Choosing an eBike

Twin Bikes Bicentennial Park 800px

So many brands, so many models! The ebike revolution is well under way but how do you choose?

This article draws on personal experience  to help others choose an ebike that meets their needs. It is a ‘user’ review, not an ‘expert’ review. My own two bikes are used as examples of opposite ends of the ebike spectrum: the Ordica Neo Mid-Drive 26” Step-thru, and the Merida eOne Sixty 800 full-suspension mountain bike (both from Sydney Electric Bikes).


One of the challenges for seniors when buying an electric-assist bike is guessing what type of riding they will be doing in the future. Many presume they will be riding mostly on sealed surfaces and choose a bike accordingly, only to later discover a passion for bush trails or other non-sealed terrain. This is where bike frame design becomes an important consideration. Full suspension bikes are designed to handle a wider range of conditions while commuter and hybrid bikes are made for smoother sailing.

Lake Jindabyne

Lake Jindabyne bike trail


Terry Hills trail

Terry Hills Perimeter Trail

Retailers are often much younger people who may or may not appreciate the physical or health issues of senior riders. So, the more you know about your needs before entering a store the better your choice will be.

In addition to predicting the type of riding you will do, you need to factor in a range of personal and technical considerations. Some of the most important are:

Riding position: are you a ‘roadie’ accustomed to leaning forward over drop handlebars or does your back, wrist, and shoulders prefer a more upright posture.

Suspension comfort: are you physically comfortable with the bumps and shakes of a ‘hard-tail’ or firm suspension bike, or will you enjoy riding more with the suppleness of full suspension and a well padded saddle (tips for softer rides here).

Ease of mounting: are you comfortable hitching your leg over the rear wheel as you mount the bike or does your mobility and modesty prefer a step-thru frame design.

Tyre options: if you expect to ride on other than sealed paths then wider tyres with nobbly tread improve grip and safety.

Bike size and weight: if you need to transport your bike in a vehicle, will it fit and can you lift it safely to your car, over a trail gate, or up a flight of stairs (tips for transporting ebikes here).

Battery range: maybe you dont need more than an 11Ah battery with a stated range of 50km, but ebike riding is addictive and fun, and you might soon want more range.  It is cheaper to upgrade the battery at point of purchase.

Motor torque: if you ride in flat areas you may never need much power, but if you ride in hilly places motor torque rating becomes important.

Motor positiongenerally speaking, ebikes with motors mounted between the pedals (mid-drives) are more responsive and efficient. While they tend to be more expensive, it could save you from upgrading too soon.

Digital display unit: some units are bright and clear, others too small or unreadable in sunlight, especially for older eyes, so check carefully before buying.

Pannier rack and bag:  new ebikers are often surprised when they discover they want to ride more often, for longer, and in places they never imagined. A cargo bag is essential for carrying snacks, drinks, repair kit and clothing options. You can often get a better deal at the time of bike purchase.

Test riding options: shop only where test riding is welcomed, and test several types of bikes before choosing. It is easier and cheaper to request modifications before purchase, such as an upright handlebar at a width to suit your shoulders,,  ergonomic grips, wider/softer saddle, and/or  more suitable tyres for your riding preferences. The Sydney Electric Bike stores are on or close to safe riding paths and they encourage shoppers to test ride to your heart’s content to make sure you choose what suits you best.


Commuters are among the most common ebike frame design. Many allow you to mount the bike by stepping through the frame, rather than hitching your leg over the rear of the bike. They are usually referred to as ‘hard-tails’ (ie: no rear suspension) and the front suspension forks have limited travel or ‘springiness’. You can install seat-post suspension, but essentially commuter bikes are most suited to sealed or well-worn paths.


Urban explorer: Taylor Square

I chose the Ordica because of its light weight (21kgs), excellent power-to-weight ratio, slim integrated battery, responsive and well-balanced mid-drive motor, and overall compact design. The riding position and seat are very comfortable (especially with a Thudbuster seat post), and the bike is easy to carry in the back of an SUV. The battery lasts about 90 kms using the two lowest assist settings, and power is delivered smoothly through its responsive torque sensor. It is a sweet bike to ride.


 Most mountain bikes are designed for riding in challenging conditions, but they also offer great versatility. If a comfortable ride is a paramount consideration, then a full suspension bike is the way to go. If your back prefers riding more upright, you can install a stem riser to raise the handlebar. I swapped the original Merida low straight handlebar for an upright curved style, changed the spartan seat for a plush cruiser saddle, then installed a Thudbuster suspension post. I love the crunch of gravel under my tyres and enjoy getting off paved surfaces; the Merida opens up many riding options that would not be possible with other bikes.

Merida 1

I chose the Merida because of the suppleness of its full suspension system, the responsiveness of its high-torque mid-drive motor, and the overall comfort of the riding position. It is a larger bike which has both advantages and disadvantages: 3” tyres and heavier construction allow it to roll smoothly over a wide variety of surfaces. The battery lasts about 70kms on medium terrain. At over 30 kgs it is more difficult to transport and needs a heavy-duty bike carrier. However, on rugged, uneven trails and long tours, it is a delight to ride.


Both of these bikes are excellent performers and enjoyable to ride. Their mid-drive motors give them a well-balanced feel, they have powerful disc brakes, and each has the important ‘walk’ function which helps when pushing a bike up a steep incline.

I bought the Ordica in mid-2019 after a full hip replacement when hitch-mounting the Merida was difficult. After full recovery, I was in the lucky position to be able to choose what style of ebike is best for the ride I plan today. Having a second bike also means I can take a riding partner, and my adult kids have never been so keen to ride with Dad. (PS: in early 2021, my second hip ran out of warranty and I bought a New Zealand made Smartmotion X-City for the same reason I bought the Ordica. Read more at eBiking and Osteo Health).

New technology is allowing many seniors to resume, continue, or take up cycling. If you are thinking of getting an ebike, think beyond the square. They are addictive and can lead to a variety of cycling adventures.  Life looks better on two wheels.

Olympic Park

Olympic Park Homebush

43 replies »

  1. Thank you so much for your great article / review which I very much appreciated and help confirmed our choice to go with the Ordica Neo as our first eBikes – we are both over 65yrs. My wife who is around 155cm decided to go for the 24″. I am a bit taller so have gone with a 26″ which is due for delivery within the next few weeks.

    I have lower back issues so could you please advise what diameter seat post you got for the Thudbuster to fit the Ordica Neo and if you don’t mind, where you got it from. I can’t find anywhere that tells me what size seat post the Ordica Neo will take. The seat post on my wife’s 24″ seat post which we just got is stamped with what looks like 30.4 (the digit after the decimal point is a bit unclear) but I don’t think this is a standard size and I my 26″ is yet to arrive.

    Thanks so much again, Chris

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Chris; I’m sure you’ll both enjoy the Ordys. I enjoyed mine. I’ve sent off a query to my ebike gure Dave Campbell at Sydney Electric Bikes. He said he’ll have answers today re size, and availability. cheers


    • Hi Chris; Dave’s advice below. You can contact him on 0404776698.
      “I’m 90% sure that the post diameter is 31.6mm, same as your Merida, but all three sizes (30.9 and 27.2) are in stock in the long travel version. RRP is $359 but we can do a bit better”.


      • Thanks so much for the follow up information. I’ll wait for my 26″ Ordica to arrive first and then take it from there. I am assuming if the seat post I got ended up being slightly smaller it will still work or I could get a shim for it.


    • Further to my reply below, I just googled “tandem ebike” and several retail-ready options appear. Check them out and have a talk with Dave.

      I doubt there is a retail-ready ebike but I have seen a tandem ebike which must have been a custom build. My go-to ebike guru is Dave Campbell who runs Sydney Electric Bikes Hornsby. Have a word with him and good luck.


  2. Hi Richard

    Loving this website! Saving all your routes for future expedition with kids.

    Got myself a cube DS ebike and really loving it. Couldn’t find a suitable kickstand that fits onto that thick chainstay though. Which kickstand did you use on your Merida? How does it fit onto the bike?

    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi. Thanks for creating a great website full of really useful information. I’ve been thinking of getting a ebike with low maintenance, particularly one with a belt drive. A DS bike sounds great but how often do you have to service the suspension? A DS with belt is very hard to find in Australia. Thank you.


    • My first ebike was a premium Kalkoff with belt drive and I swore never to have another. When the belts dry they become noisey, and a reputable bike specialist said just spray water on the belt!! A regular chain is easy to maintain and are silent. Re suspension, keep it clean and its usually a set and forget thing unless you really hammer the bike. cheers


  4. Hi, My partner and I recently bought our first ebikes, and have fallen in love! Our question is, if Australian law limits our batteries to 250 watts, what is the best way to extend our rides? I can see you’ve done many fantastic longer tours, but try as we might we can’t seem to squeeze more than 40 kms maximum out of our batteries before they need a charge. What’s your solution?


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for dropping by with such a great question. My simple answer is to take a second battery. Every ride I have done that is longer than the expected range of my battery has a spare battery in my cargo bag. This is an expensive and cumberson solution, but the only one available at this stage of technolgy (other than use low power settings and pedal much harder). 40km does sound on the low side of whats available, and a lot of variables affect this number. A new generation of 630 Ah battery is hitting the market so the equation is a moving target. PS: some riders carry a charger only and plug in while lunching at a cafe etc. Hope this helps, and stay safe on two wheels.


  5. Thanks for all the great info looking for bike for the boss she stands a full 5′ would you suggest the Ordica Neo 24 or 26
    we are Seniors looking to venture further from our caravan on our travels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tested both and found the 26 light and compact but rolls like a bigger bike, whereas the 24 has the harshness of smaller wheels. IMO the 26 is better bike for seniors.


  6. Thanks for the great review, I am looking at the Ordica Neo 26 and have a question about load rating. I’m 6’1 and 100kg, would the Neo handle that ok?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am a keen bike rider and have done a few rail trails in Victoria on a hybrid bike (Merida 3000 Cross). I wanted to do more demanding/longer rides and was thinking about an eBike, as my bike was not sufficiently comfortable over longer distances. I wasn’t considering a full-suspension bike until I read your material on bike selection. Up to that point, I thought that FS would be overkill for my needs. Your site was very helpful in considering the pros and cons, more so than the several retailers I spoke to. I have ended up with a TREK Powerfly LT 9 (2019), an FS bike. An interesting feature that came with the bike is a dropper seat post with remote control lever, enabling me to drop the seat height on the go for steeper descents.

    I am now self-isolating in Anglesea, a hilly coastal village with a large number of rideable back roads and small tracks. I had not contemplated riding on these, as I was going to use the bike for rail trails, as mentioned above; I would have been reluctant to ride the local roads and tracks had I not purchased an FS eBike. I was much influenced by your site in this, with you citing flexibility of use and greater comfort with an FS bike. Now I am having great fun on these tracks and roads.

    So thank you very much for your website. Well done. Cheers, John (age 71)


    • What a great post, thank you John. People think that a full suspension bike is only for hard core mountain biking but that is not so. They are the most comfortable bike you can get, especially if you set one up for touring: ie; with soft wide gel saddle & low pressure tyres. A FS ebike opens up a previously unavailable world of biking, especially for seniors. A couple of weeks back I rode about 350kms in four days, not possible on a regular bike. Cheers, and have fun.


  8. i am now following your site . i have purchased a Giant Trance 3+ Pro full suspension and have rode to a few places but look forward to doing some of the trip that you have gone on .
    Do you take your bike on train to transport to start your trip or do you carry on bike rack then start your ride ?
    I am looking forward to riding my e bike .

    Liked by 1 person

      • In NSW you can take a bicycle on the suburban & interurban lines, but should pay half fare. On the Xplorer and XPT you MUST dismantle your bike and box it to a weight under 20kg, which is a deterrent to many cyclists. Also they limit the number of bikes on any one train (XPT & Xplorer) to five bicycles, so no group travels. Victoria allows wheel on travel for bicycles, not sure of the other states. Indian Pacific allow boxed and unboxed i believe, but charge more for unboxed bikes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Richard
        Been following your blog for some time……..great read.
        I have been thinking of getting an ebike for awhile now, the Ordica 26 looks a good option for me I’ll get myself down to SEB for a test ride.
        Just on a related subject regarding transportation, do you know if the Thule bike rack you have will take Two Ordica 26 ?
        With them being step through how does the fixing post work, attach to the seat posts etc ?
        Also, is the Rocky Mountain a tow bar mount?
        I have a tow bar.
        Thanks in advance.


        • Hey Jim: I go to the SEB Hornsby shop as the parking at Pyrmont SEB can be scarce But the real reason is that its run by Dave Campbell who is not only an ebike guru but a hell of nice guy who will go out of his way to help. Tell him I sent you and you’ll find him very obliging. The Ordica’s are a nice all-rounder hybrid; I fitted mine with wider tyres and medium nobblies so they are more flexible over different terrain. Re the Thule; it can take two full suspension Merida ebikes so two Ordicas is easy. The Thule comes with a long and a short fixing arm; you load the bikes in opposite directions so the seat post is easily accessible to both arms. My Rocky Mountain carrier goes into the hitch bar on my car, so I need to first remove the tow ball. I dont know if they come with a hitch/towball option. Cheers, Richard


          • Thanks for your prompt reply Richard.
            I live in Mc Mahons point so, it just a question of jumping on the ferry to Pyrmont.
            However, I think I will take a trip up to Hornsby as I have heard a lot of good things about David.
            Is the wider tyres a much more expensive option?
            What are medium nobblies ?………I have a good idea ,however I thought I would ask.
            I will definitely mention you and you’re blog to anyone or any business I visit related to ebikes……..you’re the go-to “ebike guy”.
            Thanks again for taking the time to respond to my questions.


          • If you ask about wider tyres at the time of sale its often just a swap as cost is similar. Medium nobblies are between the rugged MTB treads and commuter slicks. Just grippy enough to improve traction when you are not on sealed paths. Talk to Dave about your options, but first check out the range on a reputable site like Schwalbe or Maxxis. PS: I dont claim expertise, just experience and enthusiasm. Cheers


  9. Oh man that Merida eONE Sixty looks the goods! 🙂 I’ve been looking into into an e-assist mountain bike that my wife can ride with me on easy trails and that I can also use for the 70km-return trip commute for work more often. Not sure if the budget will stretch to the full-suspension (as much as I want it) so it may have to be a hardtail.

    Liked by 1 person

      • You can also get great four point suspension from a rigid frame. Two arms. two legs. Don’t be afraid to stand up on the pedals over rough terrain, although I must admit front suspension is great. Suspension all round adds to your weight, so best to keep rear suspension only if you are a serious off road or down hill dirt track rider. There are also energy losses to both front and rear suspension which can add up on a long ride. If you are investing in a gel saddle, ensure it is really good quality as the cheaper gel covers and seats van get very lumpy very quickly.
        It is also wise to remember, if you have a recurring ache or pain whilst riding, it may be time to have your seating arrangements evaluated.My wife began complaining of sore wrists at one stage, so a quick evaluation led to new ergonomic grips and a very minor handlebar height and reach adjustment and the noise from her bike ceased immediately.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jenni; I’ve become a fan of the Ordica Neo for many reasons, but its important to keep in mind that some ebikes are great as path commuters but harsh on dirt. I did three things to make my Ordica more versatile: upgraded the 50mm travel forks to oil dampened 120mm forks; installed a Thudbuster seat suspension post; and put on 2.35in wide nobbly tyres. I often take mine off paths, but the stock standard one may not be a comfortable choice.


  10. Both are significant factors. I would personally never choose a rear wheel hub drive for two main reasons: it pushes the weight balance point towards the rear of the bike and that affects its overall feel. A mid-drive is more efficient as it applies force right on the pedals, rather than through a chain line. Also mid-drive torque sensors are more responsive than rear-drive. As far as pedal assist is concerned, I do not like throttle controlled ebikes as you do not get any exercise if you use it. The Ordica has one and I simply unplugged it from the rear of the display unit. Thanks for your comments.


  11. I thought a significant comparison when choosing a bike would have been a choice of pedal assist and rear wheel hub drive. I would welcome any comments


  12. Hi, I used to cycle a lot when I was younger but now my hip is touchy, and the cycling movement is painful Is it fasible to consider an ebike when I might be using the power a lot of the time?? Thanks. Joanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • eBikes have made it possible for many hip sufferers to enjoy cycling; and “using the power a lot” is what its there for Joanne. The good ebike retailers, like Sydney Electric Bikes, insist you have a thorough trial ride before deciding. So why dont you give it a go? And dont be shy with the power assist settings. Let me know how you go.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi,

      Ebikes are excellent for situations like old age since most ebikes have auto peddle assist. This can be controlled by the levels of assist you want.

      I am pass 60’s and have knee issues and was keen to ride a bike for recreation but can’t pedal too hard now. The Ebike really put my bike riding days again!

      Hope this helps you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for your response! As we are just starting out and have entry-level bikes, we might stick with the shorter rides for now! Building up fitness after a sedentary lifestyle may be slow going, plus we enjoy the challenge of planning rides to fit our range limitations. When we upgrade our bikes we hope there will be better batteries, and we’ll tack on spares to the purchase.

        Thanks again for such a wonderful blog! We’re excited to follow in your tracks!


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