What is an electric bike? is a question you may have found yourself asking as the world of electric vehicles and transport takes the world by storm. Electric bikes can help you get to work on time, make your weekend mountain ride last even longer, or enhance inner-city travel. Discover everything you need to know with our complete guide.
What You’ll Learn:
- What is an Electric Bike?
- What Are the Different Types of E Bikes?
- How Do They Work/ Do I Need to Plug It In?
- How Fast Can I Go on an Electric Bike?
- How Far Can I Go On an Electric Bike?
- Do I Need a Licence to Use an Electric Bike?
- What is the Difference Between an E Bike & an E Scooter?
- Are E Bikes Good for the Planet?
- How Much Does an E Bike Cost?
- Where Can I Buy an Electric Bike?
What is an Electric Bike?
An electric bike or E Bike, is a bicycle equipped with an electric motor and battery that assists you as you pedal. This means that an E Bike can help to reduce the effort needed to pedal; making it easier to climb hills, ride into headwinds, or cover longer distances.
What Are the Different Types of E Bikes?
E Bikes are available in a variety of forms, each tailored to supporting a different aspect of your life. From hitting the trails to exploring the city, you’ll need the type of E Bike that suits your needs.
Designed for comfort and convenience, rather than speed and durability. From getting to the office in time, to exploring your city at the weekend, these types of electric bikes can get you there without you having to break a sweat.
These electric bikes are built for one thing: speed. Thinner tyres (23-28mm), lighter frames, and an aerodynamic design get you where you need to go. If you’re used to pedalling on the tarmac with a road bike, why not try switching to an E Bike?
E Bikes aren’t just for the flat - these types are designed for more challenging terrains. Loose dirt, rocks, sand, gravel, and an ever changing gradient is where these bikes are at their best.
Wider tyres (48-65mm), sturdy frames, and a lot of suspension; they’re designed like a mountain bike, but with that added motor to help you along the way.
Cargo bikes are designed to let you carry as much stuff as possible. Whether that’s in front of the handlebars or behind your saddle, you’ll be able to have everything you need with you, even when travelling by bike.
These bikes prioritise collapsibility and storage over speed. They come with 40-50cm wheels, and crucially can be taken onto the tube, trains and buses (buses are at driver discretion during busy times). Say goodbye to a bulky bike, and say hello to travelling at ease, with an electric bike that’s convenient to store at home or at work.
Although most bikes are considered ‘unisex’, it is possible to purchase E Bikes that have been designed specifically with a wider saddle, a shorter reach to the handlebars, and a smaller design in general.
How Do They Work/ Do I Need to Plug It In?
Electric bikes work similarly to a regular road bike, from a user perspective. In fact, there are only two real differences when comparing an electric bike to a road bike: the addition of a battery and motor. The motor is what assists you with the pedalling, and is found either in the hub of the wheel, or in the bottom bracket of the E Bike.
The battery is what powers this motor, and is usually found in or on the frame of the E Bike. Batteries can be charged on or off the bike, but it is always recommended to do the charging indoors, especially when considering the rain.
Charging an electric bike usually takes between 2.5 - 8 hours, depending on the battery capacity. While a lower battery capacity takes less time to charge, a larger capacity will take you further on one charge.
How Fast Can I Go on an Electric Bike?
Road legal electric bikes will assist with speeds up to 15.5 mph, but if your legs can go faster, your bike will go faster. That means that you can go as fast on an E Bike as you can on a road bike.
How Far Can I Go On an Electric Bike?
You can technically go as far as you want on an electric bike. Some e bike batteries are bigger than others, so an electric bike with a larger battery life will take you further than one with a smaller capacity.
However, electric bikes can also be used as a regular push bike even once the battery has run out, so you can continue to pedal to your destination.
Do I Need a Licence to Use an Electric Bike?
Electric bikes that assist with the pedalling (‘electrically assisted pedal cycles’ - EAPCs) are legal in the UK if you’re over the age of 14, and do not require tax and insurance, if:
- It has a maximum power output of 250 watts
- It does not propel the bike when it’s travelling more than 15.5 mph.
The electric bike must also show either; the power output, or the manufacturer of the motor, and shows either; the battery’s voltage, or the maximum speed of the bike. If all of these criteria are met, an electric bike is considered to be just like any other bike, and so can be ridden where any other bike could legally be ridden.
Whilst the motor cannot propel you faster than 15.5mph, it is possible to travel faster on an E Bike. Any additional speed must come from your own effort and exertion, rather than the motor.
What is the Difference Between an E Bike & an E Scooter?
When comparing an electric bike to an e scooter, the most obvious difference is how you ride them. Where a bike is sat upon and operated by pedalling, an electric scooter offers a standing structure where you are propelled forwards by a motor whilst standing on a small platform and holding onto handlebars.
Are E Bikes Good for the Planet?
When compared to a push bike, e bikes produce 1.56 times more CO2 emissions over their lifetime, with the majority of this increase coming from battery production.
The easiest way of comparing how good a form of transport is for the planet is to look at the grams of CO2 produced per kilometre travelled (g/km).
Electric bikes would typically produce 2-5 g/km depending on the power mix.
Whereas, according to the Environmental Protection Agency:
- Cars emit about 150g of CO2 per passenger kilometre (kpm).
- Public transport emits between 50 - 110 g/pkm.
Compared to all other means of transport, electric bikes are significantly lower in emissions.
How Much Does an E Bike Cost?
Electric bikes can vary in price, depending on the size of the bike, the capacity of the battery, and the type of terrain it is designed for.
- Lower range (< £2,499) - Electric bikes can be purchased for as low as £1,000, but the most will cost you around the £2,000 mark. The bikes at this price point tend to be for a general commuter bike, rather than those designed for mountain biking or road speed. The range of the battery will be around the 50-80 km mark.
- Mid Range (£2,500 - £5,999) - A good quality electric bike will usually cost around £3,000 - £4,000. As with anything, you get what you pay for: a sleek frame, and more technical performance. The sleeker frames will tend to hide the batteries better in the frame, making it more discrete.
- High Range (£6,000 and up) - If you’re looking for an electric bike that’s more technical and offers high performance for mountain biking or road biking, then you’ll tend to find them at this price point.
Where Can I Buy an Electric Bike?
E Bikes can be purchased direct from most bike manufactures online, but if you'd like to try them out before purchasing, there are a variety of retailers that can be explored:
Specialising in only E Bikes and based in London, Fully Charged is a great option for those who are looking for higher quality electric bikes. With a range of different E Bikes available, they cater for a range of requirements.
The UK’s largest retailer of automotive and cycling products, with over 384 stores in the UK. Halfords has a range of E Bikes to choose from, specialising in the more cost-friendly E Bikes.
Rent One in Your Local City
In most major cities it is becoming commonplace to see rental options dotted across town.
In London for example, you can currently rent an E Bike by-the-minute from 4 retailers:
Specialising in last mile transport options, electric bikes can often be a greener, healthier, and cheaper way of getting to your destination.
E Bikes for the Future
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