With the long term effects of social distancing looking set to impact us for the foreseeable future, there’s no better time to look into alternative means of transport. Electric bikes have advanced to the point that they can now be viewed as a viable form of transport for short to medium distance journeys. However, much confusion and misinformation still surround these marvels of engineering. Questions abound, about their uses, their functions, legality and just how they work. So let’s tackle this and in doing so answer that all-important question; an electric bike – is it right for you?
What is an electric bike?
The most common version to be found on the marketplace is the pedal-assisted motor system or PEDELEC for short. Take our range of e-bikes, for example. In terms of aesthetics alone, you would be hard-pressed to tell them apart from normal bikes! The reason for this is that each is fitted with the minimalist and exceptionally lightweight MAHLE Ebikemotion X35 smart system. Built into the rear hub is an electric motor that is connected to a slimline Pansonic battery that is hidden within the frame’s downtube. You propel the bike by turning the pedals as you would with any non-electric bike.
Where it differs, however, is in the power assistance that the motor system offers. At the push of a button, you have access to 3 levels of smooth power assistance. Level 1 delivers the least amount of assistance and Level 3 the highest. This enables you to choose how much assistance you need to suit the terrain or to conserve battery power.
Who rides e-bikes?
Let’s start with who can best benefit from riding an electric bike. They are a great choice for anyone looking to take up the hobby of cycling. Not only do you get to build up the fitness at a pace that suits you but you can also tackle climbs that you may otherwise avoid. Anyone looking to take up cycling again after a long break or as an aid to recovery from illness, injury or simply to continue cycling with the group when the bodies no longer willing. The road to gaining fitness can be a painful one and the e-bike can be a valuable aid into achieving this goal.
The electric bike can also a viable proposition for anyone wanting a more leisurely commute into work. If your workplace does not have shower facilities then changing out of sweaty kit and into your work attire is a less than ideal scenario. The e-bike allows you to make the commute a little more leisurely. With the option to ride into work in your work attire also being an option. The key to any e-bike is that the ride is as easy or as hard as you choose it to be!
The biggest and most prohibitive factor facing most people considering the purchase of an e-bike is undoubtedly price. Though prices have decreased you can still reasonably expect to pay in the region of £1500 to £3000 for one. Sure you can find an electric bike for less than a grand if you so wanted to. But what you should bear in mind is that the motor system will be basic and the weight will make it so that you can only use it with the power assistance.
Spending £1500 upwards assures you one of a good quality bike with a trusted motor system. For instance, our own range of e-bikes starts at £1899. For this, you are getting one of the most cutting-edge and reliable propulsion systems available market. Not to mention the lightest range of e-bikes in the world. Builds are available from just 11kgs and even a hybrid would come in around the 13kilo mark. Most electric bikes are in the 20-30kg range.
The government have embraced the benefits that e-bikes offer and have lent their aid in making e-bikes more accessible. By way of making some welcome changes to the cycle to work scheme. Previously the scheme was capped at £1000, meaning you could only make savings of between 25-39% on this amount. However, in 2019 this changed and the previous £1000 limit was amended to include e-bikes. Effectively meaning that there is no longer a limit.
Common myths debunked
Do you know how electric bikes work? If not, then you’re not alone as fully 65% of people in a recent survey stated that they were unsure just how they operated. You may even have read or been offered incorrect information about electric bikes. Here, we set the record straight about some of the most common myths surrounding e-bikes.
- At the push of a button, the motor engages and you do not have to pedal – False: Virtually all e-bikes are pedelecs which means they employ a pedal-assisted motor system. When activated the motor provides an extra boost to your pedal stroke. If you stop pedalling it will come to a stop like any bike.
- You need to have a licence to ride one – Again false, a pedal-assisted e-bike falls into the same category as any other bicycle. Therefore, a licence is not required. (However, we do advise you to check your local laws /regulations).
- You need insurance to ride one – False, there is no requirement to insure yourself for riding any bicycle. It’s probably not a bad idea to invest in third-party insurance from companies like Pedalsure or British Cycling but it is by no means a legal requirement.
Most frequently asked questions
Do I need to tax the bike?
Absolutely not, the tax you pay on your car (vehicle excise duty) is based on emissions and your bike has zero emissions.
Do electric bikes require specific charging points like cars?
No, they charge from any household mains power socket. Simply plug it in at home or work to recharge. If you wanted to, you could even take your charger with you and ask to charge it at a friendly cafe stop (with the owner’s permission of course!).
Will I have full control over the bike?
Absolutely, you might say it’s just like riding a bike… because it is! You can activate the assistance or deactivate it at the push of a button. And, because it is a pedal assist system even if you stop pedalling the bike will come to a stop just like any other bike.
Can I ride it in the rain?
All electric components used on our e-bikes are IP54 rated. They can be used when the weather is inclement and to this end are splash-proof. They can not, however, be fully immersed, nor should they be subjected to pressurised water from a hose pipe or jet wash*.
*Subject to guidelines being followed in the user manual; this includes closing the charging port cover, not power washing the bike, submerging the bike during rides etc.
If you would like to read more FAQ’s about our e-bikes, simply click here and scroll to the bottom of the product page for a comprehensive list of product questions.
What are the differences between the models of Ribble e-bikes? Find out here.
Interested in Cycle To Work but unsure how it works? Find out everything you need to know here.