Electric Commuter Bike Buying Guide
Electric bikes or e-bikes aren’t the future anymore, they’re here right now and they’re perfect for commuting. Commuter bikes are also referred to as hybrid bikes and they have a mix of mountain bike suspension for comfort combined with a few streamlined features from road bikes for added speed.
Electric commuter bikes take this to the next level with pedal assist e-bike components that boost your speed when you start to pedal, giving you a lot of speed for minimal effort. In places such as Copenhagen, 56% of people commute on a bike however, Australia is much more spread out and often much warmer so this stops people from riding. Enter the electric bike, ideal for commuting without breaking a sweat.
Below are our top picks depending on your riding needs:
Best Electric Folding Bike: Velectrix Foldaway Bike - Simple and lightweight design which folds away easily for storage or to carry on public transport.
Best All-round Electric Bike: Cube Touring Hybrid - Built with powerful hydraulic disc brakes and suspension fork that combines with the lightweight alloy frame and integrated battery for a crisp ride.
Best Urban Electric Bike: Merida eSpresso - With an option to suit every rider, this urban specific range is simple, lightweight and incredibly reliable.
Best Lifestyle Electric Bike: Norco Scene VLT - Style blends with fashion thanks to the strep-through frame, Shimano STePS e-bike components and handy dropper post that helps get your feet on the ground when you need to stop.
What to look for in an electric commuter bike
Drive Unit & Battery
No surprises here, the best electric bicycles are powered by reliable batteries that offer plenty of range and a powerful drive unit to match. Electric push bikes which are power assisted are subject to laws and regulations that limit power to 250 watts and a maximum speed of 25km/hr, which is still plenty of power for the electric assist to help you on your commute. This means that most of the drive units out there will offer a similar amount of power however, the battery range tends to differ based on price point.
Shimano’s STePS e-bike system and Bosch’s e-bike system lead the way in the industry offering the most reliable e-bike riding experience. Some of the smaller brands such as XDS and Velectrix will use their own e-bike drive unit and battery which has been developed to a reliable standard so that you can still ride with confidence.
How long does an electric bike motor last is a common question and the answer is that e-bikes tend to come with a range of 40-90km from a single charge. With a charging time of between 3 and 6 hours you will have plenty of time to recharge at work if you need to.
Mid-drive Motor vs Hub Drive
There are a couple of options when it comes to the location of the e-bike components. Firstly, Hub motors place the motor in the centre of the wheel, while mid-drive motors are close to the middle of the bike and transfer power through the chain. Mid-drive units are becoming increasingly common as they are usually smaller, lighter and by using the chain to transfer the power you can use lower gears to climb so that you can climb steeper and longer hills without overworking the drive unit. Most mid-drive units are built directly into the frame these days and ensure that you get a balanced feel and crisp look. Mid-drive units can do a lot more work and therefore can put a lot of strain on your chain which increases the risk of the chain snapping. They are also usually found on more expensive bikes and if they are built into the frame they can be harder to fix and maintain.
While hub drive motors are simple, reliable and cost effective. All of the components are housed within the hub, so they are a lot less likely to require maintenance. They don’t put any extra stress on your chain, but the flip side of that is they usually allow just a single gear ratio. This means that you’ll be fine when you’re zipping around on the flat, but they won’t work as well on very hilly terrain. They also add extra weight and limit the components you can use when it comes to rims and tyres. In the end both are great options, if you have a short and flat commute then a hub drive is more than capable, however mid-drive offers more versatility and are found on higher quality bikes so you’ll usually get increased design quality and reliability.
While they do try to minimise the extra weight on e-bikes, there is still extra weight compared to your traditional bike and for this reason most electric bikes are equipped with disc brakes. The lower end models will come with mechanical disc brakes, while the higher end models will be equipped with hydraulic disc brakes from the likes of SRAM and Shimano. This will give you reliable and powerful braking control in all conditions so that you can ride with confidence. Urban environments are full of distractions and potential hazards so disc brakes really are a great option for any commuter.
Frame & Fork
The best electric bikes will be built with an alloy frame and fork, or a suspension fork. This minimises weight while still giving you excellent durability, the lightweight design allows you to get extra range out of your e-bike. Suspension forks can be handy even in the city as you might need to go over gutters or lips and you’ll be able to manage, the added versatility means you’ll still cope off-road as well. While a rigid fork is usually found on cruiser bikes and folding bikes for simplicity, style and reduced cost.
Many e-bikes will come with displays that tell you a range of stats from speed, to distance travelled and range. Lots of commuter electric bikes come with front racks, rear racks and panniers as standard as manufacturers understand that these are essentials for commuting. Some bikes take that to another level, such as the Norco Scene VLT which has a dropper post so that you can easily put your feet on the ground when you need to stop at the traffic lights, a very handy feature which riders rave about.
While there is a range of electric bikes specifically built for commuting, sometimes an electric mountain bike or an electric cruiser bike might be the best option. An electric mountain bike gives you a ride that is more durable and versatile, capable of going off-road and handling rough terrain if need be. While electric cruiser bikes offer a much more relaxed geometry that you can also ride in style on the weekends when you're riding with friends.
Shop our wide range of electric bikes for sale in-store or online today. Whether you’re after an entry level electric bike so that you don’t have to use an unreliable electric bike conversion kit or a top of the line electric machine, we have you sorted.
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There is a wide range of electric commuter bikes available both in store and online at 99 Bikes.Find A Store Shop Electric Hybrid Shop Electric Folding Shop Electric Merida Bikes Shop Electric Cube Bikes Shop Electric Norco Bikes Shop Electric VelectriX Bikes