Electric bikes or e-bikes are very exciting and fun to ride, giving you a unique twist on traditional bike riding. You can find them available from some of your favorite bike manufacturers, but this is still a relatively new market. Essentially these bikes use an electric motor to help propel you forward, giving you a little extra boost when out for a ride. Everyone should have one! But can everyone afford one?
Why are electric bikes so expensive? Just a few of the key reasons that electric bikes cost so much more than a traditional bike are:
- The frame
- The battery
- The motor
- The electronic controller
- Higher quality components
Compared to a traditional bike, an electric bike can cost well over $1,000 with bigger name bikes costing in the $10,000 range. The main difference in price for these e-bikes comes from the cost of – well, everything that makes them different from a traditional bicycle.
What Contributes to the Cost of Electric Bikes?
Electric bikes can be found starting at around $1,000, while higher quality electric bikes cannot be found for under $2,000 – and many are much higher. These prices are surprising to many who have just started researching this form of bike, but they make a lot of sense when you break down the costs. There are several reasons why electric bikes come in at such a high price tag, but just some of these are:
1. Electric Bikes Use a Higher Quality Frame
While we will further discuss the use of higher quality components in e-bikes, one of the most important quality parts of the bike is its frame. A higher-end electric bike can weigh more than double what a conventional bike does because of its frame alone. Actually, these bikes weigh over 50 pounds, but this is required so that the frame can support the rider and the added weight of the motor and battery in a safe, comfortable way.
There are electric bikes that are of high quality but have lighter frames made from more expensive materials. However, as you could guess, these lighter weight, higher-end frames raise the price of the bike substantially. You will also find that many manufacturers are now designing custom frames that have the battery built right into the frame, but these can also be more expensive.
2. The Added Cost of the Battery
Perhaps the biggest reason that electric bikes are more expensive than others on the market today is that they feature a battery. The battery alone on most e-bikes will cost between $500 and $1,000, clearly raising the price of the overall piece substantially.
Most electric bikes will feature a lithium-ion battery since this style tends to be more efficient. These batteries also minimize the weight of the bike as they are a lighter option of battery. This lighter battery allows the bike to be easier to cycle. You want to invest in an e-bike with a better battery, because it will last longer than a cheap battery. A good electric bike battery will last up to 4 years before it needs to be replaced.
3. Electric Bikes Utilize a Motor
Another big factor that affects the cost of the electric bike is clearly the motor. Traditional bikes do not need to feature a motor, but electric bikes utilize a motor to assist you when you pedal. With an electric bike, you will either have to twist a throttle while you pedal to use the motor, or you may have a pedal-assist e-bike.
These motors have to be specifically fitted for each bike, which also increases cost due to the added labor. Also, these are usually specially made and can add even more to the overall costs of the bike.
4. Electric Bikes Need Higher Quality Components
In addition to having a higher quality frame, several components of the electric bike need to be higher quality. These bikes need to have the ability to support your weight, protect and sustain the motor and battery, and handle this all at the speed of a moving bike.
For example, you must have extremely high-quality brakes to stop a fairly heavy bike at an advanced speed. Of course, having higher-end parts will also continue to raise the price.
5. The Electronic Controller Price
The electronic controller is clearly something that traditional bikes will not need and continues to advance the price of the bike. This part basically serves as the brain of the bike and helps your bike communicate between the battery and motor. It will control the speed of the electric motor and also serves as a brake for the bike.
When you apply the brakes on your electric bike, this electronic controller will kill the power. The controller will use the power provided by the battery and drive it to the motor. The exact type of controller used on your bike will differ depending on the brand of bike that you purchase. These controllers usually have adjustments for tire size, Km or miles, and for monitoring a trip mileage and the overall mileage.
Electric Bikes are a Niche Market
While the cost of the components of the electric bikes is a huge part of their overall price, another big factor is that they are not widely purchased. It is only in recent years that this style of bike has become popular among consumers, but they are still more a niche market. This lowered demand means that companies can sell them for a larger price, driving up costs even more.
Many manufacturers are not able to create products in bulk, which is also more expensive. This lowers their ability to benefit from economies of scale, which are the cost savings that come with mass production of products. Traditional bikes can be produced in bulk and more mass-produced, leading to lowered prices for manufacturers.
Also, due to the lowered popularity of these bikes, there are not many manufacturers that are on the market today. This means that there is a lowered competition for manufacturers to compete for a better price. Hopefully, with the increase in popularity in recent years, there will be an increase in competition and better pricing. It’s been my observation that even in the last year there has been a drop in prices for electric bikes compared which I can only attribute to the increased popularity.
Choosing Your Electric Bike
If you want to purchase an electric bike, it is worth saving for a more expensive option. While there is a chance that these prices will lower over the next few years, this is not guaranteed. Now is as good of a time as any to purchase your bike if you have the budget needed for this.
The higher price bikes are going to be made from higher-end materials and are usually lighter in weight. However, there are many great mid-range or even lower-range bikes out there that are great. The key thing to remember is that you should read reviews, study the manufacturer, and make the best choice for your personal budget needs.
To better understand what you will get for your money, we will break down what each price range equates to in electric bikes:
- $1,000 Electric Bikes – This is basically an entry-level bike and the lower end of the price range for electric bikes. These usually feature lower-end components and may not last as long as more expensive options. Also, the frame is usually made from aluminum and will be heavier. If this is your budget, the SwagTron folding eBike on Amazon might be the right bike for you. You can view it here. It’s not only an electric bicycle, but it’s a folding bike which can be very beneficial.
- $2,000 Electric Bikes – This is a great starter bike for those who do not want to spend an excess of money but want something that will last. These bikes will usually use decent components but still not the best of the best. Usually they’re sturdier, have better batteries, and have extra accessories. Check out Rad Power Bikes for solid e-bikes in this category!
- $3,000 Electric Bikes – This is probably a great bike for almost any rider. These bikes usually utilize not only the best components but are more cosmetically pleasing to riders. Many of these bikes are made from carbon, making them lighter, and have nice welds. You can also get electric cargo bikes at this price or e-bikes that have space a seating arrangement over the back wheel to carry another rider. I’m looking at getting one of these to carry groceries and my young toddler around town.
- $4,000 Electric Bikes – These are the most cosmetically pleasing of the electric bikes, featuring more carbon fibers and added perks. These should use the best of the best when it comes to the components used and may feature special electronics that others do not. These bikes are made to last and a great choice for someone who has the budget and wants to go beyond simply purchasing for the basic riding factor. They’re the cutting edge e-bikes. Great for showing off, but maybe not the most practical for most bike commuters and cycling enthusiasts.
Will e bikes come down in price? This is purely speculation, but I do think we will see a slight decrease in electric bikes over time. They are definitely becoming more popular than ever before around the world. I think we’ll see cheaper electric bikes hit the market, but this means they will also have a reduction in quality. Just because something is cheap doesn’t mean that it’s a good product. With this said – most of the top tier electric bikes will continue to stay in the $2,000 – $3,000 range. This is only my opinion. Time will tell.
Are electric bikes expensive to maintain? No, an e-Bike is relatively inexpensive to maintain. You’ll need to do maintenance on it just as you would a regular bicycle. The only difference is that every 3 to 4 years you’ll need to replace the battery. Other than that it’s keeping the chain, tires, hub, and gears clean and maintained just like you would a regular bike.
You can get more information about electric bicycles by reading more articles here.