Caitlin's Low-Down on E-Bikes

Electric bikes have had a lot of hype over the last few years, with most cities adopting electric cycle sharing of some form. I was interested to find that the first electric bike was actually invented and patented in 1898, over 100 years ago. However, it wasn’t until the 1990’s when “e-bikes” were developed, predominantly in Japan and China.

The DfT’s ‘Road Traffic Estimates Great Britain 2020’ report showed that cycling was 45.7% higher than the levels recorded in 2019. According to the Bicycle Associations Market Data research, sales of bikes in general has increased by 60% across the UK since March 2020, whilst sales of electric bikes have doubled.

Tredz, an online bicycle retailer undertook surveys of customers to understand changing attitudes towards e-bikes. In 2021, almost 1 on 4 respondents said they would be more likely to cycle if they owned an electric bike. According to research undertaken by TfL, 20% of Londoners said they were too old or unfit to cycle (TfL Cycling Action Plan), which e-bikes can offer a solution to.

So why are electric bike becoming increasingly popular?

E-bikes certainly make cycling journeys easier, nevertheless they still burn up to 390 calories an hour, compared to 500 on a traditional bike.  They can make commuting easier, faster and more comfortable. Whilst they still require charging, they do not emit any emissions or noise and can help reduce congestion by replacing car trips. The energy required to charge a bike is far less than the level required for an electric car.

What's the downside?

E-bikes can be 40% - 50% heavier than a traditional bike. They are also not as environmentally friendly as traditional bikes and can take a while to charge. E-bikes can be a lot more expensive to buy and maintain when compared to their counterpart bikes, however with ever growing demand, the prices are likely to drop.

So, would you be more likely to cycle if you owned an e-bike?