Choosing an Electric Bike

    Choosing an electric bike - Douglas Aug/Sept 2023

    With an electric bike you can keep up in traffic, haul kids or cargo, arrive less sweaty at work or simply enjoy a little extra oomph on rides. And as of this year, provincial rebates and the removal of PST make e-bikes more affordable.

    E-bikes break down into the same categories as conventional bikes: road, mountain and commuter, plus niches like gravel, cruiser, cargo and folding bikes.

    Things to consider:

    Saddle: Think of the saddle much like a pair of shoes: You wouldn’t want footwear that’s too big or too small. So don’t automatically accept the default bike saddle. The dealer will help fit you to the bike. But they may charge extra for a more comprehensive bike fitting. This is a wise investment, particularly if you plan
    to ride extensively.

    Cargo: Commuter bikes can be outfitted with all manner of fenders, lights, luggage racks, panniers and other accessories to make your bike more comfortable and useful. 

    Motor: Depending on the model, electric assist is applied either at the hub of the rear wheel or in what’s called a mid-drive, at the bottom bracket. Mid-drive models tend to be more responsive and typically route power through the bike’s gearing, which can help save battery power on hills and longer rides. When the electric motor is mounted on the rear hub, it can limit the number of gears an e-bike can have, which in turn can affect battery life.

    The most important advice is to test-ride any bike before purchasing. A dealer can customize its fit for you, and some dealers also rent e-bikes, giving you a chance for an extended ride. Selectable gears make for a better riding experience once the battery is drained and pedalling provides the only power. Single-speed bikes aren’t as versatile.

    Best of all, unlike an electric car, if you do run out of power you can simply pedal the rest of the way to home or work.