The daily commute is a normal part of modern life. We travel to and from work and usually, the first thought is always money. We need to find the cheapest way to get to our workplace, whether that’s driving, public transit or cycling. Those of us who cycle to work will also reap the benefits of staying fit and helping the environment and it seems like a great option all round. What’s even better is that bikes are much cheaper than cars and we can use them for our leisure time too, so investing in an e-bike might seem like a really great idea. There are obviously pros and cons to purchasing an electronic bike and whether it is a worthwhile investment is something each individual will have to decide for themselves, so we have compiled a little list to help you reach that decision before splashing out.
Good for Urban Areas
When you’re only travelling a couple of miles across town, an e-bike seems like the perfect way to do it. There’s no waiting around for buses or the tube. You can simply leave the house or office and set out on your journey whenever you like. Traffic jams are easy to negotiate due to the fact you take up considerably less space than a car and you’ve covered that short distance in a reasonable amount of time.
Bike Commuting Is Becoming Popular
Other people’s opinions may not matter to you but as the popularity of commuting by bike increases, the number of drivers who complain about cyclists is constantly decreasing. There is also an increased awareness of the need to respect cyclists in the same way that you would respect other road users so more drivers are likely to give you enough space when overtaking and safety issues should be less of a problem. The popularity issue has a ripple effect so it should definitely be taken into consideration.
Healthier Than A Motorbike
In the past, many urban road users chose motorbikes over cars for the same reasons people are now choosing e-bikes, but the difference is that an e-bike won’t have you breathing in any fumes. City commuting is exhausting enough for the lungs, and although there is a lot being done to tackle the pollution problems in our cities, every petrol or diesel fuelled mode of transport will add to the problem. No fumes mean less pollution all around.
Laws vary from country to country, and region to region but in the UK, any car, motorbike or scooter users are required to hold some form of licence before they even put the keys in the ignition. The great thing about e-bikes is that anyone over the age of 14 can ride one without a licence. There’s no formal test, no application fees to pay and no expensive lessons required. This would be a great option for adults who are unable to drive a car or motorbike but still have to get around town. Most assisted e-bikes also don’t require any form of insurance in most of the UK since the speeds they reach are still fairly low which is even better news for those on a budget. However, in Northern Ireland the rules are different and you will need a motorcycle license, tax and insurance. You can check which vehicles need a licence, tax and insurance on the official government website.
Pedalling Still Required
Modern eBikes use an ePAS (Electic Pedal Assist System) system. Put simply, you pedal your bike normally but when you need a bit of a boost the onboard computer engages a motor in the crank to make turning the pedal much easier. However it’s not as labour-intensive as a standard bike, it will still require a little effort, which makes it a much healthier choice than, for example, a scooter, which allows you to sit and travel with minimal effort.
With most fully charged e-bikes the assisted range is over 20 miles on a single charge. That should be sufficient for most urban commutes and if it requires a top-up during the day it would be easy to charge it while at work. Of course, pedalling the e-bike more would save battery power and lessen the amount of charging required.
Quick Charging Times
With charging times as low as 4-5 hours, it is easy to recharge the e-bike during the working day so it is ready for your ride home. The Lectro Rapide, for example, has a powerful 36 volt 8.8Ah battery and battery status information is provided by LEDs on the handlebars.
The great thing is that all types of bike and models are available as an e-bike. If you’re looking for a mountain bike the Lectro Peak is the one for you. Folding bikes are available such as the Lectro Easy Step and the Lectro Rapide. There are also urban racing bikes and urban city bikes, both with a ladies or a gents model available. Finally, if you like a more traditional design, Lectro have updated the classic shopping bike model and are marketing them as Vintage and Avanti. Both have a traditional look but with removable e-bike features.
That’s not to say that e-bikes are perfect for everyone or that they don’t have their downsides. Here we have compiled a few of the cons to purchasing and riding an e-bike.
Although much cheaper than a car or motorbike, they can be more expensive than a conventional bike. The cheapest e-bike on the Lectro website is an Easy Step folding bike or the Vintage which both cost £949 each.
One of the attractions of a conventional bike is that it is fairly light and easily transportable. The electric bike does weigh more so may not be as useful for those whose fitness or strength levels aren’t in peak condition. With the folding bikes in the Lectro range weighing around 20kg and the others being much heavier at 25-27kg, this may be something to consider.
Legal Speed Limit
In order to stay within the requirements of the vehicle that doesn’t require tax, insurance and a licence, an e-bike has to remain limited to speeds under 15.5mph while being powered by electricity. This could be a pain if you’re trying to get somewhere in a hurry or negotiate urban traffic. There is always the option to use pedal power instead and reach higher speeds.
Every vehicle must be maintained in some way and the e-bike is no different. Although tax and insurance are not going to be a concern for e-bike owners, there’s still the usual bike wear and tear to think about, as well as replacement batteries and charging costs. All those 4-hour charges on a daily basis will add up. It’s worth factoring these costs into your budget before you make your e-bike purchase as it’s not a one-off expense.
Short Distances Only
Finally, although the e-bike is likely to be popular amongst urban users, those who have to travel within rural areas or commute for long distances need to be mindful of the range of assisted pedals and plan their uses of power carefully. The restrictions in speed, lack of protection from the elements and the distance that can be travelled on a single charge mean the e-bike is going to appeal mostly to urban users.
Overall, there are still more pros than cons when considering how useful the e-bike will be for the city commuter but there will also be pros and cons for leisure use and the mountain e-bike, in particular, will appeal to a completely different market but hopefully the information here will get you thinking about whether an e-bike would be a suitable investment for you. You can check out the whole Lectro Bikes range on their official website.
Have you ever owned an e-bike? What could you add to the list of pros and cons?