Pros & Cons of Electric Bikes
Living in a modern day world, there’s nothing new or surprising about the fact that we are constantly seeing new patterns of change in regard to how we do every day life. Convenience, ease, and environmental motives are leading the way to make seemingly all things electric, technologically savvy, and to some, wildly futuristic.
One signifier of the times is that everything we used to know is going electric. As a matter of fact, soon in the state of California, you will no longer be able to purchase a gas-run vehicle; electric cars and other mobiles will be the only forms of transportation on the modern market. Our standards of quality and efficiency are officially aligning on the side of electricity. But we’re not here to talk about the newest electric car, but instead, electric bikes, which in our opinion, might be just as cool as the newest Tesla models.
Electric bicycles are becoming more and more appealing to an ever-broadening array of people. They are all things a fun recreational outlet, a frugal means of transportation, a practical vehicle for lifestyle & necessity, and so much more. There’s not a lot of room to question why ebikes are achieving the level of popularity they increasingly are.
Perhaps you’ve even found your way to this article because you also want in on the e-bike craze. If so, you may have questions and concerns, or maybe you’re just looking for more information on what an electric bike is and how it can benefit your life. Lucky for you, we’ve done the groundwork for you so you can leave here feeling both confident and excited for your potential electric bike journey – one of which we guarantee you won’t want to turn down.
Let’s first explore what an e-bike even is, what it can look like, and what it can do!
Electric Bicycles are more or less exactly what they sound like: bicycles with electric power. They come in a range of styles to better suit a plethora of different uses – everything from riding steep mountain trails to cruising along the beach to getting to and from work. And the way these bikes are able to do all of the above is via their three general categories related to their electric propulsion systems. Each bike applies electric power to the bike’s driven wheel in a specific way, whether using input from the rider’s pedals or a thumb or twist-grip activated throttle. And finding which method is best for you depends on where you want to go and how you plan to use your e-bike.
In simple terms, electric bikes have both a motor and a battery. The motor provides power, technically limited to about 250W of continuous support with the ability to boost far more power than that for short bursts. This is also referred to as pedal assist because it makes pedaling easier, and sometimes completely unnecessary. However, motor systems typically have around three different modes of differing support and thus, the more support you receive from the bike, the less range you’ll get from the battery.
Another factor to know is torque. Torque, in scientific terms, is a rotational force around an axis; and in the case of the bikes, torque is the rotational power of the motor that is used to assist the rider at the rear wheel. This is perhaps the most significant aspect of an e-bike as it’s what generates the acceleration you’ll feel when you start pedaling your e-bike.
Now that we have a general understanding of the technological factors that make an electric bike perform its functions, we can open the next can of worms that is the different types of electric bikes on the market. What some people may not be already aware of is the fact that ebikes literally come in all shapes and sizes and serve different functions in people’s lives – consider things like leisure, transportation, exploring, saving time and money, etc. And with such different intents of use, there’s a specific bike model to bring them into fruition.
A fat tire is essentially what the name insinuates, a bike with tires that are 4+ inches in width, usually averaging anywhere from 4” to 4.8” in width. Fat tire e-bikes come in several styles, some of which we’ll discuss further below. The major distinguishing factors of the fat tire are that they are usually heavier than other ebike and cover more surface area on multiple terrains. The weight of the bike makes it harder to easily transport, which can be a problem if you are planning to lift your bike onto a rack or move it up and down stairs. But the heavy and sturdy nature of the bike does make for a steadier ride, even on more difficult or strenuous terrains. Because of the fat tires, riding terrains such as paved roads, grovely and/or rutted trails, or snowy fields or sandy beaches, is within your bike's expertise and ease, making your journey more stable, safe, comfortable & reliable.
Thin tire e-bikes are fat tire’s antithesis. They were created almost entirely for urban commuting as they provide excellent grip and good handling, all while allowing riders to ride faster and roll faster in comparison to fat tires. If you plan to use your bike on hard tar surfaces, asphalt, and urban streets to and from work or errands, this is a perfect bike for you. With thin tires, your bike will be lighter, use less energy, and allow you to cover longer distances with ease and precision. (Ex. Balboa E-Cruise, Nakto Classic, Bluejay Premiere Edition, Driven Playa Express 500 Thin)
A folding electric bicycle is one that can be folded into a more compact shape. Given the bike can be reduced into a compact shape, this is the perfect bike if you're looking for a vehicle you can easily store in a car trunk, closet, or other small spaces. If you’re an on-the-go person who plans to take your bike from adventure to adventure, this may be the electric bike most suited for your needs. (Ex: Cecil’s Fat Tire Foldable Bike)
When it comes to ebikes, there are two primary choices of frame composition that you can choose from: the step through and the step over. The step through e-bike allows riders to simply pass their legs through the frame to mount without having to lift their legs up very far. For this reason, they were originally intended as a frame for women wearing dresses to board their vehicles without risking any wardrobe malfunctions. However, this does not imply by any means that these are women-only bikes. The step through provides comfort, casual riding, and overall ease. (Ex: Nakto Classic, Balboa E-Cruise, Cecil’s Foldable, Driven Thin/Fat Tire)
A step over is the opposite of the step through above. Step over ebikes are designed with a down tube, making the distinctive triangle frame that they’re known for. This frame design is durable, lightweight, and stable. The step-through bike promotes a bent-over sitting posture for riders, which goes hand and hand with greater speed, power, and balance while riding. Choosing this frame will allow riders with the foundation to take on rougher terrains with both lightness and comfort. (ex. Driven Thin/Fat Tire, Vtuvia)
Zooming out of the x-ray vision view of the e-bikes themselves, it’s time to look at the bigger picture and discuss both the pros and cons of e-bikes. Cecil’s prides itself on being authentic and honest with our customers and audience and agree it is important to look at both sides of the equation, even with electric bikes.
Let’s start with the good stuff, which, might we had, is far lengthier than the not-so-good stuff! There are a TON of upsides to owning an electric bicycle so there’s no wonder these things are flying off the shelves and onto the streets (or mountains, beach sides, trails, or hills). Ready, set, go!
As we become more aware of the environment we all live in, making eco-friendly choices in our daily lives are becoming more important for not only ourselves, but the planet as a whole. Using an electric bicycle is one of the many ways you can start contributing to a healthier world. E-bikes are extremely environmentally friendly, just like a normal bike; they don’t produce harmful emissions because they run on electricity rather than liquid fuel. The carbon footprint left by an e-bike is seemingly nonexistent. Furthermore, the bike itself is quiet, making it a non disturbing vehicle fit for any environment in nature, as to not ruffle any feathers, quite literally.
Health and Staying Active
Riding a bike is very healthy, there's no debate about that. Turning pedals with your legs is not only leg work, but body work – your arms, shoulders, core, etc. A myth that circulates around electric bicycles is that you don't pedal at all; this is not true. Most e-bikes require some form of pedaling to some extent, which is exercise and body movement. Though it may not be the most physically strenuous activity, it still keeps your body moving in healthy ways.
Motor and Effort
Again, electric bikes, though electrically powered and “pedal assisted,” still require pedaling. Pedaling causes the motor to activate, and in turn, makes pedaling easier of a task than on a normal bike. With that being said, riding an electric bike requires less effort, which means more comfort and pleasure to the rider. These two facts coexisting, using an e-bike both allows you to be outdoors in nature utilizing your body while also bringing you ease and functionality. This comes in handy when you’re using your bike to go to and from work and would prefer not to arrive to work sweaty and worn out, or if you are physically limited or less able in any capacity.
On an electric bike, you can reach speeds up to 15.5 miles per hour in motor assistance mode, and with the bursts of energy produced by the motor and torque, sometimes even a little faster. Though it may not seem that fast in comparison to an automobile, if you’re riding through city streets, or anywhere else, it can actually be a lot faster to get to and from a location than a car would be because traffic is out of the picture for electric bike users. Anybody who has ever experienced rush hour traffic knows that it can sometimes take an hour to go a couple miles; with an electric bike, you can take sidewalks, side streets, grass fields, and other terrains to get to where you need to be quicker and safely.
Depending on the battery and charger, it can take anywhere from 2.5-5 hours to fully recharge an empty electric bicycle battery. But you don't need to wait until your bike is dead to recharge. This means you can almost always make sure your bike is fully charged, and even if it's on zero battery, your electric bike will be fully charged by the time you wake up to start your next journey.
Furthermore, if your e-bike runs out of battery while on the road, you can still ride it as a normal bike. The bike will not just stop and become immobile, like a car would, so you will never have to worry about being stranded or in a tough situation with a heavy bike you have to haul to a charging station.
Riding an electric bike makes traveling longer distances feel like an absolute breeze. If you’ve ever ridden a regular bike, you know that riding 20-30 miles is a hefty, strenuous, physically demanding task. But with an e-bike, you can put the same amount of effort, if not less, and go farther quicker. On average, an e-bike can take you 40-75 miles on a single battery charge, which is A LOT of miles if you put it into context of how close in proximity perhaps your workplace or daily destinations are to your home base.
A huge plus about electric bikes is that they make climbing up steep or uneven terrains, hills, or mountains far easier than a regular bike. If you’re not the most active person, getting a bike up a steep hill can be daunting and frustrating, maybe even impede you from going on journeys you wish to. But, with an electric bike, you are so incredibly assisted and supported that these roadblocks will no longer serve as a difficult task.
Generally, A Great Look & Vibe
All in all, electric bikes are just a great time where you can go to amazing places while looking good. E-bikes are all things popular, in style, can be customized to fit your aesthetic, and easy. Whether you care or not about riding in style, riding an e-bike will make you feel like the coolest kid in town. You can use it for adventure or leisure or a means of business and practicality. Electric bikes can do it all and you, as the rider, get to choose exactly what that is!
As mentioned before, we promised our readers transparency in this electric bike guide, and transparency includes the not-so-good features of owning an electric bike. And though we will list a few major downsides, we do stand by the fact that none of the downsides overpower the plethora of benefits we’ve just now shared.
Weight and Size
As previously discussed, e-bikes are heavier than a normal bike. They can weigh up to 55-80 pounds, while a regular bike lands somewhere in the 20 pound range. This is mostly due to the motor and battery attached to the electric bike.
This means that an e-bike may be harder to transport, especially if you live somewhere not on ground level. Similarly, it may take more space to store the e-bike and transporting it into your vehicle or bike racks will prove to be a more difficult task. But, if you feel equipped to carry that weight, or storage and transportation is not something you see yourself needing, this isn't much of a con at all.
Electric bikes, on average, cost more than a regular bike, which may not be affordable for some people. However, if you are someone using the bike for necessary transportation, it can be quite the money saver as it doesn't require gas or annoying servicing and upkeep. In this case, you’ll save a ton of money. Furthermore, if you choose to get rid of your e-bike one day, or want to buy a new one, your current e-bike is likely to retain its value very well and you’ll be able to get your money back not far from the price you originally bought it.
However, because ebikes are a hot commodity and on the more expensive side of things, electric bikes are found to be more likely to be stolen than a regular bike. Therefore, storing the e-bike on the street is probably not the best idea. It's more advisable to store it inside or with the proper safety equipment outdoors, which can be a nuisance to deal with.
Taking both sides into account, it's still most important to consider that when you take the time to truly choose the best electric bike for you, in terms of model, class, type, and tire, you won't be disappointed or left wanting more out of your bike. Don’t be nervous to list out your set of needs, wants, and intent with your electric bike, and ask all the questions needed to make sure the e-bike you’re purchasing is the best option for YOU. We’re here to help with any and all parts of your electric bike buying journey.