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Common Types of Electric Bikes + Some Wild Ones!

Common Types of Electric Bikes + Some Wild Ones!

March 18, 2022 | Pete Prebus

There are a wide variety of electric bikes (eBikes) available these days to fit almost any kind of riding you plan on doing.

Almost all traditional bicycle types have an equivalent electric assist version. Not only that, but adding electric assist opens the door to even more possibilities, like water eBikes! You might be surprised to learn how many different types of eBikes are out there.

Here are all the eBike types we will look at in this article:

  • Commuter
  • Beach cruiser
  • Mountain
  • Road
  • Touring
  • Gravel
  • Moped style
  • Folding
  • Compact
  • Fat Tire
  • Cargo
  • Tandem
  • Trike
  • Recumbent
  • Kids
  • Penny Farthing
  • Water

Within these categories of bikes there can be different frame types that fit a certain style and ease of getting on and off the bike.

The triangle frame has the straight top tube and there are step-thru frames that either have a lower top tube or no top tube at all for easily getting on and off the bike.

Now let’s take a look at the characteristics of the various eBike types.

Commuter eBikes

Commuter electric bikes are built for getting to work, running errands, and of course just having fun along the way. They are one of the most popular categories of eBikes because they are a good all around type of bike.

Commuter eBikes generally have a comfortable upright position with efficient tires for making around town riding easy and fun. Some models come with full accessory packages of cargo racks, fenders, lights, bell, kickstand, etc. that makes for a turn key around town riding experience.

Beach Cruiser eBikes

Looking for an easy going, comfortable, and nostalgic styled eBike? Then the classic beach cruiser eBike might be the way to go.

There are many cruiser styles to choose from on the market today and they generally have the swooping frame style, large balloon tires, upright swept back handlebars, and large comfortable seat.

These are great for weekend cruising and they can also be good as a stylish commuter.

Mountain eBikes

Electric mountain bikes (eMTBs) have grown in popularity in recent years for exploring dirt roads and trails as well as being a good all around eBike with off-road style.

eMTBs generally have knobby off road tires, frames built for rider maneuverability on challenging terrain, straight handlebars, and some form of suspension. The suspension types are front suspension with a hardtail frame (no rear suspension) and full suspension (front & rear suspension).

Road eBikes

eRoad bikes are all about turning over the miles! These are built for speed and efficient riding out on the open road.

They generally have a performance ride position that is somewhat hunched over to create an aerodynamic profile of the rider with the drop handlebars and low stem. The tires are narrow with a smooth tread for efficient pedaling.

While they are built for efficient riding they are generally not the most comfortable bikes compared to say a beach cruiser!

Touring eBikes

eTouring bikes are built for riding many miles in a single day or multi day tour of an area. These can have a similar style to a eRoad bike with drop handlebars and efficient tires and they can also be set up with a straight handlebar and somewhat off-road style tire that has similarities to a mountain bike.

Some eTouring bikes come with a full accessory package of front and rear racks, fenders, lights, bell, kickstand, etc. that make them ready for touring adventure rides! And for longer rides there are some eTouring bikes that come with 2 batteries.

Gravel eBikes

eGravel bikes are a fairly new category for getting off the regular routes and exploring the many miles of gravel roads that are available. This type of riding is great for enjoying more of the country/forest while benefiting from less vehicle traffic.

eGravel bikes have a lot of similarities to eRoad bikes but with wider knobby tires for handling the gravel road conditions and a little more upright riding position.

In addition to exploring dirt roads they are an efficient eBike for getting around town.

Moped Style eBikes

This is also a fairly new category of eBike that has some retro styling of mopeds and the ability to carry an extra rider and cargo. They are good for around town cruising and many of them have knobby tires for some off-road adventuring. The unique and retro styling makes them an eye catcher!

The eMoped style bikes generally have smaller wheels (20”), fat tires (4” wide), upright handlebars, and a long saddle and foot pegs that can accommodate an extra rider.

The low and comfortable position and wide tires makes for an easy going and stable ride feel.

Folding eBikes

Folding electric bikes are a great option for traveling and storage because of their ability to fold down to a more compact size.

They can be transported in the back of a vehicle (without a bike rack) or on a bus, train, boat, or airplane. Please note that some transportation companies limit the size of lithium batteries that they will allow on a bus, train, boat, or airplane so depending on the size of the eBike battery this may not be an option.

Folding eBikes are also a good option if you live and/or work somewhere that has limited bike storage and you don't want to lock your bike outside. Just fold up your eBike and carry or roll it inside. Quick tip: remove the battery to make the bike lighter for lifting.

eFolders generally have folding features such as a frame that folds in half, a handlebar mast that folds down, pedals that fold flat, and a long seat post that telescopes into the frame.

They generally have small wheels (20”), an upright position, road or off-road/fat tires, and some have the full accessory package.

With their smaller wheels they generally are easy to get on and off and they have a nimble ride style. They are good for around town riding and the fat tire versions open up the possibilities for light-duty off-road riding.

Compact eBikes

Compact eBikes have some similarities to folding eBikes in their size and space saving capabilities. They generally have a simple folding aspect like a rotating handlebar and folding pedals to make the bike fit in a narrow space but they don’t fold completely like a folding eBike.

They have the smaller wheels (20”), easy get on and off frame, and upright position that makes them a comfortable bike to ride.

These are a good choice for someone looking for an around town commuter that is easy to get on and off.

Fat Tire eBikes

Fat tire bikes were originally developed for riding on sand and snow because the wide (4”+) and high air volume tires can “float” instead of sinking into the loose terrain. In addition these tires can be run at lower pressures to absorb a lot of rough terrain like rocks, roots, etc.

Even for regular riding on pavement these fat tire bikes provide a very stable ride feel and they have a unique eye catching look!

eFat bikes have the large tires (26” x 4”+), a mountain bike style frame for maneuverability, straight handlebars, and front or full suspension.

These are good all around eBikes for off-road conditions and zipping around town.

Cargo eBikes

If you are looking for a car alternative the eCargo bike is the way to go. These are designed to carry heavy cargo and passengers that make them able to handle a lot of the daily tasks that a car may be used for like picking up groceries and taking the kids to school. eCargo bikes can also be used by businesses for restaurant deliveries and the delivery of other goods.

There are a wide variety of eCargo bike designs that include carrying cargo/passengers in the front and back or in the center of the bike. Additionally eCargo trikes offer more stability for even heavier cargo hauling and some of these are used by companies like UPS, FedEx, and DHL for urban deliveries.

Quick tip: a bike trailer is a good way to add more cargo/passenger carrying capacity to an existing eBike.

Tandem eBikes

Yes, they do make electric bikes built for two! Tandems are simply fun to ride and when you add electric assist it turbo charges that fun.

An eTandem is a great way to share a ride with family/friends while cruising the town or country. They can also be an option for taking an older kiddo to school. And there is a good chance you will get a lot of smiles and excited looks as tandems always attract a lot of attention.

eTandems can be of the types we have looked at previously like commuter, beach cruiser, mountain bike, touring, road, etc.

eTrikes

If you are looking for a more stable ride then an eTrike might be the way to go.

eTrikes can have 1 wheel in the front with 2 in the back (delta) as well as the reverse configuration of 2 in the front and 1 in the back (tadpole). There are some tadpole eTrikes that have tilting front wheels so the trike can carve into corners at higher speeds than non-tilting trikes.

Both configurations generally offer cargo carrying options with the large area created between the 3 wheels and the overall stability of an eTrike.

eTrikes come in a variety of types like commuter, fat tire, cruiser, and cargo.

These are great for getting around town, commuting, running errands, and just having a fun ride.

Recumbent eBikes

Recumbents are a laid bike style of eBike or eTrike that has a large mesh seat with the cranks and pedals out in front of the rider.

The laid back position is comfortable and aerodynamic and can be a good fit for riders who are not comfortable on a traditional bike position.

Kids eBikes

There are eBikes that are designed for kids so they can enjoy some electric assist too! These could be a good choice for helping kids keep up with faster riders in the family.

They generally have similar features to traditional kids bikes and some of these eBikes have lower top speeds at around 15 mph for safety.

Penny Farthing eBikes

Okay, time for a little fun, how about old time Penny Farthing eBikes? Yes, the folks at Grin Technologies in Canada had some fun adding their kits to Penny Farthing bikes:

 

Water eBikes

Yup, there are water eBikes too! The Manta 5 is a pedal assist hydrofoil that can cruise for up to 4 hours. Checkout the video:

And there is an amphibious eTrike that also is a camper! Checkout the Z-Triton:

Well those are fun and a bit wild but it is interesting to think about what adding pedal assist can do for many different vehicle types.

That wraps it up for now but there may be new types of electric bikes added as innovation happens in this young industry of eBikes.