Choosing & Buying An E-Bike
EPIKS promotes and encourages active trave to reduce reliance on cars, pollution and to increase wellbeing,
With an electric motor to help you pedal, e-bikes make journey times shorter, and hill climbs easier. Our test rides are a great way to find out if an e-bike might work for you. If you like it and want to buy one there are a number of things to consider.
What to consider when buying an e-bike
We often get asked to recommend an e-bike. Our answer is that it will depend on what you want it for; what features you need; how much your budget is etc.
These are things you should consider:
- Position of the motor – the motor can either be “mid drive” (in the bottom racket by your pedals) or “hub drive” (attached to the hub on your wheel). The following article discusses the pros and cons of both hub-drive vs mid-drive. We bought mid drive e-bikes for our demonstration fleet as felt they were better suited to cope with the Kirklees hills.
- Battery – what range does it offer before it needs recharging? Can you remove it from the bike to charge it? Some bikes are designed so that the battery has to be on the bike to charge it. This can be inconvenient if you don’t have a plug socket near to where you store your bike.
- Cross bar or step through (no cross bar) – this is the same question whether an e-bike or a normal bike. Some riders find it much easier to mount/dismount the bike if they have a step through bike rather than one with a cross bar.
- Style of bike – there are several types of bikes designed for different purposes – road/mountain/hybrid/foldable etc – all available as e-bikes. A lot of riders use hybrid bikes for getting around town. Make sure you select the bike that best suits your needs. Getting the wrong style bike for what you want to do may put you off.
- Panniers (detachable) – a lot of our riders want to be able to carry stuff when commuting or out shopping so you may need a bike that can have panniers attached.
- Hub or derailleur gear – Derailleur gears work more efficiently and have a greater range (allowing you to pedal at a more comfortable pace) than hub gears. Hub gears require less maintenance than derailleur gears and can be more beneficial in urban areas as you can change gear whilst not moving.
- Torque – a new term to many – electric bike torque is the turning force at the wheels of an electric bike. The more torque, the easier it is to get up hills. However it drains your battery quicker. On average, a low-powered e-bike needs approximately 50 to 60-newton meters of torque. In comparison, a higher-powered electric bike needs 85 or more newton meters of torque to operate effectively. The EPIKS Ridgeback bikes have 60Nm of torque.
Trying a bike before you buy?
First step – check out the web site of your local e-bike shop (see table at bottom of page) and if they sell e-bikes, call them up, as they may well be able to offer a test ride. If not, the following is also available:
- Halfords offer a 6 hour free e-bike trial. It has a £100 refundable deposit otherwise it seems to be free.
- Albion Cycling in Thongsbridge allow you to test ride an e-bike.
- Manchester Bikes have a Bike Hire service. They provided us with a lot of help so far and are our bike suppliers.
- Juiced Up Bikes, Sowerby Bridge
- Talio Bikes, Leeds
How much is an e-bike?*
E-bikes are more expensive than normal bikes because of the motor/battery. However there are a number of ways to keep the price down:
- In late summer/autumn bikes shops sell of the current stock to make way for next year’s stock that will be delivered in time for Christmas. This means there are likely to be some e-bikes sold at sale prices.
- Some shops such as Hargreaves in Dewsbury sell off “shop soiled” bikes. They have minor cosmetic damage that does not affect the performance of the bike.
In general with e-bikes, the more you pay will get you a better quality the motor, a longer lasting battery and you’ll have more torque (making the hills easier). Balance your budget against the bike that meets your needs. A quick way is to check the range (miles) that is advertised for the bike. Some of the cheaper options shown below only have a battery range of 20 miles, which will be reduced by the hills of Kirklees. If you run out of battery, your bikes will work like a normal heavy bike, with no pedal assist from the motor.
Examples of lower cost e-bikes:
Rear hub drive £999 – if you’re riding is flatter areas this is an option.
Hybrid e-bike £1595 – ideal for Kirklees
Foldable bike £1665 – ideal for commuting if train is part of your journey.
* Prices correct @ March 2022
Financing an e-bike
The different bike shops have different options however most offer:
- Finance deals – although they don’t lower the cost of the bike, they spread the cost over 1 or two years, and can be offered interest free. Albion Cycling in Thongsbridge offer this service.
Example: A £2000 bike can be bought interest free over 24 months. Rather than having to give a £2000 lump sum, there’s an initial 10% down payment (£200). The rest is spread over the following 24 months at £75 per month. There’s no interest paid, so the overall cost of the bike is still £2000.
- Bike to Work schemes – with a salary sacrifice employees or work colleagues are able to purchase any bike up to the value of (say) £3,500 securing tax benefits and a repayment plan of at least 24 months. All the bikes shops in the appendix offer one or more of the different Cycle to Work schemes. If you have access to a work scheme it allows you to both reduce the overall cost of the bike and spread the payments as you purchase the bike VAT free using a monthly salary deduction. If you do not we can provide some sign posting for your employer.
Converting your existing bike to electric
Although we would recommend buying a factory-built e-bike, it is possible the convert an existing bike to an e-bike. These tend to be hub driven. However, if it is possible to convert your existing bike, it’s a cheaper option than buying a new e-bike. There are a variety of options available from companies such as Swytch, Greenpedal, Electric Bike online etc. If you choose this approach, do your research first as there are numerous options and success rates. Holme Valley Bike Fix in New Mill offers this service.
If you liked the bike you used on the Try An E-Bike day, our bikes which were bought from Manchester Bikes are as follows:
- RB2 (blue) and RB3 (red). These are Ridgeback Electron Plus bikes (step through with hub), which are now listed by Ridgeback at about £2,900. They have 60Nm of torque.
- RB1 and RB4 (silver bikes). These are Ridgeback Cyclone equivalent, listed at about £2,600. They have 60Nm of torque.
Local Bike Shops that supply e-bikes.
As with everything, the Internet will have a cheaper option. However a local bike shop will be able to offer after sales and service that could be priceless. For example, as you’re new to e-biking you may have a number of questions about error codes you’ll get on the computer screen. We will explain simple ones that you’re likely to see on a test ride. There are error codes that are related to the bike set up or maintenance. If something is knocked out of place in transit, the motor will not work.
Although there are other bike shops in Kirklees, the following are the most relevant today. We do recommend that you take advice from a bike shop that has experience of e-bikes if you plan to buy your bike. EPIKS do not have any links with bike shops or brands, and our staff/directors have different type of bikes as they do different things (hybrid/mountain/foldable).
If you live or work in or near Leeds or Manchester, we know you will get a wider range of e-bikes and advice at Manchester Bikes (Salford), Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative (Leeds).
EPIKS is a trading names of Environment Kirklees Ltd, a not for profit company that operates a project called Greenstreams. It has no formal connection with Kirklees Council.
Environment Kirklees Ltd is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England & Wales no. 3367452. It is a registered Environmental Body under the Landfill Tax Regulations (enrolment no. 761034). Registered office: 7 Lion Chambers, John William Street, Huddersfield HD1 1ES. Environment Kirklees is a member of Kirklees Third Sector Leaders.
REPORTING ENVIRONMENTAL INCIDENTS
- To report a pollution incident, contact the Environment Agency immediately on 0800 807 060.
- To report fly-tipping, contact Kirklees Council Fly-tipping Hotline 01484 414700
- To report crime including wire burning, contact the Police on 999 for emergencies or 101 for non-emergencies