Which electric bike should I buy?

Our buyers’ guide to help you choose your new e-bike

With so many models and options to choose from, buying an e-bike can be overwhelming.

Looking for more specific advice?

If you’ve already decided which brand of bike you want, we have specific guides for each of the brands we sell to explain the models and naming of their bikes:

Frame shapes and sizes

One of the most important considerations when buying a new bike is how the shape and size of the frame will suit you. The history of bike frames and shapes goes back to the very beginnings of the bicycle over 200 years ago. However in broad terms we settled on the following naming at around the turn of the 20th century, and the fundamentals haven’t changed much since then.

Frame shape

If we put recumbents and other non-standard bicycles to one side, there are three main frame shapes:

  • Diamond: the archetypal “bicycle shape” composed of two triangles. These bikes have a horizontal (or roughly horizontal) top tube – also known as a crossbar. The shape of a diamond frame makes it optimal for strength and rigidity, but the high top tube means you have to swing your leg over the back wheel to get on them. Partly for this reason, this design has historically been considered primarily a men’s option. A great example of a diamond frame bike is Riese & Müller’s UBN Five.
  • Step-through: with a longer history than the diamond shape, step-through bikes bear a stronger resemblance to the earliest bicycle designs. These bikes typically don’t have a top tube at all, and can therefore be mounted by stepping through the frame, as the name suggests. To make up for the lack of a top tube, step-through frames require a stronger, thicker frame. They typically also have a shorter distance between the saddle and handlebars (known in the bike world as “reach”), leading to a more upright seating position. Broadly considered a unisex option, most public bicycle hire schemes feature step-through bikes. The Riese & Müller’s Nevo is a prime example of a step-through bike.
  • Mixte: generally considered a compromise between a diamond frame and a step-through, the mixte frame aims to achieve the best of both worlds. It has a top tube, meaning it has much of the strength and rigidity of a diamond frame, however the top tube runs at a downward angle from the handlebars to the seat tube so you can mount it without having to swing your leg over the back wheel. The mixte frame design came about largely to satisfy Victorian social norms, i.e. no lady should be swinging her leg high enough to mount a diamond frame! As such, mixte frame bikes are still often referred to as “ladies’ bicycles”. However they’re perfect for anyone who wants something that’s easier to get on and off. Many Riese & Müller bicycles are available in both diamond and mixte frame shape options, including the Riese & Müller Multicharger.

N.B. Some manufacturers such as Gazelle refer to the diamond frame shape as “high-step”, the step-through frame shape as “low-step”, and the mixte frame shape as “mid-step”. And for example, many Gazelle bikes such as the Gazelle Paris are available with either a high-step or low-step frame shape.

Frame size

Most bikes are available in different frame sizes and the measurement most commonly used to specify the size of the frame is the length of the seat tube. This measurement is normally from the centre of the bottom bracket. An obvious factor in choosing the correct frame height is how tall you are, but we’re all different and so other considerations include leg length, riding style and personal preference.

Most cargo and folding bikes have one universal frame size with highly adjustable seating and handlebar positions. However for almost all other types of bike, there are normally at least three frame size options, sometimes simply expressed as small, medium and large. For all the bikes we sell in multiple sizes, the frame size is specified as the seat tube length as above.

An important thing to note about frame size is that the seat tube length isn’t a universal reference across all bike brands and models. For example, just because your current bike is a 51cm and fits you well, it doesn’t mean any bike with a 51cm frame size will fit or feel the same.

So what’s the best frame size for you? It depends, but help is at hand. If you give us a call or pop in to the shop, we’ll be very happy to help. The most important thing is to actually try bikes out and get a feel for different frame sizes, which is why we offer free test rides on all our bikes. If you’re keen to do more research now, check out this article on Gazelle’s website where they explain how to calculate your bike frame size.

Motor types, battery sizes and power

The type of motor an e-bike has is a key differentiating factor. As a Bosch Service Partner and Fazua Certified Partner, we only sell bikes that use these e-bike systems. Bosch’s line of motors and corresponding power ratings are:

  • Active Line: Bosch’s entry-level e-bike motor with 40 Nm of torque for city riding.
  • Active Line Plus: An upgraded version of the Active Line motor with 50 Nm of torque.
  • Performance Line SX: Bosch’s brand new, state-of-the-art lightweight motor with a refined system that reduces motor resistance by 50% and makes it feel much more powerful than its specified 55 Nm of torque.
  • Performance Line: A high-performance motor that delivers 75 Nm of torque for longer distance touring and climbing hills.
  • Cargo Line: A cargo variation of the Performance Line CX with 85 Nm of torque which is tailored for delivering more power at low speeds.
  • Performance Line CX: Bosch’s most powerful e-bike motor with 85 Nm of torque.

Still confused? Have we missed something?

As helpful as this guide hopefully is, nothing compares to actually trying out a few bikes and seeing how they feel. We have an extensive range of Riese & Müller bikes that you can test ride for free, and then discuss all this with us in person over a tea or coffee. Book your free test ride today.

If you feel there’s something this guide hasn’t covered which it really should have, please give us a shout on 01524 938755, or drop us an email.

Visit us

The E-Radicals shop on King Street

Visit our showroom and test ride our bikes:

15 King Street
Lancaster
Lancashire
LA1 1JN

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Contact us

Call us on 01524 938755 for friendly expert advice, or email us.

Opening times

Mon: Closed
Tue: 10:30am-5pm
Wed: 10:30am-5pm
Thu: 12-5pm
Fri: 10:30am-5pm
Sat: 10:30am-5pm
Sun: Closed

Service Partner:

Official Bosch Service Partner

Certified Partner:

Fazua Certified Partner