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Why are electric bikes so expensive?

Electric bikes cost money; probably more money than the average person might expect. So why are electric bikes so expensive?

Bicycles have come a long way since the heyday of Schwinn and the classic six-speed. Even without a motor and battery, a traditional bicycle is a complex piece of engineering. That engineering takes time and money — likely a lot more time and money than the average person might expect, which could explain some of the sticker shock so many first-time e-bike buyers experience.

Why are e-bikes so expensive? Stromer

The Stromer ST5 is in the upper echelon of luxury e-bikes and has a price tag to match.

This post will offer some explanations for modern e-bike costs and hopefully help you better understand what you’re paying for when you do pop for a new ride. It’s not comprehensive by any means, but we’ll try to take a look at this from two angels: why they are expensive in general, and why they are even more expensive lately.

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Benefits of Electric Recumbent Bikes

A recumbent bike or e-bike, as the name suggests, is one where you lay down in a seat rather than perch on a saddle. They come in 2, 3 and 4 wheeled versions. 3 wheelers, or trikes as they are more commonly known, are by far the most common design.

While they are a little more niche than the millions of traditional 2-wheeled bikes you’ll typically encounter on the road, they have a dedicated fan base that finds enjoyment and utility from their design.

The electric revolution hasn’t only given us some of the best electric bikes around, but they’ve led to innovation in the recumbent trike world as well.

I’ve test ridden several recumbent and electric recumbent machines and always enjoyed it – and always received loads of interest in the bike itself, mainly in the form of what is it and why would I want to ride one? So, if you want to know too, read on…

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Comfort

Fancy cycling in real comfort? Why not try an electric recumbent? These models are from HP Velotechnik who have a wide network of dealers in Europe, US and Canada.

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Guide To E-Bike Gearing Systems

– Confused by the pros and cons of derailleurs, hub gears and continuously variable transmission? We demystify all of this down below. –

A lot of e-bike publicity focuses on the performance capabilities of the motor or the size of the battery. One often-overlooked area is gearing.

Surely you just get the same choice as on a regular bike? Only to a point; the e-bike revolution has meant many things for e-bike design, one of which is an expansion of the gearing options available.

With extra motor power available bigger and better-performing gears can be used, gears which would be too heavy or difficult to pedal for most riders of non-electric bikes. These are covered in the Advanced Systems section dow below.

But for now, let’s stick with gearing systems 101: derailleurs and hub gears

The Basics: Derailleur and Hub Gears

The majority of e-bikes are equipped with derailleur gears, with hub gears being the major alternative choice. Both options go back many, many decades so the technology on both is well advanced and should work well for its intended purposes. But what are they and what are the pros and cons of each system?

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What Is The Best Budget E-Bike?

With e-bikes offering better value than ever and companies now fiercely competing for who can come up with the best value offering in the value stakes, it can be pretty confusing trying to narrow down just how much you should spend and what features you should expect – even if you are on a pretty tight budget.

Here we try and demystify the topic by breaking budget e-bikes down into two broad price categories, low budget and lower mid-range to see just what you might expect to see in each category, whilst picking out the best value bikes out what we consider to be the very best value e-bikes out there.

Low Budget eBikes – US$1000 / £1000

Undoubtedly the hardest category to actually pick a bike in as there will be a lot of poorer quality e-bikes below these price points. EBR tends not to recommend many e-bikes below these price points and they have to stand out from the crowd. There are even e-bikes out there for just a few hundred $ but these may well  be even more compromised in design or manufacturing quality than the slightly higher priced ones which themselves can be very poor. Amazon and Ebay are full of such cheaper e-bikes.

Typical purchaser complaints you might find include parts that last only a few months (including more expensive consumables like the lithium-ion battery), motors that feel underpowered compared to what they were expecting, having to deal directly with an company in Asia and waiting several weeks for replacement parts. Communication may be by email only and you may not be sure exactly who you are dealing with and where they are or what your warranty terms are (if any).

All this isn’t to say there aren’t satisfied buyers out there who have purchased such e-bikes; they may even get a few years use from their Ebay purchase but no doubt the majority of these e-bikes end up broken and at the back of the garage or at the refuse tip much more quickly than higher priced e-bikes. In other words it can be a haphazard affair.
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E-Bikes For Heavier Riders

One aspect of e-bikes not discussed that often but which is a very common point of advice for e-bike shop staff is the question of the ‘best’ e-bike for heavier riders.

As you would expect, defining a single ‘best’ e-bike is tough, but most e-bike manufacturers give a recommended maximum rider weight rating for each particular model of e-bike. These can be a useful guide, but certainly no more than a guide. They may have been conservatively rated to ensure that e-bikes are not loaded to anywhere near their safe maximum limit, or a manufacturer may have been overenthusiastic with the rating in an effort to boost the performance credentials of their e-bikes.

In any event, it is up to the manufacturer to make clear what is the maximum suitable weight and many manufacturers go above and beyond the minimum legal limit that might be specified in national law, or that specified in international standards.

On some e-bike spec descriptions you won’t find any recommended maximum weight at all whilst others, like Rad Power Bikes, advertise weight ratings and payload capacities prominently.

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What is a ‘Heavy Rider’ and What Rating Should You be Looking For

The RadRover 6 is a solid e-bike for heavier riders

Some companies like Rad Power Bikes give clear, prominent descriptions of the weight limits of all their e-bikes

The average US male weighs around 200lbs / 90kg and the average female around 170lbs / 77kg so you can figure out if you class yourself as a heavy rider based on these benchmarks!
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