eBikes are the fastest growing sector of cycling, so I met with Electric Bikes Sussex to find out what the fuss is about. I admit until I tried one I thought ‘Why buy an electric bike, surely it’s cheating?’, but as you’ll find out in this article the advantages of eBiking are compelling.
Putting it simply an eBike is a bicycle with an electric motor. Riders can use traditional pedal power or utilise the motor to make cycling easier. The motor only works when you pedaling, adding up to 300% to your efforts.
To be classified as bikes – meaning you don’t need a licence and can ride in cycle lanes – eBikes are limited to a power output of 250 watts, and a maximum speed assistance of 25kph. Of course with the help of gravity or pedal power you can go faster.
I – reluctantly – tried an eBike in Austria and was so impressed I met Electric Bikes Sussex to find out more. They are very different to a traditional bike store, more about consulting than components. If local, I recommend you visit them at Brighton Marina as they are happy to share their knowledge.
Before having a go, I thought the advantages of eBiking were limited to cheating on the uphills. But having ridden a top of the range, full suspension Haibike I realised there was a lot more to it. So I decided to research the benefits and answer the question ‘Why buy an electric bike?’.
Research shows that going the same speed over the same distance, an eBiker will use 70% to 85% of the energy of someone on a traditional bike. However, research also shows that they don’t go the same speed or the same distance.
Typically a rider on an ebike will go 50% faster than on a traditional bike, they will also cycle for one and a half times longer. By going faster and cycling for longer, eBike riders go further and end up getting more exercise.
Also riding an eBike is a lower intensity exercise, which according to physios is better for muscles and joints. This means recovery is easier and injury less common, ensuring you get back on the eBike more often.
Impatient motorists that overtake dangerously are one of the main causes of cycling accidents. On an eBike you travel faster, so the contrast in speeds is reduced lowering driver frustration and keeping you safer.
You can also get moving from a standing start quicker and with fewer wobbles – one of the riskiest times when cycling. Meaning you’re away from traffic lights ahead of the cars and stable by the time they overtake.
OK so easier hills and headwinds are one of the key advantages of eBiking. Both can sap energy, aggravate injuries and decrease motivation to cycle regularly. But with assistance from an eBike they’re no longer a problem, meaning you’ll be more likely to cycle.
So we have looked at the advantages of eBiking, but how does that apply to different bike users? In short why buy an electric bike for commuting or leisure?
As we have seen eBikes help you cycle further and more often, meaning commuters who use eBikes are statistically more likely to ride every day. Research shows they will commute of up to ten miles, compared to between three and five miles for regular pedal power.
Plus, when you arrive at work on an eBike, you won’t be a sweaty, dishevelled mess that your colleagues will try to avoid. And at the end of the day you won’t be too tired to ride home again. Pretty good reasons to buy an electric bike if you plan to commute.
To me, cycling faster and for longer means more fun. I like to ride cross country mountain biking trails at Stanmer Park on the outskirts of Brighton. Not including riding there and back I can manage two hours on the trails, this means doing two loops of my normal route.
But on an eBike I could ride for three hours which is 50% more fun. I would also be going faster so I might fit four loops, not only is this twice as much fun but will mean my riding skills improve. This applies to all types of leisure riding, more time and distance is more fun.
As with any bike purchase the first thing to decide is what you will be using it for. Electric bikes come in almost as many styles as normal bikes, so whether you want a folding commuter bike, downhill mountain bike, touring bike or city bike there’s an ebike for you.
An eBike is a serious piece of kit, so go too cheap and you’re probably not getting great quality. For a reliable eBike prices start at about £1,000, for £2000-£3000 you can get a high quality urban/commuter eBike.
Off-road bikes are more expensive. A bottom of the range mountain bike costs just under £2,000 and for full suspension the entry price is around £2500. At with all mountain bikes, the cost increases as the components –which are the same as normal bikes – improve.
It’s worth discussing your options with a specialist eBike retailer like the guys I met at Electric Bikes Sussex. Not only will they answer your questions, but will help you understand the advantages of eBiking for you.
Unlike traditional bike shops it’s not just about the bikes they stock or the components they have. Ultimately they help you answer the personal question ‘Why buy an electric bike?’. Their educating people about this relatively new technology that’s set to change not just the cycle industry, but transport for the better.
For impartial advice and a consultation on eBiking visit www.electricbikessussex.co.uk or pop into the Electric Bike Sussex at Brighton Marina.