Electric bikes open up cycling to a much wider audience than traditional bikes, especially with Brisbane’s hills and summer heat. They are a great way to get (back) into cycling and also a fun and convenient mode of transport.
We often get customers who consider themselves to be beginners and want a 'beginners ebike'. To help you choose we have put together this guide on what makes a good beginners ebike plus there are some EBB team picks if you want a shortllst.
What Do We Mean By 'Beginner'?
For the purposes of this guide, a 'beginner' is a less experienced or less confident rider.
You may have ridden in the past and are looking at an ebike as a way of getting back into cycling or you don't consider yourself to be a particularly competent rider.
A good beginners ebike is one that is easy to use and live with. It gives you the confidence to do what you want to do from Day 1, and allows you to expand your riding as you become more experienced.
While there are budget options available, our focus is on function and suitability to help you grow in confidence and skill as a rider.
Our Criteria for a Good Beginners EBike
1. Buy from a well-known manufacturer
The manufacturer of the ebike is the ‘brand’.
The reason we mention this first is you want your first ebike ownership experience to be a positive one.
Buy from a well-known manufacturer who has a track record of selling and supporting ebikes in Australia for a number of years.
As a long-standing ebike retailer and specialist service and repair centre, we get lots of enquiries from people who have bought their ebike online from an unknown brand that has no physical presence in Australia, or a supermarket with no service backup. This makes it very difficult to obtain parts and tech support when you need it.
2. Keep it simple and smooth - your electric drive system
The growth of ebikes around the world means that world leading bike brands and other technology powerhouses like Bosch, Shimano, Sony to name a few have all invested heavily in the category.
As a result and in part thanks to having a power source, there are a host of advanced features available on ebikes. For example integrated headlights, integrated brake lighting, electronic shifting, smartphone integration to name a few.
If you enjoy technology in other parts of your life, then you can ignore this advice and take advantage of some of these emerging technologies because they can enhance the performance of the bikes and make them very simple to operate ... if you understand technology.
Otherwise we recommend an ebike that has an electric drive system with the following features.
Tip #1: Choose an ebike with a simple push control system that is located close to your left-hand thumb
This way you can quickly adjust your power levels without having to take your eyes off the road or move your hands from the bars.
Furthermore if the ebike system comes with a display - there are some that don't now - we recommend that you avoid the coloured displays (hard to read in direct sunlight) or small displays (just hard to read).
Tip #2: Choose a model that offers at least 4 levels of power and, ideally, a torque sensor
As a beginner rider you don’t want to have big jumps up in power between levels, nor do you want a strong surge in power as soon as you start pedalling.
The entry level hub drive systems, while lower in price, usually do not have the technology to smooth out the power delivery that the higher priced systems have. With these you can get unexpected surges of power which, for a beginner rider, can be offputting at best and dangerous at worse.
This is not always the case though which is why we recommend a test ride before buying. Every manufacturer has different motor and power characteristics, from the sporty to the relaxed cruiser.
Tip #3: Choose a system that has a walk assist mode to provide assistance on those occasions you need to push your bike
The walk assist mode allows the bike to walk along at up to 6km/hr under its own power. This is a very handy feature if, for example, you can't quite make it up a hill or you have fully loaded up your shopping bags and prefer to walk it into your garage.
Instead of pushing the full weight of the bike yourself the walk assist mode will do most of the work for you.
This is usually a button or an external throttle and either way it is an excellent feature to assist a beginner rider.
3. Stable and flexible bike fit
No matter what your level of riding experience, being comfortable on your ebike is an absolute must. This is from an enjoyment as well as a safety perspective and the more comfortable you are the more you will ride.
Starting out with the correct bike frame size, type and body positioning is always important.
Many beginner riders prefer smaller, lighter weight bikes. EBikes are getting lighter every year but they are still heavier than normal bikes so for us the key requirements are:
- the ability to get on and off quickly and safely, and
- the balance and stability of the bike when it is being ridden and under braking.
Most beginner riders like to be able to straddle the bike with both feet firmly planted on the ground when at a stop. If this is you, then the frame size needs to be small enough so the standover height is low enough.
The two best frame types to enable this are the:
- 'Trapeze' (or 'Mixte'), a variation to the traditional sporty gents crossbar frame design that has a lower and sloping top tube to make the bike more comfortable; and
- The low step, also referred to as a stepthrough or a wave frame (such as the one pictured above). This is very easy to mount and dismount your bike.
While there are some good value hub-drive ebikes available many beginners prefer bikes with mid-drive motors for the extra stability and balance that the central motor positioning offers, and also its smoothness.
Some manufacturers make 26" and 24" wheel versions for more petite riders. Compact ebikes with 20" wheels can be good options too.
Other features such as an adjustable stem and quick release or adjustable seatpost will help make life easier. That way you can set the bike up for what you are most comfortable with on Day 1 and change your riding position as your confidence and experience grows.
4. Low maintenance and easy gears
If you are going to rely 100% on your local bike shop to take care of all aspects of your new bike, then choosing a low maintenance bike is less of a concern.
Gears that are easy to use are a high priority though. Here are some features to look for.
Offered instead of the more common derailleur gears that feature on racing bikes and mountain bikes. Internal gears are more common on commuter and urban bikes that are designed to be ridden all year round, for thousands of kilometres with minimal adjustment and maintenance. While generally not a budget option they are excellent value from a long-term ownership perspective.
Internal also allow you to change gears when you are stationery, which is great for beginner riders and comes in handy at junctions and traffic lights when you’ve accidentally rolled to a stop still in top gear.
Read more on gearing systems in our article on 'Gearing Systems on EBikes'.
If your budget can stretch to it, and you are looking for the ultimate in low maintenance, then you can opt for a carbon belt drive. Unlike a chain a belt drive doesn’t need to be lubricated, it runs silently and will outlast a chain by 10 - 12 times.
7 or 8 speed gearing - the lower cost alternative to internal gears
Derailleur gears provide a lower cost and slightly lighter weight alternative to internal gears. If you are planning on using your new ebike for commuting or general leisure riding, then a bike with 7 or 8 speed gearing will provide more than enough gear range for a first-time rider.
Hydraulic disc brakes
Whilst not a budget option, hydraulic brakes have now come down to a price where they now feature on a large number of entry level ebikes too.
Instead of using a cable to pull the brake pads onto the disc they use a piston which applies pressure to fluid in a brake hose. As a beginner rider this means you won’t need to adjust your brakes as most hydraulic systems are self-adjusting. You will also have powerful and consistent braking gives confidence to someone who is new or returning to riding.
Wider tires with puncture resistance
The days of 23mm super thin tyres are long gone. A wider tire will give you a more comfortable ride (more cushioning). It will also give you more grip and traction (more rubber on the road) and will usually have a puncture resistance layer that will reduce the risk of a flat tyre. Most ebikes these days have tires which are 1.75" or more.
5. Big enough battery
We sold the first Bosch-powered eBike in Australia in 2013. That bike came equipped with a 300-watt hour battery (8Ah) and it was considered a big battery at that time.
EBikes now come with a wide range of battery sizes, and it is not uncommon to have ebikes with 625Wh battery as standard.
So why choose a bigger battery? It's about range per single charge. Range will vary between motor systems and types too. A bigger battery adds weight and cost so you need a 'big enough' battery based on the distances and terrain you will be riding.
See our guide on 'What Size Battery Should I Get?'.
Years of pleasure, fun and adventure ahead
Being a 'beginner' does not exclude you from the wonderful world of cycling and ebikes. In fact an ebike, probably even more so than a normal bicycle, will provide you with more fun and adventure than you can imagine.
Its important that your first one is right for you though and assuming it is you can look forward to years of pleasure.
EBB Team Picks - Beginners EBikes
We have a large range of options in stock that are suitable for beginners and, as always, what is perfect for you will depend on what your requirements are. We recommend that you also read our Buyers Guides for other things to consider.
See our Team Picks below for available beginner ebikes if you want a shortlist.
Value and Mid-Range EBikes - Internal Hub Gears
Ordica Neo Mid range - strong mid-drive motor, low stepthrough, compact and manageable, adjustable. There is a 26" wheel version and a 24" wheel version.
Kalkhoff Image 5.B Move with fully integrated battery - lovely smooth Bosch mid-drive motors with simple internal gears. Quality German-made ebikes with deep stepthrough frames and an upright riding position. Our top pick!
Value and Mid-Range EBikes - Derailleur Gears
Dyson range - smooth hub drive motors and lots of frame styles to choose from.
- Earth Prime S Trapeze or Urban - excellent value mid-drive bikes with easy-to-manage power and gearing systems
Kalkhoff Endeavour 1.B Move Wave - with an upright comfort rising position and the strong yet smooth Bosch Gen 3 Performance motor.
Premium - with internal gears and carbon belt drive
If you want a luxurious, easy city ebike, you can't beat the Riese & Muller Swing Vario Urban.
Keen to get an EBike?
You can buy from us online, over the phone or visit us instore. We offer multiple options to make it as convenient as you wish and operate a covid-safe environment.
Our contact us page has detail on how to get in touch and get the ball rolling.