E-bike buying
guide

Combining the classic bicycle look and lightweight feel with the added power of a battery and plenty of modern design, electric bikes really do offer the best of both worlds.

Find the Perfect e-Bike To Take Your Cycling to the Next Level

Whether you’re new to cycling, just getting started with exercise or after a bit of assistance with those challenging hills, an e-bike might be just the ticket. But with so many options to choose from it can be hard to know where to start. Our electric bike buying guide is designed to help you understand how to choose the right bike for you, from bike type to battery size. Simply deciding on an e-bike versus a conventional bicycle is just the beginning. You’ll have a number of different choices - from the number of gears to the type of brake and whether the battery has internal or external integration. e-bikes come in women’s, men’s and unisex models, and the right style for you will depend on your body type, cycling style and the type of journeys you’ll be making. So, read on for our comprehensive e-bike buying guide and everything you need to know about choosing the right bike for you.

What Is an e-Bike?

An e-bike (electric bike) is sort of what it says on the tin - it’s essentially a conventional bike with an additional boost powered by electricity. A motor and electric battery are added to provide extra help on climbs and more acceleration when you need it. To comply with UK legal regulations, an e-bike motor has a 15.5mph (25kmh) limit. That means that if you’re cycling at 15.6mph or higher, you won’t get any electric boost. There’s also a limit on power assistance - your e-bike shouldn’t generate more than 250W on its highest mode. e-bikes also need to have two pedals as the main form of propulsion. For these reasons, electric bikes are sometimes also called ‘electric assist bikes’ and ‘pedelecs’. The battery in an e-bike provides assistance, rather than standalone power. Unlike a motorbike or electric scooter, an e-bike battery won’t be engaged until you’re actually pedalling. Like non-electric bikes, there are lots of categories to choose from. City dwellers might be interested in urban e-bikes or commuter e-bikes, while more adventurous types might be looking for an eMTB (electric mountain bike).

Which e-Bike To Buy?

As with choosing any type of bike, it’s important to consider how you’ll be using your e-bike before you decide which type is right for you. There are a number of different types, all boasting power boost and pedal assist.

Best Electric Commuter Bikes

Designed for zipping past traffic on the way to work, commuter e-bikes mean you can get to the office without breaking a sweat, so arrive ready for the day ahead. Because e-bike motors help propel you forward, you might even be able to shave a few minutes off your morning routine. For those new to the world of electric bikes, a lightweight option like the Raleigh Array makes for easy riding; cycle up to 60 miles on the 400wh battery, move through the seven gears, and control your speed with an OLED display handily attached to the aerodynamic flat handlebars.

Hybrid Electric Bikes

Truly combining the best of all worlds, electric hybrid bikes offer the boost of a motor, the control of a road bike and the handling of a mountain bike. For long commutes and handling heavy traffic, quality hybrid e-bikes are perfect. For example, the Raleigh Motus - armed with a Bosch e-bike battery - provides output for up to 250% of your pedalling, so you’ll cut way down on commute time.

Folding Electric Bikes

Make your commute simple and take a weight off your shoulders with a folding e-bike. Whether you need to stow it away when you hop on the train, pack it under your desk at the office, or even stick it in the boot at the weekend, folding bikes make adventures - or commutes - simple. Models like the Stow-E-Way combine a powerful battery, stable wheels and all the boost of a top-end electric battery for a quality ride that can be packed away at a moment’s notice.

Electric mountain bikes

If you’ll be riding off road or on uneven terrain, an electric mountain bike (eMTB) or off-road e-bike is ideal for getting in all the adventure without all the hard work. While the battery means mountain e-bikes are a little heavier than their pedal counterparts, the payoff is extra speed, help over rocky surfaces and hills, and plenty of control.

Electric Cargo Bikes

For those with a lot to carry, an e-Cargo bike is the ideal solution, combining storage space with the electric boost. A sustainable alternative to motorised vehicles, using an electric cargo bike for transport is a great way to save money and cut down your carbon footprint. For example, the Stride 2 Family Cargo Bike is powered by a Bosch e-bike battery that can last 40 miles on a single charge, and has enough cargo space for the school run, deliveries or even the weekly supermarket shop.

Choosing the Best e-Bike Components

Though it might sound complicated, an e-bike’s components and mechanics are largely similar to those of a ‘regular’ bike - like a pedal road bike or mountain bike. Choosing the right parts to suit your bike and riding style is really important - read on for our team’s top tips.

E-bike Batteries

Obviously, the battery is one of the most important parts of any e-bike. In terms of how to choose an e-bike battery, both capacity and quality are important in determining how the motor runs, and how long you’ll be able to cycle on a single charge. Things like temperature, rider weight, damage (through bumps and knocks) and charge time can all affect battery performance. While you can still use your e-bike when the battery runs out, you won’t be able to use the power-assist functions - it will function as a normal pedal bike, though it will be heavy and difficult to pedal. So, it’s important to choose a powerful enough battery to get you through the journeys you need.

All Raleigh electric bikes are powered by lithium ion batteries, which offer great capacity and charge in a very lightweight shell. You’ll be able to monitor your battery charge level on your handlebar display, and adjust accordingly. When looking for the right e-bike battery, it’s really important to consider quality, as well as capacity and durability. Bosch e-bike batteries are renowned for their reliability and performance - for example the Bosch-equipped Centros Tour can cover 85 miles on a single charge! You’ll also be able to use the display to determine when to remove the battery for charging. e-bike batteries are detachable for easy storage and charging, though you can usually charge it while it’s still on the bike if required. Learn more about e-bike batteries and how to look after them in our e-bike battery guide.

E-bike Motors

Like any good double act, the battery needs its partner to function properly. The motor makes up half the electrical function of an e-bike, and is available in different types to suit every cyclist. There are two major categories of electric bike motors - crank motors and hub motors. Crank motors are more popular in modern bikes, though hub motors are often more affordable. Crank motors provide an e-bike’s distinctive frame shape, while hub motors are more traditional. At Raleigh, our e-bikes come in three different motor types - front wheel, rear wheel and centre mount. Front wheel electric bike motors are a great entry level affordable option, while rear wheel motors for e-bikes have improved traction and more subtle appearance. For electric mountain bikes, a centre mount motor’s power and gear manoeuvring makes it the best choice.

The quality of your e-bike motor is also hugely important of course, and choosing a reputable manufacturer is a must. The Motus range features re-engineered Bosch e-bike battery and motor systems - including the new Active Line Motor - to offer quiet handling that doesn’t skimp on power and guarantees reliability.

E-bike Frames

Choosing an e-bike frame is a very similar process to choosing a road bike or mountain bike frame. You’ll need to get the right size for your height, and make sure your foot is comfortable on the pedals (and your leg can bend and straighten) when you’re on the seat. Good quality e-bike frames come in different sizes to suit different riders. For example, the Motus and Motus Tour ranges come in a variety of sizes across the different frameset varieties: 46/50/54cm lowstep, 48/52/56cm crossbar and 44/48/52cm open.

E-Bike Maintenance

Choose the right e-bike and it really will become a member of the family. Ok, maybe not quite, but it will certainly be a prized possession that you want to take really good care of. Read our full guide to e-bike maintenance, and check out a few of our favourite top tips below:

General e-bike Maintenance

Just like a car, it’s important to have your e-bike serviced and checked up to make sure the battery, motor and other parts are all working as they should. To arrange a service, find your local Raleigh electric store here.

E-bike Battery Maintenance

It’s really important to take care when you’re storing your bike - particularly during hot summer months or over winter. One option is to take the battery off the bike frame and store it safely indoors. Store your bike away on around 30-60% charge - you can monitor charge levels and plan charges by using the handlebar display.

E-bike Motor Maintenance

Because the motor is sealed, you won’t need to regularly maintain or check it. Your local specialist will check that the motor is in good working order when you take your bike in for its routine service. How to clean an e-bike All the usual bike cleaning tips like wiping down the frame and keeping the wheels grit-free apply, but it’s also important to give the connectors a careful clean with an alcohol-based bike cleaner, before spraying with a proper bike lubricant like GT85 to displace water. It’s also a good idea to give your e-bike display a wipe with a dry cloth to remove any dirt or dust.

It’s ok to give a muddy bike a hose, but avoid the electrical components (battery, motor and display screen) and never use a jet or pressure washer.

Read our full electric bike maintenance guide.

Yes - as long as an e-bike doesn’t provide motor assistance above 15.5mph or have an output of greater than 250W, it’s legal. Of course, you’ll still need to adhere to all the usual cycling rules and regulations.

You don’t need a licence to ride an e-bike (pedal assisted/pedelec) in the UK. Riders must, however, be over 14 years of age. To fall under the legal requirements for e-bikes, the bike’s power can’t be more than 250W, and the motor can’t provide assistance above the maximum speed of 15.5mph (25kmh).

Yes, more and more employers and businesses are turning to e-bikes as part of their cycle to work schemes. Not only can they speed up commutes, but they can be an environmentally friendly alternative to cars or other motorised vehicles. Schemes like Electric Bike Access offer employees the chance to spread the cost of e-bikes over a longer period of time and save on ownership costs.

As fast as you can pedal! An e-bike functions as a regular pedal bike. The motorised assist can kick in at any speed below 15.5mph (25kmh), though you can pedal faster than this and propel yourself.

In order to comply with UK regulations and keep your e-bike legal for riding on the road and on cycle paths, the electric motor and battery can only provide boost at speeds up to 15.5mph (25kmh). You can cycle faster, but you won’t be helped along by the motor at higher speeds.

There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this. e-bikes can provide greater assistance, making tough climbs and lengthy rides easier on the cyclist - this is why they’re often considered the best commuter bikes, as you can arrive at the office without breaking a sweat from pedalling too hard.

e-bikes can cost more than non-electric bikes, depending on the gear system, manufacturer, model and other factors. Maintenance can also sometimes be a little more costly, thanks to the number of electric components, like the motor and battery. However, for those looking to put the fun back into cycling and get out more without exhausting themselves on every journey, they’re a great alternative to regular pedal bikes, and well worth the investment. Read more on Electric Bikes vs Regular Bikes.

The length of time an e-bike battery lasts without charge differs depending on a number of factors. The type of bike, manufacturer, battery size and distance ridden will all affect how long a bike can go between charges. On average, an e-bike range is usually around 30-100 miles. If your bike has eco and power modes, this can also affect battery life.

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