13 Questions to Ask Before You Buy an Electric Bike

ebike rider

Electric bikes, or e-bikes, are amazing and arguably underestimated transportation tools. If you are thinking about purchasing an electric bike, you may have some of the following questions. 

1. What are the various “classes” of electric bikes?

First and foremost, it is important to know that there are generally three recognized “classes” of electric bikes. Class 1 has a motor that runs while pedaling and stops running once a bike hits 20 miles per hour. Class 2 e-bikes feature a throttle that can reach 20 miles per hour without pedal assistance. Class 3 e-bikes are exactly like Class 1 e-bikes but the motor offers assistance up to 28 miles per hour instead of 20 miles per hour. 

Note that different states have classes that may be undefined or different, but the three-class system is the most frequently referenced. 

2. How far does an electric bike go? 

Unfortunately, it is quite impossible to answer this question. Most electric bikes can go anywhere between 20 and 100 miles on a charge. However, there are many different factors that affect the battery life. This includes terrain, weather conditions, rider weight, tire type, and many other specifications. If your e-bike has a hand throttle, that will usually drain the battery faster, too. You an estimate the distance you can go by using our ebike distance calculator.

3. How fast does an electric bike go?

Again, it depends. If you are an avid, in-shape bike rider, your electric bike can go as fast as you can pedal on your own. However, as outlined above, the electric assist will stop at 20 miles per hour on class 1 and class 2 e-bikes and at 28 miles per hour on class 3 bikes. 

4. Do I need a license or permit to ride an electric bike?

In general, nope! It is always best to check your local laws, but most areas do not require any form of licensing. Some areas also have age restrictions, but many do not so they allow minors to ride e-bikes. 

5. How and where can I charge my electric bike?

Of course, the main difference between an electric bike and a traditional bike is the battery, which needs to be charged often. Electric bikes come with battery chargers that are easy to use wherever you can find an outlet. Most people prefer to keep their charger with them while riding their electric bike, and if the battery does die, they will oftentimes find a charging spot at a coffee shop, bike shop, restaurant, or anywhere else they are allowed to use an outlet. 

Unfortunately, developers have not been able to truly implement the concept of regenerative braking (charging while braking or coasting downhill) into electric bikes. Motors that do feature regeneration of this sort are much more costly and, as of today, don’t really provide that much more battery life. 

6. Is there a way to use solar power to charge my electric bike?

Yes! (Depending on your model.) There are various solar panel-charged batteries for e-bikes on the market. Just make sure what you buy will be compatible with your specific bike. 

7. How long does it take for my battery to charge? 

Batteries normally take between 3 and 6 hours for a full charge. 

8. How many charges does my battery have? 

Most batteries sold for e-bikes are lithium ion, which should last for at least 500 charges. After 500 charges or so, the maximum amount of capacity is more towards 80%, and it decreases even more over time. However, you may be able to get up to around 25,000 miles on your e-bike without having to purchase a new battery. 

9. How can I preserve my bike’s battery?

While it’s inevitable that your electric bike battery will run out of juice at some point, making sure to plan your outings wisely is a great idea in making your battery last longer. If you’re going out to run errands or just have a few stops to make, ensure you plan out the proper route that will require the least amount of travel and therefore the least amount of battery power.

10. How much can I expect to spend on an electric bike?

Again, we unfortunately cannot give a great answer for this. Pricing varies greatly depending on the brand and features the bike comes with. It also depends on how large the motor is and what configuration you purchase. The typical price range for an e-bike is between $600 and $5,000, which may seem like a lot but can actually save riders a lot of money over time because they won’t be purchasing gas, sitting in traffic for hours, and paying to park places. 

11. Can I upgrade my electric bike?

Absolutely! As with a traditional bike, there are many accessories that can be purchased to make your e-bike even better. The two most popular are bike trailers and lights/reflectors. Bike trailers, of course, let riders transport items on them, and some trailers on the market today can even hold around 200 pounds. Lights and reflectors promote safety, especially when riding at night. The price of these accessories will vary, but ultimately, they can make your e-bike experience even better. 

12. What is service and maintenance like for an electric bike?

Seeing as electric bikes can be pricey, you’ll definitely want to take care of yours. Any bike shop can (and should) inspect and service the mechanical aspects of an electric bike such as the chains and tires. Electric aspects are trickier to maintain, and if you need service for an electrical issue, you may have to go to a more specialized bike dealer. 

13. Which electric bike should I buy? 

The electric bike you buy will depend on your needs. If you’re a newbie looking to cruise around the city or take a leisurely ride through the local park, you may not need a very expensive and accessorized bike. However, if you’re going to be using the e-bike on rugged terrain or out in the hunting field, you may need to look into more durable and equipped electric bikes. Ultimately, make sure you know what you are looking to get out of your bike before making a purchase. 


Jason has owned an ebike for 3 years and loves them for many reasons - mostly because they offer low cost, energy efficient, and emission-free transportation which also has physical and health benefits.

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