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Blog Post 16 September 2021

Everything you need to know about electric bikes

Cycling is one the most efficient and healthiest forms of transport for completing shorter journeys – and cycling and active travel are more popular than ever, with thousands taking to two wheels over the past 18 months.

People around the UK are already seeing positive health and wellbeing benefits of switching to this environmentally friendly travel option, with local governments supporting cyclists with plans to improve cycle paths and even convert some roads into cycle superhighways.

But if you want a bit of a boost to travel further, quicker or higher, an electric bike – or ebike – could be the answer. Here, we answer eight frequently asked questions about ebikes.

What is an ebike?

An electric bike is a regular bicycle but with an electric motor and battery. The battery supplies power to the electric motor and can be charged from a regular 3-pin socket.

The electric motor provides power assistance when pedalling to ease the amount of effort required. You can choose how much assistance you get from the motor to suit your needs.

Who can use an ebike?

In the UK, an ebike is road-legal for anyone over the age of 14. The assisted speed is currently limited to 15.5 miles (25 kilometres) per hour.

Not only are electric bikes fun and faster, but they also make cycling accessible to those who might otherwise find it difficult, and because you can choose the level of assistance, they’re also great options for building cycle confidence.

Are there different types of ebikes available?

There are a variety of ebikes available, from hybrid and folding bikes that suit different commuter or storage needs, for example, to electric road bikes and off-road or mountain ebikes for those who enjoy cycling for leisure or fitness, to adapted cycles such as tricycles and tandems.

For businesses or people who will be cycling with heavy loads or with children, electric cargo bikes are also available. You can find out more about the benefits of ecargo bikes in our blog.

How much do ebikes cost?

The cost of an ebike depends on several factors, such as where you purchase it, as well as the range, quality and type of ebike you want to buy. There is a wide variety of price points: you can find some ebikes for as little as £500, while premium ebikes can cost more than £3,000.

You’ll want to think about what you’ll use your ebike for and your travel needs when considering your budget, as well as ongoing costs like regular maintenance. You can speak to one of the many UK bike retailers that sell ebikes to discuss your options and find the right model for you

If you live in Scotland, the interest-free Transport Scotland funded eBike Loan can help you purchase a new electric bike, including cargo and adapted cycles.

How far can you travel on a single charge?

Most ebikes will offer you 25-100 miles of pedalling power on a single charge, depending on the model of the bike and how you ride it. Electric bikes can be plugged into a normal power socket, for example in your home, garage or workplace, so if you are doing a longer journey you can in time to top up the battery.

If you run out of battery, the bike will still work as a regular bicycle, although ebikes do tend to be heavier as they have the electric motor and battery on board. In certain instances, it may make sense to carry a spare battery or embrace the benefits of an additional workout!

It’s important to remember that cycling an ebike on maximum power-assistance will drain the battery quicker than cycling on eco mode. You may find that the eco mode provides enough power-assistance for most of your journeys.

How long does it take to recharge the battery?

This will depend on the size of the battery, though most ebikes are fitted with a 36-volt battery which takes around four hours to recharge. Depending on the model recharging an ebike can take anything from three to 10 hours.

What are the running costs of ebikes?

The running costs are very low, especially when compared to a car. For example, if you are charging your battery at home, it can cost as little as 5-10p for a full charge, depending on your tariff. This means you could potentially travel 100 miles for just 10p!

You will still require regular maintenance of your bike, but without ongoing costs like road tax and insurance, the costs of running an ebike will be much cheaper than a petrol or diesel car.

What is the lifespan of an ebike battery?

Electric bikes use lithium ion batteries, which can be charged and discharged hundreds of times without losing performance. You can extend the life of your battery by keeping the battery charged between 20% and 80% as much as possible and only charging to 100% when you need the added range.

Even when batteries do lose capacity, these may still meet your needs for a while yet. Otherwise, you may want to arrange for a replacement battery, which could be covered by a warranty. Talk to your bike retailer about a warranty for the motor and battery when you purchase your ebike.

Next steps

Now you know everything there is to know about electric bikes, what’s stopping you from making the switch?

If you need a bit more encouragement, why not read about the experiences of four new ebike owners who are already enjoying the many benefits an electric bike has to offer.

Last updated: 13 September 2021