Posted by Dan Radford on 25th Jan 2020

Buying an electric bike on the internet?

The rise of the internet has been great for consumers, giving access to huge choice and the ability to compare products and prices. But this can create massive confusion, and trying to select the right bike and comparing like for like can be almost impossible.

I have used this blog to talk through the best way to go about purchasing an electric bike. And whilst internet research is great, you can't beat a short-cut to get the answers you need. Whilst I am an authorised specialist dealer for Riese & Müller in the UK, this content is still relevant if you are thinking of buying a Haibike, Specialized or any other brand of electric bike on the market today.

I have split the process into 4 key phases;

  • Phase 1: Online research supported by product experts
  • Phase 2: Find a dealer and try some bikes
  • Phase 3: Specify exactly the bike you want
  • Phase 4: Delivery, set-up and hand-over

Phase 1: Online research supported by product experts

When I first got interested in electric bikes I spent endless evenings and lunch hours getting to grips understanding how an ebike works, the different batterys, motors and manufacturersavailable under the broad term of 'electric bikes'. Once I thought I understood exactly what I would need, I made my first electric bike from parts I bought on Alibaba, and a donor bike I purchased at Go-outdoors. The reasearch phase took me at least 3 months, but more like a year if I am being honest. 

Once built up, the combination of the all the components I had purchased,  gave me a bike which was very different to the image I had built in my mind from my reading. But my money was spent, so I made the best of it.

My second bike was made from a conversion kit purchased in the UK but using a popular Chinese motor, controller and battery brand. Again, the idea was good but the application and delivery was poor.

My third bike was a mainstream brand which I bought online from a european distributor offering a great price. The delivery was awful, the bike was 'lost' for about a month. When it arrived, it needed building and the ride and feel whilst good, was not what I had imagined. Returning it was not an option as I had covered 20 miles on my first ride and the bike was now used.

I currently ride Riese & Müller Delite GT Rohloff, and none of my previous bikes even come close in ride quality of ride or build. But to get to this point I spent about £10,000 and it took me roughly 4 years. If I had known it would take me this long and cost this much, I would have started by purchasing my dream bike straight away.

I now offer my customers the benefit of the experience and the knowledge I have gained, free of charge. This can help you save a fortune and radically reduce the research cycle, and ensure you get the right bike first time.

Phase 2: Find a dealer and try some bikes

This is when you find out if all your research has been a complete waste of time! It's unlikely, it will be a complete waste, but there will be a check of reality against the image you have built up of an electric bike. You trip to a specilist ebike retailler is a critical step, which is missed if buying online, which can help you save a lot of money in the long run. 

Plus, it is better to try the bike at your local bike retailler who will be equipped for you to try different bikes, rather than ordering on-line with the view of returning it if it's not what you wanted. Remember, you will be liable for the cost of return for an item purchased online and it must returned un-used and in it's original packaging. That doesn't sound like much of a deal to me.

A lot of the time we find customers arriving to try a particular style or specification of bike, then go on to order something completely different!

We offer our customers the opportunity of a two hour test ride guided by our in house Riese & Müller expert for a cost of £95 which is refunded against the purchase of a new bike. A two hour session like this can be the best way to ride more than one bike in a real world situation and whilst gaining valuable product knowledge.

Phase 3: Specify exactly the bike you want

When buying online, you are essentially looking at stock which has previously been specified by dealers and it is their job to try and work out the most popular configurations and stock these. This is a lot easier when the product range is limited like many of the mass produced brands. For example, you will find each model of bike only comes in one colour way, with one configuration of gears and no options. 

Riese and Müller allow you the choice of colours, gears and options so you can choose what you actually wanted. As an example, the Riese & Müller Superdelite/Delite range has 60 different size, colour and gearing variations in the 2020 line-up before you even start to consider the list of options available. So the likelyhood of finding the exact bike you wanted in stock is going to be pretty slim. 

Unlike any other manufacturer, Riese & Müller offer customers a factory order option. Factory ordering is a simple process and allows you to specifiy any combination of bike in the catalogue and have it built for you. Once ordered, your bike will likely arrive in the showroom in 3-4 weeks. We specialise in this option as we believe it is important to get the right bike as it is likely to be an investment to last many years.

Phase 4: Delivery, set-up and hand-over

If you have ever bought a bike on-line you'll know this means booking at least half a day off work to wait for a courier delivery. And when the bike arrives you will need a torque wrench, pedal spanner, allen and torx bits, to fit the pedals, adjust the handle bars, shifters, brake levers. You'll also need to do a saftey check on the bike to ensure nothing has been damaged during transportation. In addition you will need to understand how a bike should be set-up for the most comfortable ride, including the adjustment of suspension.

As part of our service, we offer to personally deliver bikes up to 2 hours away at no additional charge. We will work with you to find a mutually agreable time for delivery, and when we get to you, we will spend time configuring your bike and running through the controls. Most importantly, we will take away the packaging so you don't have to deal with the disposal.

Give us a try, you will be pleseantly surprised.

We can be contacted 7 days a week 9am-5pm on 01453 834300. Or email us any questions and we will get back to you as soon as we can.