How much does it cost to charge an electric bike?

John Clark, Velospeed
John Clark 30.07.20

One of the biggest benefits of owning an electric bike is that they are a fantastic alternative to owning a car or using public transport for your daily commute to work, or just to get around town.

There’s the benefit of avoiding the traffic without arriving in a sweaty mess, like you could on a conventional bike, while still getting exercise. And while you’re happily cycling you are contributing to a greener environment and benefitting from being out in the open air on a lovely day instead of cooped up in a hot box.

If you haven’t owned an electric bike before you may wonder how much it costs to charge, and whether or not you are going to have to start your own power plant just to charge the batteries.

This is a common question we get at our bike shop and one I hope we can help you answer.

The basic answer is pretty simple: not a lot per mile vs any other mode of powered transport!

Do not fear though, below we’ll get a little more specific and use actual numbers vs broad “it’s cheap” statements.

Firstly we will look at the CPC (cost per charge). Modern electric bikes use lithium-ion batteries which are very efficient and much lighter when compared to older battery technology. To charge an electric bike you can unlock and remove the battery from the bike (or connect the charger to the bike’s charging port) and use a regular household plug with the supplied mains charging unit.

From empty, a typical 500W capacity electric bike battery will take around 4.5 hours to charge to full, using a standard charger. Incidentally you don’t need to wait until the battery is empty, you can charge it any time. The price of electricity can vary from household to household depending on your supplier but you are typically looking at a rate of 10-15p/kWh. That works out to around 5-10p.

Depending on the type of bike riding you do and where (aggressive fast uphill vs calm flat road riding) you could expect to get around 40-80 miles of assisted bike riding from a single charge. This equates to well under half a penny a mile. You certainly won’t be getting that on the bus, in your car or on the train.

Of course, there are other associated costs with running an electric bike which we examine further below, but compared to other forms of automated transport where your legs are not the only thing getting you from A to B it’s not only the greenest, but also the cheapest way of getting you around town.

“Other costs” you say? Well yes, if you are putting in some serious daily miles then you are going to have to change the tyres once in a while. There are servicing costs – chains stretch after a while, and brake pads need replacing. Normal stuff for a cyclist, but worth factoring in. On top of that, one day you may have to think about replacing the battery. A replacement battery is expensive and the costs could be factored into a cost per mile equation but are a lot less frequent (we’ve never had anyone need a replacement yet – and some customers are now over 10,000 miles). So it’s not something you would typically equate into a cost per mile scenario. Another way to think about this is when calculating a car’s miles per gallon and how much per mile in fuel it costs to go from A to B – you don’t factor in the cam belt change the car needs at 70,000 miles.

From a day to day running costs perspective, you may want to think about the cost of insurance (electric bike insurance typically works out at around £10-15 a month) and a regular service every 1000 miles or so. Outside of these costs a 10p charge every few days is all you are really looking at when working out how much it will cost to get to work this week.

So in summary, how much does it cost to charge an electric bike?

About 5-10 pence depending on your energy supplier. Is that the only cost? No… but compared to the running costs of alternative methods of transport, however you look at it, owning an electric bike is not only an environmentally friendly mode of transport but an extremely cheap one too!