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The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Electric Bikes

Before you make any purchase, the last thing you want to do is get completely distracted by the benefits of a product. That’s how you get roped into a bad deal. So when it comes to e-bikes, what do you need to be on the lookout for? It’s not that hard to figure out once you know what’s what, but even cycling experts can use a little help every once in a while.

E-Bikes can replace a car for some commutes, saving money and offering an eco-friendly advantage. The electric motor means you can achieve this without arriving to your destination tired and sweaty as well. They’re much cheaper than a car, but they’re also more dangerous (depending on how you ride).

There’s far more to e-bikes than just those things, though. So what do you need to know before you start searching online for your next ride? We’ve got everything you need to understand right here in this article; just read on.

Advantages of Riding an E-Bike

Hipster businessman commuter with electric bicycle traveling to work in city

Before you jump onto any product, the first thing that you typically gravitate towards is what you love. In the case of e-bikes, there is a lot to latch on to when it comes to why people love them so much. There’s a reason why e-biking is fastly becoming one of the most popular ways to get around across the globe.

Nowadays people are hungrier than ever for more efficient ways to commute without harming the planet. Combine that with rapidly advancing battery technology, and you’ve got quite a popular two-wheel ride.

But when it comes down to it, there is a lot more to e-bikes than you may realize. Let’s explore some of the best reasons you should think about getting an e-bike.

E-Bikes are Better for the Environment

Woman on electrick Mountain bike

Let’s face it; cars aren’t the best way to get around. Not only do they pollute the environment, but when you factor in gas and insurance etc., it’s not the cheapest way to get from A to B. E-bikes, on the other hand, are much better ranked in the green-transport department.

Compared to bikes, cars are also inherently more wasteful because to move you and your car to work, the car has to use enough power to transport 2000+ lbs of cargo (you plus the car), while the “whole package” of a bike commuter is typically closer to a ~180lb rider and a ~60lb bike.

While you may find some reason why an e-bike might not be the most environmentally sound choice (I mean, walking burns no fossil fuels), they do get a lot of marks when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint.

What makes e-bikes even better for the environment is that they might give the extra kick you need to ditch the car. E-bikes can help you break your reliance on your gas-guzzling sedan by providing you with an easy, convenient, and relatively safe way to get home. Even getting a cheaper e-bike, like this model (on Amazon), can help you both cut your carbon footprint and not break the bank.

E-Bikes are Also Whisper Quiet

Bikes aren’t cars; they don’t glug along the road making all sorts of noise. E-bikes, with their electric motors, don’t sound much different than a normal bike. Give it a test and see for yourself. At most, you’ll hear a little hum from the motor, but even then, it will most likely get drowned out by the sounds of the road.

Some types of e-bikes utilize a hub-type motor. With these bikes, you don’t even have to worry about the sound of the chain moving through the gears. You can sneak down the road without making a noise.

E-Bikes Enable You to Travel Farther

One of the biggest advantages of e-bike riding is the extra miles you can travel. For most of us, we have a limit. Sure there are a few of us who can survive in a triathlon, but for most of us, a few hours of riding will be more than enough to get you all hot and bothered.

With e-bikes, well, you have the extra power you need to travel farther without getting too exhausted. That means a long ride seems shorter, and you can get where you need to go even if it’s ten or twenty miles away without much problem.

E-Bikes Don’t Leave Tired & Sweaty

While regular biking can make for great exercise when it comes to using it to commute, getting tired and sweaty can be a real downside. With e-bikes, you get a much easier ride. Even if you just stick to using pedal-assist, chances are you’re going to get where you need to go without using every last drop of energy you have getting there.

Additionally, the lack of visible sweat marks can be a real winner if you’re traveling to an office environment. We all have that one coworker who has pit stains from riding to work no matter what they do. Avoid being that person by grabbing an e-bike instead.

There are Different Ride Styles To Choose From

Most people don’t know the difference between pedal-assist and throttle power. In reality, it can mean all the difference for your ride — and some people prefer one over the other. For throttle power, it’s all about the motor.

For throttle-only e-bikes, Class 2 in most places, you can ride without ever needing to use your legs. For a lot of people, this is the first thing that comes to mind when they think of adding a motor to a bike. But, it’s not all that’s out there.

Pedal-assist is just as it sounds. Instead of full motor power, you only get a boost when you pedal. If you’re looking to get some exercise when you ride, this is a great choice. It can also allow you to travel faster with motor support, up to 28 mph, with Class 3 e-bikes.

This means you can choose if you want to use the throttle to simply get somewhere, or if you want to use some pedal-assist to get a light workout in too.

They’re Easy to Upgrade

Another super-power of E-Bikes is that, if you really want or need to, you can upgrade them by swapping out components. We have separate articles you can peruse going into the details of replacing or upgrading your E-Bike’s electric motor, and upgrading your E-Bike’s battery.

Heck, the components are simple enough that you can actually use a conversion kit to take a normal bike and make it an E-Bike! If you’re interested in that, check out our other article on the basics of E-Bike Conversion.

Disadvantages of Riding an E-Bike

Young man riding ebike in the park

E-bikes have plenty of benefits, but there are some downsides you might also need to be aware of. Making a sound decision on whether or not e-bikes are right for you means more than just looking at what makes them so great. Below you’ll find some common complaints regarding e-bikes.

Battery Power “Refuels” Slower

Behind the electric power of an e-bike is battery power. That battery is one of the most essential parts of an e-bike, and a bad battery can be a big hindrance when using your bike.

Of course, buying a higher quality bike means you have a better chance of being on the higher side of an e-bikes range, but even high-quality batteries wear down over time and will require replacement at some point.

It can also be a pain to keep a charging schedule. Depending on the length of your commute, you can be stuck keeping your battery on charge every night. Miss a day, and your bike might be out of commission — at least in terms of the motor. Unlike a car which you can always refuel in about 5 minutes, if you forget to charge your bike overnight you may be hours of charge time behind in the morning.

Range May Limit You (in Some Cases)

When talking about range, it’s worth starting out by saying that this only pertains to the battery. For almost all e-bikes, when the battery goes out, you can still pedal easily.

You won’t get stuck out in the middle of the road like you would if your car broke down. But if you intend to rely on motor power for most of your ride, it’s worth knowing.

Range is affected by many factors, including terrain, type of e-bike, and bike quality. On average, you can expect an average range of 20-80 miles. An average-priced model like this Ancheer E-Bike (on Amazon) sits at around 30 miles range, which is about right considering the investment. Higher-end models, like this Addmotor 1000W E-Bike (on Amazon), double that amount.

That said, there are some simple ways you can get more out of your E-Bike in the range department. It’s good to know there’s at least a little wiggle room to affect this metric positively through your riding behavior and, if you need it, hardware upgrades.

Laws Can Be Tricky

One of the problems you might also run into is local regulations and laws. Let’s just say that most places aren’t all on the same page when it comes to e-bike laws. If you’re in the U.S. or Europe, it’s likely that you have some sort of legislation that regulates e-bike use. Read up because it means all the difference for your ride.

It’s worth knowing in case you accidentally purchase a bike that breaks local regulations. You could also misunderstand the class system that regulates e-bike types and end up with a throttle-powered e-bike instead of a pedal-assist.

The Prices Are Still Pretty High

While you can certainly get an e-bike for a steal, don’t expect killer quality for rock-bottom prices. Even at the lower end of the price bracket, you should still expect to shell out several hundreds of dollars. You’re looking at a few thousand for a higher-end model.

When you weigh up the benefits and quality with the price, there is no competition when putting normal bikes and e-bikes against each other. If price makes up a big factor in your purchasing decision, consider buying secondhand. You can get loads of quality e-bikes for a fraction of the price if you opt for used.

That said, they’re still going to be much, much cheaper than cars!

Heavier Than a Normal Bike

Powering your e-bike is a motor, extra wiring, and a battery, among other things. These components are often heavy and weigh down the bike. It’s the price you pay for having the extra power; there’s no way around it.

If you’re hoping for a lighter ride, ditching the motor is the way to go. Of course, the size is manageable, but it will still be a good bit heavier than even steel-framed bikes.

What About Different Types of E-Bikes?

Two electric bicycles stand in a meadow near the stones

In the e-bike community, you can find a variety of opinions when it comes to which type of e-bike is best. Of course, this is going to boil down to personal preference more than anything.

While this guide is a good way to feel out whether e-bikes are for you, always use your gut and find what you like about a product before making a purchase.

Below, you’ll find some common gripes between different e-bikes. This isn’t just about how they compare to normal bikes, or cars for that matter, but how some types of e-bikes stack up against each other.

Pedal-Assist vs. Throttle

Some e-bikes will only come with one or the other. While you can find models that sport both, like this model (on Amazon), in some areas, due to regulations, you’ll have to choose. Each has its own benefits, but at the end of the day, it’s really about how much you want to pedal.

If you’re looking for extra exercise, then pedal-assist is the way to go. But throttle-powered e-bikes might be better for a simpler daily commute; it’s really up to you and your purpose for using an e-bike.

Differences in Motor Styles

You can commonly find motors that are one of three varieties: Mid-Drive, Front-Hub, and Rear-Hub. As you probably guessed, the primary difference is where on the bike the motor is placed.

Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The differences between them usually include various ranges in performance over time, differing maintenance frequency, and other factors like different weight distribution.

What to Know about Batteries

Not all batteries are created equal. In fact, bad batteries are more than likely the reason a cheap e-bike performs so much worse than a mid-range model. It’s all about the battery. Keep this in mind when shopping around for e-bikes.

While you can get away with only shelling out a few hundred dollars on a basic e-bike, the battery will undoubtedly be the first thing you’ll replace. Seeing how it might be the most expensive part of the bike, you can imagine how much better off you would be opting for a slightly higher-quality model.

But even with replacement batteries, you’re still shaving off plenty of carbon from your environmental bill. So really, even the downsides to e-bikes don’t really bring down the overall value of these electric two-wheelers.