The RG Guide to E Bike Frames
A devoted road and gravel cyclist and all-around gearhead, Josh has been riding and writing about electric scooters for the past five years. He’s generally happier on two wheels than two legs. When Josh isn’t writing or wrenching, he’s usually out on the road….
An electric bike frame serves as the backbone of the entire bike, shaping to a large extent how the bike will fit and function. In this guide, we will explore the different types of electric bike frames and their different uses, what to look for when shopping for an e bike, some of the latest innovations in frame technology, and the benefits of investing in a high-quality frame.
Exploring the Different Types of E Bike Frame Styles
Electric bike frames come in various shapes, sizes, and materials. The most common types of traditional frames, which we’ll survey here, include:
- Moto-style frames
- Step-through frames
- Mountain bike frames
- Road or Step-Over frames
- City bike frames
- Folding bike frames
- Hybrid bike frames
- Cargo bike frames
These categories are not mutually exclusive. An electric bike frame can both be a city frame and a folding frame, for example, or a step-through and folding. But because of their performance needs, road and mountain bikes aren’t often made to fold, carry cargo, or hold baskets or panniers.
Moto-Style E Bike
You’ve probably noticed that ebikes are changing the traditional bike frame these days, adopting moped, motorcycle, and dirt bike frame styles as the lines between these vehicles blur.
Bikes like the Super 73 pictured above are typically Class 3 throttle-style Ebikes that can go up to 28 mph.
The use of double rails instead of a single top tube accommodates a wider motorcycle bench seat designed for comfort over long distances and carrying the odd passenger, not pedaling efficiency. Moto-style e bikes are built to priviledge speed and utility over physical fitness.
Step-Through E Bike
Step-through frames, also known as open frames or low-step frames, are popular among riders who value easy mount and dismount. These frames feature a sloping top tube that allows riders to step through the bike, making it convenient for those with restricted mobility or for urban commuting.
Step-through frames are practical and historical, first coming into being in the late 19th century to accommodate the restrictive clothing women were forced to wear at the time. The design allowed women to ride bicycles while wearing long skirts, giving women unprecedented freedom and mobility in the 20th century.
Mountain E Bike
Mountain bike (MTB) frames are designed for off-road adventures and rugged terrains. These frames are built to withstand intense shocks while navigating steep, rocky trails and taking on jumps. Mtb frames have often been made from steel in the past for enhanced strength but they are now often made from aluminum or carbon fiber.
Mountain biking has gained immense popularity over the years, and the evolution of mountain bike frames has played a significant role in this. A modern MTB frame incorporates advanced dual suspension systems to provide riders with better control and comfort on challenging terrains.
Road or Step-Over E Bike
Road bike or step-over frames are usually made of lightweight material like aluminum, steel, or carbon fiber. They are designed for speed and efficiency when riding long distances. To save weight, road bikes typically do not include suspension systems, although some frames designed for gravel riding do.
Road bike frames are also known as diamond frames or high-step frames and use the traditional bike frame design with a horizontal top tube. These frames provide stability and strength, making them popular among riders who prioritize performance, such as racing cyclists.
Step-over frames have a timeless appeal, harkening back to the early days of cycling. They have been the go-to for professional cyclists and enthusiasts who seek speed and efficiency. The design of step-over frames allows for optimal power transfer and aerodynamics, making them ideal for road racing or long-distance touring.
City E Bike
City e bike frames are designed with comfort and practicality in mind. They typically have an upright riding position, and are equipped with fenders and a rear rack to hold panniers or baskets. City bike frames are great for commuting in urban environments.
City biking is not just a mode of transportation but also a lifestyle. Many cities around the world have embraced cycling as a sustainable and efficient way to get around. As a result, city bike frames have evolved to cater to the needs of urban dwellers, with features like integrated lights, belt drives for low maintenance, and even built-in GPS systems.
Folding E Bike
Folding bike frames are perfect for riders with limited storage space or a need for portability. These frames can be easily folded and unfolded, allowing riders to store their bikes in small apartments or carry them onto public transportation.
Folding bike frames have come a long way since their inception. Early folding bikes were heavy and cumbersome, but advancements in materials and engineering have made them more lightweight and compact.
Electric folding bikes, like those from GOTRAX and Lectric, are affordable and versatile for all kinds of riders.
Hybrid E Bike
Hybrid e bike frames typically feature a more upright riding position than road bike frames, which helps reduce the strain on the rider’s back and legs, making them a great option for those who are looking for an all-purpose frame that can be ridden in both the city and the great outdoors.
Most hybrid bike frames are made from lightweight aluminum and feature a low top tube that allows for easier mounting and dismounting. Additionally, hybrid bike frames typically have front suspension for a smoother ride on uneven road surfaces. All in all, a hybrid bike frame is a great option for riders looking for a versatile frame that is both comfortable and capable.
Cargo E Bike
Cargo bike frames are a great option for those who want a sturdy and reliable option for carrying heavy loads. This type of frame is designed for the most demanding cargo uses. A typical cargo bike frame contains a large rear frame, sturdy steel tubing, adjustable seat posts, and wide-track stability platform.
Depending on the make and model, cargo bike frames can also include storage bins and additional seating for adult passengers or children. Cargo bike frames are especially useful for commercial use, such as delivery services, but can also be a great choice for those who want to ditch the car and run their daily errands by bike.
What to Look for When Shopping for an Electric Bike Frame
Once you’ve determined the primary reason you’ll be riding your electric bike, you’ll want to consider these essentials before making a purchase.
The material of the electric bike frame plays a crucial role in determining its overall performance and longevity. Some frames will combine materials for weight and cost-savings, such as an aluminum frame with carbon-fiber forks.
Aluminum frames are lightweight and offer excellent durability, making them a popular choice among electric bike enthusiasts. Steel frames, on the other hand, provide a smooth and comfortable ride due to their natural shock-absorbing properties.
Carbon fiber frames are known for their exceptional strength-to-weight ratio, making them ideal for riders looking for a lightweight yet sturdy frame.
Lastly, titanium, a rarely used material, offers a unique blend of strength, durability, and corrosion resistance, making it a premium choice for electric bike frames.
Consider all the options. Is a carbon fiber frame really worth the extra money? It might be if you’re a road cyclist needing extra speed. But if you’re a casual rider, you might opt for aluminum, a lightweight material that resists corrosion.
Choosing the right ebike frame size is essential for a comfortable ride. A frame that’s too small or too large can cause discomfort, fatigue, and even injury.
To determine the correct frame size for you, you might visit a local bike shop and get a bike professionally fitted. An experienced bike fitter will take into account your body measurements, riding style, and preferences to recommend the perfect frame size for you.
A bike fitting can be an expensive (and time consuming) endeaver, however. You can use stand-over height as a guide for traditional step-over or road frames. This figure refers to the measurement from the ground to the bike’s top tube (which you “stand over” while off the seat). It should correspond roughly to a little over your inseam.
Many e bikes will be sized as Small, Medium, or Large. Check the manufacturer’s website for specific body measurements in each of these categories to find a frame that will fit you best.
Integrated battery compartments in electric bike frames offer numerous advantages. Not only do they provide a sleek and streamlined appearance, but they also improve weight distribution.
By integrating the battery into the frame, the overall weight of the bike is better balanced, resulting in improved handling and stability. Additionally, integrated battery compartments protect the battery from external elements, such as water and dust, prolonging its lifespan and ensuring optimal performance.
Integrated batteries can be more costly, and most electric bikes these days should have locking batteries, whether they’re mounted inside or outside the frame.
If you plan to venture off-road or frequently encounter rough terrain, investing in a frame with front suspension forks or front and rear suspension can greatly enhance your riding experience. Suspension systems absorb shocks and vibrations, providing a smoother and more comfortable ride.
Why Invest in a High-Quality EBike Frame?
Investing in a high-quality electric bike frame offers several advantages, among them durability, comfort, performance, longevity, and resale value. All of these an be factors to consider when purchasing an electric bike. A cheaply made, poorly sized, badly fitted electric bike frame will result in a unpleasant riding experience, no matter how much speed or power your bike has.
Choosing the right electric bike frame is essential for a pleasant riding experience. By understanding the different types of frames, what to look for when shopping, the latest innovations, and the benefits of investing in a high-quality frame, you can make an informed decision and find the perfect frame that suits your riding style and needs.