Electric bikes have a motor that kicks in when you need some extra power, making it easier to cycle over long distances or hilly terrains.
There are a wide variety of models and types to consider, from commuter bikes and folding bike models through to off-road mountain bikes that can go virtually anywhere. Our testers not only put a range of e-bikes through testing for ease of use, charging the battery and portability when storing the bike, they also take the e-bikes out on the road to see how they perform under different bike riding scenarios.
Why do we choose one e-bike over another? There are a number of reasons, but our priority is to test what the average consumer (or CHOICE member) is most likely to consider for commuting, exercise or recreation. That means sometimes we might not cover the one brand that has one model that's only sold 100 samples in Australia, and instead focus on the big brand models that you're most likely to see in shops.
How do we know what's in shops? We ask manufacturers and check current market figures to see what's selling well. We'll also include models that you've requested – if a lot of members want it, we're going to test it.
When we know what you want, our buyers go out and purchase e-bikes from a variety of retailers if possible, then bring them in as-is. This means we get what you'd get, so we can be sure the results are what you'll find (and the e-bikes haven't been 'tweaked' in any way for better performance).
Pedal assistance: How well does the motor assist with speed when pedalling? The testers consider aspects such as how suddenly the motor kicks in when moving the pedal (providing a smooth transition or a sudden burst). They also look at how natural the motor assistance is when moving through the gears.
Braking: How quickly does the e-bike respond to the cyclist's braking action?
Turning and low speed performance: The testers assess how well the bike performs when riding uphill and slow riding where accuracy in turning and handlebar response is important.
Ride comfort: Our testers assess the comfort of the bike when riding over rough terrain such as off road and bumps.
Handling: The testers look at ease of mounting, dismounting, off-bike handling (walking the bike), safety and comfort.
Controls: All the menu controls are looked at for intuitiveness and ease of access.
Battery use (on-bike): The testers consider ease of charging aspects when the battery is left on the bike, including how easy it is to see the charging level and also ease of access for the charging cable.
Battery use (off-bike): This is an assessment of the battery when taken off the bike, for use when the bike may not be stored near a power point.
Display: Our testers look at the quality of the screen and menu items.
The CHOICE Expert Rating, our overall score, is a combination of the comfort, ease of use and accuracy scores.
- Pedal assistance score (15%)
- Braking score (15%)
- Turning and low speed score (10%)
- Ride comfort score (10%)
- Handling score (10%)
- Controls score (10%)
- Battery use (on-bike) score (10%)
- Battery use (off-bike) score (10%)*
- Display score (10%)
* The Orbea Vibe H30 has a non-removable battery so does not receive a score for the battery use (off-bike) test, but this does not affect its CHOICE Expert Rating as the user will generally know about this before buying.