Electric bikes are becoming more and more popular. So whether you like it or not, electric bikes are here to stay and not just some latest tech fad. Below are some enlightening statistics that back up electric bikes’ increasing popularity.
- Sales of electric bikes grew by 145% in the US between 2019 and 2020, according to the World Economic Forum.
- Almost 4 in 10 people in the UK would cycle more if they had an electric bike, according to a survey by Tredz.
- There’s 300 million electric bikes on China’s roads as of 2021, according to Bloomberg.
- Electric bike sales rose to 23% (almost a quarter) of total bicycle sales in the UK in 2020, according to a report by Mintel.
- Approximately half of all bicycle sales in the Netherlands in 2020 were electric bikes, according to figures from industry bodies RAI Vereniging and Bovag.
So what’s all the fuss about?
Electric bikes provide an alternative form of transport to cars and public transport, with the luxury of motorized assistance. This assistance means electric bikes help make cycling more accessible and helps get people cycling more and further. Their use instead of other forms of transport provides a positive environmental impact. This is as well as keeping you active, despite misconceptions that they’re for lazy people. All of these are reasons why you may want to buy an electric bike.
Here in this article I discuss electric bikes further. This is to help you decide whether buying an electric bike is right for you.
Electric Bikes Allow You to Cycle to Your Destination Without a Sweat
The fact that electric bikes allow you to cycle at a reduced effort means you can get to your destination without working up a sweat. A survey carried out by the Portland State Transportation Research and Education Center revealed that 67% of people surveyed needed a shower after a standard bike trip. However, electric bikes can remove, or at least reduce the need for a shower, due to this fact that they can help prevent you from sweating. So 74% of people from this same survey said they didn’t need a shower after riding an electric bike. This is one of the areas where electric bikes come into their own. As a result, many people are increasingly turning to electric bikes for their commute. This allows people to arrive at work presentable and not in a sweaty state, which is handy as many workplaces don’t have showers.
This is one of several examples of how electric bikes remove barriers preventing people from cycling. Concerns about arriving at the workplace in a sweat, can put off many people from cycling to work. If more people are commuting by cycling, this will have a positive effect on the environment and help reduce congestion. It will also improve people’s wellbeing and their health and fitness. Even if you’re cycling to work with a reduced effort on an electric bike, you’re still being active. Reduced physical activity is still better than no physical activity, fitness wise. You can still commute home without the electric boost for more of a workout later. In which case you can then shower at home.
The workplace may not be the only destination you want to cycle to without arriving in a sweat. You may be someone whose main purpose for cycling is for utility and fun, rather than exercise. So you may cycle for general errands and getting around town. This can be for shopping, meeting a friend at a coffee shop, or going to the barbers, etc. These can all be destinations that you don’t want to arrive at in a sweaty heap. Again, even if fitness is not your main cycling purpose, the extra fitness you do get from cycling for journeys you’d make anyway can be a welcome by-product.
Electric Bikes Allow You to Cycle Up Hills Easier
One of the main and most obvious benefits of electric bikes is that they allow you to cycle up hills easier. This is another way electric bikes make cycling more accessible for many people. The dread of cycling up steep hills can put people off cycling completely in the first place. This can be especially so, if you’re someone who doesn’t even find cycling easy on the flat and/or lives in a particularly hilly area. If your route to work is hilly, then again, an electric bike could mean the difference between you cycling to work and not.
You may even come by hills that are not very steep, but are a long, continuous gradient. Here, electric bikes can help reduce any fatigue or leg burn that you may encounter during the climb. You may come by a hill or two late on into a ride when you’re already fatigued. So the boost from an electric bike in this instance can again help see you home. The electric boost can also help you if it’s a very hot day, where you may find it harder to get up the hills than usual. This all ties in with the fact that electric bikes help you to cycle further and longer.
Generally, you will still expect to put in fair effort when riding up hills with an electric bike. After all, electric bikes aren’t magic. However, they certainly make the hills a lot easier and for many people, are the difference between being able to cycle up a hill and not at all. So electric bikes can make getting off your bike and walking your bike up a hill a thing of the past for you. They often even make hills enjoyable to ride up, as opposed to you puffing and panting your way up them. This contributes towards electric bikes helping to make cycling more fun in general.
A point to consider, by the way, is that the power of the electric motor can vary from bike to bike. So the more powerful the motor, the more assistance you’ll get up hills. Bear in mind though, that there will be a legal limit to the maximum power motor you can have for the country you’re in. For example, in the UK and Europe the maximum permitted motor power is currently 250 watts. In America, it depends on what state you’re in. My article, “How Much Power Does My Electric Bike Need?” talks further about deciding on what power motor to have for your electric bike.
Electric Bikes Make Cycling More Fun
Electric bikes make cycling more enjoyable for many people. For a large proportion of these people, this is all the reason they need to buy an electric bike. In itself, many riders enjoy the thrill of having the electric boost and the amount of speed they get, even when putting in a little effort. This can be the case if you either mainly cycle for utility (to get from A to B), or for exercise. So you may be mainly riding an electric bike to keep active, due to if you have a limited ability to ride a regular bike. Even so, you can still enjoy the sensation of the electric boost as a by-product. Electric bikes make you feel as though you have super powered bionic legs, which is a bit of a novelty.
Furthermore, electric bikes help mitigate all the parts of cycling that people don’t enjoy. This includes, riding up tough hills, riding against the wind and fatigue and leg burn during long rides. Not to mention they can make cycling enjoyable again for people who may have previously stopped cycling. This could be those who have stopped cycling regular bikes, due to a lack of fitness or a knee problem, for example.
Electric Bikes Can Allow You to Cycle More and Further
Because electric bikes make cycling easier, they therefore allow you to cycle further. So this backs up that electric bikes aren’t for lazy people. People of all levels of fitness will have a limit to how far they can comfortably cycle on any single trip. This is due to the fact that if you cycle far enough, there will eventually come a point where fatigue and leg burn will start to set in. However, the assistance you get from electric bikes will mitigate this. So you can therefore go on longer cycle trips than what you would normally go on if you were riding a regular bike. This means that electric bikes can help you get more out of cycling.
Ultimately, electric bikes can mean you can still put in the same amount of effort as you would have on a regular bike, but gone further for it. So you can explore more and see more sights and scenery, whilst still being just as active.
All the time electric bikes make cycling easier and more comfortable, it can get you cycling more. Remembering that electric bikes mitigate the unpleasant parts of cycling like struggling up hills, riding against heavy wind and fatigue. So this means that you’re less likely to be put off going on certain cycle rides if you have an electric bike. If an electric bike is getting you cycling more, then in turn, it’s helping you to be more active.
Electric Bikes Make Cycling More Accessible/Lower the Barrier to Cycling
The assistance you get from an electric bike can be the difference between you being able to go cycling and not being able to go cycling at all. For example, you may possibly have anything from the following:- a heart condition, arthritis, an injury, be of advancing years, an illness, or recovering from an illness. These are among many other reasons why certain people are unable to ride a regular bike. Or at least limited to how much they can ride a regular bike. If you are one of these people, then an electric bike can get you out there on the saddle cycling. Great news if you’re someone who used to cycle, but had to give up due to one of the above reasons.
Alternatively, you may be someone who’s never cycled and is cycling curious, but unable to ride a regular bike. Either way, electric bikes can give you a new lease of life and help keep you active.
Electric Bikes are Great For Mountain Bike Trails
The assistance that electric bikes give also helps out with the trickier parts of mountain bike trails. This can give mountain bikers the confidence and ability to take on trails, or sections of trails that they may not normally be able to take on. At the very least, electric bikes can make the more grueling parts of trails more enjoyable. This ties in with where I have previously mentioned that electric bikes can get you cycling more.
The electric assistance can also be especially helpful for people who are new to riding mountain bike trails. Furthermore, this electric assistance can give people the confidence to even consider mountain biking in the first place. This can be for both people of a high fitness level, or a limited fitness level.
A lot of experienced and highly fit mountain bikers love riding on downhill mountain trails. However, many of them hate riding up the mountain to get to the top of the trail. This is often to the point where they may be put off going up the mountain again for one last go before they’re done for the day. In these instances, having an electric bike has eliminated this issue. Riding up the mountains has become far less strenuous and so more enjoyable for these riders with the use of an electric bike. So this often causes mountain bikers to be keener to give the trail another go. Yet another example of electric bikes getting people cycling more. They can even encourage mountain bikers to cycle to the top of particularly steep and challenging climbs that they may not normally bother with.
Electric Bikes are Great for Health and Fitness
This follows on from what I’ve already talked about further above. Because electric bikes help make cycling more fun and lower the entry to cycling, they help get more people cycling. This in turn gets more people active. So if riding a regular bike is too strenuous for you (say if you’ve a heart condition or have arthritis, or you’re of advancing years), then an electric bike can be a great alternative to get you cycling.
Again, as also mentioned further above, electric bikes help you to cycle more, longer and further. So if you’re someone who already cycles, an electric bike can cause you to be even more active than if you have a regular bike.
Electric bikes cause many people to cycle for journeys that they would normally drive or use public transport for. This can be for commutes, shopping trips (particularly if you have an electric cargo bike) and general day to day errands. These can all be trips that you may not want to overexert yourself and get sweaty for. So the extra assistance on electric bikes helps here, due to the reduced effort they allow. Nevertheless, you’re still being more active than if you were driving or using public transport. This is even if you’re exerting yourself less than riding a regular bike. If you’re making these trips by electric bike often, then this all mounts up in terms of maintaining your fitness.
Ultimately, replacing certain journeys normally done by public transport and driving for an electric bike, is a great opportunity for you to get fit making journeys that you’d make anyway. This is especially helpful if you do not have a lot of time in your schedule for exercise. After all, lack of time is the number one reason why people avoid exercise. Additionally, it’s a great way to get you exercising if you don’t normally have the discipline to do a lot of exercise.
Riding an electric bike with the assistance still allows you to burn a decent amount of calories as shown below. Also, riding electric bikes helps with your mental wellbeing, the same as regular bikes.
Electric Bikes aren’t for Lazy People
Many people believe that electric bikes are for lazy people. Yet if you really were lazy, would you even be cycling at all? If you’re riding an electric bike, you’re still pedaling (as long as you’re not using a throttle). This means you’re still exerting an effort. It’s just that the electric assistance is amplifying your pedal effort. At the end of the day, electric bikes get you out there cycling and keeping active. However, you have the luxury of having the electric assistance available to you for if you need it. Even if you don’t always need it, there may be times when you could at least do with it.
A particular point to consider is that even with a regular bike, you’re still likely to be getting some sort of assistance. This can be in the form of having gears, certain tire choices, an aerodynamic riding position on a road bike, or a very light frame etc.
Electric Bikes Help With Specific Fitness Targets
If used a certain way, electric bikes are a very useful tool to help you reach specific fitness targets. They can even be more effective than regular bikes at helping you to reach these targets.
The reason for this is that there are various fitness zones you can be in when cycling. Each of these zones requires your heart rate to be within a certain percentage of your maximum heart rate, to be within them. When riding an electric bike, you can adjust the level of pedal assist to help keep your heart rate within any of these fitness zones. This in turn allows you to reach any fitness target you may have. These fitness zones include the aerobic/fat burning zone, recovery zone and endurance zone, among a few others.
The aerobic/fat burning zone is pretty much self explanatory, in that it helps you burn fat. To keep yourself within this zone whilst cycling, you need to keep your heart rate between 60% to 65% of its maximum. Effective use of an electric bike can help you do this. This is because you can adjust the level of pedal assist so that the terrain and gradients you’re riding on don’t dictate your effort, which in turn dictates your heart rate.
So if you go from riding on the flat to riding up a hill, you can then increase the pedal assist level. This is to allow your effort whilst riding up the hill to be the same as what it was whilst riding on the flat. So this will help you to keep your heart rate within this aerobic/fat burning zone throughout a cycle ride. In turn, this will help towards any fat loss goals, if you have any. This is not as easy to do on a regular bike. The reason being that you have far less control over the terrain and incline dictating your effort.
As already mentioned, there’s also the recovery zone. This is exercising at an intensity where your heart rate is within 60% of its maximum. Cycling within this fitness zone promotes muscle regeneration and improves recovery. So this is a suitable zone to cycle in if you’ve recently been riding intensively for a few weeks. This is why Tour De France cyclists often ride in this fitness zone between races. As a result, many Tour De France cyclists use electric bikes, due to the fact that they help them to cycle in this zone. This is for the same reason as why electric bikes help you to cycle in the aerobic/fat burning zone. Again, by the pedal assist allowing you to prevent the terrain and incline from dictating your effort and therefore heart rate. Also, this further backs up that electric bikes aren’t for lazy people.
Furthermore, electric bikes especially help with interval training. This is again due to the pedal assist allowing the terrain and incline to not dictate your effort. I talk further about how electric bikes help with various fitness goals in my article “Can You Get Fit on an Electric Bike?”.
Electric Bikes Can be a Suitable Car Replacement
A survey by the Portland State Transportation Research and Education Center found that a main reason for 65% of people surveyed who bought an electric bike was to use it as a car replacement.
Environmental Impact of Electric Bikes Vs Cars
Not only is riding an electric bike instead of driving a car better for your health, it’s also better for the environment. The more you replace journeys normally made by car with cycling instead, the more it will help with the current climate change emergency. Understandably, cycling can’t replace all car journeys though. For example, very long distance journeys and journeys carrying large loads in the trunk. However, the journeys you can replace with cycling will still lower your carbon footprint. According to license check firm License Bureau, 56% of all car journeys in the UK are less than 5 miles anyway. So there is a massive opportunity to replace a lot of car journeys with cycling.
As already talked about further above, electric bikes allow you to cycle to destinations without arriving in a sweat. So again, for general errands and day to day trips you’d normally drive for, electric bikes help you to cycle these trips instead. This is without the concern of getting yourself all hot and bothered. Also, this will help reduce congestion, as well as reducing CO2 emissions. Below are a couple of statistics that emphasize the positive environmental impact of riding electric bikes instead of cars.
- Using an electric bike instead of a car saves up to 4 tons of CO2 over a 100 day period.
- If electric bikes covered as little as 10% of all kilometers driven in London each year, then that could save up to 130,000 tons of CO2 emissions each year in this city alone.
Electric bikes do still have some negative impact on the environment by the way. This is due to the mining of the lithium used in electric bike batteries. However, this does have a far lower impact compared to the CO2 emissions from cars and vans though.
Charging Electric Bikes With Electricity that comes from Renewable Resources
When charging your electric bike’s battery, you can go the extra mile. You can use an electricity supplier that uses renewable resources to generate their electricity. This will mean that you’ll be emitting no CO2 at all whatsoever when riding an electric bike. That is apart from the CO2 you breathe out anyway.
Even if fossil fuels are used to generate the electricity you’re charging your electric bike with, your carbon footprint will still be far lower compared to driving your journeys. You would only be generating 2.6 to 5 grams of CO2 per mile, as found in a study by the European Cyclists Federation. This is far less than the 1.04kg of CO2 per mile on average for cars.
Electric Bikes are Cheaper to Run than Cars
Electric bikes are generally cheaper to buy than cars. I say generally, due to that there can sometimes be an overlap, where some electric bikes can cost more than some cars. Like if you’re comparing an extremely top of the range electric bike against a cheap second hand car. However, electric bikes are always far cheaper to run than cars.
The cost of charging an electric bike is far lower than fueling a car. Also, you’re not required to buy insurance for an electric bike. Although, you can still have insurance for an electric bike to protect against theft and damage. Even so, electric bike insurance is optional and should still be cheaper than car insurance. Furthermore, there’s no MOT’s/required inspections to pay for and no tax to pay for electric bikes. Also, generally speaking, maintenance and repair costs are far lower for electric bikes than cars. Not to mention you’ll not have to pay any parking costs if you have an electric bike.
Electric Bikes Help With Carrying Loads
You may be intending to carry loads while cycling, particularly if you have a cargo bike. In which case an electric bike/electric cargo bike can again come into its own here. The electric boost will inevitably ease the strain of cycling with large loads. This is especially if the routes you’re cycling are lengthy or up hills, or even if you have limited fitness. This ties in with where I have previously mentioned that electric bikes allow you to make shopping trips without working up a sweat. Failing that, in less of a sweat compared to a regular bike at least. My article “Can an Electric Cargo Bike Replace a Car or Van?” talks further about this.
Electric bikes are beneficial for so many people, which can include yourself. They’re not a regular bike replacement and so aren’t here to compete against regular bikes. They are simply another form of bike like any other and provide another option for those who will enjoy and benefit from them. A recap of some of the main benefits that electric bikes provide is as below.
- Eases the parts of cycling that people don’t enjoy. These include riding up hills, riding against the wind and fatigue/leg burn during lengthy rides.
- Get people cycling who would struggle to ride a regular bike.
- Allows you to cycle more, further and longer.
- Can be a viable car replacement for many journeys. Acting as a healthier/more active, environmentally friendlier and more fun alternative.
- Allows you to not arrive at destinations in a sweat. Useful if you’re cycling for utility purposes, like commuting.
- Can help you get to destinations quicker than a regular bike.
With this in mind, electric bikes aren’t going away and certainly have their place. At the end of the day, electric bikes are a fun way to keep active and get around. This is the case whether you have a restricted ability for cycling or not. An electric bike may just be what you’re looking for.