What Are the Different Types of Electric Bikes?

Published on 05/13/2023 · 6 min readTrying to decide what e-bike is best for you and don’t know which one is best? Cycling Expert Joel Fletcher details the top options so you can choose the best bike for you.
Joel Fletcher, Cycling Expert
By Cycling Expert Joel Fletcher

Photo by KBO Bike

In this article, we are going to take a deep dive into all the different types of e-bikes. We will discuss what style of bike is going to work for each different style or rider, what the pros and cons of each style of ebike are, and give an example of each style of ebike.

E-bike riders will be able to see what bikes have a throttle or pedal assist, or both. Commuters might be more interested in a throttle bike where mountain bike or road riders might be more interested in a pedal assist e-bike. We will also discuss battery size (measured in Wh) and motor power (measured in W), and different types of ebike motors.

One thing to note is that ebikes are not motorcycles and will not have the same top speed. Electric bikes will also not require a specific license, but you should check your local state's laws about what class of ebike is allowed to ride in different areas. Electric motors on bikes open a whole new range of riding. Thanks for reading along!

E-Mountain Bike

Electric mountain bikes are one of the main types of e-bikes designed for one purpose, and that is to ride off-road with hardtail or full-suspensions options. E-mountain bikes are designed around a standard mountain bike platform. Mountain bike frames come in different amounts of travel, based on the riding you want to do with your bike. Bikes around 150mm of travel will be great for all mountain riding, both climbing and descending. Bigger travel bikes around 180mm are designed around riding bigger bike trails like bike parks, jump lines, and bigger days on the bike.

Modern e-mountain bikes will have a mid-drive motor built into the cranks, which leads to the higher cost, and will have a large battery range up to over 100 miles (depending on riding conditions). Batteries will all be lithium ion and very powerful. The top speed will be lower at 20mph (usually) because they are designed to be used climbing steep hills.

You should look at an e-mountain bike if you want to ride on mountain bike trails, but want the assistance of a motor to help cover longer distances, and if you want suspension to smooth out the rough trails.

E-Road Bike and E-Gravel Bike

E-road and gravel bikes are a very similar style of bike. They will look like most regular gravel and road bikes with drop-bars. Gravel bikes will have wider tire clearance for comfort on all terrain.

If you are looking to only ride on the road for long miles, and you want something performance-oriented, an e-road bike will be perfect for you. If you want one bike to ride everything (gravel and road), an e-gravel bike might be just what you are looking for. Gravel bikes are great because depending on what tire you choose to run, you can be comfortable both on and off-road. Many people look at e-gravel bikes when they only want one bike to ride many different terrains. Gravel ebikes will give great grip on pavement and dirt. Gravel ebike motors will usually use a mid-drive motor with lower watts but a longer battery range compared to a commuter bike.

E-Commuter Bike

Does your riding consist of just back-and-forth to work and running errands, or are you trying to replace driving with riding an ebike? A commuter-style ebike might just be what you are looking for. Commuter bikes will have a more upright and comfortable riding position compared to a road bike, but will not be as upright as a cruiser bike. Commuter bikes will be hybrid-style bikes. They will usually have wider but smoother tires that are comfortable on pavement and on light off-road trails.

Commuter bikes will also usually include some great extras for commuting in all conditions, including fenders, lights, and racks to carry cargo. The battery range can vary but anywhere from 40 to 80+ miles depending on your budget, which is pretty standard for commuter ebikes. Commuter bikes will use different types of motors with a rear wheel hub motor and mid-drive motor.

Cruiser-Style Ebike

A cruiser-style ebike might look similar to a commuter, but there are some slight differences. Cruiser-style bikes will have a more upright and comfortable riding position. They are designed for cruising and comfort, so they’re great for checking out the sites and spending time enjoying your ride versus commuting to and from work like you would on a commuter bike.

Cruiser-style e-bikes will have wide, comfortable tires designed to be stable and comfortable on all terrain. They will have a similar battery range to commuter bikes, and depending on what price you want to pay for the battery, motor, and components, that can range anywhere from around $2,000 to over $5,000. The top speed of commuter bikes can be either 20mph or 28mph, depending on what model you want to go with.

Folding Ebike

Retrospec JAX REV 500

Folding ebikes are designed for people who have minimal space to store a bike, but still want all of the power and capabilities of a larger ebike. Maybe you live in an apartment, or maybe you live on a boat. Whatever the case might be, folding ebikes will allow you to take advantage of all the features of an ebike in a smaller package.

Folding ebikes will have both options of knobby tires for riding on dirt, or smoother tires for riding on pavement. They will have a smaller battery life than bigger ebikes, maxing out around 50 miles of battery range (depending on riding conditions and riding style). Folding ebikes are at a lower price point and use a rear hub motor. Rear hub motors are less expensive compared to mid-drive motors. While being less expensive, they will also not be as powerful or as efficient with battery life as a mid-drive motor.

Fat Tire Ebike

Fat tire ebikes are some of the most versatile e-bikes out there. You can use them on off-road trails and the wide tires provide amazing traction and comfort. You can also use them on the road and the powerful motor will make up for the slower rolling of a wider tire.

They can be used on sand and snow and everything in between. They have a wide range of uses, from getting into hunting areas where you cannot use standard combustion engines, or simply just getting to work and back.

They will run a wide range of prices starting at $2,000 all the way up to $8,000 or more. More expensive fat tire ebikes will have a more powerful mid-drive motor and larger ebike batteries with a longer range. Lower-end fat tire bikes will have less powerful hub-drive motors and smaller battery ranges.

Some fat tire ebikes will also have dual motors with a rear hub and front hub motors, which will allow you to double your power. If you’re looking for one ebike to truly be able to ride every single kind of terrain out there or to carry heavy loads, a fat tire ebike might be the best option for you.

Final Thoughts

If you have any questions about e-bikes or would like to figure out what e-bike would be best for you and your riding, you can always visit a local shop or check out the Expert Journal here on Curated for more Cycling articles.

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