Basically, because ebikes are a blast. They are no longer reserved for a small crowd of commuters who want the extra assistance on their ride to and from work. No, they are being adopted by the masses for all sorts of transportation needs. Here in Los Angeles where I live, I have seen the explosion of e-bikes at the beach carrying kids, surfboards, trailers, and just people. Electric bikes are easy, effortless, and convenient. Why should you get an e-bike? Because you really are not giving up on anything from a pedal bike, but you get the extra bonus of a battery-powered motor when you need it.
Taken from the blog post by Raleigh that covers the 101 about e-bikes, here is a shortlist of what e-bikes let you do:
- Love the whole ride, even the hills. Spin all the way to the top, no sweat.
- Work out without overdoing it. Pedal more miles more often
- Zip through traffic and run errands. Shuttle kids and cargo with ease.
- Commute in a sleek style. Arrive fresh and polished every day.
No, an ebike is not like a motorcycle
With an ebike you still retain the ability to pedal and you get to also control the speed or how much “assist” the electric motor provides. You won’t be going from 0 to 30 mph in a matter of seconds, it is more like a smooth acceleration based on your pedaling effort and assist level you select: Eco, Tour, Sport, or Turbo. Slowing down and coming to a full stop works just the same as a regular bike, with the benefit of larger rotors for more responsive and powerful braking.
Yes you can still get exercise when riding an electric bike.
In this article by Bicycling Magazine, they dug into the research and found that riding an e-bike still gets your heart rate up. Research comparing the energy used to pedal a plain bicycle versus an e-bike have found that the difference is similar to running versus brisk walking. Riding a regular bike is generally considered vigorous exercise—burning about 430 to 560 calories per hour for a 150-pound person, assuming you’re going at least 10 to 14 mph. Not surprisingly, riding a pedal-assist ebike, takes about half the amount of energy—about 280 calories an hour for that same 150-pound rider—the equivalent calorie burn of brisk walking. Depending how hard you ride, whether you’re carrying a load, and/or what power setting you use (low or economy settings require more human energy than high or turbo), you could burn up to 390 calories per hour.
And to be honest, you are still in control on an ebike - you don’t have to put the assist on very high and you can let your legs do the work if you want (Class 1 & 3 bikes). This is what is so great about the electric bike. Choices! Now if you're living in San Francisco - there is no choice. Those hills are monstrous - you should definitely get an ebike.
A couple other benefits of the electric bike:
- People ride more - in the study with a pedal bike 55% of the riders said they rode daily or weekly, but after getting an ebike the number soared to 91%
- Ebikes are getting more people of the couch and riding - check it out
- Using human power and battery-powered electric bikes is eco friendly
- Ebikes are fun, they make long commutes seem like a breeze and you may, in fact, arrive at your destination faster than in a car.
- Ebikes are economical - thinking about reducing some expenses - instead of the second car (or a car in general) get an ebike
- Ebike riders are healthy, happier, and more likely not to use their cars - check the research
- Planning a family ride? Not all family members may be at the same level, and an ebike can help some of us keep up and go longer.
- If you are older or coming back from sickness or injury, an ebike will definitely help you keep up with friends
- As for electric assist MTBs, it will definitely allow you to conquer those technical parts of the trail you were not so confident about before.
So what exactly is an electric bike?
According to Wikipedia an electric bicycle also known as an ebike is a bicycle with an integrated electric motor which can be used for propulsion. Ebikes retain the ability to be pedalled by the rider and are therefore not electric motorcycles and use rechargeable batteries.
Ebikes are classified as follows:
- Class 1 ebikes: are PEDAL ASSIST ONLY and top off at 20 mph and no throttle. What is pedal assist? An ebike with pedal assist has a drive system that is only activated once you start pedaling. Once you start pedaling you will be able to get up to 20 mph. Class 1 ebike riders are given the permission to ride anywhere you would ride any other type of bike due to the low speed and operation. Meaning ebikes are allowed on bike lanes, bike paths, and on the road.
- Class 2 ebike: features a THROTTLE and maxes out at 20mph. What is a throttle/how does it work? A throttle is a feature ebikes have that can come in a grip-twist or button where you hold it down and the bike takes off without you having to be pedaling.
- Class 3 ebike: features Pedal Assist only and tops off at 28mph. Due to the high power the class 3 ebike has they are restricted from certain bike trails and bike paths.
Know what kind of riding you want to do. Electric mountain bikes are becoming increasingly popular as well, so are you staying on-road or going off-road? Do you need to carry a lot of things like kids or groceries? Are you commuting to work - will there be hills? There are a lot of things to consider when buying an ebike and we don’t have all the answers, but we love the existence of ebikes and the joy and freedom they bring.
We recommend doing your homework. A very good place to start is with People For Bikes. They provide some of the basics around policies and law, regulations in your community, rides and routes, and more.
We say have fun. Get an ebike!
To hear about Maria Boustead’s experience with her new ebike, check out her blog post.