3 Perfect Electric Bikes for Commuters who lock up in Public
Roughly 2/3rds of bike thefts reported are from homes and associated outbuildings and shed. So, your first consideration should be where you keep your bike overnight. If it can be awkward getting your bike into and out of overnight storage, have a read of our discussion on the best electric back when you have awkward storage.
Assuming you are content with your overnight storage arrangements, your next consideration is how you plan to secure your electric bike during the day. All bikes are of interest to thieves. Electric bikes are particularly attractive targets, and given enough time, there is a way through any lock.
Have a read of our article on bike locks. If you have one or more high quality locks and your bike is in an area with many people (or if there are CCTV cameras about), then it is unlikely thieves will bring the tools required to steal your bike.
Below we recommend specific electric bikes that have some features that may be of relevance to you.
Click here to jump immediately to these recommendations. Or, continue reading to understand the thinking behind these recommendations.
Weight and Weight Distribution
Heavier bike require more effort when cycling but the addition of an electric motor largely eliminates this concern. As such, weight should not be a major issue for you.
If you have to mount a number of kerbs you might find a bike with a front hub motor (i.e. where the electric motor is integrated into the front wheel) to be a little annoying. However, other than this, given that you will not be lifting your bike much, weight distribution should not be a major issue.
Bike thieves do not need to steal your entire bike. On a normal bike, thieves have been known to steal just the front wheel or seat. On an electric bike you also need to worry about the battery and electric motor – especially hub mounted motors.
Starting with batteries, broadly speaking there are three types.
Some batteries are integrated into the frame – typically the downtube. You need not worry about these as the battery cannot be removed easily, but be aware that this means you will need to plug in the entire bike when recharging. This option may make it difficult for you to recharge you bike during the day.
Other battery packs are designed to be easy to remove and easy to carry. This is a good option as long as you remember to take the battery with you. We recommend getting into the habit of taking the battery inside with you and recharging while you are there.
The third type includes a lock on the battery; however, in many cases this provides a false sense of security. This approach has decidedly mixed reviews. On one brand of electric bike, although a key is requires to unlike the battery, any key will do! On other brands, the locking mechanism can be unlock with a piece of card or any credit card.
The Eovolt bike listed below incorporates the battery into the seat post. This kills two birds with one stone as you should be taking the bike seat with you anyway.
Hub Mounted Motors
The front wheel of a normal bike is not that valuable and thus, although you should lock it up, you do not need a particularly secure lock to prevent casual theft. If you have a front hub motor, however, then the front wheel is substantially more valuable and you may require a second (expensive) lock to protect it.
A rear hub motor is equally as valuable but generally speaking the rear wheel is harder to remove and most people are already in the habit of locking the rear wheel. So, a rear hub motor is pretty secure.
Although a mid-drive motor is perhaps the most secure as an individual item, its bulk often requires increased distance between the rear wheel and the frame. This gap may be wide enough that you are unable to lock up your bike (rear wheel and frame) with a single lock. In addition, mid-drive motors are more valuable. So, on the whole you will probably not want to lock up a mid-drive electric bike in public.
1st Option - Eovolt City One 16” Electric Folding Bike (£1,397)
Our first recommendation is a folding bike. Frankly it is ill-advised to leave an e-bike outside or in a public space overnight. So, if you can take the bike with you, we recommend that you do so.
Specifically we recommend the Eovolt City One because it is one of the cheapest (while still reasonable) folding e-bikes on the market. It is an impressively light 14kg and folds down to 58 x 75 x 42 cm. Note: If you want to look at other folding bike options, click HERE.
Even though inexpensive, don't think you are compromising on quality and performance. Bike Review rates this bike as 8.4 out of 10 and customers rate is 4.6 out of 5.
One issue to keep in mind (particularly with folding bikes) is battery range: 31 miles in this case. With Eovolt, the battery is cleverly integrated into the seat post and can be fully charged within 3-4 hours. So, likely this range applies to just one leg of your commute.
Integrating the battery into the seat post is also useful because, if you do lock up your bike in public during the day, it is good practice to take the seat, battery, and display unit with you. Integrating the battery into the seat post means one less thing to worry about.
2nd Option - Emu Roam Crossbar Electric Road Bike (£997)
Perhaps one of the least expensive electric bikes available in the UK, The Guardian summarises the Emu Roam as " a good bike at a fair price."
A British brand and a UK company, the Emu Roam is configured as a city bike and so a more comfortable, leisurely ride. The entry level battery has a range of 50 miles, which can be removed and charged during the day - taking a good top up in 1-2 hours but requiring 6-7 hours for a full recharge.
The components are good quality: Shimano breaks and gears, Samsung battery cells, puncture-resistant tyres, chain guard.
One drawback is the front hub motor. Although this is simpler (and thus an inexpensive bike) and easier to maintain, the bike is heavier, especially in the front, noticeable even when mounting a kerb ... and has less traction (and thus less power) on hills.
From a security perspective, if you do lock this bike up in public during the day, you will have to have a good lock on the front wheel. It does have 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.
3rd Option - Wisper 905 Crossbar Hybrid Electric Bike (£1,345)
If you want a step up from the Evo Roam, then we recommend the Wisper 905.
Wisper (based in Kent) have over 14 years of experience in the electric bicycle industry and thus have a good idea of what they are doing. This is confirmed by a 4.7 out of 5 score on Trustpilot with over 500 reviews.
Besides its low costs (but high quality) there are a few features that make this bike particularly relevant. First, removable rear rack battery. If you are locking up your electric bike in public during the day, you will want to take the battery, seat and perhaps display with you. Although the Wisper battery has a key lock holding it secure, it is easy to remove and convenient to carry ... and you should do this.
The battery comes in three sizes. The smallest (375 Wh) gives the bike a range of 40 miles. If you want more range, there are two larger battery sizes.
Second, rear hub motor. As mentioned above, front hub motors are less expensive to manufacture and maintain, but the front end is heavier than you may be used to making it slightly harder to manoeuver, a little underpowered on hills and loose surfaces, and requiring of a little extra effort even to mount a kerb.
One issue with all hub motors (front or rear) is that hub motors can feel a little unnatural in how they deliver power. Mid-drive motors generally feel more natural because they have sensors in the pedals themselves.
Traditionally, hub motors provide power based on whether the pedals are moving. Often it takes a quarter to half a turn before power is turned on. This can mean that you are putting in all the effort to get the bike moving when the light turns green. Wisper has a Torque sensor option that we highly recommend (for an addition £200).
Torque sensors measure the pressure you are putting on the pedals. As soon as you push down, power assist is turned on. And the harder you are pedaling (the harder you are working), the more power that is provided.