The benefits of an electric bike are numerous and they appeal to many – for commuters they offer a fast and effortless way to get to work and for leisure cyclists they open up opportunities to ride further and more often. All major bike brands now offer a comprehensive range of electric bikes in a market which has quickly matured and now provides the consumer with a wide choice of powerful, dependable and efficient e-bikes.
An electric bike or ‘e-bike’ will help to make riding a bicycle more accessible, encouraging you to leave the car at home.
So what exactly is an e-bike?
An electric bicycle, or e-bike, looks just like a normal bike but with the addition of a motor and battery; this pedal-assist input helps drive the cranks round so that it enhances your pedaling input. Great for commuters and leisure cyclists, an e-bike offers a fast and effortless way to get to work or explore further afield at the weekends, without the need to get into your car.
Hills don’t need to be hard work with an electric bike! Suddenly you’ll be able to consider riding on more hilly terrain.
How do electric bikes work?
Just like a conventional non-e-bike, an electric bike is propelled forward through the turning of the pedals. Electric motor systems offer varied levels of assistance, which are selected depending on your fitness levels, terrain and style of riding.
All electric bicycles sold in the UK will provide power assistance up to the legally defined speed limit of 15.5mph before the motor cuts out. The majority of e-bike motors are housed centrally around the bottom bracket with the system’s batteries neatly integrated into the frame’s downtube giving an overall appearance that’s very similar to a conventional non-e-bike.
Wheelbase stock the very best e-bike brands available, with these specialist manufacturers constantly innovating to produce increasingly light and agile e-bikes. Over the past few years we’ve also seen manufacturers developing e-bike specific components such as wheels, tyres, forks and shocks which meet the unique demands and extra forces incurred from a typical e-bike drive system.
Electric bikes are great for travelling around the urban environment too; avoid heavy traffic and congested roads on an e-bike.
There are several options available when it comes to which motor powers your e-bike – with the Bosch and Shimano brands leading the way. Bosch’s popular Performance Line, Active Line and Cargo Line systems offer the perfect amount of pedal assist for touring, leisure riding and commuting when you’re more likely to be carrying a heavy load. Alternatively the Shimano Steps system features on many of the best e-bikes from the leading brands and features a decoupled motor for a more natural feel.
Each motor system’s power source comes from an internal battery which defines how much assistance goes through the pedals. Batteries vary in wattage from between 250, 500 and 750w, with a higher wattage providing the rider with more power and a greater ride-range. Battery efficiency and riding range will depend on the motor-mode you are riding in, the temperature, terrain and a whole host of factors; typically charging time from empty to full will take up to six hours.
Bosch produce a wide range of e-bike drive systems to suit different demands and are highly regarded within the cycling industry.
The Steps system from Japanese component brand Shimano features on many of the best e-bikes from leading bike brands.
Leisure e-Bikes explained
Leisure e-bikes, sometimes referred to as Hybrid e-bikes remain the most common form of e-bike and are ideal for your daily commute, for touring and for general leisure riding with friends and family. Electric leisure bikes are renowned for being practical and comfortable, being able to eat up the miles with minimal effort. Leisure e-bikes such as the Cube Touring Hybrid and Cannondale Tesoro are packed with commuter friendly features like pannier mounts and mudguards, making them ideal for city riding and commuting. RIESE & MULLER produce a range of cutting-edge commuter and cargo e-bikes; these German engineered bikes take commuting and transportation via e-bike to the next level with bikes that are capable of carrying your weekly shop or ferrying the kids to and from school each day.
Specialist German e-bike brand Riese & Muller produce some ingenious cargo bikes capable of carrying all sorts including your kids!
Why should you invest in an e-bike?
As well as opening up new avenues for experienced cyclists, electric bikes offer an entry point to two-wheels for those who may have been previously put off from taking up cycling. With assistance from a motor, particularly over hilly terrain, an electric bike can help riders reach new levels of fitness and achieve goals previously considered unattainable. Electric bikes offer all of the freedom and benefits of cycling, but with a bit of extra assistance.
As an alternative to using a car for short journeys an e-bike is better for the planet; by commuting or going anywhere for that matter on an e-bike you’ll produce far lower amounts of Co2 pollution per kilometre than when you use a car or motorcycle.
Take advantage of the UK’s extensive cycle-lane network and leave the car at home.
Another big driver for owning and commuting on an e-bike is affordability. After the initial investment you’ll see a significant cut in your weekly expenses; with fuel prices going up and the general cost of living ever increasing you’ll see your outgoing costs going down.
In the UK the average commute is only around 4 miles, generally the range on a fully charged e-bike is 18-50 miles so charging your e-bike once a week should be sufficient in making the charging costs negligible compared to fueling a petrol or diesel car. Just think of those potential savings next time you’re driving that short commute when you could be riding!
Compared to fueling a petrol or diesel car, charging your e-bike once a week, to cover approximately 18-50 miles, will significantly cut your weekly expenses.
Then there’s the health benefits to consider; among many positive outcomes there’s the boost to your immune system, an increase to your metabolism as well as improved cardiovascular health. Beyond the outward-facing health benefits there’s the potential to improve your mental health, with plenty of evidence supporting the theory that regular exercise, less screen time and an immersion into the natural world all help to keep you feeling better on the inside too. e-bikes are a brilliant gateway to getting yourself fitter and being able to enjoy a more active lifestyle without some of the traditional barriers encountered when you consider riding a traditional non-e-bike; the very best part of this e-bike revolution is that it’s helping to make all forms of cycling more accessible and inclusive for everyone.
An electric bike will help you get out into the natural world, to explore further afield in confidence.