Guide to electric bikes

Advantages

  • Low running costs
  • Tackle hills and long drives
  • Get the benefits of cycling with less effort

Did you know that choosing an electric bike can help you save money and reduce your carbon footprint?

Electric bicycles, or ebikes, are is becoming more and more popularmore and more people are choosing them as an affordable, healthy and low-carbon alternative to cars.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about electric bikes, their benefits, and how you can get one.

What is an electric bike?

An electric bicycle is a bicycle with an electric motor and a rechargeable battery that makes cycling easier.

Using an e-bike is very similar to using a standard bicycle. The same traffic rules apply, but in the UK the legal age limit for riding an e-bike is 14.

How does an electric bike work and how fast does it go?

An e-bike’s motor kicks in when the pedals are in motion, up to the legal limit of 15.5mph – although you can ride faster without motor assistance.

You can also configure the bike to tell it what level of assistance you want it to give you (i.e. how much help you need to ride the bike). A lower mode is suitable for cycling on flat roads, while the higher modes use more electric assistance and therefore require much less effort and are ideal for hills and steeper climbs.

How to charge an electric bike?

Electric bikes have a removable battery, which can be charged by plugging it into a regular power outlet.

How long do e-bike batteries last?

A battery typically takes around 4-5 hours to charge and should give you 25-100 miles of pedaling power on a single charge, although it depends on the model you have and how you use it.

If an e-bike runs out of battery, it can still be ridden like a standard bike. A limited number of routes on the national cycle network have public charging stations for electric bikes to help you recharge.

The position of the battery and the motor can vary, for example, some batteries are integrated into the frame of the bike, while some models can take two batteries for increased range.

What are the advantages of an electric bike?

E-bikes are a great way to embrace cycling and offer a wide range of benefits:

Are there different types of e-bikes?

You might be surprised at how many e-bike options suit your trip, your needs, and your budget.

There are electric versions of most standard two-wheeled bikes, from dirt, hybrid and single-speed bikes, to BMXs and even road bikes.

If you think biking isn’t for you, there are options that make bikes more accessible and inclusive for all abilities and situations. These include:

How much does an electric bike cost?

Typically, a standard e-bike costs between £1,000 and £3,000, depending on its features and specifications.

Adapted cargo and e-bikes are usually more expensive. However, the running costs of an e-bike are much lower and, together with a wide range of other benefits, they are a great investment!

Is there help to access or buy an electric bike?

If you’re ready to embrace active travel on an e-bike, cargo bike, or adaptive bike, there are plenty of ways to buy or try one.

A good place to start is to read buyer’s guides, such as this one from Sustrans. You can also visit your local retailer to discuss your needs. Some retailers offer the opportunity to try the bike before buying it.

If you think an e-bike might be right for you, but are worried about the upfront cost, many bike-sharing programs include e-bikes. Use Map of CoMoUK to find e-bikes on your bike share system. If there are no publicly available bike share systems in your area, e-bikes may be available through a local group.

Many employers also offer access to Cycle-to-Work program, which could save you up to 40% on an electric bike and its accessories. Have you checked to see if your workplace has an electric pool bike available to employees?

Last update: August 11, 2022