You’ve seen the bikes around your neighborhood. They look like so much fun! You want one! But ebikes have so many different specs and price points. Here’s what I would consider, in your position.
Can I build my own bike?
Many affordable bikes now come direct-to-consumer—meaning that they are pre-tuned or partially assembled in a box. Unless you’re already very familiar with building bikes, I recommend working with an established manufacturer that has a dealer network, or a manufacturer like Rad Power Bikes that has a mobile repair service.
Why do some bikes cost more?
The motor and battery are more powerful. Batteries and motors from high-end brands like Bosch and Shimano often are more powerful and cover more distance, with a 90- or 120-mile range, as compared to the 15-20 mile ranges you’ll see on more affordable bikes. However, this may not matter if you have a short commute.
What terrain do you live on?
If you live in a flat area, you’re probably fine with a 250-watt motor, which is the European speed standard. However, if you live near hills or haul a lot of stuff, I would shell out for a 500-watt or 750-watt motor and a few extras, like hydraulic disc brakes, which will help prevent you from skidding into traffic.
I would also look for a mid-drive motor instead of a hub drive motor. Mid-drive motors are located in the center of your bike and feel more natural. A hub drive is on your rear axle and shifts your center of gravity backward, which takes some getting used to. It can throw you off balance when you’re going up steep hills.