Electric Bikes – What You Need to Know
You may already know that we work with Rolec as approved electric vehicle charge point installers, so we’re naturally interested in electric bikes (or e-bikes) too! We’ve already worked with Ceredigion County Council as a sub-contractor installing 11 charging points for e-bikes in Aberystwyth (link to that article). They’re becoming more popular, especially for those will hilly or long commutes, by making them a bit more manageable.
By now of course there are loads of different types of e-bikes, and all with their pros and cons.
How do they work?
Basically, e-bikes have a battery-powered motor to help you with your riding. Some bikes will also let you add more or less power from the motor, depending on how you’re feeling. So as you pedal, you can have the motor assist you and propel you along! Great for those hills.
One important point to note is, e-bikes are restricted to 15.5mph, so you can’t use the motor to reach higher speeds, and this restriction also means you don’t need a licence (like a scooter).
Are they heavy?
Yes – they are heavier than the average bike, by about 10kg, but don’t forget you’re getting that extra help with the motor too.
Can you replace the batteries?
The e-bikes use a lithium-ion based battery, which will degrade over time, or with heavy use. Because of this, we’d recommend you choose an e-bike where you can replace the battery, and before you commit to buy, check out the cost of the replacement batteries. It’s important to note that lithium-ion batteries do degrade quicker in cold and damp conditions, so you might also want to consider a bike with a removeable battery, for indoor storage.
On e-bikes, the motors can be at the front, rear or in the middle, and of course, there are pros and cons to each. Let’s take a look:
The main pro with this is that the motor directly powers the wheel, and not the chair – which will mean the chain won’t wear as quickly. The main drawbacks though are that the bike will be front heavy, and tricky to remove the front wheel for quick and easy transportation. You might also feel that when going up hills or steep climbs, a bit more of a balancing act is needed to get the weight even across the bike, and you might also find the ride a bit more jarred as the bike is essentially being pulled forward.
Undoubtedly these have the most balanced weight distribution, which also means they are the best types for off road riding too. Because the motor isn’t on the wheels, you can also change your wheels or remove them much easier.
On the reverse, as we mentioned before, the chair will wear quicker, and also, you can’t customise the gear setup easily.
The pros for the rear motor basically tick off the cons of a mid motor! You can easily customise the gears, you won’t wear the chain down as fast and also, a bike with rear power feels more natural than the front powered one we’ve already discussed.
On the other hand, you will need a specially designed wheel, which will also be difficult to remove and weight distribution is very difficult, with nearly all of the weight being on the rear wheel.
Are they expensive to buy?
As with anything, there’s a good range of prices available and it will mostly depend on the features you’re looking for. In general, the prices range from £500 upwards to more than £5000!
We’d highly recommend looking at the different bikes available and doing comparisons for the features you want before purchasing, especially looking at distance you can travel on one charge.