Buying an electric bike is a significant investment. With hundreds of options available, deciding which e-bike to purchase can be difficult. We want you to have the information you need to get the e-bike that is right for you.
10 Things to Know Before You Buy an E-bike
1 – DOES YOUR LOCAL BIKE SHOP SERVICE E-BIKES?
- Check to make sure you have a local bike shop that services e-bikes.
Before buying an e-bike, make sure you have a place to get it serviced. Not all bike shops service e-bikes, and some shops only service e-bikes they sell.
Kasen has a growing list of Kasen Authorized Repair Centers nationwide.
2 – DOES THE E-BIKE HAVE A WARRANTY?
- When choosing an e-bike, carefully review the warranty and its limitations
As a rule of thumb, the shorter the warranty, the lower the quality.
Many inexpensive e-bikes have generic components to keep manufacturing costs down. Many of these components are poorly made with high failure rates and are not easily serviceable or replaceable. These e-bikes will not have a warranty or a short 30 - 90 day warranty.
Kasen offers a one-year warranty limited to the motor, controller, battery, display, and charger. Kasen frames have a lifetime warranty for manufacturer defects.
3 – ARE PARTS READILY AVAILABLE?
- Choose an e-bike that uses easy-to-service/replace/upgrade brand-name components.
As previously mentioned, some manufacturers use generic parts. Finding replacements can be difficult and frustrating.
E-bikes that use brand-name components such as Bafang motors, Shimano, and Tektro brakes are preferable. They are well-known brands that are widely supported and are found easily at your local bike shop and online.
Kasen e-bikes use Shimano, Bafang, Tektro, Nutt, and other quality brand-name components.
4 – IS THE BATTERY COMMON OR PROPRIETARY?
- Consider an e-bike with non-proprietary and easily replaceable battery packs.
Some e-bike manufacturers use proprietary battery designs that are replaceable only from that manufacturer. They tend to be more expensive than standard battery pack designs with the same capacity.
Kasen uses battery packs that are readily available in e-bike shops and online.
5 – WHO MAKES THE BATTERY CELLS?
- When choosing an e-bike, or an e-bike battery, make sure the battery pack uses LG, Panasonic, or Samsung cells.
A battery pack is only as good as its weakest cell.
E-bike batteries consist of an array of individual 18650 li-ion cells. One bad cell can significantly affect the battery's performance.
LG, Panasonic, and Samsung have an excellent reputation in the battery industry for having cells of the highest quality. They may be more expensive, but you'll know you're getting battery packs that will last longer.
Kasen uses Panasonic and Samsung cells for all of our e-bikes.
6 – WHAT TYPE OF MOTOR DOES IT HAVE?
- Geared hub motor for day-to-day riding yet fragile, direct-drive motor for high speed and high-power riding yet are heavy, mid-drive motor for day to day and off-road riding yet can snap chains.
The motor is the heart of an e-bike. Knowing which type of motor is best for you will enhance your enjoyment of your e-bike.
Geared Hub Motors are relatively inexpensive motors that offer exceptional torque and efficiency for superb acceleration and longer ride times. They are also somewhat delicate. Jumps can damage them; they are not suitable for mountain biking or serious off-roading.
Direct Drive Motors are simple designs where the motor turns once with each turn of the wheel. Capable of very high speeds and are reserved for extreme performance e-bikes. You cannot freewheel. But, they do act as an energy recovery system that returns about 10% energy to the battery. However, they are heavy.
Mid Drive Motors give you the broadest range of power, are responsive and capable of higher top speeds. They are also incredibly durable and are the motor of choice for mountain biking or off-road riding. The downside is that they are very hard on the drivetrain by increasing wear on the chain and gears.
Kasen e-bikes use Bafang geared hub motors primarily. Future Kasen mountain e-bikes will use Bafang Mid-drive motors.
7 – HOW MUCH POWER DOES THE MOTOR REALLY HAVE?
- Pay attention to how e-bike manufacturers market their e-bike's power output; are they using peak wattage or nominal (continuous) wattage?
I won't go into what a watt is or how it's measured. It will make this much longer and harder to read. So, I’ll keep it as simple as possible.
E-bike motors generally have two wattage ratings: Continuous ( or Rated) and Peak.
Nominal wattage is how much wattage a motor can safely output without overheating.
Peak wattage (amperage x voltage) is the maximum amount of power a motor can theoretically output.
Because peak wattage generally exceeds continuous wattage, it is made available only for brief moments and under specific conditions, such as during acceleration. Exceeding continuous wattage for extended periods of time will damage the motor. So, peak wattage is not a true measure of a motor’s power. Still with me?
Some manufacturers will market the peak wattage because it is usually higher than nominal wattage. The result is an e-bike that seems more powerful than it really is.
Kasen clearly displays continuous wattage and peak wattage in product descriptions.
8 - PAS VS. THROTTLE?
- Decide if pedal-assist or throttle assist is right for you; Ideally, you should choose an e-bike that has both.
E-bikes have two forms of motor engagement: Pedal Assist (PAS) or a throttle. Some e-bikes have both. They provide different riding experiences, and you should make sure the e-bike you choose has the right one for you.
PAS (Pedal Assist Sensor) is a system that engages the motor when pedal movement is detected. This system allows you to go faster and farther than you usually would under your own power.
The throttle is mounted either on the left or right handlebar. It's increasingly common to be part of the grip or the grip itself (like a motorcycle). The throttle acts like a gas pedal, engaging the motor independently of your pedal input.
Kasen e-bikes all have both PAS and Throttle assist.
9 – DOES BATTERY SIZE MATTER?
- More often than not, bigger is better.
I get this question a lot. The answer is, it depends. Because so many factors determine battery life or e-bike range, there is no definitive answer. However, you cannot go wrong with a bigger battery.
Kasen offers multiple battery pack options on most of our e-bikes.
10 – RANGE CLAIMS MEAN NOTHING!
- Don't take the manufacturer's word for it.
Range is possibly the most important consideration when choosing an e-bike. Manufacturers test range in ideal conditions. Real-world conditions are seldom ideal. Rider weight, terrain grade (flat, inclines, declines), riding speed, pedal-assist levels, throttle use, etc., affect how far you can ride your e-bike. Under certain conditions, you may be able to exceed the manufacturer's range estimate. In reality, you'll often average less.
All of Kasen's range ratings are based on real-world results.
Kasen Electric Bikes is working to revolutionize transportation in America, where clean, efficient, non-polluting electric bikes are a more common sight on the road. Visit our website to see the pure excitement Kasen is generating!
Ralph C. Clarke