Last updated: 16/10/2022

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You want to be environmentally friendly and ride in the fresh air? Do you want to get from A to B quickly without breaking a sweat? Then an e-bike is made for you! On straight stretches you can pedal easily and when a hill appears, you can simply switch to your electric motor.

Of course, you don’t just buy an e-bike, because most models are much more expensive than normal bikes. To help you quickly and easily find your way around the e-bike market, we have compiled an e-bike test for you at 2022, which will answer all your important questions on the subject.

Also find out how an e-bike works and how fast you can ride it. In our e-bike test 2022 you can also find out when helmets are compulsory for e-bikes.

Contents




Summary

  • Unlike a conventional bicycle, an e-bike does not require its own pedal power for propulsion. A pedelec, on the other hand, only supports the rider when the pedals themselves are powered.
  • Depending on the design and possible uses, a distinction is made between different types, such as the S-pedelec, the e-mountain bike, the trekking e-bike and the city e-bike.
  • The weight, wheel size, frame height, motor power, range, gears, lighting and starting aid should be taken into account when buying an e-bike.

The Best E-bike: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying an e-bike

What is the difference between an e-bike and a pedelec?

Most of the time, when people talk about an electric bike, they actually mean a pedelec. This type of e-bike is by far the most common. There is a big difference in the way it works compared to conventional e-bikes: on a pedelec, the rider is only assisted by the electric motor when he or she pedals.

The rider’s pedalling power is measured with the help of sensors and the acceleration is adjusted accordingly.

Classic e-bikes, on the other hand, do not require the rider to pedal. Here, the motor does all the work. These e-bikes are considered light mopeds under traffic law and are therefore subject to registration and require at least a class AM driving licence or a moped test certificate.

E-bike Pedelec
Requires no pedal power Pedal power required
Requires driving licence class AM or moped test certificate No driving licence required
Requires insurance licence plate No insurance licence plate required
Requires helmet No helmet required
20 to 45 km/h Up to 25 km/h
Motor capacity up to 500 watts Motor capacity up to 250 watts

What are the advantages of e-bikes over conventional bicycles?

Riding an electric bike is much more relaxing than cycling on a normal bike.

Either you don’t need to pedal yourself or, as is more often the case, the rider is assisted by the electric motor. This means that you don’t have to exert yourself as much, but you still don’t have to completely miss out on exercise in the fresh air. In this way you also do something for your health. For people who can no longer ride a normal bicycle, this solution is ideal.

How do e-bikes work?

E-bikes are bicycles with an electric motor.

On the one hand, there are the classic e-bikes, which do not depend on any pedal power. Here, the motor is controlled by a switch on the handlebar. You can think of these e-bikes as a kind of moped.

Pedelecs, on the other hand, have an auxiliary motor that only supports you when you pedal yourself. Sensors measure your pedalling power and adjust the motor’s acceleration accordingly. If you don’t have an S-Class pedelec, the motor has a maximum output of 250 watts and you can reach a maximum speed of 25 km/h.

What do e-bikes cost?

The price range for electric bikes is extremely wide. From 400 euros to 4000 euros, everything is possible. If you want a high-quality pedelec, you should expect to pay at least 1,700 euros.

You can get cheaper electric bikes at discounters like Aldi or Lidl. However, you should bear in mind that the low price is due to the fact that the discounters have saved on materials. We would generally advise you not to buy the really cheap versions.

E-Bike

E-bikes are available in several price ranges. But you should expect to pay at least 400 euros. (Photo: Free-Photos / Pixabay.com)

Can I rent an e-bike?

It is possible to rent an electric bike. Whether you are on holiday or in your hometown, e-bike rentals are now available almost everywhere. Often, rental companies for normal bicycles also offer electric bikes in their range.

E-Bike

You can also rent e-bikes. Many hotels now provide e-bikes. (Photo: sipa / Pixabay.com)

Legal questions about e-bikes

The legal status of your bike with a motor depends largely on its performance.

Pedelecs with a 250 watt motor that supports the rider up to a speed of 25 km/h are classified as bicycles under traffic law. This means that neither a driving licence nor an insurance licence plate is required.

There is no helmet requirement and no age limit. So you can buy a pedelec and just ride it as if it were a normal bicycle.

A classic e-bike with a maximum speed of 20 km/h or an S-pedelec is a different matter. In traffic law, these electric bicycles are considered light mopeds. This means that you need a driving licence of at least class AM or a moped test certificate. You also need an insurance licence plate.

Just like a moped, an S-pedelec is required to wear a helmet while riding.

E-bikes that reach a maximum speed of 20 km/h are not required to wear a helmet. However, there are also faster e-bikes. Those that reach 25 km/h, or can go even faster, are classified as mopeds. Here, helmets are compulsory.

Can bicycles be converted into e-bikes?

It is possible to convert your bicycle into an electric bike with the help of a conversion kit.

All you need is manual dexterity, a hub motor or a mid-mounted motor, a battery, a controller and control elements. Be aware, however, that additional parts will make the frame of your e-bike carry extra weight that it was not designed to carry. In the worst case, the frame can break under these circumstances.

How environmentally friendly are e-bikes?

Electric bikes do not emit exhaust fumes, unlike all other motorised means of transport. This is the biggest and most obvious advantage.

So if climate protection is important to you and you want to do something about the smog in the city, then an electric bike is highly recommended. With no other vehicle can you cover such long distances and use so little energy, except with a normal bicycle. However, you must bear in mind that e-bikes, unlike bicycles, have a battery consumption.

This means that there is a certain amount of power consumption. The battery in an e-bike can be compared to that of a laptop. Neither has a particularly long life span. As a result, the batteries in pedelecs have to be replaced often. So there is still a lot of catching up to do in terms of environmental friendliness.

E-Bike

You can hardly get any further environmentally friendly than with an e-bike

How safe is it to ride an e-bike?

Although the accident statistics for pedelecs tend to show an increased number of accidents, this is mainly due to the fact that more e-bikes are on the road. You cannot say that it is more dangerous to ride an electric bike than a conventional bike.

You should ride a new pedelec in a safe area first. This will help you get a feel for the motor so that you are not suddenly unsafe in traffic.

Decision: What types of e-bikes are there and which one is right for you?

What exactly is a pedelec and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

The pedelec is the most common type of e-bike in Germany. The attached auxiliary motor achieves a maximum power of 250 watts, with which you can reach a maximum speed of 25 km/h.

So if you want to go faster, you have to pedal harder, because above this limit the electric motor switches off. In traffic law, a pedelec is considered a bicycle. You don’t need a driving licence and can ride on cycle paths.

In general, there are the following types of pedelec:

  • S-pedelec
  • E-mountain bike
  • Trekking e-bike
  • City e-bike
  • E-bike Folding bike
  • Load E-bike
  • Tricycle for adults
  • Electric scooter

What exactly is an S-pedelec and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

S-pedelec stands for speed-pedelec or fast-pedelec, sometimes also called Swiss class or S-class. Here the name says it all.

Instead of the 25 km/h that a normal pedelec puts on the road, an S-pedelec can reach speeds of up to 45 km/h thanks to its motor capacity of 500 watts. For this reason, they are not considered bicycles under traffic law, but mopeds, just like e-bikes in the narrower sense.

Advantages
  • Up to 45 km/h fast
  • Motor capacity of 500 watts
Disadvantages
  • Requires insurance licence plate
  • Requires driving licence class AM or moped test certificate
  • Helmet compulsory

This means you need an insurance licence plate and a driving licence of at least class AM or a moped test certificate. A normal car driving licence also covers this class. If you ride an S-pedelec, you must wear a helmet. In addition, child seats or trailers are prohibited on the electric bike. Insurance for this pedelec costs €70 per year. Theft protection is included here.

Visually, there is no difference to normal pedelecs, but because of the speeds reached, it has a stronger frame and better brakes.

What exactly is an e-mountain bike and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

With an e-mountain bike (short: e-mtb) you conquer mountains and countryside. If you want to climb steep slopes with your bike, but would like to have support from an auxiliary motor, this type of e-bike is the right one for you.

Advantages
  • Sporty posture
  • Strong suspension
  • Wide tyres
Disadvantages
  • Uncomfortable posture
  • Uncomfortable saddle

Wide tyres ensure a secure grip and strong suspension guarantees vibration-free riding. The position of the saddle also automatically gives you a sporty posture that allows you to transfer a lot of power to your legs. This makes climbing hills child’s play even for rather unathletic bikers. Don’t let the fact that you run out of breath just before the summit take away your adrenaline and your adventure.

Keep in mind, however, that if you are not athletic or if you prefer your pedelec to be comfortable, then an E-Mtb is probably not the right choice for you.

What exactly is a trekking e-bike and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

If you like to go on tours with your electric bike, a trekking e-bike might be right for you.

Trekking e-bikes are characterised by particularly stable frames. They are also designed so that you sit more upright on the saddle, which gives you more power in your legs, but you don’t have to give up comfort completely. Perfect for long journeys! When buying one of these models, you should also make sure you have a good lighting system and a particularly accurate battery indicator.

Advantages
  • Comfortable, sporty posture
  • Stable frame
  • Luggage rack
Disadvantages
  • High weight
  • Visually less appealing than an e-mountain bike

If the bike tour should last longer, nothing is more fatal than suddenly running out of battery in the middle of the wilderness. You should also bear in mind that trekking e-bikes are heavier than other types of e-bikes because of their thick frames.

What exactly is a city e-bike and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

City e-bikes are also called comfort e-bikes. And that is exactly what they are designed for: Comfort.

When you ride to work, school or shopping, you naturally want to sit comfortably. That’s why a well-padded saddle is a must for a city e-bike. In addition, these bikes with electric motors are perfectly equipped for the demands of the city: A good lighting system, kickstand and luggage rack are important here. This way they ensure a safe and relaxed way through the city.

Advantages
  • Very comfortable
  • Luggage rack
  • Good lighting system
Disadvantages
  • Unsporty posture
  • Not very appealing design

Unlike trekking e-bikes and e-mountain bikes, a city e-bike gives you a rather unsporting posture. Another negative point for some is certainly the design, which looks less appealing than other types of pedelec.

What exactly is a folding e-bike and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

A folding bike or folding e-bike is particularly suitable for the city and is therefore an alternative to the city e-bike. The highlight: you can fold it compactly.

The folding e-bike has a special feature. Imagine you want to travel to work partly by car or bus, but the rest by electric bike. A folding e-bike can be folded and unfolded with little effort. This means you can easily carry it under your arm or in the boot of your car and set it up as soon as you need it, making it very mobile.

Advantages
  • Very mobile
  • Extremely manoeuvrable
Disadvantages
  • Very small
  • No good posture

In addition, it is extremely manoeuvrable and you can safely manoeuvre through bottlenecks in the city centre. In general, a folding bike is quite small and you don’t have a very good posture on it. This can have negative consequences for your back in the long run.

What exactly is a cargo e-bike and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

A load e-bike is designed for a total load of up to 200 kilograms. This means that weekly shopping can be done without a car.

These electric bikes are available with two or three wheels. Extra-large luggage racks, which can be mounted either at the front or at the rear, make it possible to transport bulky goods. Thanks to the sturdy frame, heavy weights are no longer a problem. There are usually many accessories for cargo e-bikes, such as all-weather transport boxes.

Advantages
  • Very high load capacity
  • Lots of accessories
Disadvantages
  • Very large and bulky
  • High weight

Children can also be taken along on this electric bike. However, these electric bikes are relatively large and bulky, which can be a hindrance in traffic. They are also very difficult to transport due to their heavy weight.

Who is a tricycle for adults suitable for?

If you can no longer use a normal bicycle, a tricycle with an auxiliary motor is the ideal solution to keep you mobile.

For seniors, people with balance problems or other physical limitations, this electric bike is perfect.

Who are electric scooters suitable for?

Electric scooters are especially suitable for seniors and people with disabilities who want to stay mobile in a safe way.

Depending on the model, electric scooters reach speeds between 6 and 15 km/h.

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate e-bikes based on these factors

There are many different factors you can use to compare and evaluate pedelecs. We would like to introduce you to the different factors. In this way, you can better identify the electric bike that suits you individually and meets your personal requirements.

We will introduce you to the following factors:

  • Weight
  • Wheel size / frame height
  • Model year
  • Motor power / speed
  • Range
  • Motor position
  • Gear shift
  • Lighting
  • Starting aid
  • Compulsory insurance and driving licence

Find out below what is behind these purchase criteria and how knowledge of them will help you in your decision for an e-bike.

Weight

Many experts are of the opinion that the weight of an e-bike or even a bicycle makes much more of a difference than one would assume at first glance. The motto here is: the lighter, the less force you have to exert to get the bike moving.

E-Bike Prophete

There are various purchase criteria that make it easier to decide on an e-bike.

Racing cyclists in particular try to save every potential gram and use the lightest possible materials, such as aluminium or carbon. With an e-bike, the situation is somewhat different. Thanks to the motor assistance, weight plays a much smaller role when riding.

At most, one could argue that the power consumption increases with a higher weight, because the motor has to produce more power. But that doesn’t make too much difference.

If you want to transport your e-bike, the weight naturally plays a much bigger role. Especially with folding bikes that are designed for mobility, weight is an important factor. It should also be noted that electric bikes generally weigh more than classic bikes due to the motors and the associated need for a more stable frame.

Did you know that an e-bike is almost twice as heavy as a normal bike?

An e-bike weighs up to 22 kg. Since many manufacturers weigh their bikes without pedals or with the smallest battery, the manufacturer’s weight specification is usually too low. You should therefore read test reports or weigh the bike yourself.

Bike size and frame height

This criterion depends entirely on you. More precisely, on your body size.

What wheel size and frame height your bike should have depends largely on which sizes are suitable for you so that you can ride the electric bike comfortably.

You can adjust some things on the e-bikes, such as the height of the saddle. However, the wheel size and frame height are specifications that must be taken into account. The best thing to do is to go to a dealer near you and ask for advice on which size is right for you.

This way you can also do a test ride. If you know which sizes are ideal for you, you can also search online more specifically and know exactly what to look for.

Model year

The development of e-bikes is always progressing. So if you want to be up to date with the latest developments, you need a model that is as new as possible.

This concerns specifications in performance, consumption and other features of pedelecs. If it is not so important to you that your electric bike has the latest components, you can of course also buy a model that is a few years older.

However, for safety and warranty reasons, we recommend that you do not buy models that are too old. For example, some dealers offer a certain warranty period only for pedelecs from newer years.

Motor power and speed

Most e-bikes have a motor power of 250 watts and can reach speeds of up to 25 km/h. If you have a classic e-bike or a pedelec, you can ride it at up to 25 km/h. If you buy a classic e-bike or an S-pedelec, you can expect a power output of 500 watts and speeds of up to 45 km/h.

However, you should be aware that electric bikes with a motor power of more than 250 watts are no longer classified as bicycles under traffic law. In this case, you will therefore need at least a moped driving licence and an insurance licence plate.

The higher the power, the stricter the requirements.

Range

The ranges, i.e. the battery capacities of e-bikes can vary greatly. It is therefore worthwhile to take a closer look and think carefully about what is best suited to your needs. Most pedelecs have a range of between 30 and 80 kilometres, although there are also models that go much further. As you can see, there are sometimes big differences.

Therefore, it depends on how you will use the e-bike in the future. If you plan to ride mainly in the city to go to work or go shopping, then a short range is absolutely sufficient.

However, if you want to go on holiday by bike or if you like to ride long distances, then you should place value on a high range. Trekking e-bikes and e-mountain bikes, for example, should always have a large battery capacity. Nothing is more fatal than if the battery gives up the ghost in the middle of the wilderness.

If in doubt, we recommend that you carry a spare battery with you on long journeys where you do not have the opportunity to charge the battery.

Note, however, that the batteries for electric bikes are the most expensive component.

For this reason, the spare battery should be stored safely and preferably at room temperature so that it will last for a long time.

Motor position

Broadly speaking, there are three different motor concepts for pedelecs: The front motor, the mid-mounted motor and the rear motor.

The front motor is located at the front of the front wheel hub. If an e-bike has this type of motor, it should definitely have sturdy forks and frame.

The mid-motor is in the middle of the frame of the electric bike. This motor drives the rear wheel via the chain. Due to the position in the middle, the weight distribution and thus the dynamics of the electric bike are hardly affected.

The rear motor is located at the back of the rear wheel hub. This position has the greatest influence on the riding behaviour due to the rear weight and may even have to be compensated for by the rider.

Gear system

Basically, there are hub gears and derailleur gears.

Hub gears are generally less prone to faults, which means you can reduce your maintenance costs. However, they usually have fewer gears available to you and are also more difficult to handle. If your e-bike also has a mid-motor, you should expect a slightly delayed shifting process.

With derailleur gears, you usually have considerably more gears at your disposal. In addition, these gears are much more flexible, so the process is smoother. However, they are more susceptible to malfunctions and defects and therefore require more frequent maintenance. In addition, with derailleur gears you do not have a coaster brake.

Lighting

In general, you should always make sure that you have good and reliable lighting on your pedelec. This is for your safety and is also required by law.

Whether you are riding in a city, where your main concern is to be seen by others, or in nature, where your main concern is to see the way, lighting is essential.

Functioning lighting on bicycles – as well as on electric bicycles – is required by law.

The battery of an e-bike can also be used to power a headlight. However, the problem here is that no conventional bicycle headlight can be used. Special headlights are needed that are designed for use with an electric motor.

Starting aid

A starting aid makes it easier to start off with a pedelec. In this way, a speed of up to 6 km/h can be reached without pedalling.

In addition, since 21.06.2013, pedelecs with a starting aid have been regarded as bicycles by a legal decision and therefore do not have to be insured separately and do not require a moped test certificate.

Insurance and driving licence requirements

Whether you need insurance for your e-bike and a driving licence depends mainly on the performance.

Classic e-bikes and S-pedelecs can reach speeds of up to 45 km/h and have a motor capacity of 500 watts. They are legally classified as mopeds and therefore require an insurance licence plate as well as a class AM driving licence or a moped test certificate. In addition, helmets are compulsory for these electric bikes.

However, if your pedelec only reaches a speed of 25 km/h and has a motor capacity of 250 watts, these obligations do not apply. In this case, you do not need a driving licence, an insurance plate or a helmet. In addition, there is no age limit for these electric bicycles. They are considered normal bicycles under traffic law.

Facts worth knowing about e-bikes

Who invented the e-bike?

Basically, attempts have been made to build an electric add-on drive since the invention of the bicycle.

The first patents were registered as early as 1895. In the 1970s, Japanese manufacturers such as Yamaha and Panasonic began the first attempts to make electrically powered bikes ready for series production. Yamaha then presented the first e-bikes for sale in 1993.

In the same year, the Swiss Philippe Kohlbrenner invented his so-called “red buffalo”, which later became the “Flyer”. This electric bike was the commercial breakthrough in the pedelec market.

Can you tune up e-bikes?

In principle, you can tune your electric bike. However, you must remember that you are only allowed to use a tuned pedelec on private property, not in road traffic. In addition, the warranty for your electric bike expires as soon as you pimp it.

In addition, the frame is usually not designed for the weight added by new parts. You risk breaking the frame.

Are there e-bike tours?

If you keep your eyes and ears open, you will find great offers for e-bike tours from time to time.

For these tours, you can either rent a pedelec or bring your own. Experiencing different landscapes in a group is often even more fun than doing it alone. In addition, the trained tour guides know the perfect routes.

Image source: Pixabay.com / sipa

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