Electric bikes can be an excellent commuter option. Photo / Getty
Q: I would like to buy an electric bike that is good value for money and will last for years. What should I invest in?
A: In February 2021, I ditched my car. Choosing to take the bus, walk, and bike instead, I quickly became claustrophobic. My mental health declined, I saw my friends less… I started to scour TradeMe for second-hand cars pretty quickly. Still wanting to hold on to my dream of keeping another car off the road, an electric bike crossed my mind. Knowing nothing about them other than “oh, this one is pretty”, I engaged my bike expert brother, Isaac, to ensure I wasn’t going to waste thousands of dollars on something that wouldn’t actually elevate my transportation woes.
Isaac’s first advice: unless second-hand, don’t bother buying an electric bike that is less than $3000. His reasoning was that it would be low quality and wouldn’t fulfil my daily requirements. As well as sending Isaac numerous beautiful bikes for him to investigate, I visited bike stores.
It was clear that most bike shops were genuinely interested in selling me a bike that would suit my requirements instead of making a quick sale. Unlike many other salespeople, I found bike shop assistants to be genuine and helpful. They asked me lots of questions about how I would be using the bike and what type of terrain I would be riding on. Some of them even pointed me elsewhere when they didn’t have a bike they thought would suit me.
For example, if you’re after an electric bike that you can take for a joyride at the weekend, it would be ridiculous for you to spend $7000 on one, as I did for my daily ride – unless you have that type of money lying around. Different bikes have varying battery ranges, maximum speeds, and battery positioning. Matching your intent for the bike with these features is important.
One of the best investments I made when buying my bike was a belt, in lieu of a chain. I paid around $700 extra and have enjoyed a year with zero maintenance, greasy hands, or showing up late because of bike problems. I paid more upfront, knowing I will have fewer maintenance costs and more longevity.
To conclude, don’t skimp on an electric bike. If you don’t have the budget for it, it’s best you stick with a high-quality road bike – honestly, it would probably get you places faster than a cheap electric bike. Shop around, talk to multiple bike stores, and if you’re super-lucky, find an Isaac to quality control your purchasing.
In case you’re wondering, my electric bike (an Achielle) totally fixed my transport problems and I still get sore cheeks from smiling too much while I ride it.