Best Commuter Electric Bikes Reviews and Rider Guides
Although seen as a new-fangled technological invention of the modern world, commuter electric bikes were actually invented over 120 years ago.
In 1895, Ogden Bolton Jr. was granted the first US patent for a battery powered bike, and there were several changes and updates in the years following. These days’, commuter e-bikes are becoming an increasingly popular way of getting around.
Combining modern technology and innovative design, the latest cycling tech is changing up peoples’ journey to work and back around the world.
E-bikes are often referred to as pedal assisted bikes, which mean that the motor is powered by pedaling and not by a throttle, such as a moped.
There are several different kinds of e-bikes to choose from, with this guide focusing predominantly on the best electric commuter bikes that have been designed with the urban environment in mind.
This is obviously the million dollar question!. In simple words, an electric commuter bike is fundamentally a standard bike that has been fitted with a motor and battery pack, and they are available in a whole host of different styles and designs therefore you can ride comfortably along city roads.
Commuter bikes typically have narrower tires, a slim-lined saddle, possibly a suspension (but minimal, not as outstanding as a electric mountain bike) and an increased focus on lightweight design (such as the Orbea Gain D40, which is a road bike though), resulting in improved pedaling around tight corners, but better suited to flatter gradients.
Advantages and Disadvantages of commuter electric bikes
As any other standard bicycle, electric commuter bikes have various positive aspects and at the same time, some disadvantages. Let’s see what are some of those aspects:
Things that we like:
- You will have two (2) different motor options (details below).
- Requires little maintenance.
- Clean, green and better for the planet.
- There are several styles and designs.
- Two (2) options as in braking system.
Things we don’t like:
- Usually they don’t come with a suspension system (you will need to extra pay for it).
- Some designs are not appealing (if you are like me that the bike hast to have style 🙂 ).
- Can’t customize much.
- Tires are not the best in terms of grip, however you will need a smooth ride.
When should I use my commuter e-bike?
Not all workplaces have shower spaces, and cycling to work can mean that you are sweaty throughout the day. However, you will easily be able to get to the office with an electric commuter bike, whilst still gaining from the health benefits.
Also, consider your storage space available at the office; you will not be able to hanging the e bike, due to its weight.
Whether you are a seasoned cyclist or a beginner, commuter e-bikes are well suited for everyone, including older cyclists, individuals with poor mobility or anyone who would appreciate the extra boost.
Particularly useful in hilly areas, e-bikes ensure a quick acceleration off the mark (off-course the torque of the motor plays an important role) and give you the extra push to ride farther and faster than ever before.
What do I need to consider when choosing an electric commuter bike?
Weight & Portability
Weight is also important, particularly when you consider that e-bikes are much heavier than traditional cycles. A lower weight is associated with increased speed and the motor and battery can make a difference. However, with technology ever advancing, commuter bikes are getting lighter all the time.
To some extent, style is a matter of personal preference, but the type of e-bike you choose will depend on the terrain that you are cycling on the most.
As well as the traditional commuter ebike, a hybrid design could also be ideal for a city commute. Combining the agility and lightweight nature of road bikes with the increased stability and more comfortable seating of a mountain bike design, they are a popular choice.
One of the biggest mistakes a buyers fails to do when getting an e-bike, is the test drive.
A test drive should be long enough in order for your to feel the power of the motor and brakes, the smoothness of the saddle and suspension (if any) and finally how comfortable you feel the ride.
What motor is best for an e-commuter bike?
The answer for this questions will depend on what your particular situation is. There are three (3) type of motors commonly used for e-bikes: direct drive (hub), geared hub and mid-drive motors.
Manufacturers have identified that due to their common purpose, commuter e-bikes would be usually fitted with direct drive and geared hub motors. Also, this motor would have a 250 to 500 watts power, which would be more than enough.
Each motor class has specific advantages and disadvantages. In this case:
- If you frequently have to tackle hills, require a lot of torque and want to avoid motor resistance if the battery dies, then an e-bike with a geared hub motor will be the right for you.
- Now, in the case that hills are somehow not present (meaning they are not too steeped), you like to have some good speed and regenerate your battery whilst not pedaling, a direct drive (hub) motor is what you need.
If you want to go deeper about mid-drive, direct drive and hub motors, check this article.
What do I need to consider regarding the Battery?
Like most gadgets these days, commuter e-bikes feature lithium-ion batteries; with the size and quality of the battery determining how many miles you can get per charge.
On average, an ideal capacity would usually be around 7.5-10 Ah and 20 miles would be considered as a minimum range expectation.
It is important to note that whilst a battery with a longer range will allow for more miles before it cuts out, this means it should be bigger and therefore heavier.
In that, if you only plan to be traveling around 15 miles at a time, a 50-mile range would ultimately mean a larger motor and battery adding unnecessary weight to your bike.
It is also important to remember that power capacity will vary; and terrain, the weight of the rider, weather and other variables can impact upon performance.
The batteries are probably the biggest concern when it comes to e commuter bikes; as like with any other battery powered gadget, the battery is likely to deteriorate over time and will need replacing in the future.
What brakes are best for commuter electric bikes?
If you are frequently traveling on buzy roads through rush hour traffic, good brakes are not only essential for your cycling experience but can make all the difference in a life-threatening situation.
Commuter electric bikes tend to have either rim brakes or hydraulic disc brakes. Rim brakes are the more affordable option and are often seen on more affordable bikes. On the other hand, hydraulic disc brakes have more power and offer improved reliability and effectiveness in all weathers.
Having said that, you will have to decide if investing some additional coins to get a more powerfull braking system is worth it.
How much will an e commuter bike cost me?
Price is probably the most important determining factor when we are choosing anything, with e-bikes ranging from a few hundred dollars right up to thousands.
Cheap is not always the best option.
Often lower priced commuter electric bikes are imported from China, and they are more likely to consist of no-name parts (huge mistake!!! as in warranty issues or parts).
You can definitely feel the quality when it comes to big name motors, such as Bosch, Shimano and Yamaha. Cheaper bikes tend to feel less smooth, jerking forward a bit when you accelerate.
More money could translate into good quality, warranty, customer service and serviceability.
For a mid-level e-bike, you are looking at spending around $1000-$1500. Within this price range, your new e-bike is still likely to require a battery replacement after a few years but should need little maintenance in the meantime.
The overall cost of running your e commuter bike is minimal, with reports indicating that charging the bike will cost under $10 each year for the average user. The battery will need replacing every few years, but it is still much cheaper than running a second car or paying for public transport.
How should I care and maintain my electric commuter bike?
Care and maintenance for your commuter ebike are not that much different to a traditional bike and with regard to the power system, little maintenance is required.
If you have any issues, you should refer it to the manufacturer, always, always, always!!!!…, and it is advised to select a bike with a good warranty to be on the safe side.
Attempting to open the motor, changing parts or modifying any sensitive element, could potentially incur in loosing the warranty.
Also, it is advised that you do not let your battery go dead, instead charge your e-bike when it is below 50% and keep it topped up. Charging it can take several hours, and it is recommended that you remove the battery when storing the bike for long periods and on cold nights.
Commuter electric bikes: Should I invest?
Whilst there will always be some cyclists out there who would argue that a power assisted bike is cheating, that is fast becoming an outdated view.
It is not like bike riding is a competition all the time, there is no prize that you are working towards. Instead, we cycle because it is fun and enjoyable and having an extra boost of power does not take away from that.
Allowing for power-assisted pedaling so that you can travel further with minimal effort; looking at commuter electric bikes is a great way to get from A to B without getting all hot and sweaty.