New to e-bikes? Read our electric bike guide below to discover what they are, how they work and which one might be right for you.
Whilst you may have ridden a non-electric bicycle your whole life, you may be new to electric bikes, or 'e-bikes'. There is now a huge range of e-bikes available in Australia, all differing by their intended use, the mechanical and electrical components they are built with, as well as their retail price. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of e-bike technology and help you decide which bike might be right for you.
Part one of this guide covers the basics of e-bikes and is an essential starting point before researching bike options. Part two covers more detailed information about the technology behind e-bikes, ownership, maintenance and servicing, Australian regulations, as well as other frequently asked questions.
An e-bike is a bicycle with a battery-powered motor that provides assistance to the rider. E-bikes are designed to compliment pedal power, rather than completely replace it, as a motorcycle or moped does.
E-bikes can be life changing for anyone!
E-bikes are allowing millions of people across the world to commute and transport goods and people in a sustainable, healthy and safe way.
There are many benefits to using an e-bike, all of which depend on the person and how they are using their e-bike.
For the busy professional, an e-bike can mean getting to work faster without arriving in a sweaty mess.
For a family with kids, an e-bike can mean getting the youngest to daycare, the eldest to school, a quick trip to the supermarket and then on to work, all without worrying about traffic, parking and the costs of owning and operating a car - registration, fuel, tolls and the environmental costs.
For an elderly person, someone experiencing injury or person with a disability, an e-bike can mean the difference between continuing to experience the joy of cycling, and not cycling at all. E-bikes allow people to keep fit, active and social despite age or ability.
An e-bike is made up of a bicycle with a motor, battery, controller and display.
Pedalling assistance is provided by a motor built into either the front or rear wheel (hub motor), or built into the frame near the pedals (mid-drive motor).
The motor is powered by a battery that generally uses lithium-ion technology similar to that found in mobile phones, laptops and electric cars.
The ‘brain’ of the e-bike is the controller, a small computer that allows the motor, battery and other electrical components to work together safely and effectively.
The display is a screen and buttons on the handlebars that allow the rider to select the amount of electrical assistance from the motor. It may also show information such as speed, distance covered, battery charge and a range estimate.
Most e-bikes require the rider to be pedalling for the motor to provide assistance. Sensors detect when the rider is pedalling and smoothly activate the motor.
The rider can select different levels of assistance throughout a ride. A low setting provides a gentle level of assistance (for when you want more exercise or to conserve the battery on long trips), whereas a high setting requires much less effort from the rider (for riding up hills, when you’re tired or don’t want to work up too much of a sweat!).
E-bikes may also have other unique features, such as front and rear lights powered by the bike battery and a throttle to directly control the motor power with or without pedalling (only available on our Ezee branded e-bikes). The features available on e-bikes vary across manufacturers and models.
There are five main types of e-bike based on how they are designed to be used:
E-bikes vary widely in price due to differences in design and component quality. E-bikes sold through Glow Worm Electric Bikes start at around $1800 for simple urban commuters, to over $10,000 for premium cargo, mountain and road e-bikes. Whilst cheaper e-bikes from generic manufacturers are available elsewhere online, we find these are unreliable, need to be repaired often or fail completely. As a business that also services and repairs e-bikes, it is in our interest (as well as yours!) to provide e-bikes that are reliable and easy to maintain and repair.
As a rough guide, $1800 - $2500 will buy you a good quality e-bike suited to light use (e.g. weekend leisure riding and short 5-10 km commutes). $2500 - $4000 will buy you an even better e-bike with higher quality componentsand more suited to daily use. An e-bike priced over about $4,000 will often include high-end mechanical components for smoother gear shifting and more powerful braking, a high-torque motor (for carrying more weight and getting up steep hills), a stronger and more comfortable bike frame, useful accessories (such as racks and mudguards if required) and a more user-friendly display on the handlebars. Some e-bikes in this range are inherently more expensive due to their specialist design, such as cargo bikes, mountain and trail bikes, and lightweight road racing bikes.
When buying an e-bike, it is important to consider these questions:
Other features of an e-bike to consider include:
Some of the questions above can be answered by speaking with experienced staff at a reputable e-bike retailer (such as Glow Worm Electric Bikes!) and test riding a number of different bikes. Our customers often test ride multiple bikes, several times each, to find the right bike for them.
Once you know what type of e-bike you would like, it may be tempting to find a cheap equivalent one online. Whilst budget is an important consideration, it shouldn't be the only consideration. There is nothing worse than buying a cheap e-bike online without a test ride, then shortly after realising that you don’t know how to assemble it from the box, it's not right for your needs or has poor quality components. Often in this case the seller or manufacturer cannot be easily contacted for technical support, spare parts, a refund or warranty claim.
Ultimately, price is what you pay, but value is what you get.
Here are some things to consider when looking at e-bikes sold online:
Whilst warranties differ between manufacturers, e-bikes made by well-known manufacturers and purchased through reputable retailers (such as Glow Worm Electric Bikes!) come with at least a one-year warranty on electrical parts and a two-year warranty on the bike frame. Ezee-branded bikes bought from Glow Worm have a two-year electrical warranty and six-year frame warranty.
With all of this in mind, we recommend speaking with the friendly folks at Glow Worm Electric Bikes if you would like to understand which e-bike suits your needs, test riding a variety of options, and making good use of the after-sale service.
Part two of this guide covers more detailed information about the technology behind e-bikes, ownership, maintenance and servicing, Australian regulations, as well as other frequently asked questions.Read guide