Micah Toll, from Electrek and EBikeSchool.com, who I think is an awesome reviewer, started the discussion about what changes he’d like to see in the electric bike industry. So, I thought I’d add my list as well. After riding many styles of ebikes from various companies, I’ve learned a lot about what I like and don’t like in an ebike. He’s my top 5 wish list.
1. Put Good Brakes on All Ebikes
It’s my firm belief that Class 2, and especially Class 3 ebikes should have hydraulic disc brakes. Ebikes are heavier and capable of high speeds, so going cheap on the brakes rubs me wrong. Mechanical disc brakes, which use cables, get stretched and require frequent adjusting. I don’t know about you, but I want to know my 60 pound ebike, capable of 28 mph speeds, is going to be able to stop reliably every single time. It’s hard to think too kindly of companies that are okay with putting inferior brakes on a bike. Safety should always come first.
2. More Ebikes Should Have Customizable Pedal Assist Levels
This is another biggie for me! There’s nothing worse than buying an awesome looking electric bike and discovering you hate how it pedals once you finally get to ride it. Some ebikes deliver way too much power or way too little power at various pedal assist levels. I’ve tried out many ebikes that just weren’t satisfying to pedal, and that really stinks.
As an example, one thing I don’t like about my Aventon Aventure is that its pedal assist level 1 offers too little assistance. So, when I’m pedaling in PAS 1, I’m struggling against the weight of the bike. Level 2 provides too much assistance, and I’m blowing past pedestrians and not getting the nice workout I desire.
Ride1Up’s 500 and 700 Series allows the rider to customize how much motor assistance is provided at each PAS level, and it makes all the difference. It’s one of the reasons why I’m a big fan of both bikes.
Many mid-drive ebikes allow for a very natural and satisfying cadence, but rear hub ebikes should also strive to offer a great pedaling experience. Much of this can be achieved by allowing the rider to decide how much power they want, or just having pedal assist levels that make more sense from the get-go.
3. Remember That It’s a Bike First!
Along those lines, I want electric bike makers to remember that an ebike needs to be a good bicycle first. That means good frame geometry, frames that don’t weigh more than a mid-sized sedan, offering different size frames, and using quality components, especially for shifting.
If I’m paying $2000+ for a bike, any bike, I want a good derailleur, good shifters, comfortable grips, a nice seat, and a frame that provides a safe and efficient ride.
A lot of companies like to wow their customers with big batteries and powerful motors, and then slap on a subpar transmission with a lousy gear ratio. It ruins the whole experience.
If you’re wanting to build an electric moped, that’s fine. I like electric mopeds. They’re fun. They don’t need a good derailleur or wide gear ratio. But if you’re building an electric bicycle, remember that it is still a bicycle, and should function well as such.
4. Use Good Quality Displays
Displays for ebikes should be easy to read and provide information that a rider needs to know, like more precise battery percentages, wattage, and an easy-to-use menu system for resetting trip meters, setting top speed, etc. One thing I do like about the Aventon Aventure is its display. It’s very easy to interact with, looks great, though it does lack wattage information.
And while we’re on the subject of displays, a clock would be nice to add, because I often lose track of the time when I’m out having such a good time riding! Built-in GPS with navigation would be great for fancier displays too.
5. Be Real About Range
Way too many ebike companies list unrealistic ranges for their batteries. Yes, it may be possible to achieve 50 miles with a certain battery, if you only use the lowest pedal assist level, ride on flat ground, with the wind at your back, and with a rider weighing 110 lbs, but give us real world ranges. Aventon is very good at this.
Just be very honest about the bike.
6. Provide More Options
Okay, it was going to be a Top 5 list, but I thought of another one I’d like to add. I’d like to see more options when people are buying their ebike. Offer upgrades for brakes, derailleurs, suspension, displays, tires, battery capacity, motors, etc. I know a lot of ebikes come out of the same factories, but if you want to be a legit, top tier ebike company, you need to offer more options that will fit your customer’s needs and budgets.
Alright, now I’m done! What do you think? What would you like to see?