As you have no doubt heard if you've done any research on electric bikes, e-bikes are soaring in popularity right now. They're not everywhere yet — investing in a quality electric bike certainly puts you ahead of the curve, rather than behind the trend — but more and more people are turning to electric bikes for everything from casual fun to serious transportation.
If you're thinking about getting an electric bike to take to work, you'll likely be using it most days, so it's essential to get a bike you'll be happy to ride.
What Is an Electric Commuter Bike?
An electric commuter bike is optimized for urban travel. Rather than being designed and geared toward a specific niche usage, such as ultra-light speed for racing, a commuter bike is ideal for casual, safe city travel — although many bikes used as commuter bikes also double as adventure or travel bikes on evenings and weekends.
An electric commuter bike generally has wide tires for stability and to support the added weight of the motor and battery. It has a sturdy frame and often comes with metal racks for carrying your things, but it is not so heavy that it can't maneuver in traffic.
When buying an electric bike to use as a commuter bike, there are a few factors you will want to consider:
- The length of your commute: A long commute will likely require a quick, efficient ride — so although a cruiser may look stylish, you'll want something with a little more performance. Depending on the length of your commute, you'll also want to make sure you get a bike with a large enough battery to get you to and from your destination on a single charge. There are many factors aside from the battery that can impact an e-bikes riding range, and you can learn more about our battery specs and range estimates here.
- The geography of your commute: If you plan to ride over any challenging terrain, choose a bike with traction and power to navigate it smoothly and effectively.
- Comfort: A commuter bike should be comfortable and give you easy visual access to all of your surroundings. You'll need the right frame size, seat height and handlebar positioning to arrive at work refreshed rather than exhausted.
- Desired speed: If you need a quick, no-nonsense ride to work, you'll likely be looking for a light bike with a potent battery and motor.
- Cost: A commuter bike should be a high-quality bike, but you should be able to find the right fit for a reasonable price.
- Bike weight: If you're looking for decent speed or will need to transport your commuter down subway stairs or up to your apartment, a lighter-framed bike will be ideal.
- Aesthetics and style: A pretty bike can't get you to your destination any faster, but it will make you more likely to want to hop on.
- Belongings: If you'll be carrying a lot of stuff with you, whether bags or briefcases, you may want to invest in a sturdy bike that has or can support racks for easier transport.
Commuter bikes often incorporate certain features from other traditional types of bikes. Below you'll find some common varieties of bicycles and what sets commuter bikes apart.
1. Urban Bikes
This is a relatively new category of basic, stylish and durable bicycles. These bikes are simple and functional, with fewer high-performance features than can be found on other bikes. Their large tires allow for stability on changing urban surfaces and a smooth ride, and their tall handlebars allow for an upright positioning and clear visibility. Urban bicycles are often single-speed bikes or have just a few gears, so they will not get you to work at the speed of light — but they are practical, though, usually equipped with the racks and mudguards that are sometimes lacking on other styles of bikes. Electric commuter bikes often incorporate many of these features.
2. Road Bikes
The sleek build and serious speed of these bikes make them ideal for racing. Road bikes often come with dropped handlebars that result in a hunched, aerodynamic position. Though this posture is optimal for the speed and control needed in racing, flat bars are more comfortable and allow more visibility for city travel. Road bikes typically have a lightweight frame, up to 30 or more gears, and thinner tires, all calculated to provide superior speed, power and handling. Electric commuter bikes are significantly heavier and slower, but since there's no need to drag race on the way to work, that's not a drawback. Commuters interested in a speedy bicycle, though, might well invest in an electric assist road bike.
3. Touring Bikes
These durable bikes are designed with road trips and significant mileage in mind. They typically have a heavy-duty, supportive frame to carry racks of luggage and gear. Their solid frames make them heavier than road bikes, so they are capable of less speed, but they are a trusty if cumbersome option. They have broad, more treaded tires, somewhat like electric commuter bikes, though commuter bikes are lighter and more maneuverable.
4. Mountain Bikes
What you probably typically think of when you picture a daredevil zooming downhill or leaping over obstacles on trails, these bikes are built for off-roading adventures, equipped with shock absorbers and wide, heavily treaded tires to make challenging terrain a snap. A city commuter is unlikely to provide the increased torque and traction of a mountain bike, though the similarly wide, rugged tires of an e-bike commuter are great for navigating obstacles like potholes and construction debris.
Usually best suited for the beach, these bicycles are often single-speed bikes made for leisurely rides. E-bike commuters provide similar ease of riding, but they also take a step up, incorporating more speed and power.
Common Uses for Electric Commuter Bikes
Obviously, the most common use for an electric commuter bike is to get to work! The assisted cycling, easy speed and comfortable ride of an electric city bike will get you to the office with purpose and flair.
Just as with people, though, an electric bike shouldn't be all work and no play. There are boundless other purposes to which you can put your electric bike during the evenings, on the weekends or even on your lunch break. Below you will find a few ways to let your bike loosen its tie, kick off its shoes and play just as hard as it works.
- Go on weekend adventures: If your commuter bike's fat and sturdy tires are itching to tear up some gravel, you can take it out for a spin anywhere from the park to some mountain trails. Just because a bike is meant for commuting doesn't mean it's not a fast, powerful beast durable enough to handle whatever you're up for. Many electric assist road bikes are sturdy enough to tackle much more demanding trips than a conventional ride around the block.
- Relax: Have you had a hard week, and you're not really in the mood for anything strenuous on your days off? Why not pick up some food and a bottle of wine and head out for a relaxing evening of food and drink in the park or by the river? Bring your friends too, whether on e-bikes or regular ones. Since commuter bikes often come equipped with helpful side racks and are sturdy enough for panniers, hauling everything you need for a fun, relaxing night will be no trouble at all.
- Run errands: You don't drive your car to work anymore, so why should you drive to the store? Even walkable distances can be more pleasant with an e-bike, especially for errands like grocery shopping, which will result in lots of bags to bring back. You can easily stow those back in your bike's rack and be on your way.
- Get fit: Errands are a breeze with an electric commuter, and exercise is too! With the pedal assistance, you can start small and gradually increase your fitness goals until you're pedaling harder. Just because you have an electric motor helping you doesn't mean you're not working — studies have shown that people are active for 95% of the time that they're riding an e-bike.
- Cross-train: No matter whether your sport is running, tennis, soccer or anything else requiring strength and stamina, why not fit in a workout on your trusty e-bike? A good, solid ride keeps your muscles toned and your overall fitness high, and the electric power of your bike doesn't mean you'll exercise less — it means you'll be able to work out much longer than usual, which has great benefits for your endurance.
- Knock some seconds off your time: If you're looking to race like a pro, the fastest electric road bikes can go to 28 mph. For a speedy, sporty thrill, invest in an e-bike commuter that runs like lighting, with a powerful motor and throttle boost so you can tear up the pavement on your days off.
- Travel: Long-distance travel on a touring e-bike can be supremely rewarding for those who are up for a challenge — which is less of a challenge and more of a pleasure with a touring electric bike! For sustained travel, you'll want a bike that both rides like the wind and has an amazing range so you won't run out of charge when you're only halfway to your destination.
Benefits of E-Bike Commuting
Why should you choose an electric bike for your commute? There are so many reasons an electric bike is a wonderful choice. An e-bike commuter gives you all the benefits of biking with few of the drawbacks. It removes the physical difficulties of cycling, allowing you to calibrate your level of physical exertion, and leaves you with all the enjoyable aspects of time on the road.
- Ease: An electric bike turns even the most painful bicycle commute into an effortless one. It helps with strenuous hills, provides extra speed, requires much less sweat and effort than a regular bike, and gets you to work faster.
- Savings: Since there's no gas to buy, only a battery to recharge once in a while, a bicycle commute is much cheaper than a commute by car. Even the bus or subway requires a fee, but aside from the initial purchase and upkeep, a bike ride incurs no cost at all.
- Physical well-being: An e-bike commute provides a tremendous boost to well-being, both physical and mental. The daily exercise will increase physical fitness and health, and unlike running, biking is a low-impact exercise, so your joints won't take a beating.
- Mental well-being: Meanwhile, the fresh air and nature you'll encounter will provide mental stimulation and refreshment, leaving you alert, even energized, at the end of the ride. In a world where the demands of work pile up without end, it often feels that we are being depleted faster than we can recharge. Starting and concluding the workday with an easy, convenient ride provides a much-needed half hour or so of relief.
- Versatility: An electric city bike may excel at carrying you around town for work and errands, but there's absolutely no reason it shouldn't take you out for recreation with friends and family. With many commuter bikes straddling the lines between traditional types of bicycles, you often end up with an excellent all-around bike that can handle many kinds of use.
- Multitasking: If it always seems that there's no time in your busy life for a dedicated exercise routine, an electric bike commute can change that. The physical exertion of the ride means that you can get your exercise goals and your ride to work accomplished at the same time.
- Environmental impact: An electric bike is exceedingly eco-friendly. With carbon dioxide emissions currently a hot topic in the news and a crucial worry of modern life, any step you can take to reduce your carbon footprint has profound ramifications. An electric bike, of course, produces no emissions at all, and the rechargeable electric battery also makes for a very green power source.
- New skills: Electric bikes are also exceptionally beginner-friendly. The pedal-assist feature means that getting onto a bike represents much less of a physical commitment than with a regular bicycle.
- Confidence: Many people are hesitant to take up biking because of the dangerous way cars and bicycles can interact on the road. In the absence of a bike lane, bikers often find themselves in a difficult position when they can't keep up with traffic. They get crowded to the side of the lane, with annoyed drivers passing and swerving perilously close. A UC Davis study has found that with a faster, electric-assisted bike, it's easier to keep up and claim your fair, safer share of the entire lane.
- Fun: Perhaps most important, an electric bike is fun! With the more challenging aspects taken out of biking, your commute becomes more convenient and genuinely enjoyable, a reason to get out of bed in the morning rather than one more chore to check off the list for the day.
Get out on the Road With an Electric Bike From Juiced Bikes
Electric bikes can seem intimidating, but they don't have to be! Once you get the hang of them, they are truly not more difficult to learn or ride than a plain, ordinary cruiser. They are practical for a commute, with plenty of options for extracurricular use as well.
Riding a bike to work can be both fun and practical, increasing the enjoyment of your commute while providing an array of measurable benefits, from physical to financial. Start shopping for an e-bike commuter with Juiced Bikes, and get on the way to reaping those rewards for yourself.