Commuter E-Bikes: Key Considerations
There are so many different ways to travel to work that it is impossible to find a commuter ride that is perfect for any rider and any situation. Instead of making a list of different types of electric bikes and biking styles, we have decided to focus on few things that might not be the first thing to come to mind when buying an e-bike, but will definitely help you make the right decision.
The length of your commute
The length of your trip should have the biggest impact on what your requirements for the commuter electric bike should be. If you find yourself riding less than three miles per day, any bike will fit your needs. At six miles you need to pay special attention to your seat and the height of your commuter bike, in order to have the most comfortable ride. If you ride nine miles and above, look for something designed for speed and efficiency. Investing in an electric bike with large capacity battery and a torque sensor is a very good idea, if it is your main form of transportation. Remember: ride smarter, not harder.
Cycling conditions on your route
Most commuters want to make the trip between work and home as quick and painless as possible. Opting for a road bike with large, skinny tires will make you faster, provided that the weather is warm and dry.
If you live in an area that experiences high levels of precipitation through the year, ensure the tires on your electric commuter bike can stand up to puddles and slick spots. In addition, keep in mind that fat tires will ride over things like tram tracks more easily.
Suspension is the awesome thing you can do without
A bike with a suspension system usually gives you a smoother, more enjoyable ride. Suspension systems are designed to take the bumps and shocks that come with tougher road conditions. However, some manufacturers opt to keep the weight and the price of the electric by crossing off the suspension system on the list of features. This is actually a very smart decision, as having no suspension is much better than having a one of poor quality. Make sure your bike is well-built, even if it has a solid fork frame instead of suspension fork.
It’s a good idea to check the regulations
In the USA, there is an active effort to regulate the use of electric bikes, and make them accessible to more people. The consumer product safety act HR 727 defines an e-bike as:
- Two or three wheels
- Fully operable pedals
- 750 W maximum
- Maximum speed of less than 20 mph on the motor only (on level ground, with a 170 pound rider.)
Also, there is a three-class system that defines types of e-bikes based on their function and speed (we’ve covered more of this topic in our article about electric mountain bikes.) Your best approach is to go directly to your states motor vehicle department website, and get a copy of your local state vehicle codes. Also, you should definitely consider your very local laws. Counties, Parishes, Towns, Cities and even park managers, can also regulate bikes, e-bikes, mopeds, etc. at the local level. Also, make sure to check all the rules and regulations considering required safety gear, especially wearing bike helmet.
Don’t underestimate the importance of comfort.
If it’s worth saying once, it’s worth saying twice: find a bike you think is comfortable. A bike can be fancy or well-engineered, but the one that you love riding is you perfect match. Find something comfortable to ride first and foremost before worrying about squeezing professional-level performance out of it.