E-bike Basics

An e-bike is an electrically power assisted bicycle. It has a battery, motor, and drive train that assists the rider to propel the bike forward. The market for these bikes has been expanding since the first pedal-assist bike was release in the 1990s. Technological developments have improved function and dropped the price over the last thirty years. 

Let’s take a look at why you might want or not want to invest in an e-bike.

Advantages to E-Biking

As you can imagine, having some assistance to power you forward leads to some fantastic advantages on the trail. You can take longer trips, haul heavier loads of supplies, and pedal up steep hills more easily. 

An e-bike can allow you leave your car in the driveway and enjoy more fresh air in your daily routine. You can use your bike for running errands or commuting to work. The assistance of the motor means you don’t have to arrive at work or the store covered in sweat. 

Several reviews I read online were from riders who want to bike for weight loss, but traditional biking presents too great a challenge. An e-bike has allowed these cyclists to enjoy the benefits of biking as they work toward their goal weight. 

E-bikes are excellent for touring. You can cover more miles in a single trip and enjoy the ease of pedal assistance. 

Disadvantages to E-Biking

There are a few drawbacks to e-bikes as well. An e-bike is more expensive than many traditional mountain or trail bikes. They can be up to three times the cost of a standard bike and don’t maintain resale value very well. There are a few less expensive models I’ll tell you about, but they will come with limited performance.

The battery life is relatively short in terms of how far you can go on each charge and how long until you have to replace the battery. Some models claim about 30 miles on one charge. This is true for a straight, flat ride. Keep in mind that you’ll use more power going uphill and hauling any cargo. Factor those things into your ride when planning your distance. 

An e-bike is usually heavier than a typical mountain bike. If you have to drive to the trailhead, you’ll need to be able to lift it onto a bike rack. A standard bike weighs about 30 lbs. and an e-bike weighs between 38 and 70 lbs. 

Highly-Rated E-bikes

Wired.com recently published a list of the twelve best e-bikes. Along with each recommendation, they give a less-expensive alternative. I’ll tell you about a few of them here.

Wired’s best micro bike is the Jackrabbit Bike. It’s small and light, so it’s great for running errands. It retails at $1299. An economical alternative is the Propellant Mini for $999.

The best cargo bike for families is the Urban Arrow Family Electric Cargo Bike. It’s costly at $6999! If you are thinking of replacing a vehicle altogether, it may be worth it. The Xtracycle eSwoop will dent your budget a little less at $4999.

Wired recommends the Lectric XP 2.0 as an affordable folding e-bike. It retails from the manufacturer’s website at $999. This could be an economical option for getting into e-biking. 

Final Thoughts

A first glance over the advantages and disadvantages makes it seem like an e-bike is not worth the hassle. For many cyclists, this may be true. The price and maintenance don’t add up to replacing a standard bike. But for many riders who have bad knees or want to commute on their bike more, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks handily. Check out Wired.com’s list of The 12 Best Electric Bikes for Every Kind of Ride for recommendations.

Categories Health and fitness, Rail TrailTags , ,

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