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Pedal power, are e-bikes the way forward?

A photograph of a girl with an electric bike

In 2016, 1.6 million electric bikes were sold throughout Europe and now make up 4% of Halfords total bicycle sales. Becoming increasingly popular thanks to changing technology, are electric bikes the commuters’ way forward?

With cities becoming progressively more congested, more and more people are looking for alternative means of commuting to work. Cycling can put people off, not wanting to arrive into the office, out of breath and sweaty! However, e-bikes are changing this and eliminating some of the issues of using a bicycle to commute. Longer journeys are more accessible on electric bikes and they can be seen to improve fitness by just encouraging people to get on a bike in the first place. They are taking away the typical excuses used for not cycling to work.

Electric bikes are also known as electrically assisted pedal bikes or e-bikes. These are electrically assisted bicycles which provide additional power to push the bike along via a battery. Of course, you still need to pedal however the motor senses this and provides a bit of an extra boost. These bikes can multiply your power by 300%, which is great for getting up hills! There are rules regarding use though, which can be found on the Gov.uk website. Speed is understandably restricted to 15.5mph and the maximum power output allowed is 250 watts. Anyone over the age of 14 can ride these bikes within the UK (apart from Northern Ireland) without the need of a license, tax or insurance (however, you can find out more about cycling insurance here).

With the rise in the amount of e-bike riders, there is an increasing amount of awareness which will hopefully encourage a growth of infrastructure for cyclists. Also, not only are these bikes more environmentally friendly than driving, they also work out cheaper. It is estimated that using an e-bike costs 0.4p per mile in comparison to 34p per mile for a car.

With such a range of models and price brackets (some starting at just over £600 going up to £15,000!) there are options to suit most people. It is argued that e-bikes are well suited to older or less mobile people, by having the power assistance it allows them to keep up with friends and family that they are cycling with. With the increase in popularity this is encouraging brands to develop and produce more models, in particular lighter weight frames.

One survey of 40 employees found that 75% would would cycle their commute at least one day a week if they had an e-bike. Even some police forces are using them in the UK! So if you fancy an electric bike, speak to your employer to see if they have signed up to the Cycle Scheme, this allows you to purchase a bike with a tax free saving, and can find out more about here.

Think of an e-bike as a simple, fun, ‘green’ way of getting around a congested town!

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