Buying an electric bike can be a life-changing decision & buying an electric bike online can seem like an attractive proposition. But look beyond the headline price and you may discover that buying an electric bike online could be fraught with problems that end up costing you much more in the long run. Here are four things to look out for when buying an electric bike online.
The first thing to look for when buying an electric bike online is whether the bike comes fully assembled by a professional bike mechanic & ready to ride. More often than not, the answer is no.
Electric bikes are complex machines with many moving parts. These components require careful assembly, alignment & calibration. Our skilled mechanics can spend up to two hours assembling a new electric bike, from truing wheels, aligning/facing brakes and indexing gears.There is a reason that most cyclists take their bikes to a workshop to get serviced. Most simply don't have the skills to perform these tasks properly. By not properly assembling the ebike, you could be setting yourself up for failure from the start, not to mention future headaches & costs.
Some bike workshops offer a bike build service where they will assemble boxed bikes that they haven't sold but these services come at a cost which start to make the attractive online prices slightly less attractive.
The right bike for you
Its unlikely that you'd buy a car before taking it for a test drive. The same goes for electric bikes. Not every electric bike is the right bike for you.
Is the bike the right size for you?
Is the geometry comfortable for how you ride?
Does the bike have enough power to get you up that hill near your house?
Some of these questions can only be answered by test riding & extended trials. Most of our customers will test ride lots of different bikes, several times each to find the perfect bike for them. It's highly unlikely that an ebike that you find online and don't test ride just happens to be the one for you. Budget is an important consideration when choosing an electric bike, but it shouldn't be the only consideration. There is nothing worse that buying a bike online & then several weeks later realising that it's not right for you. Try, try & try again.
The easiest way to reduce the retail price on an electric bike is to cut down on quality of the electrics & bike components. When buying a cheap ebike online, spend some time drilling down into the specifications to make sure that the electrics & components are of acceptable quality. Remember, price is what you pay, value is what you get. Here are some things to look out for.
Battery size: electric bike batteries are one of the most expensive components on the bike. One way manufacturers can reduce the retail price on an electric bike is to use a smaller capacity battery. The size of the battery will determine how far you can ride per charge. The smaller the battery, the less distance you'll get per charge. Lithium ion batteries have an average life span of 3 - 5 years and will gradually lose their capacity over time. This means that a 10aH battery new may have capacity of 6 - 7aH after a few years. Make sure that the battery on your bike has enough capacity for how you plan to use the bike while also factoring in the loss of capacity over time.
Brakes: electric bikes can be much heavier than standard pedal powered bikes. Most electric bikes will weigh between 22 - 27kg. Electric bikes also output much more torque/power than your average cyclist. This additional weight moving at faster speeds require quality brakes for safe stopping power. We consider hydraulic disc brakes the gold standard for all electric bikes. One way manufacturers can lower the retail price is to fit mechanical cable brakes or, god forbid, rim brakes. Check to make sure that the brakes on the bike are good quality and ebike suitable. Check out our article on electric bike brakes here.
Brand: if you're considering purchasing an electric bike, you'll no doubt be familiar with many ebike component manufacturers by now: Bosch, Shimano, Bafang, Tektro, Magura to name a few. These companies are leading manufacturers of ebike electric systems & components. By purchasing ebikes with components by leading brands, you can rest assured knowing that should something go wrong, your local bike workshop will be familiar with the parts, able to repair or service them & can source spare parts when required. Some cheaper ebikes may come with generic electric systems or components for which your local bike workshop may not be able to source spare parts & therefore may be unwilling to service the bike.
After sales service & warranty
Just like a car, electric bikes require routine maintenance & servicing to keep them in optimal condition for many years of safe & enjoyable riding.
When buying an ebike online, check to see whether the seller can service your bike or repair any issues that may arise. If not, you may end up stranded if something goes wrong. Many bike workshops will only work on bikes & brands that they sell & are familiar with or electric bikes that they can get parts for.