Electric bikes are all the rage these days. Many kinds of bikes are available on the market.
Still, some standard features that they have include a strong motor, foldability, pedal-assist, smartphone integration, easy charging, and built-in security. They help you get to places faster without the physical effort entailed in standard bikes.
I have always detested wasting time in my car during rush hour traffic while bike riders zoomed past me. But one day, I had had enough. Instead of wondering about all the possibilities, I decided to try out a bike to save time on my daily commute.
I was hesitant as regular bikes can be a bit of an exercise and make you sweaty before you even get to work. I surely did not want to enter the office looking disheveled.
That’s why electric bikes are a great alternative. They’re easier to pedal, secure, serve many functions, and are environmentally friendly without making you feel like you just ran a marathon!
Electric bikes can also be a replacement for public transport, especially during the pandemic as you can avoid being in cramped, closed spaces.
They can also cover a greater distance than regular bikes, hence are an excellent option for commuting. Most people average around 6 miles on electric bikes and applaud them for “saving time, money, and bus inconvenience” (source). Thus, it is no surprise that electric bikes are becoming a standard feature on roads worldwide.
If you’re also thinking of making the transition to electric bikes, then you should keep reading as I will explain the essential features of electric bikes for you to keep in mind.
1. Efficient Motor
What defines an electric bike from a conventional bicycle is its motor. An electric bike motor should deliver power and value.
One of the main reasons you would want to switch to electric bikes is their power and efficiency. Hence, whether you are using it to commute to work, or you want to ride rough terrain or climb hills, it should let you do so effortlessly.
Moreover, the motor should provide value for money because it can be one of the most expensive components of your electric bike. So, you would not want to bust your budget for a motor that does not even get the job done.
The motor should balance price and functionality. An ideal power range should be between 250 to 350 Watts, as it can provide adequate force for you to pedal in any situation. It should also provide a smooth and quiet ride – a true feature of electric transportation.
2. E-Bikes Can Fold In Half
Most electric bikes on the market are foldable, and this is one feature that sets them apart! Electric bike enthusiasts value them for their convenience and portability. Hence, I believe foldability is a top feature to look out for.
What is the convenience that accompanies foldable electric bikes? Well, think of it this way.
If you live in a big, bustling metropolis like New York or San Francisco, there is always an issue finding parking space.
You have to pay extra at many places to get a convenient parking spot. If you’re out exploring the city, your mind is always concerned with finding a parking spot or whether your car is alright.
Now, if I bring electric bikes into the picture, parking headaches are a thing of the past! Even if you live in a tiny apartment, you can easily store your bike in some corner.
The same goes for work – a foldable electric bike can neatly fit next to or inside the corner of your cubicle. You can easily go about your day, and when it’s time to head home, just roll out your foldable electric bike and get going!
You can also carry your electric bike everywhere if you have a mixed commute that includes cycling along with a train or bus ride. And if you’re on vacation, then it can easily fit in the trunk of your car or an RV.
3. E-Bikes Provide Easier Pedaling
Electric bikes are equipped with a battery-powered “assist” through pedaling or a throttle. In the case of a pedal-assist electric bike, you activate a small motor by pedaling.
The motor then gives you a boost and allows you to bike in rough or hilly terrain without making the task feel strenuous.
These bikes are so popular because they feel like conventional bikes while providing the superior experience of electric bikes. You are essentially controlling the speed with your feet; however, you can accelerate much quicker.
Some people may not be a big fan of significant technological changes like the electric bike and prefer the traditional methods instead.
So, a good feature of such bikes is that they can give you the conventional feel, but the intricate technicalities are modern and provide a much greater ride.
An additional feature found in many electric bikes is a throttle that can engage the motor. It’s usually placed on the handlebar, and you can twist it to get power without pedaling.
Some electric bikes only have this feature, while some are equipped with both pedal-assist and a throttle.
However, throttle electric bikes are significantly different than other electric bikes (they are more similar to motorcycles). Still, amateur cyclists prefer throttle bikes and then move on to pedal-assist after gaining familiarity and experience.
To find out more about pedalling and other features of ebikes, this youtube video was one I found useful:
4. Electric Bikes Are Now Quick Charging
The good thing about electric bikes is that they can last a wide range, around 35 to 100 miles, before the battery running out.
So, the frequency with which you need to keep charging your electric bike largely depends on how you use it, along with the size of the battery.
But despite all these factors, you can quickly get your batteries charged in no time.
A lithium-ion electric bike battery entirely out of juice can take around 3.5 – 6 hours to recharge.
If there is still some charge when you plug it in, then it may take less time. Furthermore, if you’re not a big fan of charging your electric bikes, some of them allow users to use two batteries at once. So, if one battery dies, you have a backup ready to extend your ride.
Another great feature is that you do not always need to charge your electric bike completely. If you’re in a hurry, then you do not have to wait for the entire process to finish necessarily.
The last hour of the charging cycle is mostly to top off the cells. Hence, your electric bike can be 90% charged and ready for use within 2.5 hours.
Moreover, charging an electric bike is very economical!
Depending on the battery, it usually takes 0.4 – 0.8 kWh (kilowatt-hours) to set it. Given that electricity rates are approximately around $0.10/kWh, it will cost you less than a dollar to charge your bike that can provide you a mileage of greater than 80!
Compared to gas prices for vehicles, it does not get any cheaper than this.
Research supports the argument that electric bikes are a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to conventional transport options (source). Their sustainability stems from the fact that they utilize electric and human power to function.
In contrast, The Environmental Protection Agency presented some concerning figures regarding the carbon dioxide emissions of motor vehicles.
The average gasoline-driven car has a fuel economy of 22 miles and drives around 11,500 miles annually. Working with these figures, they concluded that each car would produce 8887 grams of carbon dioxide each year.
Electric bikes can help us circumvent this issue as they do not run on gas, diesel, or petrol. They do not produce carbon emissions; the only power they consume is electricity which you can achieve through renewable energy sources.
Thus, they are protecting our environment by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases and preventing global warming.
Along with zero emissions, electric bikes do not produce any toxic gases as by-products. The accumulation of these gases and other waste materials can contribute to smog, severely deleterious for the human respiratory system. They also produce zero sound, preventing noise pollution.
6. E-Bikes Are A Long-Term Investment
Compared to conventional bicycles, electric bikes may seem expensive and deter many potential buyers away. However, it is important to understand that the price is only a one-time, upfront payment.
Electric bikes end up being much cheaper long-term. As discussed earlier, you save a significant amount on gas if you’re using an electric bike for your commute.
If you’re not using your car very often, then you’re also saving on maintenance costs. They are also cheaper compared to public transport options such as buses and trains.
So far, I have only mentioned the obvious cost-saving. If you look at it from a medical angle, then there are health benefits associated with electric bikes, such as exercise.
These additional advantages save you from diseases that may arise due to a more sedentary lifestyle, like cardiovascular disease.
This way, you’re saving on expensive medicines and treatments in the future. Moreover, you’ll also be having fewer sick days, meaning less time off from work. So, you can maximize your earning potential without health issues bringing you down!
7. Smartphone Integration
Nowadays, everything that we own is connected to our smartphones. So, why should your electric bike be any different?
By integrating your smartphone with your electric bike, you can unlock various features that will elevate your cycling experience to the next level.
You can easily connect your electric bike wirelessly with smartphones to include app capabilities like GPS, health tracking, and maps. Other apps may even allow you to unlock your electric bike’s integrated lock system.
Smartphone integration is a great safety feature, and you will not need to use your phone while cycling. If you want to look up directions to a place, then you have all the information available on your bike’s LCD.
It can even allow you to send and receive calls wirelessly.
8. They Are Hefty
Electric bikes weigh significantly more than conventional bicycles. The extra weight is attributed to components like the battery, motor, and reinforced frame.
However, the additional pounds are not a cause for concern.
Their engineering compensates for the weight by clever designs that feel like the extra pounds have disappeared when you start to pedal. Along with that, features such as the pedal-assist or motor do most of the heavy-duty work so you can enjoy a smooth ride.
The only time their weight might be an issue is during transportation. If you need to carry your bike up or down the stairs, it will take more effort than a traditional bicycle.
9. Built-In Security
Electric bikes offer numerous options when it comes to security and anti-theft.
An electric bicycle comes with a heavy price tag, and you wouldn’t want someone to steal it while you leave it outside to grab a coffee before work.
Many electric bikes come with rear-wheel locks, which you can attach to the frame. Others may have locks on the battery that you can match to a bike lock through a key.
Generally speaking, there are five different types of locks for electric bikes:
- U-locks: A large steel strap is inserted into the counterpart to secure the bike. It is available in different sizes and thicknesses.
- Chains: These can weigh up to 11 pounds and provide optimum security at a minimal price. They are also flexible and available in different lengths.
- Frame locks: A curved bracket travels between the spokes through the rear wheel to the other side. The bracket holds the rear wheel in place and prevents it from turning.
- Cable locks: A cable lock is simply a steel cable in a plastic encasing. Their diameter is small; hence they are not as efficient in protecting against theft.
- Folding locks: A folding lock has fixed links that you can fold using movable joints.
Along with these, there are now innovative and technologically driven alarm and security systems for electric bikes on the market. These include:
- Bike Apps: You can track your bike through GPS on your phone is connected to a bike app. Some even allow you to control or lock your bike with the app.
- GPS trackers: Worst case scenario, if your bike does get stolen, then a GPS tracker will let you know its current location.
- Alarm systems: Just like with cars, you can attach an alarm system to your electric bike. Some locks also have an integrated alarm system. Some systems may also notify you on your smartphone if the bike is not in sight.
10. E-Bikes Are Versatile
Electric bikes are not only made for commuting; in fact, there’s an electric bike for all types of riding.
Suppose you prefer traveling in your car or taking the train to work rather than an electric bike. In that case, you might be interested in a cargo bike that can pull around 400 pounds of cargo at only 15 mph.
In contrast, if you’re more of a thrill-seeker and enjoy cycling in rough terrain, then there’s an electric bike for that too! Electric mountain bikes are gaining popularity and can soon compete head-to-head with conventional mountain bikes.
Electric bikes are available in commuter, cargo, fat, recreational, mountain, performance road, and hardtail styles! So, there is an electric bike out there for everyone.
Electric bikes are speed-controlled, meaning they can go fast up to a certain point.
The harder you pedal, the more significant the boost and faster the ride. But there’s a limit to how fast you can go. Speed control is a great safety feature in electric bikes and what essentially differentiates them from motorcycles.
The motor will stop propelling you, depending on the bike, if you hit between 20 – 28 mph. Thus, compared to walking or other forms of mass transit, you save time on your commute while enjoying a safe and smooth ride.
12. Good Cardio Workout
Just because electric bikes do some of the work for you, many people assume they are not that good of a workout. But depending on your lifestyle, they still count as exercise.
Researchers at Colorado University found that when 20 inactive men and women used electric bikes for around 40 minutes thrice a week, they significantly improved their blood sugar and cardiovascular fitness in a month (source).
This study shows that while many people may not be fit enough to ride standard bikes, they can easily ride for an hour on electric bikes and get a decent amount of exercise.
Compared to conventional cycling, e-cycling burns fewer calories. However, suppose you choose to ride an electric bike to work rather than drive.
In that case, you’ll be burning calories equivalent to walking for an hour compared to sitting in your car. Hence, electric bikes improve physical activity and fitness overall.
Ever since I shifted to an electric bike, I enjoy my ride to work a lot more.
I’m burning calories compared to driving.
I can easily ride through the rush hour traffic without giving myself a headache. Hopefully, this article helped you gauge the pros and cons of getting an electric bike.
Whichever electric bike you choose, make sure it fits your requirements, and you’re extra vigilant while riding through traffic. Happy cycling!