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, handlebars, 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 public transport. 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 your whole body – your arms, shoulders, core etc. It’s like swimming in the sea, only you’re sailing through air currents, not water currents.

Importantly you’re getting exercise 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

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

Having said that, there are ebikes you don;t need to pedal, but they are fairly rare. But to add to that, you cannot ride them on the streets without a license because they are basically mopeds, or motorcycles.

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 city streets, and everywhere else. It’s a lot 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). You can go as fast as you like after that, but under your own power. Motor manufacturers, therefore, limit the speed for you. (But you can keep pedalling and ride faster — you just have to put in more effort.)

There are e-bikes that go faster — up to 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 assists the rider in the same limited way, and in the UK these need to be registered with the DVLA to be road legal.

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

Battery range

Depending on the battery, and charger, it can take around 2.5-8 hours to fully recharge from flat. However you don’t need to run the battery down before charging, there is no “battery memory”. Charge it any time you need to!

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

Distance

If you have ever ridden a regular bicycle, you know that 20-30 miles is a pretty long ride. You can ride further on an electric bike with the same amount of effort. On average this is between 40 and 75 miles on one battery charge, depending on its capacity and the terrain, the way you ride, etc. Bosch have a great ride simulator that is amazingly accurate: Click here to try it out in a new tab

Climbing

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

An electric bike also makes it it easier to tackle those nasty headwinds. What headwinds??

Choice of brands, types and models

The range of electric bikes available matches, or even surpasses, the range of non-electric bikes. All categories are catered for, from sport road cycling to delivery bikes, from taking the kids to school to advanced technical descents at high speed. 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.

So, these days you will find all types of bicycles on the market from both regular and specialist ebike producers (like Moustache, Ries & Müller, etc). 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 there’s an electric equivalent as well. The same is true for mountain bikes and so on.

Weight and size

Electric bikes are usually heavier than a normal bike. They can weigh up to 25 kg or more, while a regular bike weighs around 10 kg. It is not difficult to work out that the heavier parts of an electric bike are the motor and battery.

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. And to transport around you may need to put them inside the car, or on a towbar-mounted rack, rather than on the roof.

Cost

Electric bikes are more expensive then a non-elecrtic bike. As a comparison, 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 basic electric bike. For that price it’s likely to have a hub motor, but those ebikes usually work very well. On average, good electric bikes cost up to £3,000, but often £4,000 or even more. So you consider it as more of an investment than a ad-hoc purchase!

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

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 drop 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 chain and wheels.

But if you do need to repair your bike, it is usually as easy as an ordinary bicycle, this is something we help with too. Maintaining and repairing an electric bike shouldn’t be more expensive, though finding a repair specialist might be difficult. Motor manufacturers such as Bosch and Shimano have a network of qualified dealers who are able to work on any bike equipped with their systems.

License and laws

You don’t need a license to ride a bike and you don’t have to pay any tax. You will need to comply with motor law though as you would riding a regular bicycle. The benefits compared to those of a motorbike or car is that you can pop to the shops in the same way, but you avoid road taxes, MOTs, insurance etc – big payments to pay 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 with 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). However, other than the motor and battery it’s really a normal bike so you can find countless accessories and parts to make the bike your own.

Trend

Riding an electric bike is a fashionable and 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. 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 40 to 75 miles per charge.

The main disadvantage is the high price and heavy weight.

We hope that this article will help you make the right choice in our e-bike shop.

 

Pros of ebikesCons of ebikes
Easier to rideMore expensive
Keeps you fit and healthyHeavier
If the battery runs out, you can still rideHeavy without motor support
You can sell a used ebike and still make moneyMore sought after and therefore more likely to be stolen
Assistance up to 15.5 miles per hourFaster ebikes need to be registered, etc
40-70 miles on one battery charge
Easy to climb hills & mountains
Very fashionable!
Good clean healthy fun!

 

BACK TO BLOG

Loading...