James is 85 years young. He was worried about getting stranded while riding his bike without the energy to get home. His solution? An ebike.
Susan didn’t have the money for a car right now, and the commute to work was only 6 miles. But six miles on a bicycle would leave her…well…perspire-y. She chose an ebike.
James and Susan don’t even realize it, but they are the tip of the spear on a huge trend in transportation, and the fastest growing sector of the bicycle business. As electric motors and batteries for bicycles have gotten smaller, lighter, sleeker, and less expensive, they have entered the mainstream of consumer awareness.
Today, it is possible to buy an electric bike for under $1000 that will take you 25 -35 miles on a single charge, take you through the streets or along a trail at up to 20 mph, and give you options as to how much power you provide versus how much the motor adds. Options on the bike might include multiple gears during pedaling and another set of gears for the motor; folding for storage; charging stations for your phone or other electronic devices; and a full range of bicycle styles from racing to specialty bikes like adult trikes, utility bikes, and even mountain bikes.
A strong argument could be made that everyone needs an ebike as part of their transportation options. Following is a list of the benefits that might apply to each member of any family.
1. Just plain fun. You’ll need to get on, turn on, and ride an ebike to get the point. Just like a Tesla in the automobile world, ebikes have some serious pep that you don’t usually associate with cycling. Possibly the least fun part of cycling is that initial push off the line, where you are trying to get your feet in the right place, create enough power to overcome inertia, and start shifting through a dozen or more gears while you get up to speed. All that is gone with an ebike.
Most ebikes have an optional throttle that allows you to be 100% motor driven. When you take off under full throttle, you won’t experience any of those painful aspects. But you might get a thrill up your leg from the quick acceleration. As with so much in life, the larger the battery and larger the motor, the more thrill you’ll get.
Of course, going up hills, into the wind, or carrying a load is much easier with a power assist. Thus, unless you are an athlete or are looking for some burn in your outing, an electric bike is just going to be an overall more pleasant way to commute, run errands, or go out for a ride with friends.
2. We are quickly moving away from the “car culture.” Autonomous cars are just a few years away, Uber is a cheaper way to get to the clubs, and cities are buiding up instead of out, making transit systems more efficient.
If you are employed within 12 miles of your home, you may find commuting by electric bike to be an amazing benefit compared to owning a car for that purpose. The
The electric bike might set you back 10¢ for the charge, and the cost of depreciation and an occasional new $20 tire isn’t worth talking about. Amazingly, for many inner city trips, you’ll also get there in about the same time. Cars only average about 16 mph in many cities. With an ebike, you can scoot right past traffic jams.
Most ebikes will go 25-35 miles on a charge, so even if your commute is 20 miles or so, just charge it at work, and it’s ready for the ride home.
3. Intermodal commuting creates what is known as the last mile problem. You use a train or bus for part of the commute, but then you need to get from the train to your home or office. How do you go the last mile – or is it three miles for you?
Ebikes are a fantastic solution, especially folding electric bikes. The folding variety are commonly allowed in the regular passenger section even during rush hour, or you might be able to stow the bike in a locker. Then, when you get to work or to your home, you can fold it up and take it inside with you, out of the elements, away from
You may also find yourself getting on and off the transit lines differently than if you were walking. No need to take a bus to get a bus or train. Go straight to the smartest stop on the line and save a bunch of time.
4. Check it out, students. Forget about those dangerous skate boards and scooters. Everyone hates you on those, pedestrians and drivers. With an electric bike, you can move along the roads with the cars, except for the last 100 feet or so.
With standard electric bikes, you’ll still be faced with finding parking and using expensive locks to secure your steed. Try a folding bike for the campus, too. Now you take the folded bike from your dorm room and into the classroom. After classes, you take your folded bike into your job or into the coffee shop. Also, as noted, you have the option of carrying it on transit lines. Finally, you can fold it up and take it home on the plane.
5. Faster than a cars or bicycles. Notice, we didn’t say faster than motorcycles. And we aren’t saying that electric bikes will outperform a car on a freeway. They aren’t even allowed there. However, electric bikes get to go anywhere cars can go, and they get to go lots of places cars can’t go.
Try any errand. You want to go to the mall. Even if the car beats the ebike to the mall, the bike will almost always be easier to park, and it will be parked right at the store, not three stories up in the air in some parking structure and two blocks away.
I suppose it goes without saying that ebikes are faster than bicycles without electric assist. So, except for jocks that are riding their super-spec bikes full out for glory, the ebike is going to win every time. You will accelerate faster, and then it is easy to maintain 20 mph on most ebikes. The average rider will only ride his traditional bike about 10 mph on flat ground.
6. Healthy lifestyle…seriously? It is possible to buy an ebike and never pedal again. So other than feeling the sun and wind on your face, not that much more healthy than a car. But you do have the option to pedal with no motor at all, or with the motor only assisting you on hills and when going against the wind. Or maybe you want the motor
7. Overcoming health issues. Whether you just had joint replacement, are coming back from surgery, have a permanent disability, have a few more pounds than you should, suffer from asthma, or are just plain getting old, an ebike can get you out into nature instead of a stuffy car for many of your trips around town.
8. Sometimes you have a reason to take a long bike ride. Unfortunately, your knees or back, or hands, or stamina in general just aren’t going to hold up for that long ride. With an electric assist, you are now able to go 25 -35 miles under full power or with you providing what power you can, and the motor doing the rest. Now you can go with your friends on that longer ride, or take the job that’s a bit further from home.
9. Under 16 may be able to drive. In most places in the world, and any place in the USA, an electric bike that has working pedals, and is limited to 20 mph under power, is a bicycle, not a motor vehicle. And in many of those places there is no age limit at all on operation. However, some states or countries do restrict use to riders over 16. Please see your state laws for clarification.
10. No license required. There are only a few states and countries that require any kind of license to drive a pedal-assisted electric bike. Even then, these are generally moped type licenses. Similarly, there is almost never a registration fee or a need to register the vehicle. And there is almost never an insurance requirement, though if you have significant assets, it may be wise to make sure your policy covers you in the case that you cause bodily injury to another.
11. Can we all agree – less carbon burning is better for everyone. Bicycles are considered by many to be the most efficient and most planet friendly transportation available. Adding a little electric motor doesn’t change the environmental footprint by much at all, but it does add to efficiency and to usefulness as seen in the other 28 benefits outlined on this page.
On the other hand, compared to cars, trucks, trains, planes, and even horses, the electric bike is a potential huge benefit to reducing the use of carbon fuels. If you have solar power at home, you are getting pretty close to a -0- footprint.
12. How much money will you save. New electric bike $1000. Probably $100 - $150 a year for routine maintenance, new tires, tubes, etc. 10¢ to 20¢ per day for fuel. No license, no registration, no insurance, no parking fees, no car washes. Recent statistics suggest a car costs $750 per month to operate. Electric bike, maybe $25.
13. Safety. Are ebikes safer than cars, motorcyles, bicycles without power? You can choose an opinion and find those who will back you up. Let’s deal with the obvious ones.
You are going faster than a bike and slower than motorcycles and cars. Thus, in general you have a lower impact on accident. But you are unprotected on any bike, so the car has a few advantages in the protecting the rider department.
Less obvious would be that the power might give you options to avoid tough spots that you wouldn’t have with human power only. Some say that electric bike riders are more likely to stop at stop lights and signs, since they don’t have the inconvenience of starting up again (as noted above). Otherwise, I’ll let you decide.
14. Senior citizens should line up. Whether you opt out for a standard bike, or choose to consider a smaller framed and wheeled travel bike, or even go to a three wheel adult trike, using an electric bike for local errands is just too obvious.
If you use an adult trike or one of the utility bikes now on the market, you can haul a huge amount of groceries, potted plants, tools, or other hobbiest items along with you. You won’t be limited by hills. Go anywhere in town you like with a full load of goodies.
15. No sweat. No need for lycra. Talk about a faustian choice. Arrive sweaty or wear a lycra outfit. I’ll take neither, thank you. With an ebike, I arrive fresh and ready to do business.
16. Join an ecycling group. It doesn’t matter whether you ride with a competitive cycling group or a no one left behind group, there’s competition. Right? Well, if all bikes are
17. Go where others fear to tread. Other than Keds, bicycles are the least restricted form of transport. You can take your bike on highways, biways, bike paths, and trails. Ebikes are now made for mountain biking, You can buy a fold up and take it with you on your boat, motor home, private plane, or canoe.
Since it is usually allowed on all other transportation, you can take it along as your best friend on trains, planes, busses, cruises, and you are ready to take off at 20 mph as soon as you arrive at your next stop.
18. Pet peave eliminator. Do you hate to pay for parking? Even worse, how do you feel about $60 parking tickets. Then again both of those might seem better than no place to park at any price.
19. There are probably more really good reasons to buy an electric bike, but we will close with this. Never, ever tow a car behind your motor home again. ‘Nuff said.