Each person has their own set of needs, but in general the best e-bike is the one that takes you through your desired trip with ease, safety and without running out of battery power.
Currently, there are three types of legal e-Bikes classes in most of US states:
Class 1 & 3 are both pedal assisted only with different maximum speeds. However, Class 2 can either be pedal or throttle assisted.
Throttle assisted means that no pedaling is needed as the motor gets activated by only pushing a button or twisting a throttle.
Want to see the latest classes for your state? Our friends at People for Bikes have put together an excellent resource for electric bike laws - state by state.
There are many components that are found on electric bikes. The critical components to focus on are the:
Understanding each of these components will help to demystify what's important to know about an e-Bike.
If you wanted to focus on the most important components, the battery and the motor are without doubt, essential to ensure a smooth and safe ride.
However, there are a lot of brands with a lot of products - how do you know what's good, or what will last without spending countless hours becoming a parts expert?
Use our Ridefinder quiz!
Our process goes beyond the battery and motor. We use an overall scorecard system to accept or reject an e-Bike based on the following five pillars:
Performance, Safety, Sustainability, Durability, and Reparability
We carry out a rigorous vetting process that researches all of the components used and every part must hit our quality standards before we will list it on ridepanda.com.
We encourage you to use our Ridefinder Quiz (https://www.ridepanda.com/ridefinder/) to find the most fitting option for your needs.
The battery pack is exactly that, a pack of batteries. It's measured in different ways which can indicate how much power and range you can expect.
The battery capacity, is measured in Watt-Hour (Wh). The more Wh the larger the range is going to be.
Watt hours (range) are made up of Volts (speed) and amperes (power).
The battery ampere hour (Ah), also known as amp hour, is the amount of energy in a battery that allows for (1) AMP of current to flow for (1) hour. In other words, Ah is the discharge current a battery can deliver over time. The more Ah, the longer the range will be.
The battery voltage is the speed at which the electric will flow, hence why you'll see higher voltage batteries with higher speed e-rides.
Motor Power rating is measured in Watts (W) and the crucial rating is Torque, which is measured in Newton-Meters (Nm).
There are different motor types and integrated locations that directly impact the e-bikes ability to perform for certain intended usage. Generally, for flat roads a Hub-Motor is recommended compared with a hilly, steep road where a Mid-Motor is preferred.
Electric bikes are heavier than traditional bikes and many riders prefer to have suspension.
This is why many models come with dual front fork suspension and rear shocks.
However, many cheaper e-bikes that are not on ridepanda.com are being sold with unsafe front forks. This is how a lot of companies are able to keep their prices down. Unfortunately, cheaper forks are weaker forks. This means, if you ride on them, you are potentially risking your life or at minimum - your teeth should you hit a pot hole too hard and find that it bends or breaks.
No joke on this, if you think we are kidding, the internet is full of stories of people who had mishaps with their front forks.
For us, it's not worth the risk. Nor do we want to be replacing parts on our new e-rides when we get them. So instead of going that route, we put a close lens on the suspension and made sure that if we listed in on Ridepanda, that we would feel safe riding it ourselves.
The common options are: single speed pedal, 7-speed shift, and no pedals at all.
If you opt for pedals, you can reduce your maintenance by selecting a belt drive instead of the traditional chain drive.
If you are looking for shifting, plenty of options with top-quality shifters and derailleurs.
When it comes to brakes, some people have the mindset that as long as it stops them, it works just fine.
If you would like more stopping power with less effort involved, consider hydraulic disc brakes. Disc brakes provide immediate stopping power and if they are hydraulic, then there is little to no handle pressure required to stop.
Disc brakes are also easier to replace than drum brakes and tend to have better stopping power by comparison.