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Go by Bike Week: what do you need to know about buying an e-bike

Electric bikes have never been more popular than they are now! Interest is e-bikes is booming and for good reason.

More people of different backgrounds and ages and abilities are finding that e-bikes are helping them stay mobile. Whether that’s seniors or people who find conventional biking difficult or impossible or others who just like the technology and don’t mind a little help getting up that last hill.

E-bikes are fun to ride, help to erase hills in our hilly region and can extend the range that the average rider would have considered. Not to mention they’re good for hauling stuff!

The technology has improved by leaps and bounds, improving the quality of manufacturing and bringing the price of entry level e-bikes down to around $2,000 — about one-quarter the annual cost of owning a car.

The diversity of options has rapidly increased, and you’ll find electric options for nearly every flavour of bike – commuter, beach cruiser, folding and cargo bike.

“Electric bicycle” search popularity on Google Trends

What are the electric bike trends for 2020?

Watch this video find how the technology has evolved and what some of the hottest trends are.

What are some of the things you’ll need to keep in mind when you buy an e-bike?

Motor type: the biggest decision you’ll have to make is whether to purchase an electric bike with a hub motor or a mid-drive (or crank) motor. Hub motors sit in the middle of either your front or rear wheel. Mid-drive motors are housed between your pedals on the frame of your bike. Which is better is subject to an ongoing debate as both motor types have distinct pros and cons. To learn more, check out this video by Blue Monkey Bicycles or these motor guides from Bicycling.com, Canberra Electric Bicycles or Electric Bike Report.

Range: how far your battery will last depends on a number of variables, not the least of which are the specs of your e-bike. If you’re hauling cement blocks on a heavy cargo bike, uphill, against the wind, on gravel, in a rainstorm, your battery isn’t likely to last very long. And are you even pedalling? Many e-bikes come with throttle assist, which means no pedalling, but will drain your battery in a flash. To learn more about what affects e-bike range, check out this article by Really Good Ebikes or try your hand at Bosch’s slick range calculator for its mid-drive motors.

Weight: electric bikes come in a diversity of options, with some just a bit heavier than a conventional bike, with others weighing significantly more. When choosing an e-bike, it’s important to consider weight not only for riding, but also for other transport options. If you’re going to use a TransLink bus bike rack, keep in mind there is a 25 kg (55 lb) weight limit – and the battery should be removed. Other carriers also have weight and battery restrictions, including many common bike racks for automobiles, that you’ll want to keep in mind.

With the higher sticker price of e-bikes (hint, check your HUB member benefits for discounts to save a few bucks), always ensure you have access to secure storage. Buy the best lock you can afford (see lock reviews at bikeradar, GearLab, and Wirecutter), and register your bike for free at 529 Garage. Importantly, insurance options for e-bikes are available.

Just get out and try a ride! While buying an e-bike can seem complicated at first with all the technical options, you’ll get a feel for what works through test rides. Just have a clear understanding of how you’ll use the bike, what trade-off you’re willing to make and you’ll be zipping up hills in no time.

Can I convert my conventional bike to an electric?

Yes you can! Two local, popular vendors for conversion kits include EbikeBC and Grin Technologies. There’s also many more vendors online and an extensive DIY community. Just keep in mind that electric bike parts are often expensive and proprietary. Warranty, service, and repair should be top of mind for any purchase – and that goes for buying a used e-bike.

More resources

Reviews: Electric Bike Review has an in-depth guides and videos. Bicycling.com and BikeRadar also offer reviews on a variety of e-bikes.

Buying guides: REI has all the basics on how to choose an electric bike. And electrek’s guide is worth checking out since it’s aimed at first-time purchasers.

Where can I buy an electric bike in Metro Vancouver? Many of your favourite bike retailers will offer electric options alongside conventional models, but there are a retailers that specialize in electric bicycles:

Go By Bike Week: where to start when buying a bike

Bike sales are booming in Metro Vancouver. It’s no surprise.

“[People] need to get out of the house, they need to do something,” John Fialkowski, manager at Bicycle Sports Pacific, is quoted saying in a CBC article. “All of the gyms are closed, they can’t do their normal workout so people are rediscovering cycling.”

His store is among the Metro Vancouver bike shops experiencing daily lineups outside their doors before they open. Visit HUB Cycling’s website to find a bike shop near you that’s open.

What kind of bike should I buy?

The diversity of different bike options has exploded in different years as interest in the transportation mode has increased.

Whether you’re a first-time rider or an experienced bike user, whether you have short or long commutes, whether you want to cruise the beach, get to work, or haul groceries or your kids – there’s an option for you.

This is the most important question you need to consider. Among the types of bikes are are city, hybrid, road, step-through and folding bikes:

Types of bicycles (Photo: City of Boston)

The answer on what you’ll need will be driven by your travel needs and preferences.

How often and where will you be cycling – hills, paved roads or gravel? Do you value performance or comfort? Do aesthetics matter? Will you be cycling long distances, and/or carrying anything? What kind of weather will you be travelling in? What’s your budget?

The answers to these questions will inform the type of bike that will work best for you.

When it comes to bikes, we often must make trade-offs because there is no such thing as the perfect bike for every occasion.

For example, a bike you’d use to just commute to the office would probably look different from a bicycle you’d only use for long-distance and fast spins to Iona Beach. Although there are multipurpose bikes that are good for everything, but not great at anything.

Some good resources to consult include:

  • Bicycle Planet’s The Five Types of Bikes video
  • City of Boston’s Choose a Bike guide
  • MEC’s How to Buy a Bike page

Some other things to pay attention to:

  • Brakes: light and cheap or high-performance, read about brakes at MEC
  • Budget: while some bikes are quite expensive, for most people a few hundred dollars will be all you need. It’s important to weigh the costs of buying and maintaining a bicycle against car ownership, which averages about $10,000 per year per vehicle.
  • Thinking about buying a strictly commuter bike? See this video by Pure Cycles, which outlines the basics.
  • Thinking about buying a cargo bike? Sales of cargo bikes are increasing as more people and households replace their family cars with these stuff-hauling two-wheelers. Check out Momentum Magazine for cargo bike tips, reviews and buying guides.
  • Thinking about buying an electric bike? Electric Bike Review has great guides and videos. REI has all the basics on how to choose an electric bike.

Buying a bike doesn’t need to be expensive

Consider a used bike: Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, or places that sell pre-loved bikes like Our Community Bikes. Always ensure the bike you’re considering purchasing isn’t stolen by checking 529 Garage. For more information, Average Joe Cyclist has a complete guide on how to buy a used bike on Craigslist.

How should you check out a used bike prior to purchasing? For inspection tips, watch this Global Cycling Network video, read this article by Total Women’s Cycling, or use this checklist submitted by a Reddit user.

What about accessories?

Buying a bike is more than just picking up a bicycle, you’re also going to need to accessorize with essentials. Check out HUB’s Commuter Bike Shopping List to identify all the accessories you may need.

Perhaps the single most important accessory out there – a good u-lock! Prepare to shell out at least $50 if not $100 (or more) for peace of mind. Confused about which lock to buy? Check out these pages, which have scientifically tested dozens of locks on the market: bikeradarGearLab, and Wirecutter.

#Transport2050: UBC’s AnnaLisa Meyboom on apps, autonomous vehicles, and reimagined roads

By: AnnaLisa Meyboom, Assistant Professor, UBC Clean Energy Research Centre and author, Driverless Urban Futures

We’ve asked thought leaders to share their vision for the future of transportation. What do you see? Shape the future of how we move and live. Visit transport2050.ca

By: AnnaLisa Meyboom, Assistant Professor, UBC Clean Energy Research Centre and author, Driverless Urban Futures

Transportation is key to accessing jobs, services and to increasing general productivity – less time wasted getting places. New technologies have the potential to get everyone where they need to go more conveniently. The term “everyone” is also important – our societal goal should be to provide access and ease of transportation to all ages, abilities and incomes. This will strengthen our social fabric as well as our economy.

What technologies are coming that could enable this?

Read more »

#Transport2050: Douglas McLeod and the “Evolution of Mobility in Surrey”

Douglas McLeod, P.Eng., Transportation Planning Manager, City of Surrey

We’ve asked thought leaders to share their vision for the future of transportation. What do you see? Shape the future of how we move and live. Visit transport2050.ca

By Douglas McLeod, P.Eng., Transportation Planning Manager, City of Surrey

We live in a world constantly on the move. In a city like Surrey, that means 570,000 people all moving in different ways. By 2050, that’ll be about 850,000 ways.

Our best hope for a truly sustainable transportation future is a mobility evolution.

Read more »

#Transport2050 Update: two weeks to go, have your say before the deadline!

Could smartphone-enabled augmented reality be in our future. Image credit – Enuke Software

In May, we kicked off Transport 2050, our largest ever public engagement, to ask the people of the region: what kind of transportation future do you want?

With just over two weeks to go before Phase 1 engagement ends on September 22, over 26,000 surveys and 2,000 ideas have been submitted! Not only that, our outreach team has been to nearly every corner of Metro Vancouver – including at the PNE Fair at the Transport 2050 Expo!

The clock is ticking — have you had your say? Tell us about your values, priorities, and ideas for the future before the survey closes on September 22.

What are we hearing? Read on!

Read more »

#Transport2050: Gold-medal transit and reimagined streets for tomorrow, by City of Vancouver’s Dale Bracewell

Dale Bracewell, Manager, Transportation Planning, City of Vancouver

We’ve asked thought leaders to share their vision for the future of transportation. What do you see? Shape the future of how we move and live. Visit transport2050.ca.

By Dale Bracewell, Manager, Transportation Planning, City of Vancouver

My vision for Metro Vancouver in 2050 is that mobility will be transit-rich, people-centred, and equitably priced.

Read more »

PNE Fair: Hop on a demo, get the jump on a giveaway at our partner displays

Come visit the Transport 2050 Expo at the PNE Fair, starting tomorrow!

Check out our partner activations. Take a ride or try for a chance at a giveaway prize. We’ve got the past, present, and future of transportation on location. Some of our partner activations include:

Evo Car Share: Vehicle and activation on site

Image credit: Evo Car Share

We are the evolution of car sharing built for British Columbians. Evo gives you the flexibility to pick up and drop off in different locations, getting you from here to there with room for your friends. Our fleet of Toyota Prius Hybrids provides affordable travel with a lighter environmental footprint and all the space you need to enjoy the best of BC. Read more »

PNE Fair: Our transportation past and future in 3D and virtual reality

This summer at the Transport 2050 Expo at the PNE Fair, you’re invited to take a trip into the future. But first, we need to make a stop in the past.

3D “MicroCity” model

Sneak peak: a snapshot of downtown Vancouver while the 3D “MicroCity” model is under construction.

Why does the region look the way it does? And what’s the history behind the shape of our communities and our streets? Read more »