In many respects, electric bicycles look and feel the same as the regular bicycles we grew up riding. However, these vehicles are boosted with an electric assist from a motor and a battery.
Many e-bikes come stock with “e-bike-specific” components, which leads many people to question whether they really need these or whether standard bike parts will do. The answer is nuanced, but there are reasons why you should consider parts specifically designed for e-bikes.
Do You Need E-Bike Specific Parts?
To counter our previous point, critical factors make e-bikes very much different from traditional bicycles and can make e-bikes more expensive. And for those reasons, there are certain times when going “e-bike specific” is necessary.
E-bikes feature a motor, a battery, a controller, and extra wiring, which adds up and can make them significantly heavier than traditional bicycles. That extra weight alone places more strain on parts like the brakes, which have to perform under the extra mass. Add to that the extra power being put out by both your legs and the motor, and you can imagine the added stress on the drivetrain, the tires, and more.
Several companies make e-bike-specific parts, and one example is the chain. KMC makes e-bike-specific chains that feature new rivet technology to better handle the additional stresses and improve the life of the chain. It even warrants the chain to last 10,000 kilometers when used with KMC sprockets and chainrings.
Shimano has a different philosophy than most. Instead of making separate e-bike-specific parts, all its components are engineered to handle the extra stresses e-bikes provide.
Magura offers four different e-specific brake sets, including one with Bosch ABS, an anti-lock braking system driven by the bike’s electrical system. The advantage of ABS is that it keeps the brakes from fully locking the wheel, which offers the absolute maximum braking power while still offering full control of the bike. When a tire skids, it actually loses contact with the pavement or dirt, and you can go further at higher speeds than if you brake but don’t skid.
Take A Seat
When we first heard about e-bike-specific saddles, we thought it was a marketing gimmick. However, e-bike riders often climb steeper sections when seated more than being out of the saddle, which brings your position forward. This position requires a different design to remain comfortable, and companies like Selle Royal make saddles with this in mind.
SQlab makes not only e-specific saddles but has expanded into grips, stems, and even handlebars. It offers many options for e-bikes and regular bikes, and your local shop that carries them will measure you for optimal fit, sometimes using specialized tools.
Companies like Michelin and Pirelli, two companies that are known for motorsports tires, offer e-bike-specific tires. Pirelli’s e-bike tires, in particular, offer a nice grip, even when cornering on slick surfaces. However, many bikes come with non-e-bike-specific tires, like Maxxis Minion or Schwalbe Magic Mary.
E-Bike Specific Considerations
Purchasing e-bike-specific parts could be conceived as a marketing gimmick or an excuse to make money out of e-bike riders. However, there are times when these parts are necessary to maximize your e-bike’s performance and keep you safe while out riding it. Overall, we recommend e-bike-specific components for an e-bike, as they are designed to provide longevity to your vehicle and help you spend more time having fun on two wheels.