[Not too many e-bikes in The Jungle yet, but they’re coming. SB SM]
To e-Bike or not to e-Bike …
That is the Question
compiled by Stephen Morris
The Wall St. Journal, in a March 2018 article by Clint Carter, calls it an “e-boom.” Sales of electric bikes are growing at more than 30% a year. The variety of types, styles, and uses makes shopping for the right model for your needs perplexing, while the infrastructure to sell and service your product is still in its infancy. Online resources like electricbikereview.com provide so much information that you have to be a serious gear head to take it all in.
E-bikes, apparently, have arrived. Or have they? There are an abundant number of styles and models to choose from: full suspension, mid-drive, mountain, cruiser-style, folding, friction-drive. There is also a full spectrum of specialty vehicles including cargo bikes, recumbents, trikes, and even kits to electrify your current clunker. Tell your local dealer how you intend to use your e-Bike and they will quickly help narrow the options.
Biking purists have the notion that from a fitness perspective e-Bikers are cheating by augmenting their efforts with electricity. Again, from the WSJ, “In a more than 800-person study conducted by University of Tennessee researchers, e-bike owners rode an average of 3.6 days per week. Those riding traditional bikes rode just 2.7 days per week. And despite what the critics say, e-bikes aren’t cheating. Sure, the motor makes you feel stronger. But it doesn’t do all the work for you.”
There’s also controversy within the cycling world on whether or not e-Bikes should be in the bike lane or the open road. Traditional bikes generally top out at roughly 15 miles an hour, whereas e-Bikes routinely can top 20 miles an hour. The extra speed in combination with the increased number of vehicles has predictably resulted in an increase in accidents involving e-Bikes and pedestrians.
Other considerations are cost and weight. Batteries add from $300-$500 in cost and need to be replaced every three years or so. The also add up to 40 pounds of weight, meaning you won’t want to be schlepping these up to your fourth floor walk-up. But for e-Bike advocates, the negatives are far outweighed by the joys of making what one rider describes as “turning every bike ride into a long, gentle downhill.”
Here are personal comments from others on the question “To e-Bike or not e-Bike?”:
From the mouths of E-bikers:
If you’re into DIY, you can get a conversion kit for around $200 https://amzn.to/2DZ243gand turn a regular bike into an e-bike. Yes, it won’t be as powerful as the $2k bike, but it’s also much cheaper as well. JD
So I’ve been able to get rid of my car and ebike daily. If the statistics claiming a typical car costs $9K a year to own and operate, then even a very pricey ebike is “worth it”. KB
Saying the bike does all the work is like saying you cannot get a good workout on a tread mill. MD
I am 66 and just got my e-bike to ride in my very hilly part of Washington state. I stopped riding my 10-speed years ago because of the hilly terrain that made riding an unpleasant chore. Now I can ride 20-30 miles to visit friends, go to lunch and run errands. It is still a work out, a fun, interesting workout that allows me to be outdoors enjoying the world. JG
E-bikes can replace cars beyond commuting. They can carry loads. Grocery shopping is very doable, as are most errands. NH
No thanks on e-Bikes. I like to earn my mileage the real way. BE
I dread the food delivery guys. Most have electric bikes, and they must be incentivized to maximize speed, as they are constantly going against traffic, running lights and riding on sidewalks. So nothing against the electric bikes, but it can be scary mixing up with them as they are fast, quiet and often coming from unexpected directions. SG
I live in the country in upstate NY and a bike ride can easily be 15 miles round trip with hills and wind – our ebikes have been a godsend. We just didn’t ride our other bikes before we had these because it was an arduous journey. I’m not against exercise, but after a few 500′ ascents and descents on a pedal powered mountain bike, I am just all funned out without some help. DL
I’m 62 and purchased a Pedego Interceptor e-bike (a street cruiser) last June. It’s great! Having put 1,300 miles on it in about 3 months of riding, my favorite ride is through the extremely hilly park and back into the neighborhood that I grew up in. The hills are just too much on a regular bike and the 500 watt electric motor on my Pedego eats them up. I call it “my fountain-of-youth”. On a regular bike, I’d take a longer route on the flat, dangerous, busy streets, and not have near as much fun! JA
An e-Bike in your future? It depends who you are, where you live, and where you want to go. For some it’s a poor excuse for a HPV (Human Powered Vehicle), while for others it’s a clean, quiet solution to a car-clogged world. Be glad that there is now an e-Bike option.
Great article…with right model can get good exercise and deal with hills and distances we encounter in our travels.