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.

This article may contain affiliate links, please read our Affiliate Disclosure for more details.

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. Most e-bikes can also function without pedal assistance so you can choose on the day if you want the assisted help.

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!

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 bike. Plus, they still require pedal power, so the need to exercise is another differentiator from a moped.

Aren’t e-bikes only good for short distances?

As mentioned, e-bikes are restricted in speed but the battery range is designed to be charged overnight and then used for long distances in the day. E-bikes are great for longer distances, and can be remotely 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?

Compared to normal bikes then yes, they are more expensive. But compared to cars, motorbikes and train tickets, then an e-bike will save you money. 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 quality and value for money.

Cost savings: Fuel, car insurance, road tax, parking

Exploring ebike myths and misconceptions - car ownership costs vs ebike costsArjun 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 the 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 assitance, 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 does cost more than that of a normal bike because of the electric components but requires far less upkeep than a regular car or motorcycle. E-bike components rarely need maintenance and have good battery life, while brake and gears can be serviced by a normal mechanic.

A Great Choice For Regular And Beginner Cyclists

e bike myths and misconceptions electic mountain bikes

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 an e-bike if that's what's keeping you from cycling!