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E-bikes - purchase the low-cost mobility of the future
We at Greenstorm.eu agree: e-bikes and pedelecs (Pedal Electric Cycles) are probably the most exciting achievements of our time. If you now say 'boring - that's just a bicycle', we will just have to explain it better to you.
Take the agility of a bike, the robustness of a mountain bike and the range of a moped, and then make it silent. All these characteristics are then up to 100% better in a modern pedelec, e-MTB, e-Fatbike, e-Citybikeor an e-Fully. Everyone can improve his or her cycling performance on the e-bike, depending on his or her fitness, sportiness, daily condition and also on the terrain.
Your introduction to the world of e-bikes
The e-bike market is booming and this is also reflected in the products on offer. From A to Z and back again, everything the bicycle technician's brain can think of will soon be offered - the ideal e-bike for every purpose and every situation. Not being able to find the right piece of equipment will soon be history!
E-bikes for everyone! That's what we at Greenstorm.eu thought and so we have developed a very special offer to bring the best e-bikes and e-mobility to the public. But there’s much more. Here you can first discover what is so special about an e-bike, how it is different to a pedelec - and what that is – and how to find the right e-bike for you, and much more besides. Plus: You can already browse here and buy one of our high quality but still cheap e-bikes.
E-bike vs normal bicycle: what’s the difference?
An e-bike is basically an (almost) ordinary bicycle. Frame, handlebar, saddle, gears, shock absorbers and wheels are identical. On closer inspection, however, the e-bike quickly turns out to be far more complex than an ordinary bicycle, and this not only applies to the most obvious difference: the electric drive.
Who'd have thought that? The most important difference between a conventional bicycle and an e-bike is the electrical engineering, which increases the pedalling performance with the help of battery and motor. However, there are other differences that are linked to this, which we would like to briefly explain in the following.
Gearshift - less is also enough
An e-bike usually has only 9, 10 or 11 gears due to the electric support. The gears are used to improve the transmission ratio when starting out or when riding up steeper sections of track and thus to improve the transfer of muscle power to the bike. However, since this can be done electronically on the e-bike, no finer gear shifts are necessary. After all, a car still only has up to 6 gears.
Disc brakes are necessary for electro-bikes
The disc brakes on electric bicycles are fairly elaborate as the greater weight and higher average speed also require more braking power. The very fact that most models have disc brakes makes this difference obvious. "Normal" bicycles usually brake using calliper brakes but these cannot provide the required performance for e-bikes.
E-bike frames: material and shape
The material for the frame is mostly the same: aluminium, or even carbon. In some cases there are even steel frames that promise good acceleration, but the wheels and the drive are in any case very heavy. To compensate for this, some models use carbon instead of aluminium, which has a very low weight in comparison.
The shape of the frame is something that differs from the conventional bicycle. Since mid-mounted engines are mounted on the frame and some models have the battery mounted directly in the frame, special casting is required. The tubular frames are produced by manufacturers such as Haibike using a special casting process in order to integrate the battery perfectly.
Power boost control
Of course, an e-bike also includes a control system for power amplification. Depending on the e-bike model, there is also a display that shows the remaining energy in the battery. The remaining power in the battery can thus be controlled and allocated. Range remaining and battery level are shown visually. Some manufacturers even offer apps with which you can precisely document the ride.
E-bike vs. pedelec - what's the difference?
Before we start bandying these two terms around, we would like to explain them clearly. The terms are often used synonymously and confusingly. Basically, electric bicycles are all bicycles that are equipped with an electric motor.
These include e-bikes, which according to German road traffic regulations are ‘single-seater two-wheeled mopeds with electric power’, which (are only allowed to) support the cyclist’s own power up to a speed of 25 km/h, including starting assistance up to 6 km/h. Anything else would entail additional legal obligations, as legally it would no longer fall under the classification of a bicycle.
Battery power of pedelecs and S-pedelecs
Finally, within electric bicycles, there is a distinction between pedelecs and S-pedelecs. S-pedelecs, or rather their motor and battery, can go even faster than 25 km/h, which legally classifies them as mopeds. Pedelecs, on the other hand, can only go up to 25 km/h by their electric power alone - of course it is still possible to go faster using more muscle power or on downhill slopes.
This means that the terms pedelec and e-bike can be used synonymously. They differ only in one small but essential detail: The pedelec drive is only activated when pedalling begins but e-bikes can go up to 6 km/h on their own.
Together they form that part of the over-arching category ‘electric bicycle’, which can only provide additional power up to speeds of 25 km/h.
What does this mean from the point of view of road traffic regulations? The differences between the legal regulations are quite significant when compared internationally between Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Basically, a limited number of watts and speeds applies to pedelecs and e-bikes.
In Germany, the motor of electric bicycles is allowed to provide a constant maximum of 250 watts and the motor support is allowed to reach speeds up to a maximum of 25 km/h. Anything beyond that would be subject to registration, liability insurance, a driver's license and helmet requirements.
In Austria, the maximum permissible number of watt-hours is 600 (not to be confused with the maximum engine power, which is decisive in Germany). The maximum speed up to which the motor may reach is also 25 km/h in Austria.
In Switzerland, every electric bicycle comes within the category of motorcycles: pedelecs up to 500 watts of power and maximum speed with pedal assistance of 25 km/h are considered to be light motorcycles, 500 to 1000 watts and maximum speed with pedal assistance of up to 45 km/h are considered to be motorcycles. This gives rise to a number of rather complex regulations.
How to find the right e-bike
Even if the choice of e-bike may not be a life-changing decision, it still needs to be carefully considered. After all, you don't want to put several thousand euros on the table if the bike doesn't meet your needs. How many choices there actually are will quickly become clear on a short excursion into the e-bike jungle.
Amongst the frame shapes, battery capacities, drive types, wheel sizes you still have to somehow find your way around. The followings is an overview of e-bike types and their different characteristics.
General factors when buying a bicycle
Let's not forget that the e-bike is still a bicycle after all. Accordingly, there are things to consider when buying a bicycle, whether it is an electric or a non-electric bicycle. A first and probably the simplest decision concerns the purpose of the bicycle.
City bikes differ significantly from each other as well as from mountain bikes or racing bikes. The shape of the frame, the weight, the wheels etc. are adapted to the respective needs on different terrains and at different speeds (more about this later).
There is also an immense choice of brakes, with the two most common types being calliper and disc brakes. They are actuated either by a classic cable or by hydraulic technology, although the cable brake is no longer really recommended due to today’s technical innovations.
Types and sorts of e-bikes – on the road no matter what environment
Obviously different equipment is required for fast downhill cycling than for going shopping. Where in one case maximum suspension avoids the transmission of the vibrations from stones and roots to the joints and the body and you are therefore not thrown out of the saddle, in the other case this very suspension would mean reduced stability.
So which types of bicycles and e-bikes are suitable for which purpose or - in other words - which technical characteristics do MTBs and city bikes have in order to fit in ideally with the conditions?
The e-mountain bike
MTBs must be tough off-road machines. You have to be able to ride on all kinds of surfaces, because mountains aren’t made of flat, smooth cycle paths and that's a good thing. What would be the fun in cycling if you can’t go over soil, tree roots, stones, tarmac, pebbles and gravel?
The most important thing a mountain bike needs for this range of surfaces is suitable tyres. Strongly profiled tyres, if not even studded tyres, don’t slip even on gravel; at least not as easily as smooth city tyres. In addition, they are usually broader to generate even more surface area and so more friction and traction.
The suspension also distinguishes the e-mountain bikes from other bicycles and not only because they have better suspension. You can also choose where the suspension is. Hardtails is the name for e-mountain bikes that are only equipped with shock absorbers at the front. The rear wheel is not spring-mounted, hence the name. With the ‘full suspension’ mountain bike, aka the e-fully, the shocks are absorbed at both ends.
The e-MTB's frame is smaller and more compact, making it more manoeuvrable on winding mountain trails. The wide handlebar also makes steering easier on these kinds of routes. The frame is usually a bit lighter, for example made of carbon, so that cycling uphill is easier.
With the disc brakes, which provide progressive braking with more control, even fast downhill biking is no problem. A bike with energy recovery is recommended for these mountain tours, which recovers the energy that is not needed or which is generated without the motor, especially when cycling downhill.
The e-trekking bike
The trekking bike looks similar to the MTB, but it is better suited for sports on sealed surfaces. Trekking bikes are designed for longer distances, possibly even with luggage on the bike.
E-trekking bikes do not have to be manoeuvrable, but should support the ride line, which is why the frame is larger. In addition, the tyres are bigger than MTB tyres and their profile is smooth. All this delivers a suitable geometry for long distances. And speaking of long distances: with an electric motor you get even more range and the Danube cycle path suddenly isn’t that long any more.
The e-city bike
On the daily journeys from A to B, sometimes via C and D, cyclists want a lot of comfort. You don't have to be very manoeuvrable, you don't have to go that far; an electric bike with an upright sitting position and with transportable options is the order of the day in urban spaces.
E-city bikes often have a low monotube frame so that you can get on and off them easily. In relation to the ergonomically shaped handlebar, the saddle is so low that you can sit upright. The saddle is usually bigger than on other bikes to make it more comfortable. With an upright posture you have a better perspective on the traffic, which is very important in the city.
Sturdy luggage racks, perhaps even a trailer device, make a car simply unnecessary for city dwellers, and with reflectors, front lights and rear lights, the e-city bike sets the standard.
Similar to the cars of the past, some manufacturers couldn’t decide where they wanted to install their motor. On the e-bike market there are models with front, rear and central-motors, although the central motor seems to be most popular. We want to explain why this is so and which motor has particular advantages and disadvantages.
As the name suggests, front motors are mounted on the front wheel. If you would like to have a back-pedal brake on your e-bike, this is a good option, because this is always possible with front motors. Front-wheel drive actually means that you have an all-wheel bicycle, because you drive with your own pedal power at the rear. It gives you better grip on a slippery road. However, the bike is a bit awkward due to the front motor and cannot be steered so smoothly.
It's different with rear-wheel power. The whole motor is at the back and you have the front wheel free for steering. Another difference is that a back-pedal brake is not possible. On slopes there can be problems with the rear-mounted engine, especially if the battery is installed on the luggage carrier, because the centre of gravity shifts to the rear, which affects the stability of the bike.
As already mentioned, the central motor has prevailed with most manufacturers. It sits right next to the pedals and the centre of gravity remains low and in the middle, ensuring high stability. The central motor is least noticeable because the cables can be kept short and installed inside the frame.
Battery performance determines range and speed
The critical point regarding e-bike batteries is the watt-hours. The more watt-hours of power a battery delivers, the longer the pedal support will run. But because the output of pedelecs is capped at 25 km/h, the watt-hours mainly determines the range and not the speed, because all batteries can get up to 25 km/h.
At about 400 Wh it’s possible to draw a line. You really shouldn’t buy an e-bike under 400 Wh, as this doesn’t meet the technical standards. The range for 400 Wh is about 50-100 km, although most manufacturer specifications say 100 km, which only applies if you cycle with a relatively low support level. Fewer watt-hours therefore means that probably a maximum of 50 km per battery charge is possible.
At 400-600 Wh, the powerful batteries come into play; above 600 Wh, you are really talking about very large batteries that are no longer considered standard.
Now it depends on your personal needs and the options you have available. If you use the e-bike as a city bike, even a battery of about 400 Wh will suffice, as it can be recharged every day. But if you are going on a tour or a longer distance, you need a good 400 Wh. Anything higher than this will be suitable for really long distances where there are no places to recharge the battery.
Concerning gear changes, 9-speed, 10-speed or 11-speed gears are almost always used. So you don't have that much choice here, but you don't need it as much as with conventional bicycles anyway, because the electric power provides sufficient energy for the necessary wheel revolutions. However, it is advisable to have 10 or 11 gears for mountain and off-road bikes.
Aluminium, carbon, steel - this is the trio of the most common frame materials. Titanium has only a marginal role, even though it is a very durable material for e-bike frames. Unfortunately, the high price and energy requirements during production make it uncompetitive.
Aluminium, on the other hand, is probably the most popular material. It is relatively light, stable and not overly expensive. One could actually call it an all-rounder, because it can do everything but nothing to the extreme. Flexible in manufacture and robust as soon as it has been shaped, it offers a lot of freedom in the design of the bike frame.
Carbon is intended for sporting purposes. It's also incredibly easy to carry it if a part of a mountain trail is better completed on two legs than on two wheels. As with aluminium, manufacturers are happy about the freedom of design, because they can experiment with ways of achieving top performances in speed and the most fun in sport.
The steel frame resonates with the tradition of past bicycle construction, which actually does not detract from its relevance as a material. Steel still produces stable wire frames whose tubes do not even have to look particularly stable. Nevertheless, they are, because steel frames are strong and stable even with filigree struts; unfortunately, they are also somewhat heavy.
Since people come in many different sizes, there are also matching bike frames in different sizes. From 155 cm to 195 cm body heights, there are up to 12 different frame sizes. The smallest variant has a dimension of 40 cm or 16 inches. The maximum is reached (at least with most bikes) at 51 cm. Sometimes the sizes are also given in S to XL.
Purchasing an e-bike: good and not expensive or expensive and exclusive?
E-bikes are far more expensive than conventional bikes due to their drive and various other factors. The purchase price for a pedelec can really make a dent in your wallet or you would have to stretch your budget so much that your limit is soon reached. So that your dream of an e-bike does not remain unfulfilled, there are some other ways of buying an e-bike cheaply.
Buy a cheap e-bike: please don’t!
Right from the start we advise directly and expressly against buying e-bikes from a discounter. In most cases the purchase of cheap goods is not worthwhile and the field of electric motorized bicycles is no exception. Often, inferior components are poorly installed, which makes them prone to faults and wear and tear and have as little to do with riding comfort as an old tractor.
In the average price segment, however, one quickly finds high-quality models around the 4,000 euro mark. The fact that other models far exceed this figure is of course no secret. The point, however, is that even average-priced electric bikes that are satisfactory in terms of quality are often unaffordable.
Purchase pedelecs from the previous season
Tried and tested tricks help here. Trick no. 1: go for older models. It doesn't always have to be a brand new pedelec of the latest generation. In the meantime, e-bikes have also reached a technical level where developments are limited from season to season, while prices, as usual, fall according to the release date of the bike.
Purchase used e-bikes
Trick no. 2: One idea that has developed from the popularity of e-bikes is the purchase of used e-bikes. Pedelecs that already have a few kilometres under their belt are often still like new but cost only half as much. This is the time to strike, and they are now available much more often than before. In the meantime, the e-bike has become such a popular product that an independent and stable market for used e-bikes has developed.
Whichever way you do it: the purchase of an e-bike is definitely worth it!