How to choose an electric bike for a sportsman?
Not all electrically assisted bicycle users have the same needs or the same desires. Moreover, not all models of electric bikes, or EABs, are intended for the same type of use.
If it is relatively easy to visually recognize the difference between an electric city bike, a road bike or a mountain bike by the shape of their frame, it is different for the specific elements of the electric assistance: motor, battery, transmission system, gears and autonomy.
In the case of a cyclist in search of a model allowing a sporting practice, which are the key criteria to be taken into account in order to choose an electric bicycle in agreement with its profile?
Electrically-assisted bicycle and sport practice
Contrary to some preconceived ideas, the presence of a motor on electric bikes does not detract from the fact that you can do sports and maintain your health by using them. Indeed, if the electric assistance makes it possible to reduce the efforts when it is necessary or preferable, it does not remain less than it is essential to pedal to start and advance. Otherwise, EABs would not have a pedal system, which is obviously not the case.
According to specialists in sports and its health benefits, cycling, including electric cycling, is more beneficial for the cardiorespiratory system than walking.
With these details in mind, it is time to look at the characteristics of the different types and models of EABs and to determine which ones are suitable for sports use.
A versatile city bike
The most common bikes on the market are those designed for urban use. However, some models belonging to this broad category can also be suitable for a sportsman because of their multipurpose design.
The weight of the electric bike
To choose a sport model, you must first look at the weight of the electric bike, which should ideally be less than 20 kg. The average weight of an EAB is 25 kg (including the battery), so you should look for a manufacturer or a brand that has made weight saving a priority, for example, with an aluminum frame, a carbon fork and alloy wheels.
To save weight, parts such as the motor and the battery must be as light as possible, without affecting the quality of the assistance and the autonomy. On this point, it is important to be aware that weight savings usually translate into a higher selling price.
Frame shape and rider position
Secondly, it is essential to choose a model with a frame that allows for an engaged and dynamic riding position, slightly leaning forward.
Consequently, it is preferable to avoid choosing a classic electric city bike, whose upright riding position favors comfort and relaxation to the detriment of a sporty use. In addition, the upright bike is known to be pleasant to use for short trips at moderate speeds, but is also known to be tiring and impractical for longer, faster rides.
To remain comfortable and practical, the size of the frame of the EAB must nevertheless correspond to the morphology of the cyclist. This is why it is mandatory to take into account the information that must accompany the description of the model you are considering buying. This information must clearly indicate for which user sizes the bike has been designed.
Ideally, testing an EAB in a real-life situation is the best way to make the best choice.
The motor and the battery
The motor and the battery of an EAB, whatever its type, are the elements that determine the power of the assistance (motor power) and the time during which this assistance is available (battery autonomy expressed in amperes). For its part, the battery voltage indicates the capacity to provide torque on uphill roads.
For a sportsman, we consider that a motor of 250 W associated with a battery of 36 V and 4 A are solid bases to benefit from a VAE answering perfectly the needs for speed and reactivity. This is valid for daily trips in the city, as well as for outings or rides on the road, outside built-up areas.
As a reminder, on an electric bicycle, the motor assistance stops when the speed of 25 km/h is reached, or when the cyclist stops pedaling. Nevertheless, it is possible to ride at more than 25 km/h, by providing the necessary efforts on the pedals, which corresponds, a priori, to the demand of a sporting practice.
To conclude, it is important to remember that all bikes must have quality safety features: wide tires, brakes, parking lights, brake lights and turn signals to indicate changes in direction.
An EAB designed for the road
There is also a range of electric bicycles with the characteristics of the traditional racing bike. This type of EAB is specially designed for cycling as a sport, and all the equipment is designed to reduce weight, improve aerodynamics and increase speed.
Electric bikes for sporty road use are usually equipped with a conventional gear shifting system, i.e. an external derailleur, located on the side of the rear wheel. For sportsmen, external derailleurs are considered to be more precise and responsive than shifting systems built into the rear wheel hub.
The electric assistance is then available when the sportsman wishes to slacken his effort or to face roads with very marked relief.
Electric mountain bikes and VTC
Sport cycling can also be practiced on country or mountain roads. In this case, the all-terrain (MTB) and all-path (ATV) models are the most recommended.
Indeed, these bikes are equipped with reinforced brakes, suspension and larger tires than other models. The main consequences are a heavier and more expensive bike, but also a very forward riding position, which makes the use of the bike tiring in an urban setting.
Finally, for this type of electric bike, the battery life is expressed in terms of time of use and not in kilometers to be covered, because of the intensity necessary to climb hills with electric assistance.
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