3 Perfect Electric Bikes for Commuters with Awkward but Secure eBike Storage
Easily accessed, secure bike storage at home is a luxury only 14% of city dwellers can brag about. Most people park their electric bike overnight up or down a flight of stairs, in a stairwell, or in a cupboard.
If you store your electric bike in a garden shed, think carefully whether this is secure. You may want to read our discussion on insecure overnight storage.
On the flip side, if you are commuting, you will be getting your electric bike out (and putting it back) multiple times a week. So, one key requirement for you is how awkward it will be to wrangle your ebike into and out of storage.
Click here to jump immediately to some recommendations. Or, continue reading to understand the thinking behind these recommendations.
Heavier bikes require more energy to propel, but that is not the main consideration here as the electric motor will more than compensate when you are cycling. What the motor cannot compensate for is pushing a bike up stairs or lifting it into a cupboard.
An electric bike is heavier than a normal bike mainly because of the weight of the electric motor and battery. So, one feature you may consider is a removable battery as this may make the task of wrangling your bike easier.
Normal bikes have a very light front wheel and fork. This makes the bike manoeuvrable and easier to handle when cycling. When pushing your bike, a light front end makes it easier to climb kerbs and indeed stairs.
There are three configurations of electric bike in terms of motor placement: front hub, rear hub, and mid-drive.
Front hub motors are mounted on the front wheel. These are the easiest to manufacturer and maintain (and thus come on cheaper bikes) but they make riding less natural and can make getting your bike into and out of storage awkward.
When cycling, mid-drive motors are considered best; however, arguably, if you have to climb stairs every day, a rear hub motor is most convenient – especially is the battery is removable.
Rear hub motors are mounted on the rear wheel. Mid-drive motors replace the front gears and are mounted where you pedal (the crank).
The next consideration should be how you like to ride? Slower, easier, more comfortable but over shorter distances? Or faster and more determined over longer distances?
Road bikes are best for faster rides over longer distances. They are notable for a higher (often less comfortable but more supportive) seat and sometimes handlebars with a drop curve.
City bikes tend to have lower seats and flat handlebars, which encourages a more upright posture and a more leisurely ride.
The difference between road and city bikes is much more substantial but seat position is a good indicator of how the bike is configured.
In addition to thinking about how you want to ride, have a think about how often you will need to carry things on your commute. If you will ever want to carry a lap top, papers, books, or more, then likely you will want cycle bags (panniers) on a rack above your rear wheel.
Although you could carry stuff in a backpack, you will find that this makes riding more precarious. Panniers are preferred as they keep the weight closer to the ground.
Road bikes do not tend to come with racks over the rear wheel and therefore likely you will want a city bike instead of a road bike. This is not an ironclad distinction as “road bike” is a bit broadly defined.
Even if you have secure storage at work or school, likely the space is shared and therefore you will still want to lock your bike up. Given the value of electric bikes, you will want a proper lock. Click here for a discussion on bike locks.
Good bike locks are heavy. A good place to put your bike lock is in a pannier, and therefore you are probably looking for a city bike with a rear rack. Think carefully about the need to lock up your electric bike. You will not want the annoyance of carrying a lock to prevent you from taking proper precautions, leading to your bike getting stolen.
1st Option - BMC AMP Sport Two/Three Hybrid Bike (£4,300)
My first suggestion is actually two bikes from BMC, but they are very similar (including an identical price) and so bear with me for a moment.
As mentioned above, weight and weigh distribution will be important to you. Well, if you can afford it, carbon fibre is the way to go and these bikes have carbon fibre frames and forks. The Sport Two weighs in at 15.1 kg and the Sport Three 15.6 kg. You will struggle finding a lighter electric bike with these features.
Second, these bikes use a mid-drive motor. That means that the motor is in the centre of the bike where you pedal. This position makes the bike easier to lift and twist about but this also gives the best handling on the road. Plus, the motor monitors and reacts to the force you put into the pedals and your cadence making the power assist feel more natural.
The motor itself is the Shimano STEPS E-6100, which eBikeTips magazine gives 4.5 out of 5, saying it is "a real leap forward for city bikers [being] smaller, lighter, quieter, more efficient and better looking." All the other components are of similar high quality.
The difference: Look at the handlebars. The Sport Two has a more comfortable seat and flat handlebars, and thus a more upright riding position. This is the preferred position for shorter, more leisurely rides. The Sport Three has a higher, firmer seat and drop handlebars encouraging a racing posture. Technical differences in the gears, brakes and tyres complement the different riding styles.
If you don't know which is better for you, go for the Sport Two (flat handlebars). The Sport Three is for longer distances and faster speeds.
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2nd Option - BMC AMP AL City One Electric Hybrid Bike (£3,150)
The BMC Sport is a high spec electric bicycle. If it has more performance than you require (or perhaps can afford), then the City One is a good alternative. The City One bike is not made of carbon fibre. Instead it is aluminium, which is sufficiently strong, just not quite as light. Overall, this bike weights in at 20.1 kg.
The City One retains the Shimano STEPS E-6100 motor. To remind you, eBikeTips magazine gives this mid-drive motor 4.5 out of 5, saying it is "a real leap forward for city bikers [being] smaller, lighter, quieter, more efficient and better looking." All the other components are of similar high quality.
Combining the (relatively) light weight and mid-mounted motor, BikeRadar found the City One “easy to wrangle through a station, on and off a train, then up some stairs – with its weight and balance making it well within the capabilities of almost anyone.”
The bike comes with high quality components but is geared more for city riding. You will also notice the seat and handlebars are configured for a more upright, leisurely posture.
3rd Option - Emu Evo Crossbar Electric City Bike (£1,697)
Our final recommendation is a British brand from a UK company, the Emu Evo. Aluminium frame weighing in at 18.5 kg.
Although lighter than the BMC City One, the Emu Evo has a rear hub motor, which means it will be slightly more awkward to lift ; however, it is not as difficult as it might first appear because the battery is integrated into the downtube.
The entry-level version of this bike has a range of 30 miles. The battery is not removable meaning that to recharge you need to plug in the whole bike. If it is inconvenient to charge the bike during the day, you might want to opt for the larger battery (range 60 miles). If it is inconvenient to charge overnight, then this may not be the right bike for you.
Other than that, good quality Shimano gears, Samsung battery cells, and puncture-resistant tyres.
Finally, it comes with a nice security feature. The display is password protected and the motor won't work if you don't unlock the display. On the other hand, if the display is stolen during the day you will be in a pickle getting the bike home.