Using an electric bike for long-distance touring has its pros and cons. The motor will help carry the extra weight of your kit, particularly on the hills, but you have the added hassle of having to charge the battery every night. You’ll want a powerful motor and a good battery, though if you’re fully loaded, don’t expect to achieve the maximum advertised range.
James LaLonde, senior brand manager for Cannondale, agrees. He says their entry-level (read: good for beginners and more affordable) e-bike—the Quick Neo—has a battery life that lasts up to 70 miles. “If you ride for a full day, you may want to recharge it before you go to bed. But if you’re just commuting [a few miles], you could use it for a full week before you need to plug in. Then it’s a four-hour recharge when it’s completely dead.” (Of course, you don’t have to wait for it to get to zero if you want a shorter charge time.)
There remains an element of myth around them, however. For some, it's cheating; for others, it's like riding a motorbike. Neither is true. Electric bikes offer battery-powered assistance, which means the engine gives you a power boost when you pedal. While this jacks up the price, they're a simple, quick and fun way of commuting, exploring the countryside, or even going off-road.
The best electric bikes for bike touring will be the ones that you feel most comfortable on. The most important thing you can do is assess your particular needs and wants and go from there. Don’t forget that it is nice to save money, but in the end you want an electric bike that is going to get you where you need to go. Comment below with questions! Happy riding!
As electric bike options continue to expand, more brands are integrating the battery more seamlessly. That makes them look sleeker (and more like a real bike). Batteries are expensive, so make sure there's a good way lock the battery to your bike if you'll be keeping it outside. Overall weight is important. Some battery and motors can add 15 pounds or more to the bike. With assist, you won't feel that much when you're riding, but you will if you have to carry your bike up stairs or lift it onto a bike rack.