Comparisons

The Main Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric Bikes

John Clark, Velospeed
John Clark 08.10.20

Electric bikes and regular bicycles are very similar. One hardly differs from another. Both have a frame, two wheels, steering wheel, seat, pedals and other parts. This means that when thinking about buying an electric bike, you’re probably already a bicycle fan.

We’re going to compare an ebike to a regular bike rather than a motorbike, car, or a public transportation. In this article, we will look at the main pros and cons of electric bikes compared to regular bikes, as well as some common features between them.

Eco-friendliness

An ebike is environmentally friendly – just like a normal bicycle. It does not produce harmful emissions into the atmosphere because it runs on electricity rather than liquid fuel. For the same reason, electric bikes are as quiet as regular bicycles.

Health and keeping active

Riding a bike is very healthy. When you turn the pedals, it’s not only your legs that work, but all parts of your body – your arms, shoulders, core etc. It’s like swimming in a sea, only you’re sailing through air currents, not water currents.

Importantly you’re doing sport when you ride an ebike. Rather different that riding an electric scooter, for example.

If you like to participate in sports events on a regular bicycle, you can also do it on an electric bike. Even today there are many competitions on electric bikes, even popular regular bike events such as Giro d’Italia have an electric bike alternative such as Giro-E.

Motor and effort

You need to pedal on an electric bike. Yes. If you thought that electric bikes ride on their own, then you’re wrong. The motor works when you pedal. These bikes are called “pedal electric bikes“.

There are fully automatic models of bikes, but they are fairly rare. But to add to that, you cannot ride them on the streets without a license because they are like mopeds.

An electric bike is easy to ride – the motor helps you pedal. You put less effort into it, you sweat less, riding is even more comfortable and pleasant. This is especially important for commuting if you do not have a shower at work.

Electric bikes are also great for the physically less strong or able. You can read many reviews on the Internet around people having “a second bicycle life” with their ebikes.

Speed

You can reach speeds up to 15.5 miles per hour (25 km per hour) in motor assistance mode. This is quite enough for riding on city streets. It’s even faster than the average speed of a car in traffic during rush hour (7 miles per hour).

When riding an ebike, the motor will help you pedal until you reach a speed of 15.5 miles per hour. This is the maximum speed allowed by law, otherwise, the bike will ride too fast (more like a moped or a motorbike). Motor manufacturers, therefore, limit the speed for you. (But you can keep pedaling and ride faster — you just have to put more effort.)

There are e-bikes that go faster — up to 20 miles per hour, 30 miles per hour, or more. Once again, we are talking about the motor assistance mode. These bikes are called “speed pedelecs”. The motor in these bikes assist the rider the same limited way.

The power of electric bicycle motors is limited — in England, by law, up to 250W.

Battery range

Depending on the battery it can take around 3-4 hours to fully recharge.

You have to remember to charge it before each ride, just like your smartphone or a laptop, because the battery may run out of power on the way. For ebikes, there are currently very few charging stations unfortunately.

If the battery of an ebike runs out on the road, you can still ride it just like riding a normal bike. You’ll just need to continue pedaling. It will not just stop working like a car that runs out of petrol.

Also don’t forget that the battery has a limited charging cycle — usually around 1000. This will likely last for a couple of years depending on usage, but after that, you will need to replace the battery.

Distance

If you have ever ridden a regular bicycle, you know that 20-30 km is a pretty long distance. You can ride further on an electric bike with the same amount of effort. On average this is between 30 and 100 km on one battery charge, depending on its capacity.

However it very much depends not only on battery capacity but on many other factors such as rider’s weight, road surface, terrain, weather conditions etc.

Climbing

One of the main benefits of an e-bike is that it is much easier to ride on uneven terrain and when climbing up hills or mountains. Riding up hills or mountains can be very difficult if you’re not in general an active person.

An electric bike also makes it it easier to withstand oncoming or side winds as the engine helps you.

However it’s important to remember to top up your battery before trying it because if you are out, it can be very difficult to climb a steep mountain or hill on an electric bike because they’re twice as heavy as a normal bike. Don’t forget this if you ride in mountainous terrain.

Choice of brands, types and models

There are more than 30 manufacturers in the world that produce electric bikes. They are the first to introduce innovations in this industry. The range of models these companies produce, is so diverse that it surpasses traditional bicycle manufacturers.

In addition, almost all regular bicycle manufacturers now produce electric bikes too. If you love a particular brand for example, Cube, you are likely to find an electric bike from that manufacturer.

In 2020, you can find all types of bicycles on the market from both regular and ebike producers. There are city bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes, folding bikes, cargo, and family bikes, and many others. For example, if you already have a city bike, you will find an electric one as well. The same is true for mountain bikes and so on.

Although there are many manufacturers of electric bikes in the world, there’s less of a variety of models, especially when it comes to retro bikes or vintage bikes, which are also very popular today. If you are a fan of vintage bikes, you are more likely to buy a regular bicycle than an electric one, but they are out there!

Weight and size

Electric bikes are larger and heavier than a normal bike. They can weigh up to 20 kg or more, while a regular bike weighs around 10 kg. It is not difficult to guess that the heavier parts of an electric bike are the motor, battery, and other electronic parts.

Electric bikes can be harder to transport because of their weight, particularly if you don’t live on the ground floor. To store them, you might need a little more space.

Cost

Electric bikes are generally more expensive. To compare, you can buy a good regular bicycle from a well-known manufacturer for around £1,000, and you need at least £1000-£1,500 to buy a good electric bike. It’s likely to be a basic model for that price, with a motor power of 200-250W. On average, good electric bikes cost up to £3,000, but often £4,000 or even £5,000. So for now, you might see it as more of an investment type expense rather than a ad-hoc purchase.

Electric bikes are sought after so there’s a greater liklihood that it could be stolen if left on the street, so it’s always advisable to store it inside or securely ourside.

If you don’t need your ebike any more, or want to buy a new one, it’s likely to retain its value very well. In this way it is similar to selling Apple products. They hold their value well and slowly drops in price over time.

Maintenance

If you buy a new model rather than a used one, electric bicycles will hardly need any maintenance. The most important things are to keep it clean, lubricate the drive system and regularly check drive pedals and wheels.

But if you do need to repair your bike, it is as easy as an ordinary bicycle, this is something we help with too. Maintaining and repairing an electric bike could be more expensive though and finding a repair specialist might be difficult.

License and laws

You don’t need a license to ride a bike and you don’t have to pay for any permissions. You will need to comply with motor laws though as you would riding a regular bicycle. The benefits compared to that of a motorbike or car is that you can pop to the shops in the same way, but you avoid road taxes and MOTs etc – big payments that expected every year.

Of course if you opt for more powerful or faster bikes, you will need a license and other documents.

If you buy a more powerful bike here and intend to travel on it or want to take it with you on a bus, train, or plane, it’s important to stay up to date about the rules that apply in other countries. The laws on riding an ebikes are still being written.

Customisation

It is not possible to install a more powerful motor on an ebike (it’s illegal) and it is harder to customise other parts. If you like customised bikes, a normal bicycle will probably be more suitable for you.

Trend

Riding an electric bike is seen as a fashionable (trendy) thing right now. As the eco-movement continues to gain traction, ebikes are seen as a viable eco-friendly alternative right now and we see that trend growing day by day.

Being a part of a community

By buying any bike, you become a member of one large family of cyclists. There are many cycling clubs in England and around the world where you can find other fans of this mode of transport to ride together. Not to mention the whole world if you look at apps like Strava. Electric bike clubs are very similar in this way.

Conclusion

Electric bikes and regular bikes have many common features and almost the same number of e bikes pros and cons. So riding any bicycle is not a comparison between motors or the power of your legs, but a choice of healthier and more environmentally friendly type of transport.

Therefore, the main advantage of an electric bike over the regular one is, of course, the electric motor, which helps you pedal and makes it easier to ride. You can travel longer distances — from 30 to 100 km.

The main disadvantage is the high price and heavy weight.

The choice between an electric bike or a regular bike is always very indifferent. We hope that this article will help you make the right choice in our e-bike shop.

 

Pros of ebikes Cons of ebikes
Easier to ride 1.5-2 times more expensive
You’re still keeping active Heavier and bigger
Speeds up to 15.5 miles per hour Less variety of models
There are even faster ebikes The motor will help you pedal until only 25 km per hour
30-100 km on one battery charge The power of the motor is limited
Easier to climb hills & mountains For a more powerful motor, you need a license
If the battery runs out, you can still ride It is impossible to say exactly how much you can ride
It’s on-trend It is difficult to climb a mountain when the battery is out of charge
Three dozen manufacturers No customisation
You can sell a used ebike and still make money More sought after and therefore more likely to be stolen

 

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