"I do try to reduce my carbon footprint a little bit by travelling around London on my electric bike. A lot of people raise their eyebrows but I love riding it."

Ben Fogle, Writer

Pros and Cons of Electric Bikes

the advantages and downsides of electric bikes

Electric bikes have become quite popular over the past years.

 

Since people get more aware of our environmental problems, they also look out for ways how to reduce their carbon footprint in order to slow down global warming.

 

Apart from that, there are many additional advantages of E-bikes. However, there are also some issues related to them. In this article, the pros and cons of electric bikes are examined.

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Advantages of Electric Bikes

  1. E-Bikes are eco-friendly
  2. Electric bikes don’t emit harmful gases
  3. Rather cheap operating costs
  4. Less physical effort needed
  5. Perfect for longer distances
  6. Especially helpful for older people
  7. Helpful for people with health issues
  8. Suitable against annoying headwind
  9. No license is needed to operate E-bikes in most countries
  10. May be suitable for commuting
  11. Faster rides possible
  12. Quite helpful uphill
  13. Reduction in traffic jams
  14. Easing the burden on public transport
  15. Can be used for shopping
  16. Substitute for going to the gym
  17. Quiet means of transport
  18. May motivate your kids to play outside more often
  19. Low maintenance costs compared to cars
  20. E-bikes are family-friendly

E-Bikes are eco-friendly

Compared to conventional cars or motorbikes, electric bicycles are considered to be more eco-friendly. Even though a big part of our global energy is still produced with non-renewable resources, E-bikes are still more eco-friendly since they use less fossil resources. Moreover, in the future, humanity will transit to an entirely green energy mix in the long run.

 

At this point in time when all our energy is produced in a green manner, E-bikes can be considered to be much more eco-friendly compared to other vehicles that are operated with the help of fossil fuels.

 

Electric bikes don’t emit harmful gases

Another advantage of electric bikes is that they do not emit harmful gases into our atmosphere. Especially in big cities, the formation of smog is a big problem.

 

High levels of smog and air pollution in cities are often caused by heavy traffic from conventional cars and motorbikes. Imagine all motor bikes would be replaced by electric bikes.

 

The air in cities would be much better, which would increase the quality of life for many people and would also improve the overall health level of the local population.

 

Rather cheap operating costs

The use of E-bikes also implies only low operating costs. The amount of energy that is needed for E-bikes is generally rather low. Thus, the cost per mile when using electric bikes is also quite affordable. Thus, by using electric bikes, you can not only improve your ecological footprint, but you could also save some money in the long run.

 

Less physical effort needed

Some people in our nowadays society also do not want to drive conventional bicycles anymore since it is too exhausting for them. For those people, E-bikes are a quite good alternative to motorbikes or cars since E-bikes will do most of the work for them.

 

Thus, electric bikes can be a quite convenient tool to get around by bicycle without having to make great physical effort.

 

Perfect for longer distances

E-bikes are also suitable for longer distances. Especially for distances up to 30 miles, electric bikes are perfect. Imagine you would have to go those distances using a normal bicycle. Chances are that you would be quite exhausted. However, by using an electric bike, those distances are no problem.

 

Especially helpful for older people

Older people are often not in good physical shape anymore. Thus, going by normal bikes would be too exhausting for them. However, for these old people, E-bikes are perfect since they would take away most of the physical effort and old people can get around quite conveniently.

 

For instance, many old people also do not have relatives who would take care of them. Thus, in order to get groceries or other things for their daily life, they can simply use their electric bike to get to the store and back to their home.

 

Helpful for people with health issues

E-bikes are not only quite helpful for old people, but also for people who suffer from serious health issues. For instance, imagine you suffer from joint pain or other conditions that might prevent you from using a conventional bicycle.

 

E-bikes would be a great alternative since you could still have the feeling of going by bike but do not have to strain your joints too much.

 

The same is true for people who are overweight. For them, electric bikes can be a great alternative to conventional ones in order to get around.

 

Suitable against annoying headwind

Everyone of us who ever used a bicycle knows the annoying feeling of headwinds that are slowing you down. If those winds are strong enough, using a bicycle under those conditions can also be quite exhausting. Thus, in order to save time and energy, electric bikes are perfect when there is plenty of headwind.

 

No license is needed to operate E-bikes in most countries

Another upside of E-bikes is that they do not require an official license in most countries of our planet. Thus, in contrast to a driver’s license for motorbikes or cars, electric bikes can be used by anyone, even if he or she is still quite young and does not have the opportunity to apply for their driver’s license yet. Thus, electric bikes are also a great way to get around for people who do not have a driver’s license.

 

May be suitable for commuting

Especially in big cities, electric bikes may also be a great way to commute to work and back. Instead of being stuck in traffic jams every morning and evening, you could simply use an electric bike and skip this traffic jams. Especially for distances of just a few miles, E-bikes are a perfect alternative to commuting with your car and you might even be faster by using your electric bike for those short distances.

Faster rides possible

Compared to the use of conventional bicycles, electric bikes are also much faster, especially when there are heavy winds or other weather conditions that might stop you with your conventional bike. Thus, when you are in a hurry, you should consider to use your electric bike in order to save time and to make it to your appointment in time.

 

Quite helpful uphill

Electric bikes are also quite helpful when it comes to driving uphill. While many people will have a quite hard time going uphill using a conventional bicycle, going uphill with an E-bike is no problem at all. In fact, while you might even have to alight from your normal bicycle since it would be too exhausting to get up the hill, you could conveniently continue to drive with your electric bike and it will not be too exhausting at all.

 

Reduction in traffic jams

Electric bikes could also contribute to a reduction of traffic jams. In big cities, many people get stuck in traffic every day while they are commuting to work. However, with more E-bikes, less cars would be on our streets, which would result in less traffic.

 

Thus, if we are able to make electric bikes quite popular, chances are that the overall amount of car traffic will go down. This would not only make commuting much easier, but would also reduce the amount of harmful gases that are emitted into our atmosphere.

 

Easing the burden on public transport

Since our world population is growing and cities have become more crowded over time, also the public transport system is quite crowded in many cities as well. Thus, in order to ease the burden on public transport, the use of electric bikes could be a great tool since if more people use E-bikes, less people would have to use public transport.

 

Can be used for shopping

Since electric bikes have plenty of power, they are also suitable for shopping purposes. You could install a bicycle rack on your bike and could carry your groceries or other goods on your E-bike. While it is quite exhausting to carry home heavy items with conventional bicycles, it is much easier with electric bikes since you have to use less manual power.

 

Substitute for going to the gym

Although going by E-bike is not that exhausting compared to using a conventional bike, it still burns calories and through going by electric bike for longer distances, you may even not need to go to the gym anymore. Thus, if you hate the gym, the use of E-bikes may be a perfect alternative for you.

 

Quiet means of transport

Compared to vehicles that are operated with fossil fuels, E-bikes are also not that noisy. Especially in big cities where noise pollution is a big problem, the use of electric bikes on a large scale could greatly lower the noise level and therefore increase the quality of life for many people.

 

May motivate your kids to play outside more often

Even though your kids might not be too eager to drive around with conventional bikes, they may still love to use E-bikes since they are quite popular and are considered to be cooler. Thus, this may be a great way for your kids to exercise and to play outside instead of sitting in the house playing video games all day long.

 

Low maintenance costs compared to cars

E-bikes also require far less maintenance compared to motorbikes or conventional cars. Thus, also the maintenance costs are much lower. Therefore, by using E-bikes, you can not only save plenty of time but also money related to the maintenance of your vehicle.

 

E-bikes are family-friendly

Electric bikes are also a great way to get around with your family. Imagine you want to make a family trip by bike. Especially with young kids, you might have the problem that they may not be able to drive longer distances.

 

However, by using electric bikes, even your small kids may be able to make it over many miles. Thus, electric bikes are a great tool to overcome physical power restrictions and to spend a nice day with your family outside in nature.

Disadvantages of E-Bikes

  1. High initial purchase costs
  2. Repairs are more complex than for conventional bikes
  3. Higher risk of stealing
  4. Heavy weight
  5. Fewer models on the market
  6. Permission to use E-bikes varies across countries
  7. Insurance issues
  8. Batteries become weaker over time
  9. Recharging takes a significant amount of time
  10. Limited distance before recharging is necessary
  11. Battery replacement can be costly
  12. High depreciation
  13. Insufficient bike lanes in many cities

High initial purchase costs

One problem of electric bikes is that they are usually quite expensive. Compared to conventional bicycles, they often are twice or even multiple times as expensive. Thus, electric bikes may not be for everyone and especially poor families may struggle to afford them.

 

However, compared to motorbikes, they are still more affordable and maintenance costs are lower, which may make electric bikes still a valid alternative also from an economic perspective.

 

Repairs are more complex than for conventional bikes

Compared to conventional bikes, repairs for electric bikes are usually more complicated and more costly. Especially if you want to fix issues related to your E-bike, you need advanced technical knowledge and most of us do not have this kind of experience.

 

Thus, in case your electric bike needs to be fixed, this can imply serious trouble and you might also have difficulties to find a mechanic who had the knowledge to fix your bike properly.

 

Higher risk of stealing

Since electric bikes are quite costly, the risk that your bike will be stolen over time might also be higher compared to conventional bikes. Thus, you should always make sure to buy a proper lock in order to minimize the chances that your bike gets stolen.

 

Heavy weight

Electric bikes are also much heavier on average compared to normal bicycles. This may pose difficulties for people with physical health issues or older people since they might not be able to operate those bikes properly. Thus, even though E-bike models become lighter over time, heavy versions could cause serious problems for certain groups of people.

 

Fewer models on the market

Compared to conventional bicycles, the selection of E-bikes is still rather limited and you might have to make compromises regarding the features and the design of your bike. This may prevent some people from buying electric bikes since they might not want to spend large amounts of money for an E-bike that does not perfectly fit their criteria.

 

Permission to use E-bikes varies across countries

The rules and laws regarding the use of E-bikes also greatly vary across countries. While in some countries, E-bikes are not permitted at all, in other countries, the regulations regarding the use of E-bikes are quite lax. Thus, depending on the country or region you live in, you might not even be allowed to use an electric bike.

Insurance issues

There might also be some insurance issues related to electric bikes. Since they are rather new and have only become popular over the past decade, chances are that there might be plenty of uncertainty regarding insurance issues and there might also be some lawsuits regarding the question of fault related to accidents with electric bikes.

 

Thus, make sure that you are covered by your insurance before getting an E-bike in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

 

Batteries become weaker over time

Almost every battery becomes weaker over time. This is also true for the battery of electric bikes. Therefore, the distance that you are able to drive with your electric bike might get significantly lower over time. Especially if you consistently want to drive many miles, this might really hurt you in the long run.

 

Recharging takes a significant amount of time

Compared to fueling your car, recharging electric bikes takes much longer. For some models, it can even take many hours to fully charge your bike battery. Therefore, especially if do not want to spend such a long time for charging and also do not have a charging station at home, electric bikes may not be a suitable alternative for you.

 

Limited distance before recharging is necessary

Even though many new models make up to 50 miles before they need recharging, there are also some models for which the battery only lasts for rather short distances. Thus, if you plan to go for long distances on a regular basis, you should inform yourself first if this is realistic and choose a model according to that.

 

Battery replacement can be costly

Another issue with E-bikes is that the replacement of batteries can be quite expensive. Sooner or later, you might have to replace your battery since it will get weaker over time. Thus, you should factor in the price of a new E-bike battery which will cost at least 500 USD. There are even E-bike battery models which cost thousands of dollars.

 

High depreciation

E-bikes also lose plenty of value in the first years. Thus, if you plan to resell your E-bike at some point in time, you should take into account that you might lose plenty of money compared to your initial purchase price.

 

Therefore, buying a used E-bike instead might be better from an economic perspective since you can even profit from the high depreciation.

 

Insufficient bike lanes in many cities

Even though this is not an issue that is specific to E-bikes but also true for conventional bikes, the lack of bike lanes is still a big problem in many big cities. Thus, before you buy an E-bike, make sure that there are sufficient bike lanes in your city. Otherwise, using your electric bike will not be too much fun.

Top 10 Electric Bike Pros & Cons - Summary List

Electric Bike Pros

Eco-friendly means of transport

No emission of harmful gases

Less physical effort

Suitable for commuting

Older people may benefit from E-bikes

Cheap operating costs

Helpful to drive uphill

Useful against heavy headwind

Faster rides

Less traffic jams

Electric Bike Cons

High purchase price

High depreciation

Heavy weight

Insurance issues

Fewer models

Battery may get weak over time

High battery replacement costs

Complicated repairs

Limited range

Recharging takes time


Conclusion

Electric bikes can be a great way to get around, especially in big cities. They are more eco-friendly than motorbikes or cars and may be a promising transport alternative on a large scale in the future.

 

However, there are also some downsides to the use of E-bikes. You should evaluate all the pros and cons mentioned before in order to make a profound decision whether you want to get an E-bike or not.

Sources

About the author

 

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

 

As I went to university and got my Master's degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

 

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

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