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Transport Scotland - ebike trials for mobility
Case study

Ebike trials for mobility

Ebikes can make cycling more accessible for people who need support with mobility. Here are some of the benefits our trial participants experienced.

Since 2018, Home Energy Scotland has offered free electric bike trials to a range of people across Scotland. This includes disabled people and those with long-term health conditions. Each year, we run a follow-up survey on trial participants’ experiences. This year, 31% of respondents were disabled. 

The electric assistance on electric bikes, or ebikes, can make cycling more accessible for people who require support with mobility or have reduced energy levels. Ebikes can be used for a variety of journeys – from exercise and leisure to transport and commuting. But don’t just take our word for it. Here are some of the benefits our respondents experienced. 

Cycling for mobility 

Wheels for Wellbeing, a disabled people’s cycling organisation, found that 75% of disabled cyclists find cycling easier than walking. The same percentage also reported using their cycle as a mobility aid, just like a wheelchair or mobility scooter.

Electric assistance can help make cycling a more viable option for many journeys.  

One participant, Tom, wanted to travel by car less. During the trial, he found riding an ebike was a more comfortable way to travel actively. 

“I wanted to explore the possibilities of using an ebike instead of a car. Walking is a painful… and the ebike is a less painful option.”


Tackle hills

Electric bikes are game changers for cycling up hills. The boost from the motor can make hilly rides more accessible, especially for hill starts, and can help you to keep up momentum. 

Another trial participant enjoyed the extra power provided by the ebike in their hilly area. 

“Once I had got used to the power behind such a small bike, I loved every minute. Due to health reasons, I was on the lookout for an ebike when I heard about this scheme… I didn’t give it a second thought.”

Trial participant

Try before you buy

A trial is a great way to see if an ebike works for you and your lifestyle. It’s also a low-pressure and low-cost way to see what you do and don’t want from your ebike before making a purchase.  

“It was the perfect opportunity to check how [an] ebike works in my daily life. I bought a very similar one but much lighter after I realised that this was the biggest issue. I used one of your schemes to purchase my new bike interest-free.”

Trial participant

Some trial providers and retailers offer ebike trials for free. If a trial isn’t available to you, you may be able to try out an ebike through your nearest local bike share scheme. 

Build confidence 

Electric bikes can help you to overcome concerns around fitness and ability, especially if you haven’t cycled in a while or are just starting out. With an ebike it’s easier to keep pace with the traffic and other cycles, as well as cycling on hilly and more challenging terrain. 

“After years of having not cycled at all, it was a great opportunity to try out a bike again with the element of assistance making it less anxiety provoking for my current fitness levels. It’s definitely given me a boost of confidence and interest in cycling again, that makes me want to explore other bike options that may work for me.”

Trial participant

Support mental and physical health 

Electric bikes are a great way to get the mental and physical health benefits of being physically active. 

Ricky loved the freedom his ebike trial gave him, as well as the improvements to his physical and mental health.  

“I felt the ebike helped me with my physical and mental health, allowing me to experience freedom and exercise at the same time.”


Enjoy the freedom of getting out and about 

Electric bikes can also improve wellbeing. They’re a fun way to enjoy activities that are positive for our mental health such as being outdoors, spending time in green space, and cycling with others. Cycling can also increase your sense of freedom and independence. 

Khaled found the ebike trial helped him to explore his city while getting exercise.  

“The ebike helps me do exercise and make me visit a lot of public places in Glasgow and get to know the geography of the city.”


Interested in trialling an ebike in your area? 

If you’re interested in trying out an ebike, we recommend checking whether a local organisation or retailer offers trials. Some may also offer cargo and adapted cycles to meet a variety of needs. 

Discover more about electric bikes, including the different types available, cost and options for accessing or buying an ebike, with our guide

Last updated: 19 March 2024