Want a new electric bike but not sure which one to get? Take the hassle out of e-bike shopping with our guide to pitting one model against another.
It’s the question we’re asked most when customers first come into our showroom: “I know I want an e-bike – but how do I know which one to buy?”. Whether they’re just joining the e-volution – or they’re an existing e-bike fan and it’s time to invest in a new model – it’s rare that people know exactly what they want when they walk through the door.
The electric bikes market is changing. Fast. In the early days – before Volt, we might add – designs that matched quality with good looks were few and far between. Today, it’s different. Gone are the days when buying a new e-bike was a toss-up between one clunky, ugly, heavy monstrosity and the next. From commuter e-bikes to classic step-throughs, hybrids to mountain bikes, there’s more on offer than ever before. Here are our top tips to help you decide which e-bike’s best for you:
1. Try before you buy
First things first: be open minded. Even if you think you know what you want, something even better might be out there for you. Our advice? Try before you buy, and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Book a free test ride with Volt and we’ll arrange one at a time and place that works for you
2. Consider cost options
With more product choice comes more price competition… But like everything in life, with an e-bike you get what you pay for. The price tag of your new cycle will depend on which one you choose – but as a guideline, prices usually start from around £1,350 for a good-quality commuter model.
When you’re comparing prices don’t forget to ask about finance deals. These get rid of the burden of the up-front payment, and give you long-term flexibility and more choice. For example, with a Volt finance option you can take home our flagship folding Volt Metro e-bike for just £1.23 a day. And if your employer signs up to the Cycle to Work scheme, you could save even more.
3. Relax about the running costs
This is no ordinary bike… So, there are running costs attached. But, thanks to some serious power efficiency, with an e-bike they’re next to nothing. After charging your bike at home via your normal power supply, with a decent battery, you can get as much as 60 miles out of a single 7p charge.
You’ll also save on public transport or petrol if you’re using your bike to commute. Check out our commuter comparison blog to find out more.
4. Take tech into account
One of the main benefits of getting an electric bike is the flexibility it gives you. You have the option to power up your pedalling when you need it (or rely on your own stream when you want to). This means arriving at work sweaty and out of breath – or struggling up hills with heavy shopping bags – could become a distant memory. But the technology behind the bike matters.
The very best electric bikes should give you a choice of power options. Our Volt bikes, for example, have four levels of pedal-assist mode (PAS), which offer varying levels of power when riding. Some are also fitted with a walk-assist thumb throttle – for a boost of power when the pedals are rotating.
5. Watch out for weight
When buying a new e-bike you should think about weight – whether you’re folding up a commuter model to take on the train or driving with a mountain bike to your next epic cycling holiday. If you’re not sure, ask. And don’t forget to include the battery in all your comparisons.
To make it easy, the total weight of each of our Volt e-bikes is listed in the specifications section of its product page on our website. Our lightest e-bike is the Volt Metro LS, which weighs in at 21.6kg (including the battery). And the heaviest? The Volt Burlington, which has a combined weight of just 23.8kg.
We often get asked if it’s possible to buy an e-bike that charges when you pedal – and people are surprised to hear that this is partly a weight issue. We’re working on it, but the truth is that at the moment engineering a self-charging bike would mean adding considerable weight (as well as complexity and cost), so bear that in mind when shopping.
6. Rank on rideability
As with any bike, you need to feel at ease when riding your new e-bike, so it’s important to make sure the seat material, height and adjustable handlebar/pedal settings work for you. The most rideable electric bikes are lightweight, ergonomic and comfortable, with extra features to make cycling a breeze. So make sure you’re opting for a cycle with pedal-assist and walk-assist, as well as a sophisticated intuitive motor that reacts to the riding style.
At Volt, it’s our mission to make sure you get a better riding experience. As well as our original and much-recommended Shimano STEPS range, we’re proud to have developed our own e-bike drive system, SpinTech™. It’s one of the most sophisticated, reliable and efficient systems around, and it’s built to make riding your Volt e-bike easier than ever.
7. Demand durability
When buying a new e-bike, you don’t want it to be clunky, but you also don’t want it to be flimsy. Look for hard-wearing but lightweight materials: an aluminium frame, with aluminium double-wall reinforced wheels.
The last thing you want to worry about is the impact of the Great British weather on your new cycle, so make sure any new e-bike is protected by a hardwearing weatherproof casing.
Another watch-out for buyers is sacrificing durability for price. Going for the cheapest electric mountain bike might mean you save a bit more up front, but if the quality’s not up there where it should be, you’ll be stung by expensive repairs and more maintenance.
8. Be safe (and secure)
Unfortunately, bike theft is a real problem in our cities. An e-bike’s a big investment, and it’s devastating to make your choice and come home with a brand spanking new electric cycle only to end up back at square one a few weeks later, after it gets stolen. There’s no magic solution, but there are things you can do to protect your purchase from opportunist thieves.
Opting for an e-bike with a built-in wheel lock can help, as can some extra protective accessories. If you want to keep your bike really safe, nothing compares to a good-quality chain lock. The Volt chain lock actually connects directly to the wheel lock that’s built into most of our e-bikes – so you get one lock, but double the protection.
If you want to cover all bases, it’s a good idea to sort some proper insurance for your new cycle too. Volt customers can get a healthy 15% discount on Pedalsure, which offers comprehensive, tailor-made insurance for you and your bike.
So, what next?
If you’re ready to give a new e-bike a try – or you want to speak to one of our friendly experts about which model is the best fit for you – we’re standing by to help. Give Volt a call on 020 7378 4728, visit our London showroom or find your local stockist.