The ebike market is undergoing a great and fast expansion, and producers are always developing new models to reach a higher number of consumers. Ebikes are very fashionable at the moment, especially in Europe, and this is why the offer of cheap ebikes is growing, in order to reach people who are new to the world of ebikes, and probably not able to discriminate between a good and a bad one. So, how can you avoid a rip-off when buying a cheap ebike?
The price of an ebike is determined mainly by the quality of the components that it uses. If the price tag is very convenient, you cannot expect to be in front of a high-quality ebike. Cheap ebikes can nonetheless be a good buy, if you are aware of their limitations.
First of all, let’s make one thing clear: we are not talking about those “ebikes” sold at a few hundreds euros (or dollars) in supermarkets. They are vehicles that we strongly discourage you to buy: they are heavy, probably not safe, with a very low range, and it’s not rare for their batteries to stop working after a few months, if not weeks.
Going closer to the 1000€ (about 1150$) price tag though, and without crossing it, it is already possible to buy some decent-quality ebikes at a relatively cheap price. These are often entry-level models made available by large producers of ebikes. An ebike in this price range (800-999€) will probably have a heavy steel frame, a low-capacity battery, a heavy motor, a very simple control system…in a few words, it will be a heavy ebike (at least 25kg, even more if it comes with a lead battery) offering a low range. If you think of using these ebikes on short routes with no uphill sections, and if you don’t have to lift the bike often (up some stairs for instance), then such an ebike will do for you. Our advice in any case is to spend a little more and get a higher-quality ebike.
The most important thing to pay attention to is the post-sale service. Try to get some clear assurances from the retailer and from the producer about the availability of spare parts (especially the electrical parts), and the possibility to get free replacements in case of a break-down during the warranty period. Be especially careful about the warranty on the battery: some producers offer a full warranty of 2 or even 3 years, while others ask you to contribute a growing percentage of the buying price after the first 6 months.
The advice given above is of course based on very general criteria, and there can always be exceptions. For more information you can consult our ebike buyer’s guide, or the article on the price ranges,