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A Practical E-Bike Buying Guide: Everything You Need to Know

A Practical E-Bike Buying Guide: Everything You Need to Know

The world is buzzing with e-bikes, and for good reason. Ebikes bridge the gap between traditional cycling and motorized transportation and provide a sustainable, efficient, and enjoyable mode of travel that resonates with a diverse set of people. Whether you're a seasoned cyclist seeking a boost or a newcomer looking for an accessible way to get around, e-bikes offer a unique experience. With so many different e-bike models, features, and brands available, choosing the right e-bike can feel overwhelming for prospective buyers.

What are e-bikes?

E-bikes are essentially regular bicycles equipped with electric motors and batteries that assist your pedaling, making riding easier, faster, and more enjoyable. The key benefits include extended range, reduced physical exertion, and the ability to tackle diverse terrains, ensuring a thrilling experience for adventurers, a convenient commute for urbanites, and an enjoyable ride for everyday use.

E-bike Classification

E-bikes are categorized into one of three classes in the U.S. and Canada based on their speed and assist level. If you plan to use your e-bike away from bike paths, it's important to understand your local e-bike laws:

Class 1: Pedal-assist only, reaching speeds up to 20 mph. Ideal for casual riders and urban commutes. Class 1 bikes are the most affordable and most universally accepted from a regulatory standpoint. 

Class 2: Pedal-assist and throttle, offering a top speed of 20 mph. Perfect for those seeking additional power and flexibility.

Class 3: Pedal-assist only, capable of reaching speeds up to 28 mph. It is best suited for experienced riders and longer distances. Compared to class 1 bikes, they're faster, more powerful (and expensive). They are capable of handling heavier loads and climb better.

Types of E-bike

Adventure E-Bikes:

For those who thirst for adventure, these bikes boast advanced suspension, sturdy frames, powerful motors, and rugged tires to conquer mountains, explore trails, and tackle any terrain. Popular subcategories include mountain bikes, gravel bikes, and fat bikes.

Commuter E-Bikes:

Designed for efficiency and comfort, these models have features like step-through frames, fenders, racks, and lights to navigate your urban jungle with style and ease.

Cargo E-Bikes:

From groceries and children to equipment and tools, these workhorses of the cycling world effortlessly carry heavy loads, making them ideal for errands, deliveries, and family outings.

Foldable E-Bikes:

Foldable e-bikes cater to the lifestyle of urban dwellers with their portability, ease of folding, weight, and storage capacity to seamlessly integrate into daily routines.

How to Choose your e-bike?

Purchasing an e-bike is a significant financial and emotional consideration. To ensure that you are selecting the right companion for your journeys and not ending up storing them in the garage, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What is your primary reason for wanting an e-bike?
  • Are you an adventurer seeking thrilling trails, conquering mountains, and exploring backcountry?
  • Are you looking for a reliable and efficient way to navigate city streets, ditch traffic jams, and arrive at work refreshed?
  • Are you looking for a fun and engaging way to stay active, improve your fitness, and explore your surroundings?
  • Do you have any physical limitations that require additional assistance from an e-bike?
  • What terrain will you be riding on?
  • Will you primarily use the bike on paved city streets, bike paths, and flat terrain?
  • Do you anticipate encountering a combination of paved and unpaved surfaces, including hills and gravel paths?
  • Are you planning on tackling rugged mountain trails, dirt roads, and challenging terrain?
  • What distance do you plan to cover?
  • Do you need an e-bike for short commutes, errands, and leisurely rides around town?
  • Are you planning on embarking on longer adventures, touring, or weekend trips?
  • What is your budget?

Are you on a tight budget and need a cost-effective e-bike solution? Will you invest in a more expensive e-bike with advanced features and premium components?

Good quality e-bikes start from around $1500 and go up to $10,000. As you move up in price range, you get longer-range batteries, more efficient motor systems, advanced displays and controllers, better-performing frames, brakes, and drivetrain components. When budgeting for an e-bike, it is essential to factor the cost of e-bike accessories such as helmets, locks, lights, riding gear, and other repair/maintenance items into your overall budget.


buying an electric bike


Things to Consider Before Selecting your E-bike 


While looking for an electric bicycle, you'll find that most e-bike models come with a stated maximum range. Many customers emphasize range, which is crucial if you're going to be regularly riding your bike for long distances. Larger the battery, higher the available range. However, larger batteries are more expensive and heavier, so if you'll only be riding a short distance and low weight is a priority, you can consider an electric bicycle with a smaller battery and shorter range.

Please note that range estimates are — estimates — and many factors contribute to range. Rider weight, cargo carrying, hillier or rougher terrain, and outside temperature affect range, so consider how far you need your e-bike.

All Zen electric bikes are designed to deliver the highest range. Depending on the model, you can get between 55 and 85  miles per charge, which should be plenty to get you around.


Like traditional bikes, modern e-bikes come in a wide range of weights, from 25 pounds to 80 pounds or more. While there is a lot of noise about having the lightest weight bike possible, buying an e-bike that best meets your needs is much more important than having the most lightweight e-bike.

E-bikes generally weigh more than their traditional bicycle counterparts due to the added weight of the motor, battery, and controllers. They also use more robust frames, wheels, tires, and brakes to handle the added power and weight.


The most significant factor to consider with the price is the quality of the e-bike components. Cheap e-bikes from Amazon or large online retailers can be of poor quality and, most importantly, have batteries without a U.L. certification. E-bike batteries that are not U.L. certified are a considerable safety risk, so this should be a critical part of your research.


You'll encounter two main types: hub motors are located in the wheel hub and offer a smooth, low-maintenance experience, while mid-drive motors are located near the pedals and provide a more natural riding feel with better climbing power.

Battery Capacity

The battery capacity determines your range. Higher voltage and watt-hours translate to longer distances. Lithium-ion batteries are the industry standard, offering high energy density and long lifespans. Most e-bikes batteries come in the range of 250Wh to 750Wh. 


Aluminum offers lightness, while steel provides durability. Consider frame geometry and step-through options for comfort and accessibility. Zen e-bike frame is constructed from hydroformed aluminum 6061, offering a lightweight yet robust structure ensuring your bike can withstand the rigors of daily use.


Due to their increased speed and weight, electric bikes need to have good brakes. Two primary types of disc brakes used on electric bikes are mechanical and hydraulic. Hydraulic disc brakes offer superior stopping power in all weather conditions. Mechanical rim brakes are a lighter and more affordable option.

The Zen Photon is equipped with Tektro Auriga E-Comp E500 Hydraulic Disc Brakes With E-cutoff while the Zen Samurai offers MAGURA CT disk brakes designed for city biking, all-road biking and light biking on mountain trails.


Select a gear range suitable for your terrain and riding style. Internal gear hubs offer low maintenance, while external derailleurs provide more precise shifting.


Choose wider tires for comfort and stability or narrower tires for speed and efficiency. Tires with puncture-resistant technology offer peace of mind.


Opt for suspension forks and seat posts for a smoother ride on rough terrain, or prioritize a rigid frame for reduced weight and increased efficiency.


Almost all e-bikes will come with warranties on the electronic assist system, the parts on the bike itself, and the frame. Typically, the electronic warranty is about two years, the parts warranty is one year, and the frame will be longer. In most cases, regular maintenance and wear and tear are not covered under the manufacturer's warranty, so if you plan to use your e-bike a lot, you should consider replacing some parts throughout the year.

Zen E-bikes offer lifetime warranty on their frames.

Test Riding and Fit

Before committing to your e-bike soulmate, a thorough test ride is crucial in determining the right e-bike for you. This allows you to experience the bike firsthand, assess comfort and handling, and ensure proper fit.

Visit a reputable e-bike dealer for expert guidance and various models to try. Choose a safe and comfortable environment to test ride. Pay attention to factors like comfort, handling, power, and responsiveness. Ensure proper fit by adjusting the seat height and handlebars for optimal riding position. Don't hesitate to ask questions and adjust settings to find your perfect riding position.

Maintaining Your E-Bike

Like any vehicle, e-bikes require regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance and longevity. Learn basic tasks like cleaning, checking tire pressure, and lubricating the chain. The most important thing to remember is that e-bikes may not be serviceable at every shop, unlike regular pedal bikes. If you're purchasing a bike at a bike shop, it's quite likely that it can be serviced at that store.

Also, because e-bikes typically run higher speeds, have greater weight, and go more miles, they typically see two to three times greater wear on their components than regular pedal bikes.

Basic maintenance: Clean the bike regularly, check tire pressure and wear, lubricate the chain, and inspect brakes and gears.

Battery care: Charge the battery regularly and avoid extreme temperatures. Consider purchasing a spare battery for longer journeys.

Motor maintenance: Consult your dealer for specific instructions on motor maintenance.

Professional service: Take your e-bike to a qualified technician for annual tune-ups and repairs.

Where to Buy an E-Bike:

Choose a reputable e-bike dealer who offers a wide range of brands, expert advice, and after-sales service. This allows you to test different models and receive personalized guidance to find the perfect fit. Check out the Zen dealership and test riding locations so you can experience the difference firsthand!


Owning an e-bike can transform your life, offering a fun, efficient, and environmentally friendly way to get around. By understanding your needs, exploring the different options, and making an informed decision, you can choose the perfect e-bike to accompany you on your next adventure, conquer your commute, or enjoy a leisurely ride. So, embrace the electric revolution and discover the world of e-bikes!