With the long term effects of social distancing potentially 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 how they work. So let’s tackle these, and in doing so answer that all-important question; an electric bike – why it’s 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 a conventional bike The reason for this is that each is fitted with the minimalist and exceptionally lightweight MAHLE Ebikemotion X35 smart system. A compact electric motor sits within the rear hub and is connected to a slimline Pansonic battery that lies hidden within the frame’s downtube. You propel the bike by turning the pedals, the same way that 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 can access 3 levels of smooth power assistance. Level 1 delivering the least amount of assistance and Level 3 the highest. This gives you the option to choose how much assistance you need to suit the terrain or to conserve battery for those long-distance rides.
Who rides e-bikes?
Let’s start with who can benefit most from an electric bike. They are a great choice for beginners who are looking to take up the hobby of cycling. Not only do you get to build up your fitness at a pace that suits you, but you can also tackle climbs that you may otherwise avoid. Similarly, people who are looking to take up cycling again after a long break or as an aid to recovery, be it from illness, injury, or simply to continue cycling with the group when the body is no longer as willing as it once was. The road to gaining fitness can be a painful one and the e-bike can be a valuable aid to achieving this goal.
The electric bike can also be a viable proposition for anyone wanting a more leisurely commute into work. If your place of work doesn’t 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 make the commute a little more leisurely. It also makes cycle commuting in your work attire a more realistic proposition. The key to an 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 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 £2000+ for one. Of course, you can always find electric bikes that cost less than £1000. But what you should bear in mind is that the motor system will be extremely basic. Furthermore, the weight will be so prohibitive that you will only ever be able to use it with power assistance activated.
Spending £2000 upwards assures you of a good quality bike with a trusted motor system. For instance, our own range of e-bikes starts at £2199. For this, you are getting one of the lightest, most cutting-edge and reliable propulsion systems available today. Not to mention the lightest range of e-bikes in the world. Builds start at just sub 10.5kgs and even a hybrid model would weigh in around the 13kilo mark. Compare this to many similar e-bikes in its class and they will typically weigh on average 20-30kg. That’s a whole lot of weight to be lugging around. Opting for a lighter e-bike means that you can choose to ride with assistance on or off.
The government has 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.