Get your own e-bike
We don’t sell e-bikes (or anything else), but we have some tips for finding your own e-bike and taking care of it once it arrives.
Choosing an e-bike
- Try one first. If possible, try the e-bike you want to buy before ordering one. If you can’t try the specific model you want to buy, try an e-bike from the same company, or an e-bike of a similar style.
- Think about your use case. Are you getting an e-bike to commute to work? To carry groceries home from the store? To bike a kid to school? Different e-bike models work for different use cases. If you’re planning on carrying cargo or kids, it might be worth springing for an e-bike with a high-capacity rear rack and high-quality brakes (we prefer hydraulic brakes for cargo).
- Read reviews. Electric Bike Report and Electric Bike Review have reviews of many popular brands and models. There’s also a very active and friendly subreddit, and Facebook groups for many popular e-bike makers. Of course, take anything you read online with a grain of salt.
- Check the battery. Low-quality e-bike batteries can be a fire hazard, especially if charged or stored improperly. Look for a battery with a safety certification from UL, name-brand battery cells (Samsung, LG, etc.), and a battery management system (BMS). Avoid no-name and second-hand batteries, and always charge with the charger provided by the manufacturer. Read more about battery safety at Consumer Reports.
- Make a plan for maintenance. Many bike shops in the Charlottesville area will do mechanical work on e-bikes, like adjusting your brakes or doing a tune-up. But they may not be able to work on the electronics in your e-bike. Ask a bike shop if they’ll work on the e-bike you’re considering.
Where to buy an e-bike
- Local or online. Several local bike shops in the Charlottesville area sell e-bikes. You can also order an e-bike online from a growing number of companies. Prices are typically lower online, but keep in mind that you won’t have to assemble a bike that you buy from a local shop, and you’ll typically receive free or discounted maintenance if you buy locally.
- Budget bikes. You can find decent e-bikes for as little as $800, especially if you don’t need high-end features. But do your homework before buying an e-bike from an e-commerce company like Amazon or Walmart. It may be difficult to find independent reviews for e-bikes sold on Amazon, and spare parts may be hard to come by. If you’re looking for an affordable e-bike, we recommend starting with a guide like Electric Bike Review’s Best Cheap Electric Bikes.
- Look for discounts. Both local shops and online e-bike sellers tend to offer holiday sales, as well as discounts on older models. You can also get a coupon from us for certain brands. Some brands, like Aventon and Juiced also offer discounts to students, teachers, health care workers, or veterans.
- Consider a used e-bike. You can buy a used e-bike with a warranty from Upway, or check Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. You may find a lightly used e-bike for a better price than a new lower-end model.
Once you get your e-bike
- Assemble your e-bike. Most e-bikes that you order online require some assembly. Read the assembly instructions and watch videos if available. If you don’t want to assemble your e-bike on your own, most local bike shops will do it for you at a reasonable price. You may even be able to ship your bike directly to the shop.
- Check out your e-bike. If you assembled your e-bike on your own, consider taking it to a local bike shop within the first 100 miles of use. Your e-bike might need the brakes or derailleur adjusted. Most shops won’t charge you for a full tune-up if the e-bike doesn’t need much work.
- Take care of your e-bike. Your e-bike will need regular maintenance. If you enjoy working on bikes, you can do a lot of it yourself. For example, you can adjust your brakes with a hex key and a pair of pliers. E-bikes are heavier and faster than regular bikes, so your brakes may wear faster than the brakes on a regular bike.
- Ride safely. The Charlottesville area doesn’t have great bike infrastructure, so you’ll probably be sharing the road with cars. It’s possible to get to almost anywhere within city limits, and many places in Albemarle County, on an e-bike, but it helps to plan your route in advance, and use side streets, parking lots, and maybe an occasional ride on the sidewalk to get away from traffic.