All The Different Types Of Electric Bikes You Need To Know About

Author: Alex Bristol

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Thinking of getting an e-bike and wondering what one you can get based on your state’s laws and regulations? Or just stuck for choosing which e-bike to get and want to weigh up the pros and cons?

Well, let me tell you you’re not alone.

E-bikes have taken the world by storm, and as popularity, the laws around them have gradually started to decrease, and more types have arrised. From commuter bikes to begin with to some real trail rippers.

Whether you’re buying an e-bike as an alternative to commuting by car, train, or bus or looking for a companion down the trails, knowing what e-bike is best for you is a great first step.

Nowadays, there are more e-bikes than I can shake a stick at.

I’m here to guide you through everything you need to know when buying an e-bike, all the different types, along with all the different classes of e-bike.

So sit back and relax. I’ve got you covered, my friend.

A white electric bike parked on a field across the mountains

All The Types Of Electric Bikes:

As e-bikes are becoming more and more common, there are many different types of e-bikes n the market to choose from, and just like regular bikes, they have different purposes.

Commuter E-Bike:

Commuter e-bikes were the ones that started it all; e-bikes were created as an eco-friendly alternative to replace mo-peds on the road.

Driving to work can be very expensive, but using standard bikes will leave you all hot and flustered by the time you get to work.

E-bikes will not only get you to your destination much quicker than conventional bikes, but it also means you get to work with more energy and arrived feeling refreshed rather than hot, sticky, and uncomfortable for the rest of the day.

E-commuter bikes can also save you a lot of money in the long run, they may be an investment to begin with, but it can save you thousands of bucks over the years as to recharge the battery it costs as little as 12 cents which in comparison to $100 on gas, it is over 100% cheaper.

The powerful motors and batteries can propel you up to 20mph so you can cruise past traffic, tame treacherous hills (I feel your pain San Fransisco), and get to work without a sweat on your back.

Electric commuter bikes can even go on cycle paths, which is their main selling point, especially if you live in a concrete jungle. You can skip past all the traffic and not have to worry about freshen up when you get to work.

Plus, you don’t need to worry about filling up at the gas station on the way or spending what feels like hours searching for a parking spot in the parking garage.

They make climbing hills easier, the commute to work much less stressful, pedal-assist commuter bikes beat a normal bike every time when it comes to commuting to work.

If you ride down quite rough roads, then I would recommend either going for an electric mountain bike or a hybrid bike with a suspension fork; this should help smooth your ride.

Road E-Bike:

If you enjoy riding on roads and want that little bit of help keep you up to speed for the short sprint rides, going up hills, and maintaining overall performance for long periods, then e-bikes are brilliant.

They have drop-bars, and many of the batteries are subtle, too; one thing I love about electric road bikes is that they’re almost silent, so you don’t feel embarrassed that you’re using an e-bike; most people won’t be able to tell.

You should go for a Fazua or a Bosch motor system; these are best for road e-bikes. You may be adding more extra weight, but there are some pretty incredible lightweight options.

Electric Mountain Bike:

Some say it’s cheating, but while it might be easier, it makes it that much more fun. If you have never tried e-mountain bikes, then you’re missing out!! Mountain e-bikes have flooded the market.

With the high-performing motor and trail ripping capabilities of the mountain bike frame, you can attack the trails harder and faster, plus you can push further than you ever did before.

There are so many options to choose from when buying electric mountain bikes.

You can either purchase e-hardtails, which are a much more affordable option, or if you fancy the splurge, then full-suspension models offer insane levels of versatility and offer amazing performance whatever the mountains throw at you.

You can ride rougher, harder and longer with complete ease, comfort, and thrills.

Electric mountain bikes follow the same geometry as a normal bike, with different frame sizes, levels of fork travel, and wheel sizes to suit every kind of rider– which is the real beauty of it.

However, adding an electric motor and battery system means that there’s extra added weight while riding, which isn’t always ideal– but with the electric motor to boost you, you won’t even notice it!

Electric Hybrid Bike:

Hybrid bikes are often much heavier out of the lot because motors are less complex as they’re more designed for robustness than lighter weight.

The majority of e-hybrid bikes tend to have a front suspension fork, which helps to absorb the bumps and uneven surfaces when riding over rough ground, while some models come with mudguards and pannier racks.

Hauling them upstairs can be quite a challenge and can be quite awkward, so if you live in an apartment where the elevator is constantly broken, I wouldn’t recommend getting a hybrid e-bike.

However, most hybrid ebikes are designed for commuters. They even come in cargo options, which I thought was pretty cool; you can haul around heavyweight without feeling the toll on your body.

Hybrid E-bikes are also known as ‘town and trekking e-bikes’. They have the same design as standard hybrid bikes as they can be used both on roads and light off-road use.

E-Folding Bikes:

Electric folding bikes are brilliant as they offer the same benefits as a regular e-bike, but they are much easier to store. They’re ideal if your office doesn’t have a place to store bikes.

Their small wheels, easy acceleration, and sharp maneuverability. They are brilliant for getting in and out of traffic along with whizzing down the cycle lanes.

They can be folded, so the design is compact, making them not only ideal for commuting, but there are some brilliant electric folding mountain bikes on the market which are super easy to transport.

An electric bike parked on a field in the forest with its light turned on and a rear bike basket

What Are The Classes Of Electric Bikes?

In the States, there are three classes of e-bikes you can use legally. E-bikes have been divided into classes to distinguish the level of motor assistance offered.

You should first work out what class of electric bicycles you’d like to go for before looking for certain types.

Class 1 e-bike: 

This is an electric bicycle equipped with a motor that assists only while the rider is pedaling. It can reach maximum speed limits of 20mph and has a power output of 750W.

Most new riders start with a class 1 electric bike as they are the most affordable; they’re also universally accepted by law. You’re legally allowed to ride on city streets and many bike paths.

As electric bikes are becoming more and more popular, it is becoming more common that you’re allowed to ride on traditional mountain bike trails. While this may not be all it is a start, be sure to check before you go.

Class 2 electric bicycle: 

This is an e-bike equipped with a motor that can be used exclusively to propel the bicycle; it doesn’t assist when the bicycle reaches a speed of 20mph.

Class 2 e-bikes are typically allowed in the same places as class 1 as they cannot really exceed 20mph of motor assistance. They’re not as commonly made by manufacturers like REI and TREK, so I recommend getting either class 1 or 3.

Class 3 e-bike: 

This e-bike is equipped with a motor that assists only while the rider is pedaling. It stops assisting when the bicycle reaches 28mph, and it is equipped with a speedometer.

Class 3 e-bikes are more commonly found in commuter e-bikes as they’re much more powerful and faster than the other two classes. These are popular for commuters as you can keep up with traffic easier.

Class 3 electric bikes can also climb hills better and make it much easier to carry heavier loads; the only downside is that you can’t ride on most bike paths or mountain bike trails.

If you’re a commuter looking to make your daily commutes much more of a breeze, then class 3 electric bikes will be the ideal one for you, but class 1 or 2 is your best bet for recreational riders.

A woman riding her electric bike on the road

Where Is The Motor On An E-Bike?

There tend to be a few different types of motor systems you’ll find on e-bikes. They are either placed in the wheel hub or mounted onto the bike.

Hub Drive Motors:

Hub motors tend to be located inside the hub of the front or rear wheel of the bike.

A front or rear wheel hub will still offer a good level of power, but they can add weight to the front or rear of the bike, which is why you tend to find them on cheaper models.

Mid-Drive Motors:

Mid-drive motors tend to be housed around the bottom bracket of the e-bike, where you’ll find the crank and pedals; it looks like a thick cylinder you would find on a conventional bike.

Mid-drive motors tend to be the most expensive but deliver the most power and better balance as their central location can offer better balance; they help keep the central gravity low which is a good thing.

Friction Motors:

Friction motors tend to be mounted directly to the seat post on pedal-assist e-bikes. These are more common in older bikes because they aren’t as efficient as the mid-drive of hub motors.

You’ll also find this kind of motor systems in e-bike conversion kits you might find at your local bike shop or online, which transform your traditional bike into an e-bike.

Where Is The Battery On An Electric Bike?

E-bike batteries can be placed in different parts on the e-bike. It all depends on the shape of the bike’s frame. Urban e-bikes are designed to navigate city streets and have the battery mounted on the back where the cargo rack is placed.

Many e-mountain bikes tend to have the motor and battery on the down tube. This gives the e-bike battery and finishes for the e-bike a sleek look; it also provides a more balanced ride, especially if the motor power is coming from the rear hub motor.

The battery power and the motor assist will all depend on the quality of the e-bike motor and the quality of the battery. Large-capacity batteries have a wider range but tend to be more expensive.

What E-Bike Is Best For Me?

The best pedal-assist bike for you will depend on your needs and what you want to get out of the pedal-assist bike.

This will all depend on the type of riding you’re planning on doing, how far you’ll be riding, your experience level, and how fast you want to travel.

Other factors like the terrain you’ll be covering and your budget also play an essential role. So before you start searching for the top-rated e-bikes, take a minute to reflect on your needs and wants.

A person installing his electric bike\'s battery


So there you have it all the different types of pedal-assist/ e-bikes you need to know about. Whether you’re looking to get a new bike for commuting or just for a little extra fun down the trails, then e-bikes will be your best friend.

E-bikes have taken the world by storm, and they’re here to stay, give one a test ride at your nearest local bike shop to see which one is best for you.

We are combatting climate change, one e-bike, and one regular bike at a time.

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