What Are the Advantages of Electric Bikes?
“In a systematic energy flow comparison, a grid-charged battery driving an electric motor will provide mechanical energy about ten times more efficiently than a human eating a typical diet. For personal travel between 5 and 30 miles per day, the electric bicycle offers the lowest environmental and personal monetary cost, usually without increasing urban travel time”
From Energy, Global Warming, and Electric Bicycles Energy Flow Analysis with an Emphasis on Personal Transportation
1. Hill Climbing
That may sound obvious, but it’s the primary advantage. A good electric bike effectively flattens hills, increasing your average speed and eliminating the ‘groan’ factor when a gradient comes into view. Provided you supply a reasonable amount of effort, you can expect to climb hills of 1 in 10 (10%) on an electric bike with ease, and clear a maximum gradient of 1 in 7 (14%), or much more. In hilly country, the effect is nothing short of miraculous.
It sounds unlikely, doesn’t it? But the mathematics is compelling. Think of a steep and busy road, with cars climbing at 30mph. If you previously slogged up the hill at 6mph, but can tackle the same gradient at 12mph with an electric bike, you will see 33% fewer cars, and they will pass you at 18mph rather than 24mph. Or at least, we think that’s correct.
Whatever the figures, there’s no doubt that an electric bike helps to keep you out of danger. The same general principle applies to road junctions – the faster your acceleration, the sooner you can get out of trouble. And with no need to rush the hills, you won’t be tempted to ride downhill at breakneck speed… another useful safety feature.
3. Personal Fitness
Surely a conventional bike will keep you fitter? That, of course, depends how much – if at all – you use it. Research (b) has found that 46% of conventional bikes are used only once or twice a week, with a further 30% being used once a fortnight or even less. By contrast, a recent survey of electric bicycle owners reveals that a third ride their bike at least once a day and 81% use the bike at least once a week (c).
The figures confirm our experience that an electric bike typically gets used at least twice as often as a conventional machine. electric bike
Because riding an electric bike is a great deal more enjoyable in hilly country, into strong winds, or when carrying heavy loads, users tend to make better use of them. The motor provides up to half the effort, but more regular use means more exercise for the rider.
4. No Sweat!
Sweat may not be a serious issue when you’re out for a leisure ride, but it’s more important if you’re cycling to work. Although some employers are rather grudgingly providing showers and other facilities for cyclists, the great majority have no intention of doing so. An electric bike eliminates the problem at source. In hot weather, it’s possible to maintain a normal schedule by transferring a bit more load to the electric motor. In colder weather – or if you feel in need of exercise – just throttle back, or turn the motor off.
5. Clean & Green
Electric bikes obviously consume energy, where a conventional bikes does not (provided we ignore the environmental cost of growing and processing food – see below). However, the amount of energy used is very small compared to a moped, motorcycle or car. Besides fuel, the only consumables are the batteries, and these can normally be recycled when life-expired. As for energy use, electric bikes typically consume fuel at an average rate of 100 to 150 watts of electrical energy, against 15,000 or so for a car (admittedly travelling much faster). In terms of fuel consumption, an electric bike achieves about 800-2,000mpg (290 – 700 litres/kilometre) (d). No other commercially available vehicle can match figures of this kind.