E-bikes are not all the same and you need a guide when you consider getting a bike. Many first time buyers have no idea what to look for and what is important to consider. Here are some pointers.

Style: There are different styles these days. Consider a good looking bike. A bike with an integrated battery looks slick and similar to an ordinary bike. The bike must look the part. You must feel good looking and using it.

Type: Make sure the bike you consider will satisfy your need. The most popular style currently in SA is an all-terrain bike that can do both on and off road riding.

Motor: Today you get a range of different motor sizes and output. The 250W is good for road bikes and cruising but it has limited power when facing steep hills, but that is the maximum allowed output to be legal on our roads. The other extreme is the 1000W plus motors. It is really over the top and frankly, dangerous.  The 350W and 500W is very popular and for good reason. It offers enough power for normal use. In fact, you need no more. Keep regulation SANS 311/2007 in mind.

Motor position. You get hub drive motors- where the motor is built into the hub of the wheel, most commonly in the back wheel and then you get mid-drive motors where the motor is on the bottom bracket positioning it between the pedals of the bike. (Fort more information on this – I refer you to the article below that we wrote on this topic.)

Then you get conversion kits. This is an add-on to a normal bike to make it an electrical bike. This is a recipe for trouble. The bike may not be strong enough to take the weight and power (where e-bikes are built to handle it) and it tends to give problems if it is not fitted perfectly. Think twice before you go that route.

Battery: The motor and the battery are the most important decisions you need to take. The battery determines the power and how long it would last between charges. So, you have to consider the output: 36V and 48V output are popular. Then the amp hours (Ah) – how long the battery will last between charges. Here you find a full range from 9Ah to 20Ah and even more. What is ideal? For normal use on the road and traveling say, 40km a 10Ah is good, off road maybe 13 or 15Ah. Keep in mind the difference in the cost of say, a 10Ah battery and 17Ah is enormous.

To make your choice easier here is a test: we talk about total amp hours which are the Voltage X Ah. The benchmark is 500 total amp hours. So if the battery is a 36V and 10Ah the total amp hours are (36 X 10) 360 which is less than the benchmark of 500. So, if you are going casual riding over short distances, that is fine. The SMART-e bikes are mostly equipped with a 48V and 13.2Ah which gives a total of 634 amp hours. Now that is more than enough!

Then we move to the less important matters but still require some thought:

Saddle. If you want a soft comfortable ride make sure you have a saddle that caters for it.

Gears. Ensure a branded name group set such as Shimano.  The number of gears is not critical.

Extras. What extras do you get such as a kickstand, charge point for your phone, reflectors, a light, mudguards and a carrier on the back?

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