electric-bike

Electric Bike Styles – What Fits Your You?

Electric Bike styles differ widely in shape, size, and purpose. There are so many variations and types to choose from. And there are classifications. But they are still very similar to regular bikes in operation and appearance. Let dig in and see what electric bike style will be a great fit for you.

Transportation and Recreation

Electric Bikes are perfect for replacing short trips usually made by car. The investment in an e-bike can easily be justified by the savings of not operating a motor vehicle as often. You’ll save on gas, maintenance, and even parking expenses. Statistics show that about 1/2 of all car trips in the US are 3 miles or less. Check out this quiet, eco-friendly way to get around.

Whatever your style and needs are you’ll find a bike to match. Whether it’s for commuting or you want a less physically demanding way to bike ride there’s a perfect e-bike for you.

E-Bike Classes

There are 3 classes or types of e-bikes. The laws for electric bikes are changing rapidly and differ from place to place. Use and restrictions are determined at the state and/or local level. Before you ride, check your local laws – anywhere in the world. What we’ve written can become obsolete – as much as we try to stay current. This article is written for the US electric bike user.

Class 1 – Pedal Assist aka Pedelec

Under 750W, 20 mph limit, PAS

This is the most common type. It may or may not come with a throttle. As you pedal the bike the motor kicks in and provides assistance. This gives you more power for less effort. You’ll feel like you have bionic legs! The settings can control how much assistance you want. They typically have 3-5 settings. This type is limited to 20 mph. They are allowed on most roads and paths just like a regular bicycle. There is no additional licensing required. Helmet required on ages 17 and younger.

Class 2 – Throttle

Under 750W, 20 mph limit, PAS and throttle

The throttle propels the bike without pedaling. Similar to a motorcycle. You twist the hand grip or push on the thumb tab or button located on the handlebar. You can vary the amount of power and so the speed. Be careful the first time you try one of these. They can have a very fast start! You can pedal for a boost and to extend your battery range. This type also is limited to 20 mph with varied regulations. Some areas may not allow the throttle control. They can be dangerous – taking off too quickly if not careful or activated accidentally. Some may require a license. Do your homework for your area. Helmet required on age 17 and under.

Class 3 – Speed Pedelec

Under 750W, 20 mph limit by throttle, 28 mph by PAS

While still considered a bicycle this type has a maximum allowable speed of 28 mph. While there is no license or plate required – a helmet is! It’s the law. And you must be 16 or older to use one. Again check your local laws for requirements to operate.

Class 4 – Moped or Motorcycle

Over 750W, 28+ mph, throttle or PAS

I will be adding a section “Other Electric”. To include scooters, mopeds and other cool things.

This class is considered a motor vehicle and as such it requires a license and registration. Riding one of these you have to follow the same laws as a gas powered motorcycle or moped.

Fat Tire Electric Bikes

Not just for off-road. Fat tire electric bikes are rugged, versatile and practical. On road or off these are a great performance pick. Extra wide tires give a more comfortable ride, especially when paired with suspension. With their superior grip and traction, they’re good for soft terrains such as sand, rocks, mud, and snow. Speed isn’t the main goal here. If you’re riding on the pavement these bikes are harder to pedal because of their weight. This bike extends your riding season into the winter.

Cruisers

Designed for comfort – You – sitting upright on a large comfortable saddle. Designed for cruising around  – casual, relaxed sweatless trips. Not designed for hills so much or speed or heavy cargo. The tires are a little wider, the handlebars more upright. Built for comfort and easy to control. Perfect for city riding, not just beach cruising. These are classy looking bikes.

Folding Electric Bikes

Folding Electric Bike
Folding Electric Bike

One of my favorites. The folding electric bike. Lighter, smaller, compatibility it has so much flexibility. If the one you choose is too heavy for you to carry be sure you can roll it along when folded. You’ll ride in an upright seated position. Some have suspension. Great for commuting, boating, RVing, city living, just about anything! Just fold ’em up and take it with you. No worries about locking it up.

 Step-Through Electric Bikes

While some still think of these as a bike designed for females this isn’t the case. This is a design that allows for easier boarding. Some of our riders are older, stiffer, not as balanced and may have residual effects from illness and injury. Makes life easy, right?! Hop on, hop off easy. I know to swing my leg up and over a bar isn’t what it used to be.

Many are designed so that the pedals are a little forward of the seat and it can improve the riding comfort. The wheelbase is a little longer but doesn’t have much effect on the handling.

Commuter E-Bikes

Go the distance and get there quickly. Often equipped with a rack and a lighting system. Get to work – no sweat! A commuter electric bike can be almost any type. Some things to consider are ease of handling in traffic. Quick acceleration. Good brakes. Suspension fork.  Do you need to lock it or will you take it with you? Does it have a rack? How will you carry your work stuff, gym stuff, a grocery bag? Stability, comfort, range, and sturdy is what to look for.

Mountain E-Bikes

These are designed for trails and climbing hills. Stable with great control – these are for fun! You could also use these to commute. But if your main desire is to explore mountains and trails then this is the one for you. This is a heavier bike with more power. They are built for tougher conditions. The power should be on the higher end. Remember that the mileage they claim is based on perfect conditions. Outside in actual use figure your range will be about 1/2. Test it out before you push the range. You don’t want to get stuck out in the middle of nowhere with no battery power.

Breaks are important with this bike. You should have disc brakes because you need pro stopping power.

Consider your shock absorption which will protect you and the components of your bike. Your system will have a longer life.

Trikes

Electric Trike from Spark Cycleworks
Electric Trike Spark Cycleworks

AKA Electric Tricycles. This is a three-wheeled ride offering better stability. Feels much more safe and secure. Great for seniors and people with special needs – young or old. These are also great cargo bikes and usually come with a basket or two for putting your stuff or even your pet in. Also good for hunters to carry their gear to places their car or truck won’t go. This is a fun and practical choice for day to day. A word of caution – keep the speed on the lower side to avoid tipping.

Conversion Kit

Conversion Kit - Ebike
Conversion Kit – Ebike

There are 2 types of conversion kits. I’m going to stick to the Hub Motor Electric Bike Conversion Kit. The Mid drive conversion kit is pricy. I’ve seen them at around $1k. I’d rather just put that towards a new e-bike if I’m spending that kind of money. What do you think?

The Hub motor conversion kits are more reasonably priced and pretty easy to install. You can get front or rear hub conversion kits.

Electric Hybrid Bikes

These are your traditional bikes with a little mountain bike in the design. They are a little tougher but not super heavy. You can get one with or without suspension. You can make this bike by fitting it with a conversion kit. Great for commuting or going out on trails. Sturdy but not as heavy as a mountain bike.

Research

Comment below what your experience is with one of these bikes.

With hours of research into every article and hands-on experience with whatever I can get my hands on – I learn every day and bring all that to you.

Judy

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Comments

    • Jade
    • April 29, 2019
    Reply

    Really timely article as my husband is considering getting an ebike for work. He has a regular bike that he refuses to take because of a very steep hill and we’ve been a bit stumped ever since as we don’t know anyone with ebike experience.

      • Judy
      • April 29, 2019
      Reply

      Hi Jade, Sounds like an ebike would be a great solution for him! Let me know how I can help!

    • Jim
    • July 19, 2019
    Reply

    Hi Judy. I had no idea there were so many different types and styles of electric bikes. My thoughts were that there was only one type, for the road. You have opened my mind to a whole new world. The mountain E bikes fascinate me, I really would like to try one of these little babies out.  I also never realized there was a speed limit on these that which, if is exceeded, you need a license to drive. I am definitely going to have to come back to your site for more information in the future. Is there such a thing as a tandem electric bike? All the best and thank you for your informative article.  Jim

      • Judy
      • July 20, 2019
      Reply

      Hi Jim, this is a whole new world! There are so many cool types and options. I like mountain ebikes. I like how rugged they are. I hope you find a place to try one. The riding laws are different depending on where you live. And things are changing as awareness increases. There are tandem electric bikes. I know of tandem bikes that have been made into electric bikes with a conversion kit. That’s the cheaper way to go. The manufactured ones are pretty expensive. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Rina
    • July 19, 2019
    Reply

    I have been looking for an ebike for a couple of months now and the cruiser sounds like the one for me. I live in a small flat coastal town. I am thinking of trading my small car in for the more healthy (for me and the environment) more eco friendly form of transport like an ebook would be perfect. I will find out first what the law says about them in my country New Zealand. 

    Cheers

    Rina

      • Judy
      • July 20, 2019
      Reply

      The cruiser would be really good for your type of area Rina. I’d be interested in New Zealand’s ebike laws. I’ll have to look into it out of curiosity. 

    • Dave Sweney
    • July 19, 2019
    Reply

    The world of electric bikes has really expanded over the past few years and there is sure to be one or more style of an electric bike that will suit your needs, perhaps more than one. I like that you have gone into detail and provided examples for each of the styles you covered.

    Today such modes of transportation are not only very practical, but they can also help save the environment while providing a quicker way to maneuver through heavy traffic and especially traffic jams that are prevalent in most big cities these days. I found this article extremely useful…

    The one that I likely would go with is the trike model as that is a versatile and stable bike offering storage room and ease of use (I am a bit older than many of your readers I think). Are these allowed to be used on the secondary roads in many places? I would likely want to use it just in the neighborhoods (USA, Florida) for shopping, etc. 

      • Judy
      • July 20, 2019
      Reply

      It’s true Dave, ebikes are getting more and more interest. I find that there are a number of different styles that would fit my lifestyle. 

      They are practical – making an easier commute – and easier on the environment.

      Trikes are great. They’re stable workhorses perfect for shopping, trips to town and visiting. You’d have to check your local laws for use on secondary roads. Every place has different laws. The legal system is still sorting it all out. 

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