Chapter 4: Benefits and Challenges of Electric Bikes

April 18, 2017

So far we’ve covered what electric bikes are and how they work. In this section, we’re going to summarize both the pros and cons of electric bikes, so you have a better understanding of why you might want to buy an electric bike, or why you may not.


Electric Bike Pros

  • Easy transportation (commute, etc.)
  • Save time and money (cost, parking, traffic etc.)
  • Carry things with you
  • Improved health  
  • Get back in shape
  • Spend time outside
Inexpensive Transportation

Electric bikes are far less expensive to own and operate than a car and in many cases can perform the same transportation functions of a car, especially since most eBikes can travel 20-60 miles on a single charge. Compared with driving a car, riders of eBikes don’t have to pay for gas, a driver’s license, insurance and parking fees. This makes electric bikes one of the cheapest forms of transportation around.  

Easier Commute
Many have found that electric bicycles provide a better commute to work each day since they don’t have to wait in long lines of traffic or spend time finding parking. If you have good public transportation options in your area, you could many times combine public transportation with riding the last distance on your electric bike. There are also electric foldable bikes, such as the Blix Vika+ and Vika Travel, that allows for people to take their bike on a public transportation option that may not have room for a traditional bike.
Improved Health

Most electric bikes allow for riders to get as much or as little exercise as they chose, which is a great way to introduce more physical activity into your life and can contribute significantly to overall health. When you ride an electric bicycle, you’re giving your heart, lungs, and muscles some room to work. There is research showing that people who ride an electric bike ride about three times as much as when they rode a regular bicycle. Why? Because an electric bike solves the challenges of dealing with sweat, hills, and wind and makes it more fun than riding a regular bike.

Get Back into Shape

Because an electric bike allows riders to select how much exercise they chose while riding, an electric bike is a perfect way for people to get back into shape. A rider can still zip around town while exerting as much or as little energy as he/she feels comfortable with. This allows riders the ability to incrementally introduce exercise and build up muscles and stamina. This can be beneficial for people with joint pain, asthma, and other conditions.  

Spend Time Outside

Spending time has been proven to reduce stress, restore mental energy, reduce inflammation and improve short-term memory. An electric bike allows you to be outside more, rather than sitting in a car waiting in traffic.

Tackle Obstacles

With an electric bike, many of the challenges that make regular bike riding prohibitive, such as hills, long distances, etc. can be overcome. This opens up a new world of riding for many people.


Challenges

Upfront Investment

It’s not uncommon for people that first consider buying an electric bike to be surprised about how much they cost - typically between $1,000 and $5,000. However, once someone purchases an electric bike, there are relatively few expenses to operate it. If you use an electric bike instead of a car for errands and going to work, you can save a significant amount of money related to gas, parking, and overall car maintenance. Those who sell their car can also avoid registration and insurance costs while maintaining occasional motor vehicle access through car-sharing and rental services. This is what many people now view as freedom to get around.

Heavier than Conventional Bikes

While there have been major advances in e-bike technologies and components, electric bicycles are heavier than conventional bicycles because you have a battery and a motor.

Legality
Since electric bikes are still relatively new in the U.S., laws around electric bikes can differ and be confusing. Most regulations allow for a maximum speed of 20 mph and motors rated at less than 500 watts. This means that in most states and cities, electric bikes can be ridden on bike paths and bike lanes just as a regular bicycle.
Risk of Theft
Like any bike, an electric bike is prone to theft. Yet because of the price tag of an electric bike, it can be especially hard to lose an electric bike. It’s important for all bike owners to practice caution on where to store a bike and where to lock it up. Be sure to always use high-quality locks when leaving your bike in public places.