Not very common just a few years ago, electric bikes are attracting a growing number of people. In Brussels, 20% of the bicycles circulating during rush hour are e-bikes!
Have you decided to take the plunge? Does the idea of being able to pedal without (much) effort, even on hills, and to travel more smoothly sound appealing to you? Here are a few tips on how to choose your electrically assisted bicycle.
There are a multitude of e-bikes on the market today, with prices ranging from € 800 to over € 3,000! They are more or less powerful, fixed or foldable, with or without a removable battery...
To get a clearer picture, start by defining your needs and expectations:
Call on an expert for advice.
The motor gets going after 2 to 3 pedal rotations and ignores how slowly or quickly you are pedalling. This can be quite tricky at the outset. This type of e-bike is more difficult to start up, but generally less expensive to purchase.
The pedal power assistance starts as soon as you start pedalling and goes increasingly faster. More comfortable, but also a lot more expensive. This is recommended if you have to stop several times on your route, for example at red lights
Don't be fooled by the manufacturers' promises of range. The estimated battery range may vary depending on your route, your weight, your level of assistance, the number of stops. So do not believe blindly the manufacturers' commitments on the electric range.
On the other hand, it is interesting to look at some of the technical characteristics of the battery...
The battery capacity, expressed in Ampere-hours (Ah) is a good indicator of its range. The higher it is, the longer will be the range.
Also, the higher the voltage (V) of the e-bike, the greater assistance will be available to you on hills.
These newer batteries are lighter, less costly and last longer.
This will make it easier for you to recharge!
E-bikes can be quite a considerable weight (17 to 25 kg) and achieve high speeds. That means excellent quality brakes are a must, with the safest brakes are hydraulic brakes.
You could also go for a motor brake: this system recovers the energy when you brake to recharge the battery. These electric bikes are much faster, so it’s vital that you wear the appropriate protective gear.
Even though wearing a helmet when driving an electric bike is not compulsory, it's something we would strongly recommend.
Other useful safety accessories include:
|Keep it safe: adopt a defensive riding style! Motorists are often caught off guard by the sheer speed of electric bikes.|
Want to find out what fund driving an e-bike can be on a nice summer’s day? Hire one for the day in Brussels. Try Pro Velo not-for-profit organisation for instance.
If you use the Villo! shared bike network, you can subscribe to the eVillo! option to benefit from electrical assistance when you use one of their bikes.
Be sure to read the Test-Achats purchasing guide (in French).
Consult the Pro Velo ASBL guide
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