Beginner's Guide to Electric Bikes?

Electric bikes are all the rage, and rightly so! But how do you get started with e-bikes as a beginner, and what do you need to know?

Whether you're getting back on a bike after a long time out, are entirely new to cycling or are just dipping a toe into the world of electric bikes for the first time, there can be a lot to think about. All this talk of batteries, watt hours and pedal assist can be a bit overwhelming to a newbie, and it can be tough to know where to start.

Luckily, here at Raleigh we know a thing or two about electric bikes, and are here to help with a complete beginner's guide to help you feel electric.

What are electric bikes?

A good place to start is answering the common question "what is an e-bike, exactly?". As the name suggests, an electric bike is simply a bike with electrical parts. Generally speaking, most e-bikes (also called pedelecs) are just like normal bikes but with the addition of a motor and battery to help with pedalling.

The electrical components of an e-bike are activated when you start to pedal, kicking off sensors to monitor your pedalling and provide electrical assistance.

Benefits of using electric bikes

There are lots of benefits of e-bikes, including:

Health benefit

It's still riding a bike, after all, and riding an e-bike is a great workout! Studies have shown that electric bike cyclists can achieve over 90% of the heart rate of cyclists on a regular bike.

Reduces strain

For cyclists with mobility issues, having a bit of assistance from the motor can mean less strain and wear on your joints while cycling.

Eco-friendly cycling

Compared to taking the car (or even a bus or train), an e-bike is super environmentally friendly. Super-powered cycling, without the emissions!

Fast cycling

Having a little additional help from the pedal assist function (up to 15.5 mph) can help you get from A to B faster, and is particularly useful when you need to push away from the traffic lights en route to work!

Encourages you to cycle more

Whether it's strain on your knees or simply falling out of love with your old bike, if you've found yourself cycling less, an e-bike might just help tempt you back out onto the trails. It's an altogether improved experience - more power, less effort, and a smooth ride every time.

Types of electric bikes

There are lots of different types of e-bikes available to suit every type of cyclist. Some people use their e-bikes for commuting, while others are keen to hit the trails and get out and about at the weekends. So, what's the best electric bike for you? 

Electric hybrid bikes

The perfect combination of traditional bike and electric power, a hybrid e-bike like the Motus offers power, convenience and comfort in one.

Electric folding bikes

If your journey involves hopping onto public transport (or you're short on storage space), a folding e-bike like the Stow-E-Way is a convenient option that doesn't skimp on power.

Electric cargo bikes

Whether it's for the weekly shop, delivering parcels or even ferrying the kids to school, e-cargo bikes are ideal, combining the motor's power with plenty of storage space.

Step-through electric bikes

Ideal for those with mobility issues or those who have to hop on and off frequently, the frame design of step-through electric bikes makes riding even easier.

Electric bikes for commuters

If you're keen to hop on an e-bike to make your commute that little bit more enjoyable, there are plenty of models that would be perfect - we suggest something lightweight like the Trace.

Long range electric bikes

If you're planning lots of long weekend rides or have a significant distance to travel to the office each day, go for a long distance e-bike with plenty of range like the Centros or the Motus Grand TourMotus Grand Tour.

Check out our guide explaining Raleigh e-bikes to help you make your decision.

Top tips for e-bike beginners

While it can be a bit daunting getting started on an e-bike for the first time, it really is as easy as… well, riding a bike. 

Our team of cycling experts put together a few top tips for beginners to get you electric bike-ready this year:

“Choose the right bike! Just because it’s electric doesn’t mean it’s a one-size-fits-all situation, so make sure you browse the many different types of bikes to find the right fit.”

“Take a few short practice rides before heading out properly for the first time. E-bikes are generally a little heavier than normal bikes, so work on your balance, acceleration and stopping.”

“Make sure to keep up with maintenance and proper charging. There’s nothing worse than trying to head out and finding that your pedal assist battery is dead, so get into a good routine of putting it to charge after a ride.”

“Get to know your motor, battery and pedal assist settings. Once you’ve got the hang of when they kick in, how much assistance you need and how it should feel, there really is nothing like a well-balanced e-bike!”

Getting started with e-bikes

If you're a beginner to electric bikes, you might be a little lost on where to start. However, all you really need to remember is that an e-bike is just a normal bike with a bit of extra functionality to help you get where you need to go even more easily.

So, how do you get started?

Choosing the right e-bike for you

As we've outlined above, there are lots of different options for e-bikes - even down to the types of motors used and the sensor for monitoring performance. Use our E-bike Buying Guide for more advice on how to choose the best bike for you, including how to know what size battery you need and the best motor for how you ride.

The best electric bikes for beginners

Ultimately, choosing the right bike will come down to personal preference and comfort, but there are a few things we recommend every beginner e-bike has.

Firstly, make sure the bike is comfortable (obviously), and check manoeuvrability and the weight. You'll want a bike that's sturdy and robust enough to get you where you need to go, but not too heavy to move around.

Check the average battery life and range of your e-bike. Think about how often you regularly cycle and try to estimate the rough distance you'd need between charges to understand the best option for you.

Generally speaking, these are some of the best attributes for a beginner e-bike to help boost your confidence:

  • A frame size that allows you to lower your feet to the ground when you stop 

  • A smooth, reliable motor that offers easy control

  • A clear and easy-to-read display screen to monitor your progress

Understanding e-bike components

In addition to all the usual bike parts, you'll need to consider the e-bike battery and the electric motor. Other than that, you'll want to be on the lookout for things like frame geometry, wheel size and all the usual features.

Beginner's guide to e-bike batteries

Your e-bike battery is what adds additional power to your ride. E-bikes use lithium-ion batteries that kick in, along with the motor, when you start to pedal. The electrical assistance only helps up to 250 watts and a maximum speed of 15.5 mph).

E-bikes use li-Ion batteries because they're lightweight and won't weigh the bike down too much. They also hold a charge really well and can offer a long battery life - in fact, bikes like the Centros can offer a range of up to 130 miles, so you get plenty of energy.

Beginner's guide to e-bike motors

The motor is another crucial part of a bike's e-system, delivering power to help provide that all-important pedal assist. The size of the motor will be determined by the overall bike itself - for example a smaller foldable e-bike will need a smaller motor (usually around 250w) versus a hybrid performance bike (usually 400-625w).

Maintenance Tips for E-Bikes

One of the most important parts of being an e-bike owner is knowing how to take care of it properly, from the handlebars right down to the tyres.

Electric bike maintenance overall is pretty straightforward - make sure to charge the battery properly (and not too much), clear any dust or dirt out of the brakes/gears, and be sure to wipe down the display screen every now and then.

E-bike motors are completely sealed so you won't need to worry about keeping them clean, just take it to your nearest Raleigh e-bike specialist for a check-up and service (we usually recommend twice a year or so).

Ready to take the plunge and hop on your first e-bike? Browse our full range of Raleigh e-bikes to find your perfect match.

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