- These are the different types of eBikes, Fat Tire eBikes, eMTBs, Commuter eBikes, Cruiser eBikes, and Folding eBikes.
- Electric Mountain Bikes or eMTBs are designed for off-roading and mountain trails. They have ample power to carry you up steep inclines, torque sensors for intuitive speed control, front suspension for comfort over rough terrains, and frame geometry that supports upright riding. Recommended models include "The Shred" and "The Quad".
- Fat Tire eBikes are perfect for challenging terrains like grassy fields, moderate hills, sand dunes, and snowdrifts. Their wide tires are adjustable and they often have strong brakes, headlights, and gear racks for backcountry trips. Models to consider are "The Boar Hunter" and "The Boar Explorer".
- Commuter eBikes are ideal for daily commuting in urban environments and over occasional dirt or gravel paths. They prioritize comfort, maneuverability, tire durability, and long battery life. Recommended models include "The Rook" and "The Werk".
- Cruiser eBikes are designed for casual, recreational riding. They focus on comfort, ease of use, and a stylish, head-turning design. Models like "The Big Sky", "The Sunny Day", "The Greaser", and "Greaser Springer" are popular choices.
- Folding eBikes are designed for portability and practicality. They should be easy to transport, have an adjustable frame, versatile tires, and long battery life. A recommended model is "The Twist".
Not all eBikes are created equal, and that’s by design. Different types of eBikes exist for different environments and activities—whether you’re shredding up and down your favourite mountain, heading to the office, or cruising along the riverbank under that great big Alberta sky.
But what makes each type of electric bike unique, how can you choose the right type for you, and what should you look for when buying one? Don’t worry; we’re here to help. We’ve been helping Calgarians buy high-quality eBikes for years, so we can tell you all about the various kinds out there. Read on as we break down the differences below.
Electric Mountain Bikes (eMTBs)
As the name suggests, these are ideal off-roaders—built to shred trails and traverse tricky terrain without any trouble. An eMTB needs to be versatile, responsive, and safe above all else. Of course, it’s never a bad idea to look for a model that will offer decent comfort as well so that you can really enjoy your outdoor adventures.
- Mountain trails
- Power: Electric mountain bikes need enough juice to carry you up steep inclines, so make sure you’re getting something that offers a hefty amount of torque.
- Torque Sensors: Don’t settle for simple cadence sensors (which add power during pedal assist based on how fast the pedals are moving). Torque sensors apply power from the motor in real-time based on how hard you’re pushing, which makes controlling your speed much more natural—making it easier to respond to the twists and turns you’ll encounter on the trail.
- Front Suspension: While the best electric mountain bikes are hardtails (meaning there’s no rear suspension and minimal power is lost when it’s transferred from the pedals to the rear wheel), you still need enough give in the front to carry you comfortably over roots, rocks, and other environmental hazards.
- Frame Geometry: Being crunched into an uncomfortable posture is no bueno for mountain biking, so look for a frame that offers an upright riding position and still lets you maneuver the bike easily.
- The Shred offers incredible value for an eMTB, with a 500W Bafang motor, torque sensors, 100mm Suntour front suspension, and brilliant frame design that allows you to literally stay on top of the trail at all times.
- The Quad isn’t as hardcore as the shred, but it offers thicker tires with larger contact patches for stable and comfortable trail riding, making it somewhere between a true eMTB and a fat tire eBike (we’ll get into those next).
Fat Tire eBikes
Characterized by wheels adorned with generous amounts of rubber, these eBikes are designed to handle well over roughly-even-but-challenging terrain—think off-roading through grassy fields, moderate hills, sand dunes, and even snowdrifts. While many fat tire eBikes lack suspension forks or seatposts, their tires are designed so that you can adjust the level of air in them to a greater degree than you would for other bikes, allowing you to control how much you feel the surfaces beneath you while riding.
- Backcountry trips (camping, hunting, fishing, etc.)
- Winter riding
- Tires: It should go without saying that these are the most defining features of a fat tire eBike, so you’ll want to pay careful attention to them when buying one. Look for wide and knobbly rubber that will dig into dirt, sand, snow, or anything else you might be riding through.
- Brakes: Going off-road means there’s always the possibility of a hidden obstacle revealing itself in front of you at the last-minute, so stopping power is key for these eBikes.
- Headlights: The backcountry doesn’t have street lights, so you’ll need to bring your own source of illumination.
- Gear racks: Not a requirement for all fat tire eBikes—but if you’re planning to go hunting or fishing on yours, you’ll want a place to put your equipment.
- The Boar Hunter gives you 4.5” wide Kenda Juggernaut tires that eat up pretty much any surface they roll over, and 180mm hydraulic disc brakes ensure that you can come to a halt at a moment’s notice. You also get a brilliant Axendo LED headlight and stock front and rear luggage racks—plus torque sensors, which most fat tire eBikes don’t have.
- The Boar Explorer is another great option here—it doesn’t come with racks (although you can add them pretty easily), but you get equally thick rubber here, along with a Büchel Shiny 120 LED headlight to give you phenomenal visibility no matter where you are. Torque sensors are included on this model as well.
Made for everyday riding in urban environments, these bikes were made to be safe and practical in city traffic—but the best models should also be able to take you over dirt or gravel paths pretty easily. You’ll also want to make sure your commuter eBike is comfortable and fun to ride, since you’ll probably be spending at least an hour or two on it most days of the week.
- Daily commuting
- Running errands
- Dirt and gravel pathways
- Comfort: A good commuter eBike should have an ergonomic seat to protect you from lower back pain and pains in the behind during long periods of use.
- Torque: Being able to pour on the power at a moment’s notice keeps you versatile and maneuverable in city traffic—which is vital when you’re up against cars, trucks, and buses.
- Tires: You won’t need fat tires for city riding, but you should look for rubber that’s reinforced against common road debris—like broken glass or sharp metal debris.
- Battery Life: Stopping to refill your eBike’s battery every couple of hours is an easy way to make your commute a lot longer and less fun, so look for a model that can give you plenty of mileage on a single charge.
- The Rook comes with an adjustable ergonomic gel saddle, two high-capacity battery options (the extended range option lasts for up to 65 miles or 105 kms), and a 500W Bafang motor putting out 65 Nm of torque. Better still, it comes with puncture-resistant tires, and gives you the option of using either torque sensors or a thumb throttle for those days when you just feel like coasting through the streets.
- The Werk is also a great choice for those who want something slightly more tailored for going to work or school—it offers the same power and range with built-in front and rear luggage racks.
These eBikes are all about recreation. You won’t use these for rugged adventuring or lugging supplies back and forth from your job, but the smooth and comfortable riding experience they offer makes them ideal for pleasure cruises (hence the name). Most cruisers also have a sleek and stylish design, making them instant head-turners when you ride them in public places.
- Casual riding
- Group rides and social occasions
- Comfort: You can’t enjoy your ride if sitting on your eBike is a pain in the butt. Look for something with a soft and luxurious seat.
- Frame Geometry: The design of the frame is critical for cruisers too, but for different reasons than it is for more performance-oriented eBikes like eMTBs. While the point of those bikes is to let you feel the terrain you’re traveling over, a cruiser should offer a smooth, easy ride. That means you’ll want less rigidity in the frame, so look for straight steerer headtubes here instead of tapered ones.
- Handlebars: Cruiser eBikes should let you enjoy a laid-back riding position, so the bars shouldn’t require you to bend forward or sit up too straight in the saddle. Look for handlebars that are swept back so that you can reach them easily without craning over.
- The Big Sky comes with an ergonomic gel saddle, straight steerer headtube, and custom handlebars that sweep back for easy riding. It also has torque sensors, the same long-range battery options you’ll find in the Werk commuter eBike (above), and dual hydraulic disc brakes—making it a ride that looks great but also offers surprising performance.
- The Sunny Day comes with most of the same features in the Big Sky, but has a step-thru design that makes it easier to mount. If you want maximum frame stability in your cruiser, the Big Sky's still your best bet—but if convenience is key, consider this instead.
- The Greaser and Greaser Springer are two uniquely retro takes on the standard cruiser—offering a look that’s much more in line with early cruiser motorcycles than eBikes as you probably know them. 500W electric motors, oldschool extra-wide leather saddles, and bright headlights make these excellent recreational riders—plus, they get a lot of attention.
These eBikes are portable, packable, and practical—but they can also offer surprising performance for such a small package. A folding eBike with the right features should be able to fit in the backseat of your car, unfold in less than two minutes once you’ve driven it to the middle of nowhere, and offer an entire afternoon’s worth of fun on trails, mountains, or bike paths. They’re also great if you regularly park in places where bike theft is common (since you can just take them indoors with you instead of leaving them on the street)
- Adventuring in areas that require vehicle travel
- Commuting in areas with higher risks of theft or vandalism
- Frame Geometry: Folding eBikes are designed to be small, but that doesn’t mean they should feel cramped or uncomfortable. Look for an adjustable frame so that you can customize the bike to fit your body once you unpack it and set it up.
- Tires: What’s the point of a bike that travels easily if you can’t take it anywhere interesting? Make sure your folding bike has rubber that lets you enjoy it if you bring it into the backwoods.
- Battery Life: If you’re folding up your eBike to drive it out into the wilderness, you’re probably not going to be near a charging station—so you’re going to want batteries that last.
- Comfort: The best folding eBikes still leave room for the bells and whistles that make riding fun. Try to find something with a comfortable saddle as well.
- The Twist packs way more eBike than you’d expect into an adjustable step-thru frame so foldable you could throw it in the backseat of a Corolla and still have room to seat two kids. You also get mini fat tires to help you rip through rugged areas, and a battery big enough to grant you up to 45 miles (or 72 kms) per charge.
Choosing the eBike Type that Fits Your Lifestyle
If weekend trips to the mountains or backcountry camping excursions are your thing, you’re probably in the market for an eMTB or fat tire eBike—but if you’re looking for a daily rider to take you to the office or around town, commuters and cruisers are where it’s at. Folding eBikes offer an added degree of flexibility, making for versatile companions on city streets or rugged areas as far away as you can drive them.
Ultimately, it all comes down to what you’re looking for—and the Calgary eBikes team is here to help! Explore our available eBike models here to find your next two-wheeled obsession.