An electric bike – or E-bike – is a motor assisted ride. E-bikes are a combination of a conventional bike with a battery and motor to take some of the effort out of pedaling.
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There are many reasons why you might want some pedaling assistance in your life.
- Maybe you want to escape from the car, but still commute to work – an electric bike will help you cover the miles, without turning up at work exhausted.
- Perhaps you have to travel with cargo – the added power can mean the difference between using a car or sticking to the bike.
- If you enjoy those hard mountain bike trails, the power boost will help you on the uphill sections allowing you enjoy more downhill sections on your day out.
- If you are recovering from injury or illness, the added boost of a motor can help you get back out there again. Or it might simply be the case that you’re not as young as you once were.
Either way, there’s a lot of choice of models in the e-bike world, so you should be able to find a bike that suits you.
How do Electric Bikes Work?
E-bikes, are not mopeds. They are real bicycles with pedals, fitted with a booster system that can supply 90% of the energy needed, but if you don’t pedal, you’re not going anywhere! A smart sensor detects your pedaling force and then provides the extra power required.
European law limits E-bikes to 25 km/hour – anything more will require leg power!
Every bike is different… and so are the batteries and motors. Features vary from one model to another. Basically, there are four modes, generally labelled Turbo, Sport, Eco and Off.
- Turbo: maximum boost and maximum consumption. You hardly have to provide any additional power.
- Sport: significant boost, but less than in Turbo mode. Ideal for lighter weight riders.
- Eco: the battery supplies 30% of the energy and your legs provide the rest.
- Off mode: self-explanatory!
How Long will the Battery Last?
This depends on your weight, the wind and the boosting you require. If you ride at 25 km/h using the Turbo mode, the battery will last for about an hour. In Eco mode, you can ride for at least 50 km. Electric bikes are lighter than they used to be, so even if the battery is completely dead, you can still pedal, even though it will feel heavier than on a normal bike.
If you are considering buying an e-bike the Energy Saving Trust offers an interest-free loan to help you. The e-bike loan is for up to £6,000 with a repayment period of four years.
The Green Commute Initiative can also help you get on a bike and commute to work using pedal power.