So, you've decided you're going to get an electric bike to up your cycle game. Great choice! E-bike popularity has grown massively in the last few years, and it's not hard to see why. Next question, which e-bike will you go for?
There's lots of choice in the world of electric bikes, with different model, motor and battery options to suit every rider and budget. So, whether you're after you're first e-bike or are looking for a change to your regular bike, choosing the right model is key. Wondering which is the right electric bike for you? Read on...
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 are after a bit of assistance with those steep hills, an electric bicycle might be just the ticket. But with so many options to choose from it can be hard to know where to start in the electric bike market.
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 looking at electric bikes versus normal bikes 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. Electric 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 buying guide for electric bikes 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 law, an e-bike motor has a maximum speed limit of 15.5mph (25 kph). 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 in 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’. Batteries in e-bikes provide assistance, rather than standalone power delivery. Unlike a motorbike or electric scooter, an e-bike battery won’t be engaged until you actually start pedalling.
As with conventional bikes, there are lots of categories to choose from in the world of electric bikes. City dwellers or those travelling on mostly flat terrain might be interested in urban e-bikes or commuter e-bikes. More adventurous types looking for cycling treks in the fresh air might be looking for e-mountain bikes.
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 of electric bikes, all boasting power boost and pedal assist.
So, whether you'll be urban riding in the city, are part of a family of keen mountain bikers, or are simply looking to improve ride quality and get some pedal assistance, here's how to choose the best electric bicycle for you.
Best Long Range Electric Bikes
The range of an e-bike - how far you can cycle on a single charge - varies between models and depends on things like the terrain, power mode, load and tech capacity. If you’re looking for an electric bike with long range, the Centros is a great choice. The powerful 625Wh battery allows a range of up to 130 miles,
Best Lightweight Electric Bikes
Whether you’re commuting to the office or heading on an adventure, sometimes having a lightweight, easy to lift bike can just make your life that little bit easier. You don’t always need to compromise on battery power either - the Trace e-bike packs in 250Wh for that pedal assist boost, but weighs in at just 16.5kg for portability.
For complete convenience, you can also opt for a folding electric bike so you can easily hop on the train or pack it away in the boot of your car. The Raleigh Stow-E-Way folds down to 880x800x400mm, but still has a 250Wh battery and a range of up to 30 miles.
Best Budget Electric Bikes
You’ll find e-bikes available for a variety of prices and with a range of specs. If you’re bike shopping on a bit of a budget but still want to take advantage of the electric pedal assist benefits, there are options on the lower end of the price scale that still provide a host of benefits. The Array electric bike combines speed, comfort and stability all in one affordable package. The model offers a range of 60 miles plus a 7-gear system and an OLED panel for complete control.
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 compared to using a standard bike. Find yourself powering away at the traffic lights and using electrical assist to get some help.
For those new to the world of electric bikes, the Raleigh Array makes for easy riding. The e-bike's range allows you to cycle up to 60 miles on the 400Wh battery, move easily through the seven gears, and control your speed with an OLED display handily attached to the aerodynamic flat handlebars.
Looking for the best e-bike for a long commute? You’ll want to think about durability and stability of course, but you also need to prioritise comfort for those longer rides to and from the office. Motus e-bikes are ideal for longer commutes that require a bit more comfort. Hydraulic disc brakes and a range of top-of-the-range features guarantee a safe and comfy ride wherever you’re headed.
Then, for those short on bike storage space or after something easy to carry on the tube, there’s the folding e-bike option. The Raleigh Stow-E-Way fits the power of a 250wh battery into a folding frame that will fit perfectly in a car boot, train luggage rack, or that spare corner of the office.
Hybrid Electric Bikes
Truly combining the best of all worlds, hybrid e-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, an electric hybrid bike is the perfect combination.
For example, the Raleigh Motus Hybrid Electric Bike - armed with a Bosch e-bike battery and mid drive motor - 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 public transport, pack it under your desk at the office, or even stick it in the boot at the weekend, a folding bike makes adventures - or commutes - simple.
Folding bikes 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 hilly terrain, an electric mountain bike (e-MTB) 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.
In business, more and more UK companies are discovering why e-bikes are popular for delivery services. They’re an environmentally-friendly and cost-effective delivery option, with low overheads and maintenance costs. The best e-bikes for deliveries combine speed, efficiency and storage capacity. The Pro Cargo Bike is one of the best electric bikes for business, with an 80kg load capacity and a 250WH Yamaha motor for speeding to deliveries.
For families, 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 ‘normal’ bike - like a pedal road bike or mountain bike. Understanding a bit about how electric bikes work, and choosing the right parts to suit your bike and riding style is really important - read on for our team’s top tips.
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.
Like any good double act, the battery needs its partner, the electric motor, to function properly. The powerful motor makes up half the electrical function of an electric bike, and is available in different types to suit every cyclist. There are two major categories of electric bike motor - crank motors and hub motors. Crank drive motors are more popular in modern bikes, though hub motor systems 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 motor, rear wheel motor and centre mount motor. Front-wheel electric bike motors are a great entry-level affordable option, while rear-wheel motors for e-bikes have improved traction and a more subtle appearance. For electric mountain bikes, a centre-mount motor’s power and gear manoeuvring make 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 reliable motor power.
Choosing an e-bike frame is a very similar process to choosing a frame for a road bike or mountain bike. You’ll need to get the right frame size for your height, and make sure your foot is in a good position 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 and make sure you get a comfortable riding position. For example, the Motus and Motus Tour electric bike 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 belt drives vs chains
When it comes to the drivetrain of an e-bike, you’ll likely be looking at a choice between a chain drive and a belt drive. Both options, when you invest in a quality bike, offer a great riding experience.
There are benefits to both drivetrain types - for example, belt drives are quieter and don’t require as much maintenance, while chain drives are more affordable and more efficient. At Raleigh, we use chain drives for their affordability and efficiency, guaranteeing all our e-bikes offer a smooth and accessible experience.
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 an electric 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. The specialist will be able to help with everything from checking motor performance and tweaking torque sensors to fixing bumps and realigning the handlebars.
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. However, 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.
E-bike battery capacity is measured in watt hours - this measure essentially tells you how many watts the battery can send to the motor per hour. As with many things, when it comes to e-bike battery wattage more isn't necessarily better. It comes down to how you’ll be cycling, how far you’ll be going, and a few other factors.
In general, both 250Wh and 300Wh e-bikes will provide enough power and boost for most average cyclists heading out on fairly flat terrain - like roads and cycle paths. Cycling with the battery assist will make tackling uphill journeys a breeze.
When it comes to Raleigh 250Wh e-bikes, both the Trace and the Stow-E-Way are ideal options for great commuter e-bikes. You’ll find smooth ride with that welcome pedal assist boost from the battery whenever you need it. 250Wh e-bikes like the above are ideal for rides around town, to and from work and more gentle weekend cycles.
This midweight battery capacity makes for an easy to manoeuvre and handle bike that still packs a punch.
The bigger the wattage, the better an e-bike battery will be at powering faster acceleration, tackling steep hill climbs and carrying heavier riders and loads.
Lots of our electric hybrid models use 400Wh batteries, including the Motus Electric Hybrid (80 mile range) and the Array Electric Hybrid (60 mile range). As well as an impressive range, these models have super-quiet hub motors that provide plenty of power without being too noisy.
Bikes with 500Wh batteries are serious business for serious cyclists. If you’re looking for powerful acceleration and the capability to take on inclines and hills more easily than ever, a 500Wh e-bike might be the one for you.
Models like the Motus Tour Hub Gear can boost your pedal power by up to 250% for the best ride of your life - whether you’re taking on a race or just a weekend ride to blow off the cobwebs.
Cycling with a load is easier than ever thanks to 500Wh power. The Stride 2 Family Cargo Bike is ideal for the school run, while our Pro Cargo Bike and Pro Electric Cargo Trike are great e-bikes for deliveries and heavier loads.
For more challenging trails and those looking to take to cross country cycling routes, a powerful 600Wh battery is ideal.
Both the Centros Hub Gear and Centros Derailleur Gear models can accommodate up to 130 miles of pedal assist on a single charge. Accelerate away from a standing start and enjoy rapid speeds over the trickiest of terrains.
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.