A E-bike buyer’s guide

Be it for training, as an eco-friendly mean of transport in the city or just a way to do longer bike tours with your partner – there are many reasons for you to get yourself an e-bike! But buying a bike, especially a mountain bike is not that simple at all, and then adding the e-components battery and motor does not make it any easier. That’s why our e-bike guide gives you a great overview of the e-bike world: what you need to pay attention to at purchase, what details you should consider in beforehand! And don’t worry, we will take care of you after your purchase as well: our experts will gladly assist you with your e-bike service and regular check-ups.

 

 

 

E-bike vs. pedelec: Where is the difference?


First of all, let us specify what an e-bike really is. Because what most people call an e-bike, is actually a pedelec. The difference is in the type of support it gives you: Pedelcs only support you while you are actually pedaling. Meaning, the motor only runs while you are actively biking. The e-bike on the other hand also supports you when you are not pedaling. Therefore, these bikes have to be authorized. We at Sport Conrad do not have any e-bikes, but only pedelecs. And we also refer to these as e-bikes, both in our online shop and in this guide. Their power is at about 250 watt, reaching at the most 25km/h. This does not mean that they can not go faster than that, but if you do go faster, the motor will not support you additionally.

 

 

 

First things first: the bike itself


Before you pick your e-bike, you need to consider what you actually want from the bike itself. Because the characteristics depend on how it is built and the different components it holds. If you need more info on these specific components, you can find those in our mountain bike guide! LINK

 

 

First of: the suspension

Mountain bikes come with different kinds of suspensions. There are those with shock absorption just in the front, or those who are equipped with suspension in the front and back, so-called full suspension bikes or fullys. These absorb more shocks and give you increased control in uneven terrain. The back wheel has more contact to the ground, leading to more stability and makes higher speeds possible.

 

 

Hard-tails, as the name already tells, only have suspension in the front. The largest advantage with this type of bike is a more direct transfer of power. But this also means that you need more skills or slower speeds to maneuver this bike in rough terrain. Also, the maintenance is simpler and these bikes are usually cheaper. E-city bikes and e-trekking bikes are also part of this category.

 

 

Next, mountain bikes also vary in their suspension travel. It starts at around 110mm, reaching up to 230. The larger the travel, the more downhill oriented the bike. E-bikes with lower suspension travels are usually quicker to accelerate due to the increased transfer of power. By the way, you can easily adapt the strength of the suspension to your biking style and your weight, and also close the suspension entirely.

 

 

Frame size – it just needs to fit!

Whether the bike fits or not is most easily tested by simply trying it in one of our stores. To get you started: Each manufacturer produces bikes in different sizes to fit different people, also specific frames for women. Our frame size guide gives you a good overview of these! LINK

 

 

Wheel size of your e-bike

Mountain bike wheels come in three different sizes: 26 inches, 27.5 inches and 29 inches. The smallest option – 26 inches – is rather rare when it comes to e-bikes, much more widely used are the two larger options. The smaller the wheel, the more agile it is. And the larger, the more stable! Another option that is becoming popular with e-bikes are 27.5 wheels. These have a diameter of 27.5 inches but a larger volume. Therefore, you can ride these wheels with less tire pressure. This leads to more control and stability through an increased area of contact with the ground and more grip. Then there is also the 27,5+ version. This thicker wheel offers more stability and is calmer in uneven terrain. Although it does not roll as easily as normal ones, it is very very stable, which is perfect for e-bike beginners!

 

 

You can’t go anywhere without your brakes

And this is especially important with e-bikes. Because these do weigh about 7kg more than regular bikes. Which means: you need stronger brakes. Therefore, all e-bikes are equipped with hydraulic disc brakes using 4 pistons. These are the strongest and most reliable bike brakes out there. Other than rim brakes, they are not affected by wet conditions or overheating. What is also part of the mountain bike system along with the brakes, is the gear shift. You can find closer info on this topic in our mountain bike guide! LINK

Speaking of 7 additional kilograms: the weight of your bike, of course, does not only depend on the motor and battery, but also on all other components and the material. But compared to regular bikes, the weight is not such an important aspect. Keep in mind that with the additional drive and the increased weight through this, some hundreds of grams will not make a large difference at all when it comes to choosing components or trying to decide whether to pick an aluminum or carbon frame.

 

 

 

 

The right e-bike components: your motor


Of course, motor and battery are important parts of your e-bike, but they should not be your main argument when picking your e-bike. Because the geometry and fit of your bike are way more important! E-bike motors are fairly waterproof, they will not be affected by rain or bad weather. Still, you should not necessarily drive through a river with it!

 

 

How your e-bike motor is built

No motor, no electric support. There are quite a few firms who build these motors: Bosch, Bros, Yamaha, Shimano, Panasonic and so on.. The most important ones or market leaders in the area of e-mountain bikes these days are probably Bosch with their Performance Line and Shimano Steps, which is why we will concentrate on these two.

There are different types of motors. Hub-mounted ones are such that sit in the center of your wheel, be it in the front or the back. Most of the time, it will be on the back wheel, this is because it makes more sense in terms of weight transfer when biking. This type is mostly used on hard-tail bikes, because the additional weight on your wheel can influence the suspension. Then there are mid-drive-motors, which are small and compact. They sit in the center of your bike, right where the pedals are. These are generally used on most e-mountain bikes. The motors weigh around 4kg and are equipped with several levels of support. The first one providing around 50% support, the highest level around 300%!

 

 

Software – Managing your motor

Your motor is in contact with one small piece of equipment which is fastened to your bar handle. It can either be a display, giving you additional relevant information such as speed, altitude, battery charge and so on, or simply just two buttons which let you shift between the different levels of support.

 

 

Introducing e-bike motors: Shimano Steps

This motor is equipped with three levels of support (Eco – Trail – Boost). The greatest advantage with this motor is that it lets you adapt the levels to your needs. Meaning, you can easily change these and decide how strong each of them should be, using an App, the E-Tube App. The handling is done through what looks like a regular gear shift. Then there is a display, which is very compact, showing you the support level, your current gear and your battery charge. The motor in total is very compact and, amongst others, used on Ghost e-bikes. Here is a quick guide on how to you can connect and use your phone with your Shimano Steps motor:

 

 

 

Introducing e-bike motors: Bosch Performance Line CX

This is the top product when it comes to Bosch’s e-bike motors. There are four different levels of support: Eco, Tour, EMTB and Turbo. EMTB is short for eMountainbike and works kind of like driving an automatic car. In this mode, the motor manages the support output for you. Bosch offers three different handling devices. One the one hand the Purion Display, which is a very small and compact piece of equipment for ambitious bikers. It sits on the left side of the handlebar and is controlled using two buttons. The plus-button increases the level of support and, when held down longer, regulates the light of the display. The minus-button decreases the level of support and also gives you all other relevant info such as battery charge, speed, distance or range. Next up, Intuvia: easy and intuitive to handle and all relevant data is shown instantly on your display. Also, the display shows when to shift gears and even lets you charge your smartphone on the go! The third system – Nyon – is larger and could be compared to a personal trainer. You will find all info you could possibly need on the display. GPS data can be used through GPX imports and exports and the system can even be connected to social media. Along with it comes the Bosch E-Bike Connect portal, a community for e-bikers via their smartphone. The system can give you special fitness advice and also show incoming messages on your display! The Bosch Performance CX Line is commonly used on e-mountain bikes by Bergamont and Centurion.

 

Board computer Bosch

The different board computer systems by Bosch

 

 

Without a battery, there is no use for a motor


If you do not have a battery, your motor will not run. These batteries are usually lithium-ion batteries. The advantage compared to other batteries is the very high energy density and the low weight. The capacity of the batteries is given in watt/hour. Modern e-bike batteries lay at around 300 to 500 watt/hour. This measure gives you the range of the battery. Of course, the range also depends on your and your bikes weight, as well as the terrain and your tire pressure.

 

 

Integration of the battery on your e-bike

The battery can either be kept externally or integrated internally. Both have their pros and cons. If the battery is external, it can easily and quickly be taken off the bike and into your house for charging. If the battery is internal, it takes a tiny bit longer to take the battery off, but you can also charge it while keeping the battery in the bike. This option looks nicer to most, simply because the battery is integrated into the frame and thereby blending in.

 

 

Characteristics of your e-bike battery

E-bike batteries weigh around 2-3kg, of course, this again depends on the capacity. Some bikes will also easily let you add another battery to increase the range. This is especially interesting to those doing multiple-day tours.

Charging the battery is very quick and easy. Bosch needs about 2 hours to reach 50%, 4.5 hours to reach 100%. Batteries by other brands charge similarly. The batteries can be charged around 500-1000 times, meaning you do not need to focus too much on what battery to buy when you purchase your e-bike, but rather the durability of all other components because these will likely not outlive your battery. But it needs to be taken care of accordingly! For example, if it is really cold outside, meaning negative degrees, you should take the battery inside.  To keep it charged for as long as possible, turn the motor off when going downhill!

To sum it all up, here’s a quick video by Bosch, showing you their motor but also all other main components of e-mountain bikes:

 

 

Are you interested in other related articles about e-biking? We have some more for you:

Pro and cons of E-Bikes

→ Mountain Bike Tours in the Bavarian Alps

Locationcheck: E-biking in the Olympiaregion Seefeld