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Low carbon travel

Electric bikes


  • Low running costs
  • Tackle hills and longer journeys
  • 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 bikes, or ebikes, are becoming increasingly popular, with more and more people choosing them as an affordable, healthy, 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 bike is a bike with an electric motor and rechargeable battery that help make cycling easier.

Using an electric bike is very similar to using a standard bicycle. The same road rules apply, however in the UK, the legal age limit for using an electric bike is 14.

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

The motor in an electric bike kicks in when the pedals are in motion, up to the legal limit of 15.5mph – although you can cycle faster without support from the motor.

You can also set the bike to tell it how much support you want it to give you (ie how much help you need with cycling). A lower mode is suitable for cycling on flat roads, while higher modes use more electric assistance therefore require much less effort and are great for hills and steeper climbs.

How do you charge an electric bike?

Electric bikes have a removeable battery, which can be charged by plugging into a regular plug socket.

It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when charging your ebike battery and unplug your charger when it’s finished. The Scottish Fire & Rescue Service also has some useful guidance on fire safety and ebikes, for further reading.

How long do electric bike batteries last?

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

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

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

What are the benefits of an electric bike?

Electric bikes are a great way to embrace cycling and have a wide range of benefits:

Are there different types of electric bikes?

You might be surprised at how many electric cycle options there are to suit your journey, needs and budget.

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

If you don’t think cycling is for you, there are options that make cycles more accessible and inclusive for all abilities and situations. These include:

How much does an electric bike cost?

Generally, a standard electric bike costs between £1,000-£3,000, depending on its features and specification.

Cargo and adapted electric cycles are generally more expensive. However, the running costs for an electric cycle are much lower, and 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 by electric bike, cargo or adapted cycle, there are many ways to purchase or try one out.

A good place to start is to by reading buyer guides, such as this one from Sustrans. You could also visit your local retailer to discuss your needs. Some retailers offer an option to try out the bike before buying it.

If you think an electric bike might be right for you, but you’re worried about the upfront cost, many bike share schemes include ebikes. Use CoMoUK’s map to find electric bikes on your public bike share scheme. If there are no publicly available bike share schemes in your area, ebikes might be available through a local group.

Many employers also offer access to the Cycle to Work scheme, which could save you up to 40% on an electric bike and accessories. Have you checked if your workplace has a pool ebike available for employee use?

Last updated: 26 April 2024