Exploring ebike myths and misconceptions
Ebikes have boomed in popularity in the last few years and that’s expected to continue as more environmentally friendly of transport become more accepted. “Aren’t ebikes cheating?” seems to be the usual statement, usually made by people who have never really experienced an ebike, so let's begin exploring ebike myths and misconceptions to set the record straight.
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Table of Contents
- Aren’t e-bikes cheating?
- Aren’t e-bikes just for lazy people who can’t cycle as normal?
- Aren’t e-bikes bad for the environment?
- Aren’t e-bikes just the same as a motor scooter?
- Aren’t e-bikes only good for short distances?
- Aren’t e-bikes only for older people?
- Aren’t e-bikes overpriced?
- Aren’t e-bikes only for dry days?
- Aren’t e-bikes really dangerous?
- Aren’t E-bikes Expensive To Maintain?
- A Great Choice For Regular And Beginner Cyclists
Aren’t e-bikes cheating?
Of course, if you’re using a bike in a race, then an e-bike would indeed be cheating. But if you want to get out in the fresh air, exercise, have fun and enjoy active living, then an e-bike is one of the best no-cheating options around.
On an eBike, you’re able to accelerate right off the start, and then maintain a higher speed, even over hills. - Arjun Adamson on Medium
In fact, e-bikes offer a more accessible method of active travel, with a smoother and more enjoyable ride. The only difference is the assistance you get when pedaling - you still need to pedal!
So, in answer to one of the biggest e-bike myths around, riding an e-bike isn’t cheating. It’s just different.
Aren’t e-bikes just for lazy people who can’t cycle as normal?
As mentioned above, you still need to pedal when cycling an e-bike. E-bikes aren’t designed to be a free ride. They are designed to assist your ride, provided help when needed.
That does mean that less overall effort is required than on a normal bike, but those who use e-bikes tend to cycle greater distances so it evens out a bit.
Some e-bikes can also function without pedal assistance, with a thumb operated or twist grip throttle. This can be especially useful getting started on steep uphills or with a heavy load. Rad power bikes offer this feature standard on all their ebikes.
Assisted help doesn’t mean ‘lazy’ either. It might be that you don’t want to arrive at work completely sweaty, or you need a little help getting up a hill. The electric aspect of the e-bike is designed to complement the exercise, not replace it.
Aren’t e-bikes bad for the environment?
While the extraction of raw materials for the production of the batteries and electrical components used on electric bikes does significantly increase the environmental footprint of an ebike vs a regular bike, that is far from the full picture.
The use of power assisted bicycles means more people can ride a bicycle more frequently and for longer distances, which makes an ebike a viable replacement for a motor vehicle over shorter distances.
E-bikes are zero emission vehicles when in use and can offset significant emissions when compared to conventional motorized vehicles. Lithium ion batteries can also be recycled.
In a nutshell, if you use an e-bike instead of a motor vehicle, you’ll actually be helping the environment, and yourself at the same time! But if you are really interested, you can read a great life cycle analysis report of a conventional vs ebike right here.
Aren’t e-bikes just the same as a motor scooter?
E-bikes are not classed as a moped and can be used on cycle paths, although in the US, certain trails are off limits to ebikes. E-bikes are limited by speed so they are still classed as a bicycle.
Plus, they mostly all still require pedal power, so the need to exercise is another differentiation from a moped.
Aren’t e-bikes only good for short distances?
As mentioned, e-bikes are restricted in speed but the battery range in a good quality ebike falls between 40 to 60 miles. You can easily use such an ebike for daily commuting or even medium distance bike touring.
The battery is designed to be charged overnight and then used for long distances in the day. Premium E-bikes are great for longer distances, up to 100 miles, and can be quickly removed from the bike and charged anywhere with a plug socket if needed.
Aren’t e-bikes only for older people?
One of the biggest ebike myths and misconceptions is that only older people need or use them. That couldn’t be more wrong.
All cyclists and all abilities can benefit from an e-bike. The very nature of the e-bike is to empower cyclists, but giving the cyclist the control. Therefore, non-cyclists can choose to have more assistance, while keen cyclists can turn the assistance down.
If you’re fit and healthy, you can choose to cycle more on tired legs, or if you are returning from injury, or if you want to power up a hill better.
If you’re new to cycling and not that fit, then e-bikes open up the cycling world to you. You’ll be able to cover bigger distances with less exertion, whilst also building a base fitness level.
Aren’t e-bikes overpriced?
Ebikes include a full electric drive, power source and integrated motor control, so compared to normal bikes, generally speaking, ebikes are more expensive. Expect to pay between $1500 and $3000 for a reliable ebike.
Considering they enable cyclists of all ages and physical abilities to enjoy a bike ride and even offer a viable alternative to commute to work, the price point is actually quite modest.
When compared to personal or chauferred cars, motorbikes and train tickets, then an e-bike will save you money and improve your health (and the health of the climate, but that's another article in itself).
The cost of an e-bike can vary greatly, and many makes have high-end specs, but there are also plenty of mid-range options that provide outstanding quality and value for money.
Full disclosure: I personally own a German brand cargo ebike and actually enjoy riding my Rad Power Bike more, and it cost literally half the price! You can check out their full ebike model range here.
Cost savings: Fuel, car insurance, road tax, parking
Arjun Adamson on Medium
The cost benefits of e-bikes actually massively outweigh the financial outlay. Yes, the upfront payment for an e-bike might be more than that of a normal bike, but the overall running costs compared to a car are much lower, as much as 20x cheaper in annual fees.
Consider this: a fully charged battery costs a few cents and can take you up to 100 miles per charge. No more expensive fuel re-fills.
Aren’t e-bikes only for dry days?
E-bikes are made to cope with all weather conditions. The electric components of the bike are contained in a sealed, weatherproof box. That means you can ride regardless of rain or snowy conditions.
Aren’t e-bikes really dangerous?
E-bikes are actually highly regulated and must meet national regulations and standards to be used on the road. They are equally as safe to use as a normal bike.
Of course you need to bear in mind that because of the electric pedal assistance, you will be able to go faster that you would using your leg power alone, so the same precautions apply as if you were riding your regular bicycle at speed.
Aren’t E-bikes Expensive To Maintain?
E-bike maintenance costs no more than that of a normal bike - unless you have issues with the electrical system. So make sure your ebike supplier offers warranty or aftersales support.
In this regard, hub motor ebikes actually offer lower cost maintenance than mid-motor ebikes, as the hub motor drives the wheel directly and save wear on the whole transmission.
Components on reliable E-bikes rarely need maintenance and have good battery life, while brakes and gears can be serviced by a normal mechanic.
A Great Choice For Regular And Beginner Cyclists
E-bikes are a great option for all. They are here to stay and will continue to play an increasingly important role when it comes to cycling uptake. E-bikes are perfect for lowering the barriers to entry for new riders.
E-bikes are great for anyone wanting to get fitter, travel further, switch from a car to an active travel method, or simply try out cycling. And just like with normal cycling, you’ll still benefit from a cardiovascular workout, better circulation and improved strength.
Despite the common e-bike myths and misconceptions, they really are a practical and fun option for all cyclists, as well as really cheap to run.
And as the e-bike’s popularity grows, more manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon and building e-bike options for customers.
And that means more options all the time. Consider getting started with an inexpensive e-bike if that's what's keeping you from cycling!