With environmental concerns top of the agenda, we are all looking for alternative, eco-friendly, modes of transport
In theory a car can average a high speed, but in practice speed often falls below 10 mph in cities. An electric bike can maintain a higher average speed than a bicycle, yet take advantage of the full network of cycle facilities, giving access to routes that cars and motorcycles cannot reach. The result is often a faster door-to-door journey time than any other mode.
Surely a conventional bike will keep you fitter? That, of course, depends how much – if at all – you use it. Research has found that 46% of conventional bikes are used only once or twice a week. By contrast, a recent survey of electric bike owners reveals that a third ride their bike at least once a day and 81% use the bike at least once a week. The figures confirm our experience that an electric bike typically gets used at least twice as often as a conventional machine. Because riding an electric bike is a great deal more enjoyable in hilly country, into strong winds, or when carrying heavy loads, users tend to make better use of them. The motor provides up to half the effort, but more regular use means more exercise for the rider.
Electric bike running costs
Purchase cost is a little more than a conventional bike, mechanical wear and tear is about the same, and electricity is so cheap as to be largely irrelevant, but there is an extra expense in terms of battery depreciation. Consequently, an electric bike costs more to run – typically 8–12 pence per mile against 3–7 pence per mile for a non-assisted bike.
Motorised, but no red tape!
Electric bikes are bicycles in the eyes of the law, so they require no tax, insurance, MOT or licence. You can ride one while disqualified. You can get into trouble, but nothing you do will affect your driving licence providing the bike is within the law. You are of course free to insure the machine if you wish, but there’s no compulsion to do anything but enjoy yourself!
Sweat may not be a serious issue when you’re out for a leisure ride, but it’s more important if you’re cycling to work, and arriving at work sticky puts a lot of people off cycling. An electric bike eliminates this problem at source. Oddly enough, you won’t sweat on an electric bike, even if you put in the same amount of effort as you do on an ordinary bike. This is a matter of physics, as well as exertion – higher road speed and greater air flow mean instant sweat evaporation. In hot weather, it’s possible to maintain a normal schedule by transferring a bit more load to the electric motor. In colder weather – or if you feel in need of exercise – just throttle back, or turn the motor off.
Where can you buy one?