The electric bike & why it’s right for you

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.

Engineered for off-road riding, the Gravel AL e sets a new benchmark for power-assisted all-terrain performance

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 Endurance SL e looks and rides like a performance carbon road bike. Visually you’d be hard-pressed to tell it apart from its sibling the Endurance SL R. Which is which?

Affordability

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.

The Ribble Hybrid AL e Step-Through is a one-bike-to-do-it-all e-bike, super-capable on-road and just as capable off it too.

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.

45 Comments
  1. Interesting bike and very tempting……especially with such a light weight

    Having been round eBikes the several years, and having had a Bosch bike which was stolen in London, and now a Yamaha powered Haibike my personal feelings are that this power system really needs a remote control on the handlebars .

    Having to reach down with the right hand to the top tube for the power button, can be a dodgy manoeuvre. Especially as the need for power can be a more critical moment, very different to when one is switching the power off
    The button is recessed to, making it harder to assess what power setting has been dialled in. Having a plus button, and minus button gives far more definite iinformation in my experience

    Having come off of the Brompton when one hand was off the bars, and an unseen pothole intervened, I think a thumb drive for the left hand is really necessary

    Otherwise its all very nice indeed

  2. In Norway we have 240 V power system in house, is there a plugg for that system?
    The tax inn Norway is very high depending of retail price is there something you can do about that. I have bout a TT bike from you a couple of years ago and is very satisfied .

    Helge

  3. I’ve bought the Ribble ebike with a 105 group set. I have a permanent injury and just can’t up my fitness as much as I need to. I love cycling and didn’t want to give it up. This bike is the answer to my prayers! I’m currently on a weeks tour with my club around Somerset, I’m loving it and keeping up with the big boys!! We are doing about 50 miles a day with plenty of climbs and the bike is a godsend just perfect !

  4. No license required??? Are you a solicitor? That may be true in the UK, but you gave this legal opinion to the whole world. Better to tell people to check their local laws and regulations.

  5. Do you envisage or have a tourer type e-bike i.e. what that you can add panniers too?

  6. Why do my club mates and other cyclists think you are not a club cyclist. I am 85 and it keeps me cycling. As the limit is 15.5 k the club members tend to go faster than that, so you get left behind or they keep waiting for you. So I tend to go out on my own.

  7. Hi,
    The advisory on the battery is that it will last for 500 charging cycles. It is replaced by removing the bottom bracket and sliding it out through the BB shell.
    Team Ribble

  8. Hi Dawn,
    We are delighted to hear that you like the ebike and are getting plenty of use out of it!
    Team Ribble

  9. I am moving to the us where the legal limit for a pegged assist e bike is 20mph. I want to up the max speed to 20mph. is this possible?

  10. Is the battery detachable and can you charge it separately from the bike I.e. can you lock your bike up and bring the battery indoors to charge overnight? Thanks.

  11. Are these e-bikes permitted to be taken in the hold of an aircraft to go on a cycling holiday? Normally Lithium batteries are not permitted in the hold of an aircraft.

  12. Does the charger work for both 110/120 and 220/240 volt countries? What type of plug comes with the system?

  13. I think your “Common Myths Debunked” is potentially dangerous as there are strict limits on ebikes. From the Cycling Weekly website:

    “Your steed is an “electrically assisted pedal cycle” (or EAPC, or ebike, or Pedelec) if: the bike has pedals that propel it; the electric motor won’t assist you when you’re travelling more than 25 km/h (15.5mph); and the power doesn’t exceed 250 watts.”

    If it does not meet these requiements then it is in law a motorbike, so you would need a motorcycle licence and insurance to ride it on the road (and I think cannot ride it legally on bridleways).

    I presume that Ribble only offers bikes which meet the lgal definition. I suggest that you amend the article to point out that there are limits and that you comply.

  14. hi I have a rare blood problem. my rbc count has not been above 3.7 for quite a few years while I can get a low 18mph ave on the flat on steep climbs I suffer really bad. would love to go too the alps do you think this bike would enable this,

  15. Im 70 with lung problems. Bought a carbon bike in 2013 and over the last 4 years have had to lower the gearing each year to compensate for decline in health. In November 19 i bought an e- bike, with bosch motor.. and haven,t looked back! I pedal around the 130 heart rate for a good workout, but when i came to steep hill the rate would go up to 150 and i would need time to recover, and always would wonder if I would get back home without walking.. its uphill home. The difference the e- bike makes is amazing. Effectively I get assistance on the hills so heartbeat remains at 130 or lower if i choose, so I have doubled the length of time i’m out I usually do 20-30 miles. Average speed is 14-15 mph the help switches off at 15.4mph. I am able to select no electric help, eco range around 100 miles, touring range 65 miles, Sport Around 50 miles and turbo about 40, on a 400 battery. Since I started cycling in 2013, my lung infections have decreased from 4-6 per year to 1 every 18 months.
    I have an amateur racing background from the 1970s, and have always thought E was cheating and I only switched to E as a last resort. Cycling has improved my health, and I didn’t want it to go pear shaped again. In fact an E bike puts fun back into cycling, the same sort of fun as I had 50 years ago under my own efforts. Going to the supermarket takes me 23 minutes longer than in the car, but I go backroads, have seen Stoats, a Buzzard with a snake, Dragon flies and when climbing i notice wildlife because i no longer have to concentrate on being in the zone to make sure I can get up the hills. If you are thinking of getting an ebike you won’t look back., especially if you have a health issue.. just take advice, try one out, and buy the best you can afford that meets your needs. For instance, I have a very low gear so that in the unlikely event of a flat battery, i can still pedal it home up the hills.

  16. I have recently bought a CGR ALe in Red which I think is great. I’m no longer the old boy at the back on hills. Everyone around thinks it looks like a normal bike and are very envious.
    The only comment I would make is that it needs a control on the handlebars as looking down at the assistance changing button can be a bit distracting especially as it can be a bit hit and miss as to what level you go to. Is there any chance this could be an upgrade feature.
    Thanks for a great bike.

  17. I fully agree with the comment from Barry Collins, about the need for a thumb operated control on the handlebar, for changing the power level on the Ribble ebike. It’s presence on the Orbea FX35 is the reason why I bought mine. Its ebikemotion system has an iWOC trio controller on the handlebar.

  18. Hi Roger,
    Thanks for posting your comment, such a button does exist. It is called the iWoc Trio and we will be in a position to offer it as an optional upgrade on new bike orders in 2021.
    Regards
    [email protected]

  19. I bought an Endurance SLe from Ribble earlier this year as an 80th birthday present to myself. Delighted. It can’t perform time travel and make me what I was up to 30 years ago but does enable me to plough up the Surrey hills. The 25 km/h assistance cutoff has no relevance to most mortals when the gradient hits much over 5%.
    To business. I’m interested in getting a retrofit of the IWok Trio handlebar control sometime in 2021. Would this be possible at say your Bluewater facility and if so what is a rough estimate of the cost?

  20. Hi Brian,
    Many thanks for getting in touch and we’re happy to hear that you are loving your e-bike. I have asked the powers that be about whether we will be in a position to offer a retrofit of the trio control unit in the future. In regards to your query, however, there are a couple of problems (aside from the fact that I don’t yet know if we will be offering retrofits of course). Firstly our showrooms are not equipped to with workshop facilities so cannot perform anything other than the simplest of tasks and such a retrofit would definitely be beyond their capabilities. Secondly, you mention that you have an SL e and at present, the Trio is not compatible with drop handlebars and can only be fitted to flat bars. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news on this.
    Regards
    [email protected]

  21. I am 73 and this year 2020 have completed 4600 miles consisting many climbs, not quite ready for an e bike but very intrigued about the spec on the Ribble bikes especially regards the light weight which good be ideal bike to gradually shoe me in to e biking as seems realistic for the future.
    I would appreciate any information on updates etcetera.

  22. Hi Don, it’s great to hear that you are racking up the miles. We have no information on any future e-bikes at this time we’re sorry to say. Such things are always hush-hush until it is close to their release time. Best Regards, Team Ribble

  23. I have been looking to get an ebike to assist with fitness, however I notice that all of your ebikes, in fact most of your bikes have rider weight limits. Whilst some of the steel models state that riders can be a maximum of 120kgs, all other bikes have a maximum rider, luggage and bike weight of 120kgs.

    If I’m reading this correctly then anyone over 17 stone cant buy an ebike or the vast majority of bikes on your site, otherwise the warranty is invalid. So Im not sure your comment about helping improve fitness or recover from injuries is valid, well unless you are under 17 Stone obviously!!

  24. Hi Alec,
    Thanks for getting in touch,
    The problem for heavier riders is rarely to do with the frame itself but is instead the wheels. Most wheelsets on the market today tend to be built with 20 to 28 spokes per wheel. There are exceptions and wheels with 32 spokes are also quite commonplace. The general rule of thumb is that the heavier the rider and/or bike, the more spokes the wheels should have. To offer improved reliability and strength. The maximum spoke count available on our range of e-bikes is 32 which we are happy to recommend to anyone up to the 120kg that we quote for our bikes. Anything beyond 120kg and realistically the bike would need wheels with a minimum spoke count of 36 and there simply is nothing available that we can offer sadly. It may be worth having a chat with one of our Instore experts who can advise you of what to go for.
    Best Regards
    Team Ribble

  25. Thanks Alan Gray

    A bit too late for me alas. I also bought the Orbea because it offered the IWOC Trio handlebar control, and did so reluctantly after checking with Ribble and speaking to someone called Ollie who told me I would have to buy the IWOC Trio separately and fit it myself. If I win the lottery I’ll buy a Ribble with the new handlebar control, as I’m sure its a lot lighter and a better ride than the Orbea. Shame you lost that sale to Orbea.

    Best regards

    Roger Leech.

  26. Hi Roger, sorry to hear this, Our loss is Orbea’s gain. We do now offer certain models of bike with the iWoc Trio, though currently, it’s only compatible with flat handlebars. Therefore it’s limited to the hybrid bikes.
    Best Regards
    Team Ribble

  27. Please can you explain why you say that the iWok Trio cannot be fitted to a drop handlebar bike. I just phoned Ebikemotion ( Mahle) in Germany and they told me it was possible to fit the eWok Trio to a drop handlebar bike. This is a matter of rider safety, where the rider would not need to look down to change the power assistance level, and would be a fantastic mod for prior or future customers

  28. Hi Anthony,
    Thanks for getting in touch. The iWoc Trio units that we received from ebikemotion are equipped with a clamp that is designed to suit the narrower diameter of MTB-style flat handlebars. This clamp is simply not wide enough to enable the control unit to be mounted to the central bulge section of drop handlebars.
    Best Regards
    Team Ribble

  29. There clearly seems to be a demand for the iWoc Trio on your drop handlebar models.
    I have just taken delivery of an Al-e Gravel Pro and am thrilled to bits with the ride, handling, lightness and comfort of this bike. I don’t think there is another model available worldwide with these attributes and qualities at this price range. However, I live in a beautiful but extremely hilly part of the South West of England and, at age 76, have to frequently adjust the power output of the motor to get the best out of the motor assistance.
    The single button on the cross bar is primitive in the extreme, inconvenient and potentially unsafe. Even a two way rocker switch would be 100% easier and cannot be beyond the engineering capability of an electronics giant like Mahle. If the founding fathers of the fine and respected firm Ribble heard someone in the bile workshop say they couldn’t fit a lever because it arrived with the wrong size of clamp they would turn in their graves.
    Please could you stir up someone with a bit of clout, common sense and practical ability to resolve this problem for existing and future customers. It would result in lots of additional goodwill and probably sales.

  30. Hi Roland,
    Many thanks for getting in touch and for the feedback. We shall pass your comments onto our product design team and MAHLE, hopefully, it will incentivise them to extend their handlebar-mounted control units to provide compatibility with drop handlebars.
    Best Regards
    Team Ribble

  31. Thanks Alan for your helpful reply to my last query. The other niggle for me, after another month riding the bike is that the progression of power settings is 0 -1- 2- 3 -0.
    On most other controls you go 0-1-2-3-2-1-0, if you see what I mean, as you do with the changers in gearing.
    This means that when reaching the top of a hill and the slope becomes less severe, you can only easily switch to zero power before progressing back up to power 1 or 2.
    Whilst I’m doing all that my companions leave me standing, so I have to opt for staying at full power, when I don’t need it.
    If you can feed the thought through to the powers that be, perhaps that could be done as a choice in the driver program, it would greatly improve options for oldies like me!

  32. Hi Roland,
    I can sort of agree in terms of having to cycle through the modes to bring it back down to a lower level, though this should only take a couple of secs max? If you just double press quickly you should literally be able to cycle through the entire level settings in a matter of seconds. Thanks for the feedback which I shall forward to the bike design team as well as MAHLE themselves.
    Best Regards
    Team Ribble

  33. Very interesting article.
    I really enjoy my CGR Al e .
    At 75 and with cancer treatment that reduces my testosterone level to “ through my boots” , of the readable scale, as my Oncologist puts it, this” road iron” as we used to call our road bikes, is the answer to my prayers. I previously would go out on club run and drop off the back at a hill, one or two would wait for me, and as soon as I caught up, off they would go , giving no time to recover.
    Now , I’m not King of the Mountains as I was in earlier times , but my Ribble e is a machine that has solved my problems and put back on the road of enjoyment.

  34. Hi David,
    Thanks for getting in touch, we only sell our bikes directly to the customer so we do not have any affiliated third party dealers. The electric motor system does not require any tune-up or servicing as it is essentially a self-contained system. However, I’ve just done a quick search and there is an e-bike specialist in the centre of Derby who sells bikes equipped with the same X35 motor system so they would probably be the best people to take the bike to for a tune-up.
    Best Regards
    [email protected]

  35. Hi Bruce,
    Thanks for taking the time to read the article and we’re glad to hear that the Ribble is allowing you to carry on enjoying your outings with the club. Up here in the North West, I’ve always heard it referred to as a push iron, though I suppose it will change depending upon where in the world you are. We wish you all the best and many happy years of cycling to come.
    Best Regards
    [email protected]

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