VANCOUVER -- The coronavirus pandemic has many people looking to avoid public transportation and searching for alternative ways to get around. E-bikes are growing in popularity, but there are some things you should consider before buying one.

Sales of e-bikes were up 85 per cent last year, and in a city of hills like Vancouver, they make a lot of sense. 

Ann MacLennan with Pedego Electric Bikes says they're ideal for certain demographics. 

"The baby boomers are ready for a little bit of help." 

Consumer Reports put e-bikes to the test, looking at performance factors like acceleration and battery life. 

With the battery on maximum on a hilly course, the bikes they tested went from 24 to 48 kilometres before they died, but you can get even more range if you pedal on the low setting. 

Edward Busk, an e-bike enthusiast who left his job in finance to open an e-bike shop, says different settings have a different feel.

"It is completely variable," he says. "So if you put it on the very low level, it's like having a little breeze behind you. If you put it on the high level, you feel like Lance Armstrong."

But Bernie Deitrick with Consumer Reports says it's important not to depend entirely on the battery. 

"Most can be ridden like a normal bike, but some single speed models – if the battery runs out – they're very hard to ride. So try them out without the battery." 

And braking is crucial too. Bicycles with dual-disc brakes perform better in all kinds of weather. But before you shell out thousands of dollars, make sure e-bikes are legal where you live and on the paths where you ride. 

To ride one in British Columbia you must be 16, wear a helmet and the power output on the motor can be no more than 500 watts with a top speed of 32 kilometres an hour.  

Updated June 22, 2020  Correction: B.C. regulations state a 500 watt max output on motor power not on the battery as previously stated in the article.