Why Do Electric Bikes Have Small Wheels?

More and more people are riding around on electric bikes with small wheels and I’ve been wondering why this is? So I bought one to find out!

Electric bikes have small wheels because they are easier to maneuver in crowded areas, keep the bike lower to the ground, make it easier to get on and off the bike, and on folding electric bikes they make the bike smaller when folded.

Keep reading to find out even more reasons electric bikes have small wheels!

Electric bike popularity has skyrocketed and more people than ever want to try one. The great thing about electric bikes is that they make riding accessible to almost everyone.

This means that people who have never ridden before or at least not in a long time can get on an ebike and start putting in miles.

But many people get apprehensive about jumping on a heavy electric bike and tasking off on it unless it’s a smaller wheeled, easy to mount, and unassuming little thing.

Let’s get into all the reasons electric bikes have smaller wheels.

Small Wheels Are Good for Electric Bikes Because They – 

  • Keep the bike lower to the ground
  • Make it easier to maneuver in crowds
  • Keep the size of a folded ebike small
  • Make it easier to get on and off the bike
  • Keep the overall weight of the bike down
  • Produce better torque at lower speeds
  • Allow you to sit upright
  • Are less intimidating

Now let’s go a little deeper into each of these reasons and find out if a small wheeled ebike is right for you, shall we?

Small Wheels on Ebikes Keep the Bike Lower to the Ground

Keeping the bike lower to the ground helps stabilize your ride and makes you feel more in control of the bike.

This does not mean that you will have less clearance on the bike. (the distance below the bike) It just means that the frame, motor, battery, and components will be lower than on a similar bike with bigger wheels.

Electric bikes are heavier than regular bikes and keeping this weight as low as possible will keep the bike more stable.

In my experience, small-wheeled ebikes are a little twitchy to ride in the first place so every bit helps!

Small Wheels on Ebikes Make it Easier to Maneuver in Crowds

Some of you may be wanting to start riding an ebike in a busy city and having small wheels will be a huge benefit if you have to ride in crowds of people.

The turn radius will be much smaller at slower speeds, which you would be forced to do in a crowd anyway.

If you choose a full-sized electric bike and find that most of your time is spent having to push it around every time there are a lot of people around, this would get tiresome quickly.

Those of you in busy cities may want to stick to small-wheeled ebikes, you’ll thank me later. 🙂

Small Wheels on Ebikes Keep the Size of a Folded Ebike Small

Probably the biggest reason electric bikes have small wheels is if they are foldable. While there are some full-sized ebikes that can fold up, it kind of defeats the purpose if it still takes up a ton of space.

Most foldable ebikes these days will have small wheels so that when you do have to fold them up, you can fit them where you need to.

The small wheeled ebike I just bought is a Lectric XP 2.0 and it folds down pretty small and can fit in the back of my jeep with my full-sized ebike in there, too!

There are some small-wheeled electric bikes that do not fold up, but most will. That’s kind of the whole point of getting a small wheeled ebike.

Small Wheels on Ebikes Make it Easier to Get On and Off the Bike

Another big reason electric bikes have small wheels is to keep the stand-over height nice and low. This is the distance between the bike frame and your… stuff 🙂 when you are standing over it with your feet on both sides.

While many full-sized electric bikes have low stand-over heights now, all small-wheeled ones do.

This allows you to easily get on and off the bike without having to swing your leg way up and over the saddle to go for a ride. You just need to be able to lift your foot over the low frame and you’re good to go!

Small Wheels on Ebikes Keep the Overall Weight of the Bike Down

Smaller wheels weigh less than bigger ones. Pretty simple 🙂 

Ebikes are already heavy with the motor and battery and having small wheels will help keep the overall weight of the bike lower. This is especially helpful if you have to lift the bike a lot.

Keep in mind that most small-wheeled ebikes will be hub motor style and already weigh a bit more than a mid-drive style ebike.

You can usually find a full-sized mid-drive ebike that will weigh even less than a small wheeled hub drive one.

If bike weight is a critical factor for you I would suggest trying out some mid-drive options. Most of these will not have small wheels though.

To learn more about mid-drive motors try this – “What Is A Mid-drive Ebike Motor and How Good Are They?”

Small Wheels on Ebikes Produce Better Torque at Lower Speeds

Electric bikes with small wheels are designed to be ridden at lower speeds and having some extra torque will allow you to get going easier from a stop and climb hills a little better.

The downside to this is that you sacrifice some of you’re range in the process.

If you were to ride an electric bike with the exact same motor and throttle but one had big wheels and one had small wheels, you would notice that throttling the smaller wheeled one from a stop will get you moving quicker.

Small Wheels on Ebikes Allow You to Sit Upright

In order to allow full-grown adults to ride ebike with small wheels, they had to be able to bring the saddle and handlebars up a lot higher.

Small wheeled ebikes have handlebars that have adjustable heights allowing you to mauve them up nice and high so you can sit upright.

Something I spend the most time doing at the bike shop is helping people get a more upright riding position. We like to call it “Raising the Bar” 🙂

You usually have to buy special handlebars, stems, or stem risers in order to do this on a regular bike, but with a small-wheeled ebike having adjustable height handlebars, you just raise them up higher if you want. No muss, no fuss!

Small Wheels on Ebikes Are Less Intimidating

I think a big reason electric bikes have small wheels is that it makes them more inviting for folks that have not ridden in a while, or not at all.

Another reason I bought my small wheeled ebike is to take my Mom out for a ride on Mother’s Day. She hasn’t ridden a bike in a while and I think she will really enjoy riding my new Lectric XP.

I recently did a survey of people in my Lectric XP Owner’s group and asked them why they bought theirs. You can check out their answer’s here – “Should You Buy a Lectric XP Ebike in 2022? Owner’s Survey”

You will find out a few different reasons why they chose an electric bike with small wheels.

At the End of the Day

Small wheels on electric bikes can have plenty of advantages, it just depends on your riding style and what you plan to do with your ebike.

For those of you that want a more “genuine” riding experience than I recommend that you try a full-sized, mid-drive ebike.

If you just want a fun and inexpensive electric bike that is easy to ride and will get out more than my favorite small-wheeled ebike is the Lectric XP. Though there are many others.

My main goal here is to help you find the right bike for your personal needs and hopefully demystify ebikes a bit in the process.

Keep on Riding!