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Which Electric Bike is best for you?

Why buy an electric bike? Plain and simple, they’re a blast! Chances are if you ride a bike in this day and age you’ve heard of electric bikes, or e-bikes for short. Over the last few years, this area of cycling has taken off as technological developments have brought many reliable options onto the market at lower price points. This has served to make e-bikes a legitimate form of alternative transportation, particularly as commuting habits change amidst a global pandemic. This post will primarily address hybrid and commuter type e-bikes to help you make a more informed decision before pulling the trigger.

What are electric bikes?

     Although e-bikes may seem like an entirely different species, they are actually quite similar to regular bikes. Most electric bikes have what’s known as a pedal-assist system, meaning that the motor is only going to kick in when you are pedaling — no throttle on these guys. At Guthrie’s, we sell class 1 and class 3 e-bikes. Class 1 are pedal-assist only with a max speed of 20 mph, class 3 are also pedal-assist only but have a max of 28 mph. The models we offer have multiple power settings so you can adjust the amount of assist you are getting. Most states will allow you to ride them anywhere you can ride a regular bike, with particular regulations left up to local governance. Keep in mind that I am only talking about on-road regulations, restrictions for mountain e-bikes will be addressed in another post. Click here for more information regarding e-bike laws in Utah.

What's the range?

     This is a question that comes up almost every time we show someone an electric bike and unfortunately there’s no clear-cut answer. Trying to find out how far or how long you can go on an e-bike is like asking how far you can go on a tank of gas, it just depends. This dependency is based on a number of factors, such as the level of assist being used, type of terrain, and rider fitness. For the most part, you can go about 20-70 miles on a given charge lasting you roughly 1-3 hours. I know that’s vague, but like I said before, there’s no good answer. For a fairly accurate calculation of range, use Bosch’s e-bike range assistant.

Why buy an electric bike?

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go up steep hills without even breaking a sweat? Or ride further and faster than you ever have before? E-bikes make pedaling easier and make cycling more accessible. Let’s start with getting rid of the car. Over half of driving trips are less than ten miles, all you need is a good rack and panniers and you’re set for a majority of trips. No need to change clothes when you get to your destination either, you’ll sweat much less than you would on a regular bike. Do all this while avoiding traffic jams, getting exercise, and reducing your carbon footprint. People who would otherwise be sedentary often rediscover the joys of cycling on an e-bike. The smooth, powerful boost is very predictable and gives riders the confidence and freedom to enjoy the outdoors. They are also great if you have an underlying injury or health condition that would otherwise prevent you from biking. Another great feature on most electric bikes we sell is the Bosch motor/battery system. Bosch has been making batteries for a long time, and their award winning eBike systems have been top of the game for over ten years. Additionally, as opposed to other systems, Bosch’s products are reliable and the company will still be around years down the road when you need service and support. Cheap drive systems are flimsy and provide a clunky ride experience so spending the extra money to get a good one on your bike is well worth it. All of our e-bikes with Bosch systems feature four levels of assist accessed via an LCD display, ranging from “eco” (least) to turbo (most). Each level adds more power, but also drains the battery quicker. But fear not, you can also ride them like a normal bike if you run out of juice. On select models, you can even add another battery to effectively double your range.

Why not?

Enough praising, what about the negative aspects of electric bikes? First off, they’re expensive. If you are looking to get a decent e-bike, you should expect to pay at least $1500. Of course there are cheaper options, but anything below this price point usually lacks greatly in quality and durability. However, compare this to the money you’ll save on gas and car maintenance, in addition to the added health benefits. Secondly, they’re darn heavy. Most e-bikes weigh somewhere around 40 to 50 pounds, generally adding an extra 20 pounds compared to a normal bike. Modern geometry helps these bikes handle very well despite their weight, but you better make sure you have a hefty car or bike rack to carry it around.

Which e-bike is best for me?

Buying an electric bike is a big decision and should not be taken lightly. Before you start, these questions will help you narrow down your criteria:

  • What do I want to use the bike for?

  • How long are my rides, and how often am I riding?

  • Do I prioritize comfort or efficiency?

  • How much do I want to spend?

Many models have varying pricing and features, which can often determine your ideal bike. Use the Trek bike finder for a more comprehensive breakdown of this process. Now that you have somewhat of an idea about your riding habits, let’s break down some of our most popular electric bikes.

Trek Allant +

Trek Allant+

This bike is best for high speed, hassle-free commuting. Modeled after the FX series, the Allant+ puts you in a neutral riding position to give you the ability to look around in traffic while also letting you lean aggressively into corners. It comes ready with fenders to keep your work clothes dry and the rack over the back wheel can carry extra gear with ease. It also has integrated daytime running lights which operate off the same battery as the motor, so you never have to worry about riding after dark. Going on gravel? No problem - all Allant+ models come stock with burly 27.5 x 2.4 inch tires for a smooth and comfortable ride. On select “speed” models like the Allant+ 7S and 8S, the bike comes with a more powerful motor, assisting up to 28 mph.

Trek Verve+

Trek Verve+

This bike is perfect for riders who want something comfortable and capable of getting them around town, making it a perfect place for anyone to start their e-bike journey. The handlebars are nice and high with an adjustable stem so you never have to bend over to steer while the ultra-upright riding position allows you to look around and take in the scenery with ease. Additionally, the Bosch purion display makes it easy to change assist level and see how fast you are going. Just like the Allant+, Verve+ features integrated lights and full-coverage fenders, ensuring you get the best experience regardless of riding conditions. They even have rack mounts to provide plenty of potential storage options. If you are a casual cyclist who wants an e-bike to run errands, tow the little ones, or just get some exercise, consider the Verve+. 

- Devin Keefe