Electric Bicycles

Are you thinking about getting an e-bike? We’ve gathered some information on the basics.

E-bikes are becoming more popular. Once bulky and expensive, today’s e-bikes are lighter, more powerful and more affordable. They can be a good option for someone looking to expand their range without having to drive.

So, what is an e-bike?

An electric bicycle, known as an e-bike, is a bicycle equipped with an electric motor powered by a rechargeable battery.

What’s the difference between an e-bike and an electric scooter or a moped? E-bikes, like mopeds and electric scooters, provide economical transportation. But, e-bikes require you to pedal. Also, because mopeds or scooters are fully motorized, some provinces may require insurance and a driver’s licence to drive them.

 

What types of e-bikes are there?

E-bikes come in two categories: those with a mid-drive motor (between the pedals) and those with a hub motor (on the rear wheel axle).

Bikes with mid-drive motors look like classic bicycles but can give you a little boost when you need it. They provide progressive assistance based on how hard you pedal. This is an ideal bike for those who want to pedal, but with a little help. They can be easier to control.

Hub motor e-bikes provide even more assistance. You can choose your desired speed and power-assisted level. These also have a throttle, so you can cruise along without pedalling at all. These bikes are great for people who enjoy going for a spin but don’t want to strain their knees. Because they operate more like a small motorbike, they can be harder to control for beginners.

Shopping for an e-bike?

Love biking, but find hills and long distances too exhausting? An e-bike might be just the boost you need. Here are some things to consider when looking for the best ride:

  • Power and torque are the two things that give you the boost you need to reach your desired speed, enjoy quick and easy starts, and climb hills without straining. If you frequently ride on hilly roads, torque is more important than power for easy climbing.
  • Mid-drive bikes generally have a better range because, unlike hub-drive models, you must put at least some energy into pedalling to make the bike go, and that means less drain on the battery.
  • E-bikes are heavier than classic bicycles. You’ll really notice the weight if your battery runs out and you have to pedal unassisted!
  • If you’re looking for an e-bike that handles sharper turns and downhill cycling best, a mid-drive e-bike is likely the choice for you. Hub drives are less nimble, partly due to the more upright riding position of most models, which limits maneuverability.
  • Most e-bikes come with a handlebar display that can provide a variety of information, such as your speed, distance travelled, average speed, current assist level, and battery charge.

Here are the top three e-bike models (all with mid-drive motors) as rated by leading Canadian consumer testing group, Protégez-Vous, in partnership with CAA:

Norco Scene VLT

Top features

  • Smooth pedal stroke, well-adapted power assist, and quick starts on both flat and uphill surfaces.
  • The battery takes only 3 hours and 30 minutes to charge with a 74 km range.
  • Display screen includes data on distance remaining, based on battery charge or electric assist level used.

SPECIALIZED Turbo Vado 4.0.

Top features

  • Smooth pedal stroke, well-adapted power assist and quick starts on both flat and uphill surfaces.
  • The battery takes 3 hours and 50 minutes to charge with a 58 km range.
  • One of the few e-bikes equipped with front suspension.

GAZELLE Medeo T10 HMB

Top features

  • Stands out for its powerful motor, which will have cyclists tackling hills easily.
  • The battery takes 3 hours and 50 minutes to charge with a 64 km range.
  • One of the few e-bikes equipped with front suspension.

Buyer's guide

Interested in reading the full report and buyer’s guide, including how the evaluations were done? Check out the other top-rated e-bikes including ones with a hub-drive motor.  

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E-bike regulations in Canada

E-bikes are relatively new but gaining popularity across Canada. Eight provinces currently have regulations, but they vary..  Below is where to find the rules of the road for e-bikes across Canada, so far.

*Regions without resources do not currently have e-bike regulations in place.