Like conventional bicycles, electric bicycles (VAE) are part of a wide range of prices, ranging from 500 $ to more than 8 000 $. Of course, the models at both extremes have little in common beyond having two wheels, a saddle, pedals and a handlebars! Not to mention the different uses and formats ( foldable , connected, etc.). To taste the joys of electrification, it seems perfectly logical, at least at first, to start with an electric bike that is not too expensive. The cheapest possible? Not really.
Cheap electric bike: mistrust is needed
Without wanting to be elitist, first prize bikes often lead to frustration by being deceptive. We scoured the forums looking for people who acquired pedelecs around 500 euros. Overall, they are disappointed with this experience.
The main complaints concern reliability. Some models purchased on some sites of Chinese origin do not seem adapted to the average corpulence of Europeans. Fixing systems folding bikes do not withstand the weight of a slightly bumpy user, and sometimes even the frame that breaks, which can be very dangerous. The ergonomics of these models is not suitable: we pedal our knees on the chest, we saw more comfortable.
It is also possible to acquire products that do not really meet European standards. We were able to make a few kilometers on a product bought 600 euros which had a peculiarity that makes it simply illegal in France, or at least that makes it pass from the category VAE to that of mopeds: electric assistance is active without pedaling with a small trigger acting as accelerator. Yet it was acquired in a Parisian shop without any warning … Without going that far, many Internet users put forward jolts, braking, unpleasant noise …
There is also the question of the life of the bicycle, the means of applying its guarantee, its maintenance and the duration of the spare parts. It is sometimes necessary to go through a so-called reliability phase that seems more the prerogative of DIYers: change of hardware by more robust elements and more resistant to corrosion, installation of better tires, because often the original tires are very hard to resist Chinese roads …
The right price
You will understand, the first prices sold without a real network maintenance are rather to avoid, unless you are comfortable with mechanics. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. Major chains such as Décathlon are able to offer consistent models for less than $ 700. As for Chinese sites, we can also find bikes that hold up: do not hesitate if you want to try the adventure, to read the comments or to directly contact owners through this.
To avoid potential problems, and if your finances allow you of course, the VAE around 1 000 € have our preference. We say around € 1,000, because with the government premium of € 200, plus any local aid, it is possible to lower the final cost of acquisition.
The concessions that can be made …
Electric bikes around $ 1,000 do not benefit from a Bosch or Shimano type central engine . This type of powerful motor and coupler has the best positioning in terms of weight distribution, and offers a behavior closer to a conventional bike. Instead, we will basically have engines built into the hub, usually back, but sometimes also in the front.
These engines can, when placed at the front, weigh down this part of the bike and thus make more difficult the small impetus necessary for, for example, to cross a boat. In general, the hub engines generate more jerks and their management of the assistance is less fine. Nothing insurmountable therefore, especially on urban bikes or in all cases devoted to a “quiet” use. On the other hand, they offer the advantage for bike builders to adapt relatively easily to conventional model frames: they are thus frequently found on city bikes whose battery is placed on the luggage rack.
An exception with the bike developed jointly by Michelin and Wayscral which, if it remains below the $ 1,000 mark, opts for a new system with a battery pack / motor / transmission easily removable. Our test is coming soon.
Another concession quite acceptable, the finish of the frame. The top-of-the-line productions feature welded seams to create the illusion of a monocoque frame. This is purely aesthetic and does not affect the robustness of the frame and its life span. Accessories and peripherals will not always come from the catalog of a major specialist brand: difficult for example to offer a saddle Brooks leather on an electric bike sold less than € 1,000. This may concern, besides the saddles, the handlebars, the handles, the lighting … Here too, we think that these parts can work without too much problems. In addition, their change remains relatively easy without special knowledge in mechanics, which makes a possible update rather easy.
And those not to do
On the other hand, a bike is a means of locomotion that will have to support your weight and allow you to enter the traffic. Be careful therefore to anything that may be detrimental to your safety. The frame must be adapted to your size and especially solid. Being heavy does not necessarily mean being more robust.
If in doubt, the bike must comply with USA legal standards that ensure that the model in question has successfully passed a number of tests related to safety requirements. The technical characteristics of the bicycle having a possible influence on the safety of cyclists are thus indicated. For conventional pedelecs, two standards must be respected. The importer and reseller of a bike are responsible for this compliance. They must therefore provide the buyer with a certificate and the pedelec will have an inalienable marking confirming the said conformity.
If, theoretically, the bicycles conform to the mentioned standards brake properly, pay attention to the approximate settings when you take possession of your pedelec. Do not hesitate to make a few laps in front of the shop to test the braking of your bike. If you are not satisfied, have all this done by the seller.
The wheels are also subject to strong constraints. Some entry-level models neglect this vital component. The spoke tension must be high enough to avoid the very fast appearance of a sail which affects steering precision and braking.
Another advice, a bike is an assembly of elements: after ten kilometers, screws and other bolts can be unscrewed under the simple effect of vibrations. This is normal: then think carefully check the good screwing of the various elements. We think mainly of the wheels and the hanger / stem.
And the opportunity?
Bikes traditionally decelerate very quickly and electric-assisted models are no exception to the rule. We were able to find in a few clicks on the inevitable website ads Le Bon Coin models have almost no rolled sold 20, 30 or 40% under the price of nine.
Of course, like any second-hand purchase, you have to be careful, especially regarding the financial transaction. In case of any doubt about the origin of the bike, run away. At the time of purchase, it is imperative to try the bike, and a few hundred meters are enough to know if the engine works, if the brakes are effective or if the various controls of the engine are very effective. Highly veiled wheels are to be avoided because their change is expensive especially if the pedelec has an electric motor in the hub. It is also necessary to check that the charger fits the bike well and that it works. Finding a charger of a slightly exotic model can be complicated, and it can be expensive. Any keys used to remove the battery must be provided by the seller.
If you want to minimize the risks, do not hesitate to go around the bike shop around you, because they often offer used models that are generally revised and sometimes guaranteed. This option allows you to have a point of contact in case of problems.
We grant you, our selection is skinny for the moment. But this file is brought to evolve at the rate of our tests of VAE whose budget is lower than USD. It should quickly get rich. In the meantime, here is the