There can be a perception that e-bikes are like motorbikes—just climb on and there’s no pedalling needed. However, that isn’t the case. Electric bikes are normal bicycles that have been manufactured or modified to incorporate the assistance of an electric motor. It’s more accurate to call them electric-assist or pedal-assist bicycles because they don’t go unless you pedal them. The only real difference between an e-bike and a standard one is that on an e-bike an electric motor enhances the power you produce from pedalling. That means you can either a) be more comfortable riding, or b) go faster. Mostly they’ll have a setting whereby you can adjust the power – a lot of assistance for going up a steep hill, or less assistance and save more of your battery if you’re on the flat.
On city bikes, electric bikes mean commuters who might otherwise climb in the car because they’re late can take their e-bike and still get to the office on time. Pedal-assist bikes have also been shown to extend bike commuting range, as the electric help makes it feasible to go longer distances. In the Netherlands, e-bikes have extended the distances cycled so much that bikes are second only to cars in total mileage travelled. And most experts agree that the rise of e-bikes as a practical commuting option in Europe is eroding sales of cars. More bikes, less cars—ideal!
We especially like how e-bikes can bring cycling to new demographics. Many e-bike purchasers have been older and have relished the prospect of going on long bike rides again without having to worry about being excessively tired, or struggling up a steep hill – and yet still getting a reasonable amount of exercise.
E-bikes can be expensive, but that’s a matter of personal preference and usage – if you use your bike to commute, the cost will soon be recouped.
Probably the easiest way to persuade critics of the merits of the e-bike is to simply let them ride one. Do you know how much fun it is to add 400 watts of power to the 400 watts you’re already putting out? In the city, riding feels safer because you can easily keep up with and dodge in and out traffic. On hills, it makes you laugh out loud when you realise how little effort it takes to climb. And on cargo bikes, you can pull more weight than you could ever otherwise carry.
So e-bikes nowadays are a completely different prospect. Just try one out to be converted! See Danny in the Cliffe store, or Harvey in Friars Walk for a demo ride.
It’s still possible to have great adventures on e-bikes; check out this video from Trek Bikes: