Bike commuting and expanding bike-lane networks are at the top of most big-city traffic agendas.
Electric bikes, also known as e-bike are making a significant impression, and they are here to stay.
They may look like regular bicycles, but they have a built-in electric motor to help with propulsion; some will start while pedaling and others have engines and throttles.
The first question we are being asked is: if the bike is doing the work, where’s the exercise?
The trick to making your e-bike a fitness tool is to use the motor just enough to get you started and to keep you going.
You can cycle until you’re tired or you hit a steep hill, and then use the engine for that extra help.
Most people rule out commuting to work by bike because of the sweat factor. The combination of cruising and cycling that e-bikes provide saves you some effort (and some sweat), so you can burn some calories but prevent your ride from becoming a workout you’re not prepared for.
While the e-bike can help you up steep inclines and help you cover ground faster, it’s also considerably more substantial than a regular bike (some are upwards of 70–80 pounds). Between steering and pedaling, without the use of an engine, it can translate into a solid workout, especially for your core. The extra equipment makes it more cumbersome, so you’ll get a more challenging ride when you’re pedaling.
An e-bike poses significantly less risk to your vital signs than a two-ton, four-wheel, speeding vehicle does. For one thing, the speed on an e-bike is nowhere close to those that a car can achieve, and riding in bike lines (assuming you use them) keeps you out of the direct path of vehicles, minimizing the risk you’ll collide with one.
That said, it’s not 100% safe; an e-bike carries the same safety concerns as a regular two-wheel bicycle: use your helmet, don’t drink and bike-ride, don’t disregard traffic rules, don’t wear earbuds, and don’t jerk the throttle forward—just like you wouldn’t floor the pedal from a dead stop in your car.
Riding an e-bike doesn’t require an exclusive license, registration or insurance. Therefore, investment and operating costs are almost nothing compared to a car. E-bike prices range between $1,000 and $4,000—about as much as a high-end road bike. Replacing your battery can be pricey (a few hundred dollars), but when you add parking fees and tickets, time and health spent in traffic, gas prices you are a winner.
Batteries need about three hours, and they will provide up to 30 miles of power. If you only have time for a partial charge, the cell has a cable that plugs into it and any standard power outlet.
Electric cycling doesn’t consume gas. Your e-bike emits a lot less carbon than a car. And that can make a measurable impact on the environment.
When you’re tired use the motor. With an electric bike, you always have power when you want it and need it.
Once you have tried an e-bike, you don’t know how you have lived without one. Regular bikes will feel like they’re made for extreme athletes.
E-bikes allow the sort of freedom you have only dreamed of: work-out when you want it, power for speed when you need it, distance covered in a shorter time; it is indeed a commuter’s dream.