10 Tips for Choosing the Right Electric Bike for You
Buying an electric bike may not seem that different from choosing other types of motorcycles, but there are things you do need to consider before making the leap. “Ten tips for choosing the right electric bike for you, reveals what to look for when shortlisting your new electric motorbike.
The first generation of electric bike manufacturers was a brave lot; they broke the mold and pushed the envelope. Unfortunately, early examples were almost cost prohibitive and worse still, resembled little more than a hard-shell Samsonite in a frame.
Thankfully, those days are long gone, and as battery technology advances, prices are coming down. There’s never been as many different types of electric bike brands on the market and as for looks, just cast an eye on the likes of the Harley Livewire, Zero 2020 SR/F, Lightning LS218 or Energica Eva.
Without promoting any specific electric bike brands and in no particular order, these top 10 tips relate to all different types of motorcycles.
Unless you’re buying an electric bike purely as a green stamp on your eco-friendly passport, your bike has to perform a specific task.
Touring may be an option with a carefully planned route that takes in plenty of recharging stops. Adventure riding is somewhat more limited, so that leaves the one duty where the electric motorcycle excels; commuting.
Ironically, when considering the different types of motorcycles, the advantage the battery-powered bike has is also the thing that restricts it, namely, the battery. So in terms of usage, one of the key factors in making your choice is range.
When considering the best electric bike for you, it’s essential to make some very accurate calculations. These will include not only your daily mileage but also the nature of the route, i.e., city streets, highways, or rural areas, etc.
This type of breakdown is important as all-electric bike brands have a maximum range when fully charged. Look at this section of the manufacturer’s specifications, in particular to make sure they’re quoting city/highway or mixed battery mileage.
Some types of motorcycles will also offer bolt-on accessories to increase battery range as an optional extra.
So now we’ve considered what we’re using the bike for and the range it’s capable of, but what about the bike’s power output? In other words, what can we expect when we nail that throttle?
This subject is an interesting one as most types of motorcycles quote BHP figures measured at the crank, making a comparison with an electric motor tricky, as they are crank-free.
Different bike brands will often quote a top speed, but power is generally in kilowatts. To put this in terms we are more familiar with, multiply the kilowatts by 1.34, and you’ve got your horsepower.
4. Recharging Time
The length of time it takes to put the life back into your battery is probably as important as the mileage range available on a full charge. Most electric motorcycles will have two charging methods, including plugging directly into your household supply and a fast charge method.
The most popular option of recharging is to plug your electric bike overnight. However, if the bike has a fast charging system, a level two charging station can do the same job many times faster.
5. Charging Stations
As already mentioned, touring is an option but leaving an extension cord dangling through the window of your motel room, is not always preferable. Providing your electric motorcycle is fitted with the appropriate equipment; the alternative is a level 2 charging station.
There are a number of websites that will give you the location of your nearest station and allow you to plot a route when out on the road. Some types of motorcycles such as the Harley-Davidson Livewire are also able to use level 3 chargers too.
6. Interactive Dash
Although this may seem somewhat peripheral to include in our list, the fact is, electric motorcycles have not just embraced new technology for their power supply. Many electric bike brands also feature the latest in TFT screens with interactive information and communications systems.
Apart from the usual suspects, such as speed and battery power levels, even entry-level bikes like the Vespa Elettrica have a Bluetooth compatible dash. In itself this is great news, but when you consider smartphone apps like the ones under development at Damon, the level of interaction increases substantially.
Not only can you use these apps for wirelessly streaming live footage from a rear-facing camera, but they can also pinpoint the location of the nearest charging station.
7. Seat Height
Motorcycle buyers have always considered being able to reach the floor a safety requirement and the same goes for electric bikes. It is essential to consider all of the bike’s dimensions though to make sure you feel comfortable and in control.
As with buying all types of motorcycles, the same principle applies, and all the 360-degree views and tech-specs in cyberspace aren’t a substitute for throwing a leg over the beast.
8. Battery Life
An important question, as let’s face it, the battery is the very heart of the bike. Due to the plethora of new bike brands about to launch, trying to get information on battery shelf life is not always easy.
To be clear, this is the number of times the battery can be recharged and not the mileage range of a fully charged battery.
As a general rule, most lithium-ion batteries can be recharged (also called usage cycles) between 300-500 times.
As this information is important, once you’ve shortlisted your potential electric motorcycle, contact the dealer or manufacturer if the information is not available online.
All electric bike brands are obliged to provide a warranty and electric motorcycles are no exception. The small print differs significantly, but apart from covering frame and cycle parts, the warranty should cover the battery’s shelf-life.
The devil is always in the detail though and the warranty small print will usually have a host of specific riders. These details will relate to things like the maximum and minimum operating temperatures, how to charge the battery, and the amount of charge left in the battery for extended storage periods — all of which you have to adhere to stay within the warranty terms.
10. Cost and Incentives
The evidence is clear; switching to electric motorcycles will have a very positive effect on air quality. Resting entirely on green credentials, however, will not encourage mass take-up as only competitive pricing can achieve this.
Until the day comes when the internal combustion engine is no longer allowed on the road, like any vehicle, electric motorbikes have to pay their way. This point is particularly important when using these types of motorcycles for commuting, as cost per mile is a high priority.
Currently, tax credits and incentives at federal and state level for electric bikes are available, and any dealership worth its salt will be only too glad to make you aware of them. Just don’t wait too long though, the current administration is making noises about fazing them out or at the least capping them.
Different types of motorcycles, whether electric or conventionally powered, may share similar cycle parts, but that’s where the comparison ends.
Ten tips for choosing the right electric bike for you will arm you with all the information you need to get it the right first time.
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