This post's title is a question you'll see asked time and again on every eBike Facebook group and forum.
It's like any other purchase. Cost, quality and features are all being compared and debated. Compared to more developed eBike markets, consumers in the US seem reluctant to spend big dollars on an eBike, especially if its their first one.
Possibly the stigma arises from long held beliefs in the perceived value of a regular, non-electric bicycle. Most people balk at spending several thousand dollars on a regular bike. Why not pick something up from Wal-Mart for a few hundred dollars? It has two wheels and pedals, right?
And therefore the same logic is applied to an electric bicycle. Two different eBikes may both have a motor, a battery, and this cheaper one even has a big cushy seat! So why would I spend $3000 on one eBike, when this other, more inviting one (remember the cushy seat?) for just $500? It has a big cushy seat!
There's no faulting this sort of logic. We think we know what we want from the eBike experience. And some eBike manufacturers know exactly how to market toward this desired experience. Even if the decision we make isn't quantifiably the best choice, it's satiating the needs we imagine in our heads.
And within that logic we become susceptible to risk of a problematic purchase. We might think we're getting exactly what we want (and maybe we are) but attached to that desired experience comes a multitude of things we did not ask for nor wish to risk!
We don't want to risk a lower quality experience. We don't want to have poor customer support, or parts that break too easily. Furthering this issue is the misunderstood relation between dollar cost and resulting quality. Is something costing $3000 actually six times more reliable or otherwise better than the $500 eBike? That's nearly impossible to quantify for any person. If the $500 eBike falls apart after a year, does the lower cost justify that failure? If the $3000 eBike has even a single problem or bad customer experience, was it a waste of money?
Fortunately, it is possible to appease our own experiential requirements and arrive at a decision that is in our best interest. The latter doesn't even have to be fully understood! You don't, and shouldn't, need to be an expert to wind up with a product that you like and makes you happy.
So, let's examine what kind of requirements people usually have in mind when purchasing their first ebike. I hinted at a few in this opening narrative. And here is the list of topics I plan to cover in future posts.
This series of posts will take a while, and it's possible I'll modify the list above. But I think it covers a broad spectrum of things that a new eBike customer considers. Let me know if you think something is missing!