Things You Should Consider Before Buying an E-Bike or Electric Bicycle Online

Video Transcription:

Hi, it's Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy. So thinking about buying an e- bike online? It just happens Bicycling Magazine had a little article that I thought was pretty interesting, and it kind of directed some thoughts of mine towards some considerations. I thought they had some great points, and I wanted to tell you about some of the ideas they had along with some of my own.

I think the first thing about buying a bike online is like, how do you know what you want? You know, when you walk into a dealership and you have multiple models to choose from, it really helps focus your attention on some alternatives and what really works for you. Pretty much, when you're going to an online retailer, you're going typically with an idea to get a bike but there's so many, you know, considerations that go into getting that bike. You know, what kind of riding are you going to do? What kind of, what might dictate the wheel size? 20 inch wheels are becoming popular, you know, 27.5, 29. There's a lot of variety in just wheel size and tire width from road width to these four inch tires that can go anywhere, low pressure. I think most people that I see cruising around on a bike that has a little wider profile tire typically has fenders, they're using it to run around town, run errands or ride their bike for fun.

I think one of the things that some people have pointed out in some of the reviews we keep saying is, you know, getting a basket or getting a rack on the back. What are you going to transport on that rack and do they have panniers that'll fit on it? What do you need to do the kind of things because once you get an e-bike really helpful and handy to run down to Publix or run somewhere, run an errand and go to the hardware store got to carry it back in some way. How are you going to do that?

I think a big consideration too, and when you're considering the online retailers, what's the weight of the bike? You know, what are you going to do with it, where are you going to store it and how are you going to transport it? We get so used to picking up a 20-pound carbon bike, 15, 18 pounds, whatever it might be. Many e-bikes, the more expensive ones, tend to get into the thirties in terms of weight but generally there's an awful lot of e-bikes that are in the fifties and even in the low sixties in terms of weight. How are you going to, where are you going to put it in the garage if you have a garage in your apartment? Do you have room for it on the, on the, um, on the floor? You know, I store my bikes in the garage on the wall. You know, it's one thing to put a 18- pound bike on the wall. It's another thing  to put a 60-pound bike on the wall. How are you going to get it onto the bike rack that you're using every day to transport your bike when you want to go somewhere? Are you going to have, are you going to do it by yourself or is someone going to help you? How high is that rack? These are things you need to think about and talk to the retailer about.

You know, the big decision too, and they'll help you, is what speed do you want to ride? Are you going to be satisfied with a class one that goes 20 mph or do you want the class three it goes up to 28 mph? Are you fully comfortable that you can ride a class three bike, and are you ready for that? The cost, you know, generally the cost goes up as the quality goes up and the materials get lighter and bike gets lighter.

You have the mid-drive versus hub-drive issue. Bosch has come out with a new line of mid-drive and lighter batteries that have shaved seven or eight pounds off these bikes which is really a great thing. So, these are things that are you going to get the information you want from an online retailer to answer the questions for all of these and other considerations you have for what you're going to buy, okay?

Some have, typically when you go with an online person, you're going to be with the chat service. You might get a person on the phone to talk. You know, what's their level of experience and all those things? So you're really sort of considering online versus walking into a bike shop. I would say the most of the people with road bikes who are our clients are getting their bikes from a bike shop. I definitely have a lot of clients who are getting good quality bikes online, and you know, that, that certainly is an option. A lot of people exercise that option.

Another thing is like, what size bike do you need? We get so used to seeing these size differentials of small, medium and large, and they typically they'll have a sizing chart, maybe, but one pointed out to me recently was so it says it's for a 6'2" rider or 5'6" rider. That's part of the consideration but what is your inseam? You know, do you have unusually short inseam or a long inseam? You know, if it's not a step-through bike and its got a center bar, can you stand comfortably over that bike? Is your height measurement an accurate measurement for that bike in terms of where the bar is related to you standing over it at a traffic light? Okay. So, that's just a consideration you need to talk to them about to make sure that it fits you properly. The other thing is generally the geometry. If you've had a bike fitted, you know, the geometry is the whole deal. I know that all people aren't using e-bikes for the same type of speed, fitness and duration that you would use a road bike for, but it is a consideration. You don't want to get a bike that just doesn't fit you. You know, isn't suitable for your height, weight and body dimensions.

I mentioned earlier in a video we did about the consideration of how's the bike going to come to you if you're buying it online, and what do you need to do when you receive it? You're going to find bikes, and this is something you really need to make sure you understand from an online retailer, what exactly do I need to do to put this thing together when it comes in a box? They are, there's a wide variety. They could be multiple parts that have to be assembled and all the way up to they'll bring it to your door and assemble it for you in the home. So, just make sure you understand and are comfortable that you can do what's necessary when that bike comes partially assembled, okay?

Service and warranty issues. I've mentioned in an earlier program about, you know, the least expensive bikes typically have service issues. The least expensive bikes have cut corners to get it at $900, $400, $300, a thousand dollars. There are some noted exceptions to that. There's an American, there's some American companies putting out really, really good thousand dollar bikes with service and what have you, but there are a lot of foreign companies doing the same with no service, no parts. So, when something breaks and like all things something will break, how do you repair it? How do you replace it? Do they have a dealer network? Do they have a relationship with the service department? Where can you take that bike when it needs service? You need to make sure before you order it and get it to your house that you've got a relationship with the shop, even though you didn't buy it there, that's willing to service it for you. You don't want to find out that you receive it and nobody is willing to touch it.

So, these are just some considerations, and the other thing I think that we need to think about in terms of e-bikes is maintenance. I mean most, many people ride disc brakes. They're popular on most all models now, almost every e-bike. I don't, I've never seen one reviewed that did not have disc brakes. Definitely according to most reviews, hydraulic disc brakes minimize the maintenance issues, but remember that your road bike might weigh 20 pounds but they typically have beefier rotors and what have you for the disc brakes, but they're going to wear more quickly than your road bike. You need to make sure that you have your bike in your mind on a maintenance schedule to make sure that someone is looking at the motor, the connections, the battery, and all these things along with your brakes and its assembly to make sure that you don't wear those brakes out and come home, you know, with no brakes on a ride.

So, those are just some considerations. I think that you need to kind of bear in mind before you ordered that tantalizing bike, and believe me, there are some great bikes being offered online. Do they meet all these things and others that, you know, that you need? That's up to you. You know, just do your due diligence, get a great product and I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

You know, I'm Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy. I'm an injury lawyer. Our office is in Clearwater, but we represent clients throughout Florida, and I've got a special commitment to cyclists. If you've been injured, it doesn't matter how, on a bike in a car, whatever, if I can help you, I'd be happy to. Just call and let us know. Let's talk about what we can do to help you. Let us handle the legal issues while you focus on getting your recovery underway and getting back on the bike. So, have a great week. Consider an e-bike. Enjoy the one you get. Thank you. We'll see you next time!


Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.