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What is an electric bike? The ultimate buyers’ guide

It might look like a regular bike, but E-bikes are anything but! E-bikes are the hottest way to get where you’re going faster – and with a lot more fun along the way. But we get it, there are A LOT of things to think about when buying an E-bike, not least, “Can I charge it like my phone?” Spoiler alert: you can!   Read on for a lesson in all things E-bikes in the best E-bike buyers’ guide.

What is an E-bike?

If you’re thinking an E-bike looks a lot like a standard bike but with a few more (very handy) parts, then you’re right. These parts put the ‘electric’ in ‘E’-bike: the electric motor, battery, and controls.

Our designers integrate these extra components into the bike’s frame so it isn’t any bulkier than a traditional bike. So, they look similar, but what’s it like riding an electric bike? You guessed it: it’s like riding a regular bike but with an extra boost when you engage the motor.

How does an electric bike actually work? We won’t get (too) technical on you, but there are some handy things worth knowing, so let’s start with the ones we’ve already mentioned above: the motor, the battery, and the controls.

The e-bike motor

When buying an E-bike, there are two things to look for when choosing the motor: the number of Watts (W) and Newton-meters (Nm).

A higher W power rating means the E-bike can pull weight more easily. (But remember: a higher W motor also drains the battery more quickly). The Nm rating refers to the force used to turn the E-bike’s back wheel – aka ‘torque.’ A higher Nm rating can turn the back wheel more quickly to help you accelerate or climb a steep slope.

Momentum has three types of motors, SyncDrive Move, SyncDrive Life, and SyncDrive Pro, all with 250W of power and 20 Nm, 60 Nm, and 80 Nm of torque, respectively. We help ensure you have the best motor and battery combo for your riding style.

The E-bike battery

Your E-bike’s battery powers the motor. For Momentum’s lithium-polymer batteries, note the number of ‘Wh.’ This stands for ‘watt-hours;’ the bigger the number, the further the E-bike can go. Just remember, the distance you can travel is also based on the terrain and ride mode.

Batteries with a higher Wh can take slightly longer to charge because of their extra power. For example, a 500 Wh E-bike battery might take under 4 hours to fully charge, while a 625 Wh battery could take up to 5 hours. However, all Momentum batteries’ lifetimes are similar.

Momentum’s EnergyPak E-bike battery range comes in 250Wh and 500Wh options, but if you’re going to take your E-bike EVERYWHERE, you’ll love the range extender add-on that can boost capacity by 250Wh.

The e-bike controller

The controller lets you choose how much assistance you get from the motor. We have three types of controllers: RideControl Go, RideControl One and RideControl Dash. All of them are easy to use and make for a smooth, effortless ride. RideControl Go lets you switch the power and support modes and displays your battery level and support mode. This is also where you activate your E-bike’s walk assist function. RideControl One is like RideControl Go, but with additional LED lights and robust buttons so it’s easy to use in all conditions. RideControl Dash shows your range, battery level, support mode, speed, and distance.


When the electric assistance function is turned on, just pedal normally to active your E-bike’s assistance-- the E-bike knows to provide an extra boost!

How fast does an E-bike go?

We are totally here for the go-faster vibes, and because E-bikes can go quicker than traditional bikes, countries have different laws regulating how fast they can go. The way most of these laws work is that the E-bike can provide an added speed boost up to a certain point. Once the E-bike reaches a specific speed, the motor stops providing electrical assistance and any additional speed on top of that is powered by you. This means the absolute fastest speed your electric bike can go, in part, depends on how fast and hard you can pedal! You can learn more details in this article.

As we said, different countries have different laws. Let’s start with the United States where there are three classes of E-bikes

commute by bike, e-bike motor, ride fast, pedal fast, pedal-activated assistance
Class 1 e-bikes
have pedal-activated assistance. The E-bike’s electrical assistance stops after the bike reaches a speed of 20 mph.
pedal-activated assistance, motorbike, two woman riding bikes, back views, sunset
Class 2 e-bikes
have pedal-activated assistance that stops at 20 mph. However, Class 2 e-bikes also have throttle-activated assistance modes, which means the bike can provide electrical assistance even when you stop pedaling, like a motorbike. Momentum does not currently sell Class 2 e-bikes.
pedal-activated assistance, ride fast, ride with pet, cargo bike, ride with dog, walk the dog
Class 3 e-bikes
have pedal-activated assistance that stops after the bike reaches 28 mph.

In Europe, things are a bit simpler. The E-bike must have pedal-activated assistance that stops once the bike reaches a speed of 15.5 mph (about 25 kmph). Not quite as fast as the States, but still a nice added boost to your ride. And remember, it’s still a bike so you can keep pedaling and reach a higher top speed with your own leg power once the electrical assistance stops, if needed.

Is an E-bike worth the money?

E-bike math is something we can totally get behind! E-bikes cost slightly more than traditional bikes, but the price difference is worth it given the increase in convenience: you can go further and faster on an E-bike.

Don’t believe the hype? The benefits of E-bikes have been looked at in numerous studies, which show that using less effort while riding allows people to ride greater distances and, most importantly, ride more often.

The numbers are impressive: E-bike riders are twice as likely as traditional bike riders to use their bike at least once a week. The extra boost from an electric bike makes it easier to ride to work without getting too sweaty, while the additional speed can be a lifesaver if you’re running a bit late (you feel seen, right?).

But an E-bike’s price tag is an even bigger steal when you compare it to other modes of transportation. After the initial investment (which is already a fraction of the cost of buying a car or motorcycle) an E-bike’s maintenance costs are low. In fact, they’re about the same as a regular bike, including parts like new tires or chains after they wear out. Compared to owning a car in the city, with its high costs for gas, parking, insurance, and maintenance, an electric bike turns out to be a really affordable option. And it might even be faster since you won’t get stuck in traffic.

And consider this your reminder that life on two wheels is seriously good for your health: Even on an E-bike, the extra boost provided by the motor is only assistance to your own pedaling efforts, and that can be a whole leg day right there! Switching up a more sedentary commute or journey for one that gets your heart and lungs pumping is a great way to reduce stress, improve your mental health, and get a sneaky workout into your day.

How to choose and buy an E-bike

There are so many options. Don’t be overwhelmed…choice is good! It means it’s much easier to find the perfect E-bike for you. But when deciding which E-bike to buy, ask yourself these basic questions to understand your needs:

1. Where will you ride the most? 

For example, if you plan to use your E-bike for your daily commute, then you might want to consider a city E-bike with a smart controller that offers a fast and seamless ride.

2. How often do you plan to ride?

Again, if it’s for everyday use, then a city E-bike with a fast-charging battery is important.

3. How far do you plan to ride every day?

Your E-bike’s range (that’s how far it gets on a single charge) is very important, so if you’re riding to and from work, you’re probably going to want a commuter city bike with a bigger range than, say, a weekender relaxed riding style bike.

4. Do you need to carry a lot of stuff or kids while you ride?

A cargo E-bike will help you carry an extra load without having to work any harder. And if you want to just explore the city, ride for fitness, or have fun with friends, then you should make range and comfort your top priorities.

Here are some of our best-selling options, whether you want a commuter-friendly ride, or an E-bike to spice up your social life!

The Transend E+ is made for commuting

If you’re going back and forth to work every day, you want an E-bike that focuses on range and speed, which will help you ride further and faster with less effort. The Transend E+ has an integrated EnergyPak 500 battery that lets you ride longer distances on a single charge (the ideal range is 170km), and with six levels of pedal support you’ll be able to tackle hills faster and sweat-free. When working out a bike’s range, you need to consider a few factors: rider weight, riding style, riding conditions, and tire pressure. All of these can impact an E-bike’s top range. When compared to riding the bus or the subway, how far you can go on a single charge is still healthier, greener, and way more fun on the Transend E+! Plus, the bike’s upright position and luxe saddle make it super comfortable.

E-bikes for exploring

These next bikes scream comfort, and we know how important that is! Our Vida E+ and LaFree E+ models were designed with comfort as their top priority. Both are available with low-step frames, making it easier to get on and off your bike, and grippy 2.35-inch tires provide a chilled ride, regardless of the terrain.

Check out our complete range of E-bikes to find out which model best fits your needs.

Where can I buy a Momentum E-bike?

We are obsessed with E-bikes, and we want to make buying one as easy as possible. We have a global network of retailers and bike shops where our experts are ready to help you find the perfect E-bike. Find your closest Momentum E-bike retailer here. And if you know what you want already, just order online here.