Electric Road Bikes: Everything You Need to Know about
E-road bikes have always enjoyed a high level of popularity. But what exactly is an e-road bike? How does a road bike with a motor work? What target audience is the e-road bike meant for? And what do you need to watch out for when you buy an e-road bike? We’ll be answering all these questions and many more on this page, to make sure you enjoy maximum riding fun on your future e-road bike. Read more
The Following Topic Await You
- What Are E-Road Bikes?
- How Does an Electric Racing Bike Work?
- E-Bike & Road Bike: What Advantages Offer an Electric Road Bike?
- E-Road Bikes: The Benefits in Summary
- The Different Types of Electric Racing Bikes
- Buying an Electric Road Bike: The Checklist
- E-Road Bike: Maintenance and Repair
- The Road Bike E-volution in Summary
What Are E-Road Bikes?
Effortlessly flying up through mountain passes, keeping up with the pros on the Tour de France – things that used to seem as though they were reserved for the world’s riding elite became accessible to everyone a few years ago. This is all thanks to e-road bikes. They are fitted with an electric drivetrain so that you have the chance to make these racing machines go even faster with the pedal assist feature. This advantage is particularly noticeable uphill. An e-road bike makes short, steep hills suddenly seem like a speed stretch. And the long climb into the Alps suddenly doesn’t seem like such hard work, turning into a fun climbing tour with panoramic views instead.
The idea of fitting electric drivetrains to road bikes is by no means new. Back in 2011 a German manufacturer launched a road bike that was fitted with a 350 watt Bosch mid-mounted motor, and which was capable of assisted speeds of up to 45 km/h. Over the past few years numerous other manufacturers have followed suit, as a quick look at our current e-road bike range on BIKE24 confirms. Well-known brands such as Bianchi, Cannondale, Specialized and Trek all now have at least one electric road bike in their portfolio – and every year new manufacturers and e-road bike models join the ranks.
How Does an Electric Racing Bike Work?
The function principle of e-road bikes is easy to explain: Like the classic e-bike, the e-road bike is fitted with a small electric motor. It works either as a mid-mounted motor fitted above the bottom bracket, or as a hub motor positioned above the rear wheel hub. The rider can enable the e-drivetrain by means of a switch on the handlebar, an on-board computer with a display or a button on the frame of the electric road bike, and this then activates the pedal assist function. Depending on manufacturer there are various assist levels available, so that you can decide yourself at any point how much additional help you want to have from the drivetrain. Depending on which assist level you choose, the motor on an e-road bike has a consistent output of up to 250 watts and powers the roads bike accordingly.
With this extra boost, even inexperienced riders can easily achieve average speeds of 25 to 30 kilometres per hour on their e-road bike – expending significantly less effort than you would with a standard road bike.
Caution: As with the classic pedelec, the road bike motor cuts off the pedal assist function when the bike reaches 25 kilometres per hour. So at higher speeds you’re completely on your own. However for many e-road bike riders that’s precisely the charm of an electro road bike: when you need the support of the e-drivetrain, you just add in the motor. And when you don’t need the motor or you want to save the battery, you can switch the electric drivetrain off whenever you like. One thing that’s very handy: when the motor is switched off, lightweight e-road bike models ride just like classic road bikes with the drivetrain disengaged.
E-Bike & Road Bike: What Advantages Offer an Electric Road Bike?
Simply having such flexibility shows the huge advantages of an electro road bike over a classic road bike without a drivetrain. The motor can make a huge difference to steep climbs or sections with a strong headwind, especially for inexperienced riders. But the electric motor also brings benefits to riders who don’t have problems without the e-drivetrain. The reasons are obvious: you notice yourself having to pedal far less, and it doesn’t take so much strength. This means that with an electric road bike you can manage longer rides without being particularly tired. You can also ride much faster on your e-road bike on longer inclines or cobbled road sections.
Another advantage of the road e-bike is that it can even out performance differences in a riding group. While the stronger riders in the group work hard to pedal uphill, the e-road bike users can simply switch on their assist mode to keep up. This makes the group faster overall, and the other point is that the group dynamic isn’t upset by any speed discrepancies.
Admittedly there is one slight disadvantage to e-road bikes: the additional motor generally makes the electric road bike heavier than a standard road bike. So in this respect you need to evaluate whether the higher speed and easier ride are worth more to you than the manoeuvrability and higher top speed of a classic model. As with any electric bike, the possible dependence on range is something else to consider. E-road bikes usually have a range between 50 and 150 kilometres per charge – depending on model, rider type and use. So before you buy an e-road bike you should make sure you understand the range data properly. In case of doubt you should opt for a bigger battery so that you can go longer distances without plugging in. Some manufacturers also offer “range extenders”, which you can take with you to increase the capacity of your battery.
E-Road Bikes: The Benefits in Summary
- Average speeds are frequently higher
- Longer rides are possible
- It’s easier to ride uphill
- Performance differences in a group are smoothed out
- Many models have a ride feel like a road bike without a motor
The Different Types of Electric Racing Bikes
E-Road Bike vs. E-Gravel Bike
As with classic road bikes you can get e-road bikes that are designed specifically for riding on tarmac, and e-road bikes that you can also ride on rough terrain or even gravel. These bikes are the electric version of a gravel bike, and so they are known as e-gravel bikes. Whilst riding on tarmac with an e-road bike is usually a bit faster, you can achieve speeds of over 30 km/h with an e-gravel bike on uneven terrain even as a novice. Because of the constantly changing rhythm of the off-road environment, with frequently changing road surfaces and generally lower average speeds on gravel rides, e-gravel bikes have become extremely popular recently. So we recommend e-gravel bikes to anyone looking for a versatile e-road bike that can also be fun away from tarmac surfaces. On this page you can also find a selection of e-gravel bikes for your future rides!
E-Road Bike Motors
As well as the difference between e-road bikes and e-gravel bikes, you can also differentiate by the motors fitted. As already mentioned, there are essentially two motor options for your electric road bike: the rear wheel hub motor and the mid-mounted motor. Rear wheel hub motors are located right inside the rear wheel hub, while mid-mounted motors are installed in the bottom bracket area. The advantages of hub motors are obvious: small, lightweight design and almost silent operation. It also allows more flexibility in frame construction compared with mid-mounted motors, around which the frame has to be built. Another benefit: with the hub motor, the force is not transferred via the chain, as it is with the mid-mounted motor. This usually means less wear to the gears, and they will have a longer lifespan. The best-known example of hub motors in the e-road bike sector is the Mahle Ebikemotion drive system.
Mid-mounted motors on the other hand allow significantly more space for batteries and other electronic components. Also the mid-mounted motor tends to provide more power, which is advantageous when starting – for example on a hill. This makes the e-road bike the perfect companion for long hilly rides. Well-known mid-mounted motors for the e-road bike include the Bosch Performance CX and the Shimano Steps drivetrain. The Fazua Evation drive system can also be included in the mid-mounted motor category. However, its actual drive unit is mostly in the down tube. The exciting thing about this variant is that you can remove both the battery and the motor itself in a second. This instantly makes the electric road bike far lighter, so you can ride it like a regular road bike.
Can You Get E-Road Bikes in the S-Pedelec Specification?
People often ask about S-pedelec variants in connection with e-road bike drivetrains and their motor power. What they mean is e-road bikes that offer ride assist up to 45 km/h. In fact these models are still rare on the bike market. The reason for this is the legal specifications, which for example regulate the lights or licence plate requirement. These measures would be at odds with the classic looks of a road bike, which is why demand for these models is currently very low. Because of this, S-pedelecs are more at home in the classic E-bike categories than for instance being classed as E-trekking bikes.
Which E-Bike Road Bike is Right for You?
Once you’ve got an overview of e-road bikes, their functions and drivetrain types, of course the next question is: which e-road bike model is right for you? To answer this question, the first thing you have to do is be clear exactly what you’re expecting from your new e-road bike. Are you hoping to spend most of your time riding on the road, or might you venture down a bumpy forest trail from time to time? Do you want to do mainly long rides, or will a short range be enough for you? Your riding ability plays a role in this decision too: An e-gravel bike with slightly wider tires for instance can be a great entry-level option for the e-road bike segment. However, if you’re more experienced on narrow tires, an enthusiastic road racer and your aim is to pedal with motorised assistance in future, then the obvious choice is a classic e-road bike.
After you’ve answered this question, you should think about this: what are my personal outfitting preferences? In this context you need to think about factors such as the battery range, which we mentioned previously. But there are also more fundamental questions to be considered when deciding on a road bike: For instance, should the e-road bike have the slightly cheaper aluminium frame or a high-end carbon frame with less weight and possibly better comfort? Are you happy with a traditional gearset, or would you prefer high-end electric gears with wireless gear change? There are also various options regarding road bike wheels – whether you want aerodynamic properties with less air resistance, less weight for better performance in the mountains, or a mixture of the two – needs to be clarified at this point.
If you’ve now got an idea which road bike with e-motor would suit you best, your next step is to take a look at the products we offer. At BIKE24 you can find a wide selection of top e-road bike brands – for instance Bianchi, Specialized and Trek. That applies to both the men’s and women’s e-road bike sectors.
Buying an Electric Road Bike: The Checklist
- How do you want to use your e-road bike? How long are your rides likely to be? What kind of elevation gain are you planning?
- What terrain will you be riding on most of the time? Road only or gravel as well?
- How skilled a rider do you think you are at the moment? Are you more of a beginner or a seasoned road racer?
- Are you looking for a high-end e-road bike with a carbon frame or would you prefer a cheaper aluminium model?
- What outfitting preferences do you have? Would you like electronic or mechanical gears?
- What other components would you like fitted on your e-road bike?
E-Road Bike: Maintenance and Repair
Even though an e-road bike has more technical components than a standard road bike, maintenance and repair should not usually take up more time. However, you should follow the basic principles of road bike care. This means cleaning the bike regularly, inspecting the brakes and gears, and performing a function check on critical components. Again, you will find a huge selection of useful bike maintenance products at BIKE24 – ranging from chain spray to specialist carbon frame cleaners.
What’s more, For instance after riding in extreme weather conditions (snow, ice, rain) the motor and down tube should be dried out thoroughly. You should also connect your e-road bike to the internet regularly via the phone app to get software updates. We also recommend charging up the battery of your electric road bike after it has been standing for a while.
The Road Bike E-volution in Summary
So, now you know everything you need to know about e-road bikes. So if you’re looking for a new road bike and you want some help pedalling, an electric road bike is just the thing for you. By the way, we’re certain of one thing: the e-road bike segment will become increasingly popular in the years ahead. Even the models of the current generation are visually almost identical to the classic road bike – because the e-drive systems are accommodated so discreetly on today’s e-road bikes to save space. And technology is advancing constantly. So it’s no surprise that it’s already possible to zoom effortlessly up mountain passes at similar speeds to Tour de France competitors – thanks to the electric road bike.
What’s more, sports experts predict that the e-road bike could catch on to some extent in professional competitive cycling. They are already starting to experiment with e-road bike racing, where the competition is not about the power in your legs, but about rationing your battery capacity cleverly. They are also discussing the idea of using e-road bikes for professional riders returning to competitive cycling after long injury breaks.