Electric bikes have now advanced to the point that they can now be viewed as a viable form of transport for short to medium distance journeys. They are, after all, kinder to the planet and offer a great way to get around the city and beyond. Whilst taking care of the body and soul, of course. However, much confusion and misinformation still surround these marvels of engineering. Questions abound; about their uses, their functions, legality and what they offer. So let’s tackle these, and in doing so prove to you why an electric bike is right for you.
What is an electric bike?
The version of e-bike that is most commonly found on the marketplace is the pedal-assisted motor system or PEDELEC for short. Take the Ribble range of electric bikes, for example. In terms of aesthetics alone, you would be hard-pressed to tell them apart from a conventional bike. The reason for this is that each is fitted with the MAHLE SmartBike systems X35+ drive system.
Its extremely compact design results in the X35 being one of the lightest electric bike systems available today. In total, the entire system, including all of the relevant wiring, battery and hub motor weighs an almost incomprehensible 3.5kg. This is accomplished by way of a slimline Panasonic battery hidden within the frame and a motor built into the rear hub.
To propel the bike you have to pedal like you would with any conventional bike. Where it differs, however, is that at the push of a button you can up to 250W of extra power assistance. By pressing the button you can access 3 assistance settings, low, medium, and high. This gives you the option to choose how much assistance you need relative to the terrain or to conserve the battery on those long-distance epics.
Who rides e-bikes?
Let’s start with the question of who can benefit most from an electric bike. They are a great choice for novice cyclists who are looking to take up cycling as a hobby. You get to build up fitness at a pace that suits you. But that’s not all. For, by far, the biggest challenge that faces any fledgling cyclist is HILLS! Consequently, many beginners avoid them like the plague, and this can be a huge mistake. Not only does summiting a climb deliver a huge sense of accomplishment, but it also affords you some stunning views of your locale.
With the extra assistance of an electric bike, you need have no fear of even the most fearsome of climbs. But bear in mind, you still have to put in the lions share of the work. It won’t do the work for you. It will only ever amplify your efforts.
Similarly, electric bikes are also ideal for people who are looking to take up cycling again after a prolonged layoff. Be it after a long time away from cycling or using it as a low impact aid to recovery from serious illness, injury, or simply those wishing to continue riding with the group when the body is less willing. The road to regaining fitness can be a painful one, but the e-bike makes taking up the challenge a more attractive proposition.
The daily commuter can also feel the benefits of an e-bike, both financially as well as in regards to health. The overall cost of an electric bike is more than recouped when you factor in the transportation costs incurred throughout the year. And if your place of work does not run to shower facilities, changing out of your sweaty kit and into work attire is a less than ideal scenario. The e-bike allows you to take a more leisurely approach to cycle commuting. Less effort = less sweat = fresher work clothes. The key to any e-bike is that the ride is as easy or as hard as you want it to be!
The biggest and most prohibitive factor facing most people who are considering an e-bike purchase is undoubtedly cost. Though prices have decreased in recent years, you can still reasonably expect to pay in the region of £2000+ for one. Of course, you can always find electric bikes that cost less than £1000. However, it should be noted that they are often built using budget components that will wear out in short order. They also happen to way about as much as a small car which makes riding them without power assistance nigh on impossible.
Spending somewhere in the region £2000 assures you of a good quality bike with a trusted motor system. For instance, Ribble e-bikes start at approximately £2199. For this, you are getting one of the lightest and most cutting-edge electric bikes available on the market today. With one of the most tried and tested propulsion systems on the market. Oh, and did we mention that it’s also the lightest range of electric bikes in the world? Builds start from as little as 10.5kgs and even a hybrid model will typically weigh in at about the 12-13kg mark.
Compare this to many similar e-bikes in its class and you will find that on average they come in at around the 20-30kg mark. That’s a whole lot of excess weight to be lugging around. Opting for a much lighter e-bike means that you can choose to ride with assistance on or off. This, helping you to turn the system off to preserve battery power when you don’t need the extra assistance.
The government has embraced the benefits of e-bikes and has consequently amended the rules of 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 was amended to essentially remove any such limit and make obtaining an e-bike more affordable. Not only does the scheme now allow the purchase of e-bikes but it now also means that the only limit is that set by your employer.
You can find more details on the scheme and how it works here.
Common myths debunked
Do you know how electric bikes work? If not, then you’re not alone, fully 65% of people who took part in a recent survey stated that they were unsure how they worked. 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 – Absolutely and conclusively false: While it is true that you may have seen someone speeding along on an e-bike without seeming to pedal (even when climbing). What you may not know is that this form of bike is 100% illegal in the UK. Unless it is taxed and insured that is. To ride an e-bike on the road it must be a pedelecs. The bike must be propelled by the rider and not using motor power alone. When activated the motor delivers an extra boost to your pedal stroke. However like any standard bike, if you stop pedalling it will come to a stop.
- 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 if you reside outside the UK).
- You need insurance to ride one – False. There is no requirement to take out insurance for the bike. Though we highly recommend taking out some form of third-party insurance from companies like Pedalsure or British Cycling. It is by no means a legal requirement, however it does provide an extra form of protection in the event of an accident.
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. You might, the bike does not!
Do electric bikes require specific charging points like cars?
Not at all. You can charge up your electric bike from any household 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. Additionally, 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 in water, 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.
We hope you found this article useful and if you have any further questions about our range of electric bikes why not get in touch with one of our Live In-Store Experts. Or if you live in close proximity to one of our 5 state-of-the-art showrooms why not pop in for a chat? You can view the bikes in person and enjoy a world-class retail experience. Click here for details of the showroom locations.
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.