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What points should I pay attention to before buying an electric-assist bicycle?

November 24, 2023

Before purchasing an electric-assist bicycle, there are several key points to consider for a more enjoyable riding experience. The effortless assistance provided by electric power has made electric-assist bikes a popular choice for commuting, leisurely rides, and eco-friendly transportation. However, making an informed decision requires understanding specific aspects. Here's a breakdown:


**Motor Type**



Common electric-assist systems are categorized based on motor placement: mid-drive motors and hub motors.


- Mid-Drive Motors: These are often used in electric-assist mountain bikes, featuring a lower center of gravity for balanced weight distribution. They offer enhanced handling without compromising balance at higher speeds. Additionally, mid-drive motors directly assist the bike's central axis, often employing a clutch gear system to disengage the motor from the drivetrain when not pedaling or when the battery is depleted, avoiding additional resistance.


- Hub Motors: Ideal for urban commuting where bike manipulation isn’t as complex, and road conditions are less demanding than in off-road terrains. Systems like the H700 are effective in these scenarios. Hub motors do not alter the original bike frame’s central axis configuration, fitting well with traditional frames. Power is directly applied to the wheel, reducing wear on the drivetrain. Some smaller hub motors offer a design close to that of regular bike wheels, a key factor for international brands in selecting hub motor systems for electric-assist road bikes.


Both hub and mid-drive motors have their advantages and suitability depending on the bike's purpose. It's essential not to categorize them solely based on notions like "lower-end bikes use hub motors" or "higher-end bikes use mid-drive motors." The choice of an appropriate motor system for a bike involves a comprehensive solution, requiring deep collaboration between bike manufacturers and motor system creators to achieve an outstanding product.


Eight Factors M410 Mid-Drive System: Be it eMTB, eTrekking, or household eCargo, the exceptional performance of the M410 system leaves a lasting impression.


**Torque Output**


For different riding environments, the torque output requirement varies. Electric-assist mountain bikes demand higher torque output from motors, typically utilizing torque sensors to accurately detect pedal force. This enables riders to ascend steep and challenging off-road terrains effortlessly, even at low pedal frequencies. The torque output for mountain bike motors usually ranges between 60Nm to 85Nm. The M600 drive system, for instance, boasts 500W rated power and a formidable 120Nm torque output, ensuring robust power in mountainous rides.


Conversely, road-specific electric-assist systems prioritize smooth performance in pedal cadence and gradual motor assistance. The Eight Factors M820 mid-drive system, designed for road use, weighs only 2.3 kg, delivers 250W rated power, and a maximum output torque of 75N.m. The H700 hub motor provides 32Nm torque, ensuring strong performance in daily commuting and leisure rides.


Choosing the right torque is crucial; excessive torque could diminish the effort put in by the rider and make it challenging to control on bumpy roads. Overly effortless riding at 300% motor assistance might lead to a dull experience.


**Display**


A high-definition color display showing battery percentage, distance, altitude, mode, and current speed fulfills the requirements for leisurely rides. However, in different riding scenarios, display preferences vary. Mountain biking, for instance, has shifted from large displays to integrated displays due to complex terrains.


Innovations in smart electronics witness a trend towards simple, embedded displays in the next generation of electric-assist commuter bikes. These displays, integrated into the handlebars, indicate battery levels and modes through light colors, simplifying the information while enhancing the riding experience.


**Battery Capacity**


The weightiest part of an electric-assist bicycle is undoubtedly the battery. From external attachments to sleek integrated placements, batteries have evolved. Integrated batteries within the downtube or completely concealed within the frame provide structural stability and a cleaner appearance while reducing overall bike weight.


Long-distance touring bikes require extended battery life, while full-suspension mountain bikes prioritize powerful output, demanding larger capacity batteries like 750Wh or 900Wh. However, these types of bikes tend to be heavier due to increased space requirements and higher frame strength.


For road, commuting, and urban bikes aiming for a balance between performance and lightweight design, battery capacities ranging from 400Wh to 500Wh are common, offering a range of around 70-90 kilometers.


Understanding these aspects can guide your choice for an electric-assist bike that aligns with your riding needs and preferences.


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