Picking a bike can seem like a pretty monumental task these days. From road bikes to mountain bikes, and everything in between! And advancements in bike technology just continue to progress, as the electric bike has now become a serious contender in the cycling world compared to the traditional bike.In this article, we’re focusing on one bike in particular – the electric road bike. That’s right, we’re looking at the electric version of the famous long-distance bike.
Before we get into the wide world of electric bikes, let’s cover the basics of a road bike. A road bike is made for exactly what it sounds, riding on roads! More specifically, it is meant to be the ideal type of bike to ride smooth roads with speed and for long distances.
Road bikes tend to be among the fastest bikes available, and quite suitable for riding long distances on smooth terrain. This is due to their extremely lightweight frames and components, and other design features that allow for maximum speed and endurance. Road bikes have narrow, high-pressure tires to allow for minimal rolling resistance. The handlebars are also dropped down to allow the rider to lean forward for additional aerodynamics.
Road bikes come in various designs and styles which are suited to different types of riding. In this article, we’re looking at one new contender on the market – the electric road bike. Let’s check out electric bikes:
What Is An Electric Bike?
Before we can compare and overview electric road bikes, it’s best to give the basics on e-bikes in general. They all offer comparable advantages and functionalities over a traditional bicycle, and it helps to first survey what these are.
First of all, just what is an electric bike (or e-bike)? While not all electric bikes are the same, all use some form of an electric motor to propel or assist with the motion. Some motors are stronger than others, which means that there are many e-bikes of varying functionality. There are e-bikes which simply assist the rider in certain situations, to ones that can power the bike entirely. However, the option must remain for the rider to power the bike through manual pedaling, or else it can no longer be considered a bicycle.
There are a variety of different types of electric bikes on the market. We will explain the three most prominent types you will encounter. After that, we will give you some factors you should be considered in choosing your electric bike.
The Electric Road Bike
Of course, combine the above categories and you get the electric road bike! An electric bicycle takes the regular bike design and uses an electric motor system to offer pedal-assist or manual throttle. They assist the rider in getting up to speed and offer all the same benefits of a standard road bike.
Some may consider this “cheating”, as road biking is renowned by its riders as a fantastic cardio exercise. So, making the ride “easier” might eliminate some of this effort. While it is true that you probably won’t get as good of a workout on an electric road bike, the only thing that really matters is whether this seems like a fun activity to you or not. So, if you want to cruise the countryside on a pedal-assist bike with a little less effort to get up to speed, go for it!
Types of Electric Bike
As touched on above, the only real requirement for a bike to be considered an e-bike is the use of an electric motor. As such, there are many different types with many different usages. Often, these are separated into three main categories:
Type 1: Pedal-Assist E-Bikes
The first and most common type of e-bike is one that assists the rider in getting up to a certain speed. The motor kicks in to aid in powering the rear wheel and turns off when a certain speed is reached. This is meant to help with what is generally considered the most difficult part of biking – acceleration.
Type 2: Pedal-Assist and Power on Demand
Some e-bikes have pedal-assist as well as manual power-on-demand. This means that you can use a throttle to power the bike manually. The power of the motor determines the amount of torque and speed which you can reach.
Type 3: Only Power On-Demand
Some bikes have only power-on-demand. These bikes are relatively rare, and in fact, hardly qualify as bicycles. In order to still be considered an e-bike, the option to manually pedal must remain.
Factors to Consider in Buying an Electric Road Bike
So, we’ve covered the basics of both electric bikes and road bikes, as well as the different types available on the market. But the most important part is which electric road bike is right for you. The most important part of having so many options is the ability to pick the perfect bike.
We’re going to outline the features that make for a good e-bike, as well as the ones that make for a solid road bike. The ideal electric road bike will contain a solid combination of all these features, and these features are what you need to keep in mind when surveying the market. Remember to consider how you actually will be using your bike, and then compare your needs to the factors below:
First thing’s first, perhaps the most popular feature of any electric bike is torque. The torque is the power of the energy which helps rotate the wheel. Therefore, on an e-bike, higher torque means more pedal-assistance, allowing you to reach speeds faster and reach higher top speeds. Torque is measured in Newton Metres (Nm), with higher Nm representing more torque.
The motor is what’s responsible for creating the torque, and will determine how much pedal assistance you will receive on your electric road bike. Motor power is measured in watts (W). More watts mean more power. An electric road bike will assist you in pedaling up to around 25 km/h. The more powerful the motor, the more efficiently it will get you there, and the higher speeds it can help you reach.
The other major component that is important in electric bikes is the battery. The battery determines the bike’s efficiency. A better battery allows you to pedal further on a single charge. This is why it’s important to check the details of battery life before you purchase.
This is especially relevant on electric road bikes, as they are meant to cover long distances. Of course, the less pedal assists you to use, the more distance it will cover in a single charge. Some e-road bikes have different settings for different levels of pedal assist. High-end electric road bikes will cover over 100km on a single charge. On the lower end, you’d be looking at closer to 50km per charge.
We won’t sugarcoat it, electric road bikes are expensive! Road bikes alone are expensive, so when you combine them with electric capability, it is not a small investment.
Of course, there is a wide variety of prices depending on quality, brand, and electrical capabilities. It is important that you carefully consider what you are looking for in a road bike before you make a purchase. You can expect to pay around $4000 to $20,000 for an electric road bike, with higher-end models costing even more.
One of the most important metrics in a road bike is how much it weighs. The lighter the bike, the more adept it is for traveling long distances with less effort by the rider. With an electric road bike, you not only have to consider the weight of the bike but the weight of the electrical components as well. Electric components tend to add about 10 pounds to the weight of a bike.
It is important to keep in mind that extremely lightweight bikes also tend to be harder to control. They are so easily shifted around that the handling may be too floaty for inexperienced riders.
One of the most important factors in determining the weight of a bike is the frame. Road bikes are made with very lightweight frames. The most common materials for road bike frames are aluminum or carbon fiber. Aluminum provides a durable frame but is a bit heavier than carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is lightweight, but it is quite a bit more expensive than aluminum.
Gearing is another important consideration in road biking. Gears adjust the resistance level of the pedals and allow the rider to adjust depending on the terrain. Basically, a less experienced rider will probably want more gears, as it allows for more adjustment. More experienced riders might prefer fewer gears because they can shift much faster, and it actually takes some weight off the bike. Of course, it is really a matter of preference.
The wheels are an important factor in road bikes, as they are on any bikes. With road bikes, higher-quality wheels mean that they are lighter and that they go faster. Premium road bike models tend to come with wheels that are more suited for speed.