suggested for people with greater physical mobility limitation, or for heavier cyclists, and for situations where strong climbs need to be faced;They give a similar feeling to an electric motorcycle. There may be a drop in performance in situations of very strong contrary winds, hills, slow surfaces, such as mud, decalibrated tires, etc. The higher the power, the greater the speed and acceleration you can achieve with e-bike: therefore, be careful in choosing and using it.
This is one of the most important items to be analyzed. If you want to pedal all the time and just rely on the electric aid as a facilitator, opt for pedelecs, which are e-bikes with assisted pedal system. In this case, acceleration occurs when pedaling through speed or torque sensors. The speed sensors activate the engine when the bike reaches a certain speed; Torque sensors activate the motor when certain force is applied to the pedals. In all cases, you do not stop pedaling. In Brazil, speed sensors, also called turning sensors, are more common because torque sensors are more expensive and difficult to maintain.
If you have some physical weakness that prevents you from pedaling, choose bikes with manual accelerators, which can be twist-and-go, similar to motorcycle or thumb type, which is triggered with the thumb . These bicycles are suitable for the disabled and elderly, as the bicycle works independently of the pedaling: just accelerate. It becomes a way of including cycling in cycling who previously could not opt for cycling.
There is also a middle ground between pedelecs and e-bikes with manual accelerators: electric bicycles with mixed acceleration. In this case, the cyclist can choose between pedaling with sensors or just manually accelerate the bike through a button. They are intended for people with lighter limitations, which do not prevent pedaling, but in a situation of greater need, such as resuming speed after the traffic light, for example, prefer to opt for manual acceleration. Another case: if you want to use the bike to go to work, preferring to accelerate on the way, not to get sweaty, and to return pedaling, to do the exercise of the day, the indication is for an e-bike with mixed acceleration.
Make sure that the e-bike allows adjustments, such as adjusting the saddle. If the model is foldable, check the ease of locking and unlocking to fold.
8. Where To Buy
Choose the shop where you will buy the e-bike wisely. Opt for proximity: at best you will have doubts and questions; In the worst case you will have problems and you will need technical assistance. Consider whether the store will have the necessary spare parts, especially the batteries.
9. Brand And Market
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are many options on the market and you will hear all sorts of opinions, but doubt the fantastic feats of e-bike from a brand you have never heard of. Research a little more: if it is difficult to get information about that brand, it is better not to risk it.
Electric bikes usually come with two warranty indications: one from the bike and one from the battery. The longer the warranty period, the better, but when buying, also inquire about the ease or bureaucracy of the exchanges.
11. Take A Test Drive
This is the most important point. It is imperative to test some models before closing the purchase. But what to do during the test drive?
11.1 Types of Acceleration: Experience the acceleration variations, since the sensations are different between a pedelec and a bicycle with a manual throttle.
11.2 Climb a hill: either face the wind in front of you, or go through a difficult and slow terrain, finally, feel the reaction of the bike when the situation demands a little more of the bike.
11.3 Test the different power modes: Some e-bikes offer options that save or release more power. Walk in all variations to feel the bike’s behavior.
11.4 Pedaling without electrical assistance: It is essential to test the bike with the engine off to feel like it would be pedaling when the battery is exhausted. In particular, feel the weight of the bike.
11.5 Pay attention to the accessories: test the changes, notice the suspension system, finally check that the bike’s items meet the requirements of the course. If you do not know much about the bike components, ask for help from someone you know.
Accepting the electric aid is not cheating, it’s a smart way to be a car less and enjoy the routes in an accessible and integrated way to the city. In the end you will pedal further, more often, and much!