Back in the day the choice of bikes was between men's and women's, the only real decision to be made being whether you wanted one, three, or five gears. If that description rings a bell then the choice of different e-bikes available today can seem a bit daunting with city bikes, folders, hybrids, mountain bikes, cargo bikes, and the resurgent tricycle. It's enough to lead anyone to utter the phrase "Back in my day...". Relax, it's not as complicated as it seems. Let us walk you through the different types of e-bike and the benefits of each.
Perhaps the most popular type of e-bike is the folder. Once upon a time folding bikes were the preserve of train commuters and bearded Open University lecturers who appeared on BBC2 after the proper programmes had finished. With their tiny wheels and limited gearing they were also the territory of people who lived or commuted somewhere flat. Folding e-bikes have not only widened their appeal (though the beards seem to have increased in popularity) but are also equally at home in hilly areas as they are on the urban commute. The added assistance of an electric motor means even the occasional cyclist can cruise up pretty much any slope without breaking a sweat.
Undoubtedly the biggest appeal of folding e-bikes is their ability to be stored in small spaces. If you don't have the luxury of a garage or shed you won't have to risk impaling yourself of a set of handlebars every time you attempt to navigate your hallway. A couple of folding e-bikes can fit comfortably in a cupboard beneath the stairs. This benefit has made folding e-bikes the popular choice with caravan and motor home owners looking for a more relaxing way of getting about when they're on their travels.
What are modern folders like to ride? In days gone by folding bikes often felt unstable at speed due to the small wheels. With the added weight of a motor and battery this twitchiness has gone. Most folders are also versatile enough for a greater range of riders sizes than a regular frame, so one bike can be shared by different people regardless of height.
The city bike needs no introduction. This is the classic flat handlebar design of the very first safety cycle. The riding position is more upright than a drop handlebar bike, giving you a better view of the road and, thanks to the more upright riding position, making you more visible to drivers. Modern city bikes come with a cross bar or with the low step design that used to be called a women's bike. The low step height has seen this design become popular with riders with limited mobility, regardless of gender.
Mountain e-bikes are designed for rough terrain. This doesn't have to be mountain - it could equally be bridleways or purpose built trail centres designed to offer a range increasing challenging routes. A common misconception is that if you aren't riding on billiard table smooth tarmac you need a mountain bike. This is not the case. Gravel paths and canal tow paths can easily be ridden on any type of e-bike with the right choice of tyres. Tannus puncture proof tyres are the ideal choice for anyone who occasionally ventures off-road but doesn't need the added weight and cost of full suspension mountain bike.
Cargo e-bikes are the modern day version of the traditional butcher's bike. Cargo e-bikes can have storage racks on the front, rear, or even both. They are perfect for businesses that make local deliveries, offering a cost effectice and greener alternative to a van. Cargo e-bikes also make great touring and commuting bikes, with plenty of room to take a tent or briefcase.
Tricycles need no introduction. Many of us started our pedalling journey on three wheels and the advent of electric powered bikes has seen a resurgence in three wheeled transport. From people recovering from a stroke to people with mobility or balance limitations, e-trikes offer a sense of freedom guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.
Legend has it that many professional cyclists can detect a 1mm change in the set up of their bike. For mere mortals who don't view physical pain as a necessary part of earning a living, and who don't have the luxury of massage and physiotherapists to keep us as flexible as a yoga teacher on vallium, making sure we choose the right bike is probably even more important than the sport's elite. That's why we always suggest people try a selection of different bikes before choosing the one that's right for them. Not only does this allow you to understand the different types of bike available but it also lets you see which type of controls work (or don't work) for you.