How To Choose An E-Bike In South Africa 

How To Choose An E-Bike In South Africa 

So, you’ve decided to buy yourself an electric bike! Great decision, but that was the easy part. Choosing the right one for you could prove to be a little bit more of a tiresome matter, especially if you are new to the subject of ‘e-biking.’ 

With South Africa’s economy as it is, your first consideration with regard to the purchase of an e-bike might most likely be its price. Affordability will understandably be an important factor to you at this point but so should numerous other features, most especially safety. 

E-bikes range in price from R10,000 to R30,000, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that the most expensive ones are the best. Really good e-bikes can be found between both extremes if you pick and choose with care. Buying an e-bike should not be done with the fervor we might be accustomed to when buying a conventional bicycle, and as you read on you shall find out why. 

You ought to first ask yourself what type of e-bike it is that you are looking for, and which one would suit your requirements best. There are multiple types of e-bikes out there even though they fall into three main categories. Remember to look for an e-bike that will work for you regardless of whether it is a ‘cargo bike’, ‘off-road bike’, or ‘commuter bike.’ 

Incidentally, South African rangers at the Kruger national park have been given silent, solar-charged e-bikes to assist them in their fight against poaching. 

Conventional bikes or bicycles are still the most common sight when it comes to two-wheelers all across the land. Go towards the areas in South Africa which are frequented by tourists though, and you are sure to see e-bikes zipping around. Costing much less than a motorcycle, e-bikes are proving to be a great solution for traveling and also simply getting around. Thus, it should not be a wonder that the number of people becoming interested in buying an e-bike is growing by the day, 

Electric bikes and commuter e-bikes 

A Google search will show you that e-bikes are manufactured with lots of variations, styles, and options. Some are created for recreational purposes and some are built for short distances which the city dweller might find useful. You will also find more powerful bikes built for long trips and even e-bikes for those who are physically handicapped. 

Street e-bikes 

Street bikes, otherwise known as road bikes, are so named for the purpose they have been built; street riding. The motors of these e-bikes perform well while traveling up and incline and are great for commuting too. It isn’t uncommon to find some of them bearing cargo too, which are tied to racks fitted by the owner himself. 

Mountain e-bikes 

We all know what mountain bikes are and what they are made for, so the electric version of it doesn’t really need an introduction. Still, it is worth pointing out that these particular two-wheelers will make your off-road riding experience a whole lot less uncomfortable than their motor-less counterparts. 

Folding e-bikes 

This particular model is gaining popularity fast among people of all ages and walks of life. Falling into the commuter bike group, you may fold some models and place them easily in the back of your car and even in the baggage compartment of coaches and trains. 

Designed in many shapes, colors, and sizes to suit various needs and preferences, folding e-bikes usually fold in half but you will find some with more folding options. 

Since all folding bikes aren’t built the same, it is advisable for you to make sure the models you might be thinking of buying meet your requirements. The features of these bikes vary very widely from model to model. For example, there are folding e-bikes with broad tires for rough terrain and ones with narrow tires for ordinary traveling surfaces. You can also choose folding e-bikes from multiple weight categories. Remember that lightweight models are easier to carry around. Heavier models do have their plus points and adding a bicycle rack to your car to transfer them from one place to another when you aren’t riding them will certainly be useful. Also, check out the seats of the folding variation of electric bikes because a

few of them have seen to be installed with pretty uncomfortable ones. 

If you asked me which model of the e-bike I liked the most, I would tell you that it is the ‘Cruiser.’ I found the Cruiser immensely comfortable. I also found that the Cruiser has the same features and options as other types of e-bikes and a couple of models that offer even more. The bike is great to ride because of its thoughtfully designed frame, comfy seat, and large tires. It’s designed to allow you to be seated in a good position even when you’ve got both your arms stretched and gripping the handlebars. e road. A Cruiser closely resembles a commuter e-bike. 

After you’ve decided on what type of e-bike it is that you want to buy, study its features. Find out how powerful its motor is with the topography of the land area you reside within in mind. If you are bound to be traveling up inclines and steep hills a lot, you will need to use an e-bike that’s fitted with a motor of high wattage. Otherwise, a 240-watt motor would suit you just fine. 

An e-bike with a throttle controls power output. It’s a valuable option that will add to the power you already receive from your electric motor. Throttle will be of significant importance to a less-abled person who might find it otherwise difficult to get moving from a standstill position. A throttle will give them that extra boost if ever and whenever it is they find it necessary. 

As you pick and choose, you will discover that a number of electric bikes come with the option of being either powered completely manually, manually, and with assistance from the motor, or wholly powered by the motor. 

The battery 

Just like mobile phone batteries, e-bike motor batteries come in various grades from all corners of the globe. You have to make sure that the battery fitted to your e-bike is of good quality, and preferably comes with a guarantee of its own. This can be achieved by finding out if the manufacturer is of sound reputation and if their products are well known for performance, durability, and long life. 

Typically, a 36-volt battery would be suitable for flat terrain provided that you are of average weight, but a battery with a higher voltage will be required to carry a heavy person. This is especially so when ascending an incline. In addition, you will want to be advised that a battery with a greater capacity will provide you with more miles. 

According to the site ‘DisruptAfrica’, a startup company in South Africa has somehow been able to successfully extend the battery life of the e-bikes they sell. The result invariably gives drivers 100-120 kilometers of travel time each day and making double shifts for professional riders possible too. 

The frame – The frames of e-bikes are usually made of aluminum and sometimes from carbon fiber. Still, others are made of steel. E-bikes in general are heavier than conventional bikes predominantly because of the materials they have been fabricated from and also because of individual designs. The Sometimes bulky motor, along with the battery contributes significantly to their overall weight. E-bikes can move quickly and weave in and out of traffic quite effortlessly because of their motors. Still, a light e-bike will certainly respond better to acceleration and steering. Hence, if you are faced with a situation where you must choose between a bulky e-bike and a sleek one, remember that the sleek model will almost certainly be the better option. 

Scrutinize your e-bike warranty for what’s in it and for what’s not. 

Warranties are important. Very, very important. Be prepared to spend some time scrutinizing the warranty that comes with any bike you’ve got your eyes set on. Read what the warranty covers and also what it doesn’t cover and make your decision accordingly. 

Reputed manufacturers will always provide a warranty for their products while inferior brands may not. 

Do bear in mind that when you buy from a shop or a dealer, the probability of a disagreement arising between the seller and you over the warranty in the event of a broken part is very low. On the other hand, buying from an online source or purchasing a second-hand item from another individual may prove to be troublesome as far as warranties are concerned. Hence, it’s advisable to be cautious if you choose to purchase your e-bike in either of the two latter cases. 

On a final note on the subject of warranties, be aware that it is a fact there are some e-bike manufacturers who do provide lifetime warranties for their products. 

Safety – Brakes, lights, tires, and rearview mirror

Brakes – Unlike the experience of riding an ordinary bicycle, your e-bike will feel more like a motorcycle as you speed up with the assistance of its motor on the road or while navigating around obstacles in rough off-road terrain. You can travel faster with an electric bike than with an ordinary bicycle. It is therefore of vital importance for you to make absolutely certain that your brakes are working perfectly at all times. Rather than choosing to attend to the brakes yourself, let a professional do it. Issues with parts like the discs and hubs must be taken care of only by a professional bike repairman. 

Remember, the more you speed on your bike the more wear and tear on its braking system. Similarly, the more it is used in bad weather conditions, the faster its deterioration. Periodical maintenance and servicing is essential for the long life of your bike and brakes. Having your e-bike serviced annually is a must. 

And in case you didn’t know about it as yet, anti-locking braking systems or ABS has been invented. This is certainly something worthwhile for the rider who’s constantly on his or her e-bike to think about. 

Lights – Whenever I hear anyone talk about riding e-bikes or any other kind of bike for that matter, well-powered headlights, taillights, helmet lights, and a good horn come into my mind. If riding your bike in traffic during the day isn’t dangerous enough, doing it at night or during poor visibility definitely is! 

The more you illuminate your e-bike and yourself, the safer you will be. The only way to achieve this is with additional LED lights and if you think that powering them will be a problem, think again. ‘bike school’ shows you how to power additional 12V lights on your e-bike without a DC-DC converter. This is something you might want to read about. 

Tires – Different tires meet different needs. For example, if you’re riding your e-bike on mountainous terrain, you’re going to have to think of ‘broad’ tires. If you are riding your e-bike solely in the city, you will find that narrow tires are best suited for the job. 

Don’t ever wait until your tires are wasted to the point of being ‘bald’ before you decide to change them. It is extremely dangerous to ride any type of bike with wasted tires. 

Rearview mirror 

I cannot really stress enough that your e-bike must have a rearview mirror installed on it. Having a rearview mirror is vital for road travel and it could very well save you from serious injury or even worse, someday 

(In October 2004, the South African government passed a law making it compulsory for all bicyclists to wear helmets. The regulation requires the use of a protective helmet that is properly fastened and fitted while riding a bicycle or being carried as a passenger. – 

Can e-bikes carry a heavy weight? 

Electric bikes are not very different from conventional bikes when it comes to their strength and the weight they can take. All bikes are capable of carrying approximately 150 kg, but a rider with such a weight can expect his e-bike or conventional bicycle to be sent to the scrapyard sooner rather than later. 

There are several makes of e-bikes that give you a range of accessories to choose from. These features and options could be very useful to you, so taking the time to study each one of them will definitely be advantageous to you in the long term. 

Cargo racks – Sometimes optional, sometimes standard, these racks can be fitted on e-bikes. A variety of such racks are sold separately too. 

LCD displays – A rider needs to be aware of everything that’s going on with his e-bike, and what better way to be informed about it than with an e-bike handlebar computer that allows you to keep an eye on the battery life, drive mode, miles covered, speedometer, etc.? 

Smartphone connection to e-bike – State-of-the-art electronics on e-bikes can be used to connect wirelessly with your iPhone and smartphone. The applications may provide you with GPS, maintenance details, and other screen data. You may even unlock your e-bike’s digital lock with these apps. 

Test ride – Test ride any bike you find appealing to you and meets your requirements so that you may find out which one you are most comfortable on and how it responds to you. 

Always make sure the volts and amp-hours are listed and do not even think of buying an electric bike that

does not have it’s volts and amp-hours clearly exhibited. Always make sure that these numbers are clearly listed because they give you a general idea of what the genuine range of the e-bike. Also do not forget to consider the main aspects of the e-bike that you wish to buy, namely how good it looks, it’s torque, the distance it can cover, it’s price, details of it’s motor, maximum weight, battery manufacturer, and warranty. 

Again, wear a helmet always. Having one on your head each time you mount your e-bike is the ultimate, most important precaution you can take to avoid either serious injury or even worse while riding your two wheeler. 

Gloves are important too as they can definitely protect you from injury if you fall off your bike. Protective glasses can prevent your eyes from flying insects and other tiny objects like sand, so wear one too. Keep a container, preferably made from plastic, with you. 

Be visible at all times. 

Check your horn each time you take your bike out. 

I hope you end up buying a good e-bike and enjoy every moment upon it.