Electric Assist Bikes – a buyers guide

Electric bicycles make riding easier and more appealing to an ever-broadening array of people. They are both a healthy recreational outlet and a frugal means of transportation. It is no wonder that they have become so popular over the past few years. With so much information available to the consumer, researching and finding the right electric assist bicycle can be daunting, but Lititz Bikeworks is here to help you. We’ve provided you a short guideline below that is sure to help you, but as always, visiting our shop and talking to staff is the best way to answer your questions and ultimately get out and test ride!

Class 1 includes pedal-assist bikes, which power the electric motor as your feet apply pressure to the pedals. There’s no throttle control on the handlebar to get the bike going; the electric part works only when the rider is pedaling, and the e-assist cuts off at speeds above 20 mph.

Class 2 bikes also have an electric motor that works up to 20 mph, either while the rider is pedaling (pedal-assist) or with electric propulsion alone, via a throttle control.

Class 3 limits an e-bike’s top speed to 28 mph. These faster, more powerful models might not be legal to ride in some areas, such as on bike paths.

Mid-Drive vs. Hub Drive motors
This is a question we get asked a lot. There are two distinct types of drives available to the e-bike consumer… hub drive vs. mid drive, what is the difference.

Hub drive has been around for about 10 years and is still a value option today. The biggest advantage of this type of motor is cost savings. Expect to pay under $2,000 for a quality, hub driven electric bicycle. The downside to this style is serviceability and battery life. Most hub drives will be good for 20-30 miles and cannot be serviced in the event of a breakdown or mechanical issue.

Mid-drive electric assist bicycles came into the market around 2018 and now represent the majority of electric assist bikes on the market today. While more expensive than hub motors, they offer many advantages… and range is the biggest one. Some mid-drive electric assist bikes at Lititz Bikeworks have ranges of 60-80 miles! At the heart of any good mid drive bike is the software powering the bike and managing its power delivery. Smaller batteries also make the bikes lighter and more natural feeling, which is nice for folks who still want that feeling of riding an “analog” bike.

There is a growing trend of online bike brands who target consumers with flashy advertising and promotional pricing and/or financing. What online brands do not mention is in the event their bikes need servicing, they do not have a network of dealers to diagnose and fix electronic issues. Buying an e-bike from a reputable bike shop is THE MOST IMPORTANT consideration during this entire process as we service what we sell.

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