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A fun toy and mode of transportation that campers love is the electric bike. Electric bikes or ebikes are perfect for camping. You can use the electric bike to travel around the campground or to nearby towns and festivities. E-Bikes are an excellent family alternative to using golf carts, as the bikes provide exercise as you travel around the campground.
Factors to Consider When Purchasing an Electric Bike for Camping
Purchasing an electric bike can be confusing. There are many factors and features to consider when determining the best ebike for you. Areas to consider include the bike’s size, tires, motor, battery size, weight, and battery range.
What is Pedal Assist?
Most electric bikes include pedal-assist features. On a pedal-assist bike, the motor cuts on to “assist” you while pedaling. Pedal-assist is especially beneficial when going uphill and on long-distance rides. Most pedal-assist bikes have either three or five levels of assistance. The higher the level, the more aid is provided to the rider by the motor.
As you research electric bikes, one of the most important numbers to consider is regarding battery range. Remember, as companies list ranges, they assess the range in ideal conditions, using minimal pedal assist, and riding on flat ground with a 180-pound rider. Any variations will affect your actual range once you get the bike. Range numbers are helpful for comparisons but do not expect to get the full range advertised by the manufacturer. Remember, the less a rider relies on pedal-assist or throttle usage, the longer the battery will last. Low temperatures and windy conditions can negatively impact battery range as well.
Three Classes of Electric Bikes
Legally, electric bikes fall into a gray area between bicycles and motorcycles. To help define what an electric bike is, three classes of ebikes have been established. Its top-end speed determines a bike’s class and whether the bike has a throttle. Although some ebikes only assist when peddling, others also have a throttle, which allows you to operate the electric bike with no pedaling at all, similar to a moped.
Class 1 ebikes only provide pedal assistance when you are peddling. The pedal assistance cuts off once you reach 20 miles per hour. Class 1 electric bikes do not have a throttle.
Class 2 ebikes have both a throttle and pedal assist. Assistance cuts off at 20 miles per hour.
Class 3 ebikes have a throttle as well as pedal assist. Assistance cuts off at 28 miles per hour.
When comparing battery size, focus on volts and amp-hours (ah). Without getting too technical and with all things being equal, a battery with higher volts and amp-hours will provide more range. Most ebike batteries are either 36 or 48 volts. Lithium batteries are heavy, so the more powerful the battery, the heavier the bike’s weight.
While power in a car is usually measured in “horsepower,” the power of an electric bike motor is measured in watts. Most ebike motors range from 250 to 900 watts. The higher watts, the more power. More power means that the bike will accelerate quicker and go faster. However, other factors, such as overall bike weight, will affect power and acceleration. Higher watt motors will also pull more on the battery and cause them to drain quicker.
The location of the motor affects the stability of an ebike. The motors of most electric bikes are located in the hub of the front or rear wheel. However, a few bikes have the motor located in the middle of the bike. The main concern when addressing the location of the motor is proper weight distribution. As long as weight is distributed correctly, it will not make a big difference where the motor is located.
Bikes with the motor in the rear hub are slightly more stable and get better traction. If the motor is on the front wheel, it can cause the front wheel to spin if you accelerate too quickly due to the lack of weight on the front of the bike. However, bikes with weaker motors will often place the motor in the hub of the front tire since there is less weight, making the less powerful motor more effective (and a bigger bang for your buck). If the battery and motor are located on the rear wheel, it can cause the bike to pop a wheelie if you start too quickly.
Most people prefer bikes with motors located in the rear hub or the middle of the cycle because these locations will provide a more stable ride.
The type of tire you have on your electric bike for camping will depend upon the type of terrain you plan to ride.
Fat Tires: Fat tires are ideal for traveling on soft terrains such as sand and snow. If you plan to ride your bike at the beach, fat tires are what you want. It is nearly impossible to ride on the beach with narrow ties because they get bogged down in the soft sand. Fat tires can be used on smooth pavement, but they will not go as fast as narrow tires. These tires can be slightly more challenging to pedal on a flat smooth surface, but that is not a big drawback since you have pedal assist.
Mountain Bike Tires: Most mountain bike tires have a larger diameter than a traditional road tire, but they are not as large as a fat tire. Mountain bike tires are generally made to be ridden off-road, over rough terrain, and are made to be tougher and less likely to puncture. Like fat tires, mountain bike tires can be used on flat pavement, though you will give up speed and comfort. Most mountain bike tires are not made to be ridden on soft surfaces such as sand.
Road Tires: Road tires are more narrow than the other tires and are designed to be used on flat hard surfaces. Road tires are difficult to ride on other terrains. However, if you expect to do all of your ridings on paved roads, they are ideal. These tires are more comfortable, go faster, and are easier to pedal than fat tires or mountain bike tires.
Convenience Factors That Make Your Electric Bike More Enjoyable
In addition to the technical factors that need to be considered when purchasing a new electric bike for camping, there are many convenience factors to consider.
Electric bikes can be pretty heavy. The motor and the battery weigh a good bit, and the general structure of the bike often needs to be beefed up to handle the added weight of the battery and motor. Most electric bikes weigh around 50 pounds, and some weigh over 70 pounds. The added weight can make electric bikes cumbersome when transporting them from campground to campground.
Several ebike models can be folded, making them easier to transport. For example, we have Lectric XP bikes, which we love. They are foldable, making them easier to transport. Folded, the bike will fit into a 50-gallon tote. We use a Craftsman 50-gallon tote (sold at Lowes) with wheels that make it easier to haul.
The cycle is 63 pounds, so even with the tote, it is pretty heavy to lift. A 36-inch scissor lift (Check it out on Amazon) can be used to make it easier to get the bikes in and out of a vehicle. For trucks, the scissor lift raises to a standard tailgate, making it easy to take the bikes on and off the truck.
Our Favorite Electric Bikes for Camping
Choosing an electric bike for camping can be difficult. There are many electric bike options, and they vary in price. You can easily spend several thousand dollars on an electric bike, but you can find good ebikes for less than that.
The Lectric XP (Check it out) has a 500-watt motor and a range of up to 45 miles. This ebike has a 48v 10.4ah lithium battery made by LG. The battery weighs seven pounds and can be removed for charging if you like. The bike is foldable, making it easier to transport. One convenient aspect of the Lectric bike is that it arrives fully assembled. The Lectric XP has a rear rack and can handle riders up to 275 pounds. The Lectric XP is a fat tire bike that can ride on almost any terrain. It is considered a class 2 electric bike as shipped but can be easily modified to a class three using the display unit. This bike has seven speeds, five levels of pedal assistance, and thumb throttle, so it can be ridden without pedaling.
Aventon (Check them out) is a leading manufacturer of ebikes, and they have several styles. One of Aventon’s most popular bikes is the Level Step-Through Commuter EBike. The Level Step-Through comes in two sizes to fit riders of any height. These bikes have 500-watt motors and 48v 14ah batteries. The Level Step Though has a large display, and it is considered a class 3 bike that can achieve speeds of up to 28 mph. The ebike has eight speeds, five pedal assist levels, and a thumb throttle for when you need to take a break from pedaling. The ebike weighs 62 pounds, has a rear rack, and carries up to 250 pounds. The Level Step-Through is made to be ridden on concrete surfaces.
Aventon also makes a popular foldable bike called the Sinch. The Sinch is a fat tire bike made to handle just about any terrain. The Sinch has a 500-watt battery and a 48v 14ah battery with 40 miles of range. This bike is a Class 2 bike with seven speeds and five levels of pedal assist. The Sinch is foldable, making it easier to transport, and can carry riders up to 250 pounds.
RAD Power Electric Bikes
RAD Power (Check them out) is another popular electric bike company. The RADRunner 1 Utility Bike is one of the most popular ebikes on the market. It has over 330 accessory combinations so that can be customized to fit the needs of anyone. The Radrunner has a 750w motor and can carry passengers up to 300 pounds. The Radrunner has a 48v 14ah battery and provides up to 45 miles of range. You can even add a seat for an additional passenger. This bike has fat tires and is made for riding on all terrains. It is a single-speed bike, simplifying the drive train to make it less prone to breaking down. The Radrunner weighs 65 pounds, has four levels of peddle assist, and a throttle.
Ancheer makes good ebikes that are generally a little more affordable. Among the most popular is their mountain bike (Check it out on Amazon). The Ancheer is durable, but because it is a little lower in price, it does not offer as many perks as some of the other ebikes. This mountain bike is made to handle any terrain. It comes with a 36v 10.4ah battery. The Ancheer will travel up to 15 miles per hour and has three levels of pedal assist. The bike weighs 60 pounds, and it folds, making it easier to transport. This Ancheer Mountain Bike can accommodate passengers up to 300 pounds.
Protecting Your E-Bike
Like a regular bike, an ebike is susceptible to being stolen, so you must keep it safe. A bike lock is necessary to keep it secure. We recommend using a U Lock with a bike cable (Check it out on Amazon) to lock the wheel in place, making your bike difficult to steal. Along with the U-Lock, we use a cable (Check it out on Amazon) to attach the bike to the camper frame. In addition to keeping your bike secure, it is essential to keep your bike dry. Most ebikes are weather resistant but not weatherproof. Campers and Campfires recommends keeping a waterproof cover (Check it out on Amazon) on your bike when you are not riding.
Electric bikes are a fun way for the family to spend time together at the campground. E-bikes are a great way to move around the campground and the surrounding areas. You can ride it to the pool, camp store, or even go trail riding. We hope you enjoy riding your electric bike as you enjoy the great outdoors.
Do you use an electric bike while you are camping? We would love to hear from you, and please drop us a line in the comment section below.