Class 1 models are Pedal-Assist electric bikes that amplify the pedal power of the rider. The electric motor will assist up to 20 mph. (The bike can go faster, when going down hill, or if the rider pedals really fast - the motor just won't assist you if you're already going more than 20mph). Pedaling is the only way to engage this type of motor. These models are great for bike paths, mountain biking, and street riding.
Class 2, Throttle-Assist models are similar to Class 1, but with one add on. Class 2 electric bikes have a throttle (lever or button) that allow the rider to go up to 20 mph without pedaling. So, the throttle feature plus the pedal-assist gives the rider 2 ways to engage the motor. Just like class 1 eBikes, class 2 eBikes won't assist you if you're already going more than 20mph. Class 2 eBikes are great as heavy duty cargo bikes, or for riders who like a little extra help without pedaling.
Class 3 ebikes will pedal-assist your pedaling from 1-28 mph. (You can go faster but without motor assistance.) Importantly, you can ride these as slow as you like as well! Class 3 ebikes can have stronger motors which is helpful for getting started up hills. Some consider them safer on narrow neighborhood streets so you can go with the flow of traffic rather than cars squeezing past you. Class 3 simply gives you more options to fit your style of riding.
Any electric mobility product or eBike not clearly labeled with one of these classes, or that allows for speeds greater than 28 mph are not legally classified as bicycles. We highly recommend that you purchase your next eBike from a qualified and reputable bike shop to help you be safe and legal.
Combining aspects of many bike categories, Hybrid bikes are super versatile, and are great for a for bike paths, many public trails, and street riding. Hybrid Bikes have a flat handle bar, similar to a mountain bike that allows for a more upright riding position.
Hybrids often come equipped with lights, fenders and rack, making them perfect for commuting and running errands in all types of weather. Hybrid bikes come in various iterations, like the upright-riding, low-step Comfort Hybrid, or the more forward leaning Sport Bike or Commuter Hybrid.
Electric Mountain Bikes (eMTB) are designed to tackle all types of terrain, especially rough off road trails. An eMTB will come equipped with high traction, knobby tires, great for ridding over lose gravel, dirt, tree roots, or rocks. To handle the bigger bumps, most Mountain Bikes will have a shock absorbing system. This comes in the form of a suspension over both front and rear wheel, called Full Suspension (aka Full Squish), or with shocks for the front wheel only, called a Hardtail.
eMTBs can be designed for all kinds of off road riding, from cross-country trekking, to wild down hill thrills. But the pedal-assist motor ensures that the top of the hill is always within reach.
Want the help without the heavy? Enter the Light Weight eBike. With smaller motor and battery, they weigh 15 to 30 pounds lighter than a traditional ebike. These will more closely resemble the nimble ride feel of an analog bike. They are very popular with cyclists who already ride bikes, but would like to commute to work with out arriving covered in sweat, or keep up with their group rides. Even with the smaller motor, Light Weight eBikes can still more than double the effort of the rider, making hills feel half as steep. And because of the lighter mass, they get more range despite having a lower watt battery.
Light Weight eBikes are relatively new to the scene, but they already come in Mountain, Road, and Hybrid Styles.
The Mini-Van/Work Truck of the eBike world, Cargo bikes make a it possible to live a car-lite lifestyle, or ditch the car all together. With high carrying capacity frames and motors capable of quadrupling the riders effort, even at low cadences, electric Cargo bikes can haul a lot of weight and handle pretty much any errand. Cargo bikes are also very customizable. Think Swiss-Army Knife. They can be equipped to take the kids to school (and soccer practice, swim lessons, friend's house...) Or, they can be set up to haul groceries or work gear (or furniture, BBQ grill, ice chest, Christmas Tree...)
Road eBikes are designed to be sleek, fast, and light. Perfect machines for long rides on smooth roads and trails. Road bikes will have Drop handle bars for a tucked, aero dynamic riding posture, but also offers a variety of hand positions to avoid cramping on longer excursions. For precise handling and low friction, road bikes will usually have smooth, thin tires. However, a recent evolution of the road bike has added wider, knobby tires. Called Gravel Bikes, they allow for more off road trail riding.
Similar to a Hybrid bike, but with an emphasis on Comfort and Fun. Cruisers have a wide, cushy saddle, voluminous tires, and swept back handle bars for comfortable upright riding position. It's the perfect bike for quick trips or leisurely rides on scenic paths.
The most obvious difference between an eBike and a non-electric is the motor.
What should you consider when looking into an ebike's motor system?
What is a Newton Meter (nm)?
If you've reaserched ebikes, you'll deffinitly have a lot of numbers and metrics thrown at you (Watts, Watt-Hours, Power). But the key factor to look at is the Torque spec.
Torque is a force multiplied by a rotation, most commnly measured in Newton Meters (NM). On a bike, the force is your feet pushing on the pedals, and the rotation is the spinning of the crank arms as you pedal.
Examples in human terms:
-When riding a riding a bike on a flat smooth road at 10mph, a rider might be generating around 10nm or torque. This would be sustainable for long periods for most riders.
-When going up a farily steep (10% grade) hill pedaling at about 5mph a rider might be generating around 20nm of torque. Except for very experienced cyclists, or athletes, this is amount of torque can only be achieved in short bursts.
On an eBike, the effort of the rider is multiplied by the motor. So, an eBike with 25nm motor will double the power generated by the rider, making steep hills feel half as steep. a 50nm motor on an ebike will about triple the effort of a rider, 75nm about quadruple, and so on. eBike motors max out at 90nm, which can make even very steep hills feel practically flat.
Power vs. Weight
A more powerful motor does not always mean less effort for the rider. The weight of the bike plays a huge role in how an ebike will feel when riding. A 55lbs bike with a 50nm torque motor might require a similar amount of rider power as a 35lbs bike with a 30nm torque motor to achieve the same result.
"How far can this bike go on a single charge?" With good reason, this is the most common question that we get. But it's also the hardest question to answer. First of all, an eBike is, at it's core, still a bicycle. So, you can ride as many miles as you like even withour ever turning it on. Second, there are a dozen external variables that affect an eBike's range. Here are just a few:
Terrain: Uphill = shorter range. Downhill = longer range
Temperature: Cold = shorter range. Warm = longer range
Weather: Headwind = shorter range. Tailwind = longer range
Pedal Cadence: 30-50 rpm = shorter range. 70-90 rmp = longer range
Riding Surface: Rough, Bumpy Trail = shorter range. Smooth Pavement = longer range.
These and many other factors are why it's not possible to provide a deffinite number. But here are two things you should look into when trying to determine an eBike's "Range of Ranges".
Battery Size The battery is like the fuel tank in a car. The bigger the tank, the greater distance it can go. All else being equal, an eBike with a 700wh battery can go further than one with a 500wh battery.
Weight Perhaps the most important factor. Lighter means less juice is required to propell an eBike foward. The smallest battery on any of our eBikes is 320wh. But because it is on an eBike that weights 28 pounds, it has a longer range than heavier eBikes with twice the amout of battery.
Beware the "Advertised Range"
When reserching eBikes, you will likely come across phrases like "Max Estimated Range", or "Up to miles". Often this number will be achived only in perfect condtions. (A feather-weight, but athletic pro cyclest riding on a flat smooth road with warm weather and a tailwind). So, take these estimates with a grain of salt.