Stumped on what to look for in the perfect electric bike? With so many options and tech jargon to wrap your head around, it’s easy to put in the too-hard basket; or worse, make the wrong decision and end up being disappointed with your new wheels.
So, to help simplify the process and get you on your new wheels faster, we’ve compiled the top six things to consider before buying an e-bike that fits your taste, lifestyle and budget.
1. Class of eBike
Did you know there are three different classes of eBikes in the U.S? The class an eBike falls under determines where it can be ridden and whether or not you need a license.
Class 1: Pedal Assist / Pedelec
These e-bikes have a motor (up to 350w) that can accelerate you up to 20 mph when you are pedaling. Class 1 e-bikes are legal on any paved surface or bike path on which a regular bike is allowed to operate.
In addition, there is no age limit on who can ride a Class 1 e-bike, as it is considered the same as a regular bicycle under the law.
Class 2: Throttle
Class 2 e-bikes limit the speed to 20mph, but similar to a motorcycle or scooter, they also contain a throttle that can propel the bike forward without any pedal assistance from the rider.
Whilst legal in some states in the U.S, they’re not considered legal on a bike path in many places, like New York City.
Many countries have laws that prohibit them entirely, including the European Union which requires an e-bike only provide power while the pedals are moving forward.
Class 3: Speed Pedelec
Class 3 can also have up to a 750w motor, however, it can provide pedal assist up to 28 mph. In many areas, this class of e-Bikes is considered a motor vehicle requiring riders to hold a license.
Where does Bluejay stack up? Bluejay is a Class 1 e-bike, legal on any path a regular bicycle is allowed on, giving you the freedom and broadest usage of your e-bike.
Buying tip: decide how, when and where you’ll be riding and which class would suit you the best based on how your new ride will integrate with your lifestyle.
The power of the motor is measured in watts, and the torque of the motor is measured in newton meters. Together, these numbers will give you an idea of how much boost you’ll get. Basically, the greater the watts and nm, the more power the bike will have.
The motor can be located in one of two places - the center of the frame, or on one of the hubs. The position of the motor determines how the bike operates and what it is capable of.
Front Hub Motor
While front hub motors offer the simplest e-bike design, they are the most limited in capability. As such, they are generally only used with Class 2 throttle bikes where the rider does not require pedal assistance.
Rear Hub Motor
Rear hub motors offer more versatility, accommodating both the throttle and pedelec. However, due to their position on the bike, they can create an uneven distribution of weight which can adversely affect the handling.
Mid Drive Motor
As the name suggests, e-bikes with mid-drive motors are positioned at the center of the bike frame and are cleverly integrated with the bottom bracket and cranks (chainset).
Mid-drive motors offer a host of benefits, including delivering more torque (the force that causes rotation) = hill-climbing power, due to the central position of the motor, distributing weight more evenly on the bike. As the motor is driving the crank arms, it can take advantage of a wider range of gears, giving you greater zing when you need it.
Naturally, Bluejays are powered by a 350-watt mid-drive motor as well as fitted with a torque sensor which guarantees a smooth ride every time - helping you glide up those hills effortlessly!
When it comes to the battery powering your eBike, you’ll want to consider the range it has. The most important measurement you need to know is watts-hours (Wh) which tells you how much power you’ll get and for how long.
Basically, the more Wh, the longer you’ll be able to ride before recharging. Bluejays have a long-lasting battery with a Wh of 550, which means you can ride up to 75 miles on a single charge.
When you compare the weight of an e-bike and a regular bike, an eBike will always be heavier because of the battery and motor. This is why we fitted Bluejays with a Samsung cell battery, positioned on the down tube of the bike, which allows for easier handling and complete peace of mind knowing you can safely maneuver it. Lightweight aluminum frame Uses the weight to create stability.
5. Gear System
The gear system delivers power to the wheels in motion and is the force influencing a smooth drive-train.
External hub with Derailleur System
Derailleur systems have been the go-to technology for conventional bicycles, which are characterized by multiple sprockets, externally positioned on the rear wheel hub. These sprockets move the bike chain across a range of differently sized gears that change the efficiency of each pedal stroke based on riding conditions, like climbing uphill or cruising on level ground.
In order to shift gears, the rider must be pedaling, increasing the chance for clothing to get caught in the gear hub. These gear hubs require on-going maintenance, making them a less attractive option for commuter e-bikes.
Internal Gear Hub
Gaining in popularity is the internal gear hub where all of the sprockets are contained, creating a sleek and streamlined aesthetic on the bike frame. Unlike derailleur systems, internal gear hubs can be shifted while stationary, creating an effortlessly smooth ride, which makes them perfect for commuter e-bikes and riding in stop-and-start traffic.
One of the significant advantages internal-gear hubs provide is being housed in a sealed unit, protecting them from dirt, water, and grime, making them incredibly robust.
Even more impressive? Because internal hub systems shift reliably and smoothly, they can go for years without maintenance or adjustment. #winning
Given Bluejays are designed for simplicity and ease of use, they’re fitted with a Shimano Alfine 8 speed internal gear hub, offering an efficient mode of transport so you can get where you need to go, effortlessly.
6. Types of brakes
Hydraulic Disc Brakes vs. Mechanical Brakes - which is better?
There are two types of brakes that e-bikes can be fitted with: mechanical and hydraulic.
While mechanical brakes are operated by a cable, hydraulic disc brakes use fluid to transfer the force from the lever to the caliper (the function that slows or stops the bike).
Hydraulic brakes are used on cars and high-end mountain bikes and work by locking the wheel, moving the piston inside the master cylinder, which forces brake fluid towards the brake caliper.
Hydraulic brakes are higher-end and perform better than mechanical discs in just about every respect, and as you’d expect, they are more expensive.
Hydraulic brakes are a nicety to enhance the capability of an electric bike, given they don’t need constant adjustments like regular mechanical brakes. They require very little hand pressure to activate and you can stop swiftly using two fingers, easily.