It’s looking pretty certain that electric vehicles are the future of transport and prices keep falling. But right now, the cost of a new car is out of many people’s reach. So what if you could get around quickly and easily, without shelling out for a new car, and without the hassle of finding a parking space? Enter: the electric bike.
Electric bikes (e-bikes) are gaining a growing foothold in today’s markets. With all the benefits of regular bikes, an electric bike can give you a literal extra nudge of power, making it the perfect option for commuters and enthusiasts alike.
What is an e-bike?
An e-bike works just like a normal bike - pedals, brakes... you get the picture. The big difference is that it also incorporates a small electric motor which gives you a power boost when you need it, and a smoother, more even ride. You get to control how much assistance your bike gives you, so you’re still getting the benefits of exercise.
How are they powered?
E-bikes have a rechargeable battery which you can easily remove. They take about 6 hours to charge fully, but with some models you can do it in half that time. That’s half the story - the other half is you - good old fashioned pedal power.
What are the benefits?
1. Cleaner, greener, healthier, happier
The obvious benefits are exercise, fresh air, vitamin D and so on. Cycling has been shown time and time again to improve fitness, mental health and body confidence. E-bikes are making biking more inclusive - opening up the opportunity for people who may not usually feel able to cycle to get on their bikes and get moving. And of course, using an e-bike instead of your car will drop your fossil fuel usage dramatically and our planet will thank you.
2. Money saving
A big benefit of an e-bike is that it will save you time and a whole lot of money on your commute or travels. Think: no more petrol, no more emissions charges, no more season tickets. Once you’ve bought your bike, of course, the running costs are extremely low - one full charge will take you on average between 25 and 50 miles - but in good conditions, some will do twice that. It’s worth checking out which distances and batteries best suit your needs before you buy. According to the Halford’s guide (see below) an e-bike costs around 0.4p per mile to run: a fraction of your car costs that are around 12p per mile!
3. Fast and fresh
The added power means less effort on those uphill inclines. So you’ll arrive at work fresh as a daisy instead of hot and sweaty. E-bikes reach up to 15mph - faster if you add your own effort. What's more, because of that extra control and power, e-bikes are a brilliant option for anyone needing to transport their kids or extra baggage about.
4. Parking is a piece of cake
And when you arrive, you can do away with parking woes and charges, because you can park your e-bike just like a regular bike - or even choose a foldaway option like the Brompton Electric and stow it in the office until hometime. If you don’t need to fold it away, you can still keep your bike safe while you work. Many e-bikes have the added benefits of GPS trackers, immobilisers and alarms, making them more secure in city settings.
[pull] 16.7million people rely on cars for their commute to work in the UK. How many cars could we take off the road with a little pedal power?
Good to know
You need to be 14 years or older to ride an e-bike on public roads. But you can ride an e-bike anywhere you can ride a regular bike and you’ll need the same safety equipment you’d use on a standard bike. This great buyer’s guide from Halfords covers the useful legal info and gives a quick rundown of your options:
What do they cost?
E-bikes are definitely an investment - they range from around the £500 mark right up to £2000 and beyond at the top end of the range. The initial outlay for an e-bike is soon offset by the savings you’ll make on running your car, paying for parking and all the other associated costs of a commute.
Time to get on your bike
If we’re going to bring down our emissions by 45% in the next 11 years, we’re all going to need to make changes. But the great news is that every change that is positive for the planet is also positive for us - our health, our wellbeing, our pockets. E-bikes are increasingly popular globally- in fact 40% of the 1 million bikes sold in the Netherlands last year were e-bikes - sales are growing year on year. Meanwhile, our air gets cleaner, our planet heals and our children breathe better. If that isn’t a good reason to switch, what is?
Find out more...
Most bike stores now stock e-bikes. It’s worth checking out and supporting your local independents, but you can try:
Evans Cycles: https://www.evanscycles.com/electric-bikes_c
Featured image courtesy of Powabyke.