1. Which bike is right for me?
We’d be pretty dumb if we gave you the right answer right now. So instead of immediately letting your thoughts run away with the new bike, use this pre-buying time to reflect on yourself first.
Earnshaws has one of the largest E-Bike range in store in Yorkshire with over 50 Electric Bikes.
Begin by asking: what do I want to do with this bike, and what are my expectations of it? Be realistic. Are you the sort of rider who likes to cruise along well-trodden fire roads in the forests, or will you dipping into new trails with increasing regularity in search of adrenaline-fuelled descents? Naturally, the latter demands a bike of a significantly harder bent, which is therefore likely to set you back more cash.
How would you rate your skills and understanding of technicalities on the bike, your ability to tighten screws, and the depths of your wallet when it comes to keeping the bike in tip-top condition? E-MTBs not only require more maintenance than conventional mountain bikes, but their suspension needs to be set up correctly (along with your riding position too, really). These are topics that we’ve covered here in the past. If you’re not able to correctly carry out a decent bike setup or service, then you’ll need a reliable dealer. If you buy from a direct online seller, then make sure you find out in advance where, or to whom, you can turn for servicing and like.
The more you ride, the more you’ll have to service the parts – and long distances aren’t the sole culprit. E-MTBs are frequently kitted out with more economical gearing set-ups such as their chains, cassettes, or chainrings, which ultimately suffer at the hands of the high motor power. There are also specially developed E-MTB-specific components that are significantly more durable, such as the Design & Innovation Award-winning SRAM EX1 drivetrain.
2. Fully or hardtail?
There’s no real reason to ride a hardtail unless you meet one of the following criteria: you’re on a tight budget; you mainly ride along proper hard-packed routes, or you’re planning on backpacking with tons of equipment loaded onto the frame through the Australian outback. (Note: without solar panels you’re unlikely to find any plug sockets!) Full-sussers just can’t be beaten when it comes to comfort, stability, traction, and versatility. Interestingly, shorter-travel bikes don’t ‘ride’ better or benefit from a bigger distance range. If the geometry is sorted, then a bike with at least 130 mm of front and rear suspension will serve up the most fun, whether you’re riding the bike in an SUV-style through the urban jungle or throwing it down vertical descents in a bike park. Conventional mountain bike categories aren’t relevant when it comes to defining E-MTBs these days. For E-MTBs, it’s all about “The bigger, the better!”
Remembering that you've got an electric motor to help you uphills so rather than spin up the back tyre it helps having full-suspension when the back tyre is in contact with the ground the most (as well as being a lot more comfortable).
3. How much should I spend on my E-MTB?
Quality comes with a price tag. (Note: this very magazine and the expanse of forests in the world that you can explore for free on your E-MTB are an exception!) Calculate at least £3,500 for a decent E-MTB, but don’t fall prey to scrimping on parts that are there for a reason – things that offer more fun, more reliability, or are sturdier and safer, for example. We’re talking about robust tires and wheels that won’t break, plus powerful brakes and suspension components that will willingly soak up bumps on trails. Then there’s a powerful battery and a dropper seat post, whose usefulness shouldn’t be undervalued even if you mainly steer clear of trails.
Ranging from £1699 to £6399 we have a fantastic range and with our two fully qualified BOSCH specialists we'll have the bike for you!
4. So what’s the right frame size?
More often than not you’ll land between two frame sizes. In the best-case scenario, you can head down to your trusted dealer and try both frames out for size. The other option is relying on their opinion and this simple rule of thumb: ‘smaller’ translates as more agile, more upright and more playful, while ‘bigger’ lends itself to a smoother and more stretched-out ride. You can adjust the cockpit (i.e., the stem length) and the position of the saddle to fine-tune the riding position.
At Earnshaws we'll size you up so you have the perfect size frame as well as setting the suspension up for your weight.
5. New or second-hand?
no two second-hand bikes are the same. Experience has taught us that E-MTBs are likely to have a pretty high extent of wear and tear on the motor, the brakes, and the tires. You’re likely to need to change at least the chain after 700 km – but potentially also many other parts, depending on the build spec of your bike. As E-MTBs weigh a substantial amount and are subject to the power of their motors, other parts might also be crying out for a replacement. However, those willing to gamble on a thorough service history and a young whippersnapper of a bike can get their hands on a serious bargain. Check out the individual selling the bike and figure out how much of a hard time the bike may have had. Many E-MTBs have spent their time on tarmac or mellow gravel fire roads, which means there’s less risk of substantial wear and tear.
Watch out when buying second-hand! Hidden costs could turn an alleged bargain into a nighttime piggy bank raid!
We do very rarely get second-hand E-bike (usually trading in for upgrading to a better E-bike) however it does happen. At Earnshaws we give a full BOSCH report on how the bikes been used so that the buyer knows exactly whats the previous owner has done with it.
6. Which motor do I pick?
Many consider the motor to be the beating heart of the bike, but that’s not entirely true. A good motor is important, of course, but its integration into the whole bike is actually more important. The frame still has the biggest and most decisive impact on fun, comfort, and safety. However, the motor has an effect on how the bike handles, particularly on climbs. In this issue’s Group Test we’ve covered this topic and weighed up the various motors to give you an overview. The issue of whether the battery is securely fixed or removable affects how and where you can charge the bike, and whether it’s worth packing a spare battery in your backpack for long rides. In your position as a customer, ask yourself how much you value the flexibility to remove the battery? When it comes to servicing woes, Bosch and Shimano are best equipped to tackle these, as their service networks are the broadest. Moreover, they tend to use standard batteries, which can be easily replaced in the event of a fault.
We are fully qualified to work on BOSCH and Shimano E-Bikes, we give free updates (sometimes £100 an update from other dealers) on all bikes bought from us which can save you a lot of money over the years!
At the moment the BOSCH CX system is the best Battery and motor combination however the Shimano STEPS E8000 is going to be released into the market very soon and its smashing the reviews. We can't wait to get our hands on one.
7. Buying a bike isn’t enough!
Don’t worry, we’re not trying to talk you into buying a second bike, but we do want to recommend the right sort of equipment. Alongside a proper helmet, sunglasses, a good backpack, and some trail-worthy riding apparel, you’ll need pedals and shoes. Clipless pedal virgins might find it tricky to get used to the initial brief