There are many models with electric motors on the market. Due to differences in design, you can't just pick the first one you see and comfortably go on a journey. From our article, you will learn about the types of electric bikes depending on the motor and type of drive, which unit is more convenient for city riding, which is better to buy for off-road, and how devices for children and adults differ.
An electric bike externally resembles a regular bike but is powered by a built-in motor and runs on a battery. Almost all types of classic bicycles have their electric counterparts: city, road, mountain, etc. There is also a narrow classification specifically for electric models. Next, we'll tell you about the types and their features.
By Type of Motor
The motor is one of the main elements of electric transport, its heart. There are several types, differing in placement, working principle, and characteristics. Therefore, before choosing a vehicle, it is useful to learn about the design of different types of motors. Electric bikes are produced with:
They are placed instead of the front, rear, or both wheels. The power of bikes with a hub motor can range from 150 to 4000 watts. Such a motor can be purchased separately and installed on a regular bike to make it electric. There are 2 types of wheel-hub motors:
Gear-driven. Provides high torque, making it easier to climb hills and overcome obstacles. Such motors use less battery, are compact, weigh up to 5 kg, and are economical. The maximum achievable speed is 30 km/h.
Direct-drive hub. Allows reaching speeds over 40 km/h. Torque is lower, so hills and bumps are harder to navigate, leading to increased energy consumption. Battery charge can be saved through recuperation. A direct-drive motor weighs more than 6 kg, making the bike's construction heavy.
Bottom bracket (mid-drive) motors.
These bikes have the motor located in the pedal crankset, with the battery in the lower part of the frame. Energy is transmitted through a chain to the rear cog of the bike. Using the gear shifter, you can control the pedaling load yourself. The device's power is 400-1600 watts, with a maximum speed of 120 km/h. A bottom bracket motor provides good rolling, manageability, and high efficiency. The downside is the rapid wear of the chain due to high speeds and long distances.
It works by transmitting torque directly to the tire through internal roller friction. Friction drive provides low efficiency, so this type of motor is usually found in lightweight city or children's models. The main disadvantages are poor control in rainy weather and loud motor noise. Also, the tires wear out faster.
Electric bikes with wheel-hub motors are gradually displacing models with bottom bracket motors from the market. They are more convenient in maintenance and have a wide range of powers. Moreover, buying a separate wheel-hub motor allows you to electrify any bicycle with minimal costs without spoiling its original design.
By Type of Drive
The motor's location affects the operating characteristics, torque, and maximum possible speed of the bike.
Electric bikes with rear drive.
Motors of 500 watts and higher are located at the back. These models have excellent passability, maneuverability, and more speed possibilities. Rear-drive is equipped on fat bikes, mountain bikes for aggressive riding and off-road travel with frequent climbs and descents. The construction allows quick acceleration to maximum speed and climbing hills. The downside: when moving on sand, snow, or slippery roads, maneuverability decreases. Rear-drive bikes often skid on turns due to uneven weight distribution on the wheels.
This type of vehicle is easier to control, especially on smooth roads without potholes and ruts. Front drive handles turns neatly. They have balanced weight distribution, so they are not prone to skidding even on icy winter roads. And if the rider engages the pedals during the ride, the bike becomes almost all-wheel drive: the front wheel works thanks to the motor, the rear - by the effort of the legs. The downside of front-drive models is that only low-power motors up to 250 watts are installed on them, so they are not suitable for off-road and hilly terrain.
Equipped with two wheel-hub motors. They have the best passability. They are easy to control and provide comfortable riding off-road and in rough terrain. The disadvantages are a bulky heavy construction (~30 kg) and high energy consumption. Consequently, on a full drive, one battery charge won't get you far - you need breaks for recharging.
Bikes with front drive are recommended for those who need ease of operation, classic seating, and calm riding. Models with rear drive are a sports option for lovers of bike racing and active leisure.
The frame design, running characteristics, and dimensions depend on the specific tasks that the electric bike will perform. By purpose, the units are:
Urban electric bikes
Urban. They are characterized by compactness, low weight, and, consequently, convenient transportation. Models with a folding frame predominate: they can be carried with you, put in the trunk of a car, brought into public transport. They have small diameter wheels 14-20 inches, designed for smooth asphalt roads. The average motor power is 250-350 watts. This is enough for trips on streets, sidewalks, parks. Urban models rarely reach speeds over 30 km/h, but high indicators are not needed for street traffic. Urban electric bikes are often bought by students, teenagers, couriers, office workers, to get to school or work without traffic jams.
Sports electric bikes
Sports. They include road, cross, track bikes. They are characterized by high power, speed (up to 90 km/h), and a large travel range. On electric power, such a bike can travel 50-60 km. Sports models are well-managed, include 8-10 speed switching modes, a quality suspension system. The design is stylish and concise. The frame is lightweight with stiff suspension. Equipped with special road tires, an LED display on the handlebar with trip information sensors. Despite the compactness, sports bikes have large wheels (25-26 inches) and a carrying capacity of 110-120 kg. They can be operated in harsh weather conditions. Models are purchased by racers, fans of extreme leisure, tourists.
Mountain electric bikes
Mountain. Designed for cycling in hilly terrain or bike races with steep ascents and descents. The construction is arranged to provide high passability for the vehicle and comfortable rides in rough terrain and bumps for the rider. They have wheels 26-27 inches, good suspension, tires with deep tread. The frame is strong, heavy, usually made of aluminum or carbon. Electric mountain bikes are divided into 2 types: Hardtail (only front suspension fork) and Fully (full suspension). The maximum speed on a mountain bike reaches 40-50 km/h. Can be operated in winter at temperatures down to -20 degrees. electric fat bikes
All-terrain vehicle with thick tires, the width of which is 3.4-4 cm. In this category, all-wheel-drive models are often found. Fat bike is suitable for tourism in difficult terrain, active pastime, daily trips in rural areas. Thanks to the tires with an aggressive tread, the rider can easily overcome loose sand, snow drifts, mud. The motor's power is 500 to 1000 watts. On one battery charge, it is realistic to travel 100 km in hybrid mode together with pedals. Pedaling requires physical effort: the construction is bulky, the frame is heavy - at least 20 kg. Equipped with disc mechanical brakes, which allow braking as quickly and smoothly as possible even on a wet uneven track.
Cargo electric bikes
Cargo. Three-wheeled models used for transporting goods of different weights. These can be everyday shopping at the store, garden harvest, or other small items. Such bikes are designed for greater carrying capacity, so they are equipped with a reinforced frame, powerful motor (750-1000 watts), one or two baskets. They often have almost no suspension and only one adjustable speed.
To avoid making a mistake in choosing, it is better to think in advance about the conditions and how intensively the bike will be used.
By Gender and Age
When selecting an electric bicycle, it's important to consider the gender and age of the future rider. Depending on these factors, the types of electric bicycles include:
Characterized by a strict design, narrow seat, and high frame. Many men prefer fast riding, hence these rugged bikes often come with a powerful 700-1000 Watt motor.
Distinguished by a refined design and medium-sized wheels of 14-18 inches. The battery power does not exceed 250 Watts, allowing for slower battery consumption. These bicycles feature a lightweight, lowered frame for easy handling by women in skirts or dresses. The seat is wider than that of men's bicycles. Among women's models, there are many foldable devices: they can be lifted and moved to the desired location.
Designed for preschool and primary school-aged children. Different from adult hybrids, they have a low frame made of lightweight aluminum alloy and a bright, colorful design. The maximum weight of the bike is 25 kg. Children's models never have a powerful engine, so their acceleration speed is modest, up to 25 km/h. They can be stored at home in a folded state, thanks to the folding mechanism. Medium-sized wheels of 14-16 inches provide excellent maneuverability and dynamic acceleration. If the saddle and handlebar are height-adjustable, the bike "grows" with the child.
For the elderly.
It's important for seniors that the transport is stable, safe, and easy to handle. Therefore, such models are equipped with good suspension and three wheels to prevent tipping. Speed capability is secondary here, so the power of the unit is no more than 250 Watts. For carrying groceries and other household needs, tricycles have a basket with a spacious luggage rack. For a child, for safety reasons, it is correct to choose only specialized children's transport, and also not to forget about the equipment. There are no strict requirements for adult riders. Most bikes are universal, perfectly suitable for both men and women.
Other Types of Electric Bicycles
Here are a few more types with unconventional design and functionality: Retro electric bicycles
Recognizable by its compact size and lightweight folding construction of 17-20 kg. It has a moderate power motor of 250-350 Watts and accelerates up to 25 km/h. Suitable for city travel. An excellent gift for girls, teenagers, the elderly.
Different from the city bicycle, the chopper has an elongated frame, wide seat, thick tires, and an upright seating position. Universal: suitable for travel in the metropolis, rural areas, forest park zones.
In developing the design, manufacturers relied on the appearance of motorcycles from the 50s. The frame is made of stainless steel and aluminum with inserts of natural leather. Large headlights, a wide seat, and calm colors enhance the vintage effect.
They have 2 seats to allow trips with a partner. For safe transportation of two passengers, models are equipped with a strong frame and high load capacity. Three wheels help maintain balance even on uneven paths. Knowing the main characteristics of each type of electric bicycle, you can find a model suitable for a specific person. Then the rider will feel confident in the bicycle saddle, receiving a charge of positive energy from the rides."