Pros and Cons of E-bikes: Love ‘em or Hate ‘em, They’re Here to Stay

Electric bikes have been around in one form or another since the late 19th century. You read that right. The first electric bikes were patented in the 1890s. But the relatively recent advent of batteries that are small but powerful have resulted in an e-bike boom.

What is an e-bike anyway?

 
Cargo e-bike packed and ready to ride. Photo courtesy of Lamoille Valley Bike Tours

Cargo e-bike packed and ready to ride. Photo courtesy of Lamoille Valley Bike Tours

 
  • E-bikes are regular bikes that have a small motor that assists you when you pedal. The motor can be part of the hub or part of the crank.

  • The motor has a governor that stops the assist when you get to a certain speed.

  • There is an e-bike version of every type of bike you can think of: commuter, recreational, road, townie, fat, cargo, hardtail, and full-suspension mountain.

  • Virtually all major bike manufacturers have come out with an electric model. Some car manufacturers are following suit, including Ford and GM .

What’s so great about e-bikes?

 
Riders with differing abilities can ride together more easily on e-bkes. Photo courtesy of Lamoille Valley Bike Tours.

Riders with differing abilities can ride together more easily on e-bkes. Photo courtesy of Lamoille Valley Bike Tours.

 
  • Riders who want to keep up with a group are able to. This is great for riders who are aging out of their speed bracket but not ready to hang up their bike helmet yet.

  • Couples where one partner is much stronger than the other can ride together more easily.

  • Environmentally friendly—e-bikes can replace some car trips.

  • They’re great for commuting. Riders can arrive at work less sweaty than when riding a traditional bike.

  • Replacing car trips is not only better for the environment, it means the user is more active overall.

  • It’s still exercise, so it’s great way for people who have been sedentary to get exercise they might otherwise avoid.

  • They’re perfect for urban travel, and a number of cities have bike share programs or rental programs such as Jump.

  • Older riders may see more than a physical benefit.

 
Taking the kids along is a breeze on an e-bike. Photo courtesy of Lamoille Valley Bike Tours

Taking the kids along is a breeze on an e-bike. Photo courtesy of Lamoille Valley Bike Tours

 
  • Carrying small children is easier and allows the family to travel greater distances, as well as carry supplies or do errands.

What’s the catch?

  • They’re not cheap. Entry-level models start at $1500 for something decent.

  • Some trail systems are closed to e-bikes, so do your homework before taking your e-bike on the trails.

  • They’re heavier than traditional bikes, so expect them to be harder to lift onto car racks, into storage spaces, and up and down stairs.

  • The extra weight also means it will take longer to stop, so apply the brake sooner than you would on a traditional bike. They also start up more quickly, so be sure your way is clear before starting to pedal.

  • Drivers won’t know how fast an e-bike can travel, so be extra vigilant when riding in traffic.

  • E-bikes still cause some controversy, and not everyone is on board with the new technology.

 
Photo couresy of Lamoille Valley Bike Tours.

Photo couresy of Lamoille Valley Bike Tours.

 

That said, it seems like they are a ton of fun:

Peter Sagan vs. Grandma Joan

Where can I get one?

E-bikes are a growing industry, so expect bike shops across the country to start carrying them. Take the time to do some homework, as there are a number of factors to consider when purchasing. Call around to your local bike shops to see what they have to say. Some places near bikekitz headquarters that already have e-bikes for rent or purchase include:

Lamoille Valley Bike Tours Lamoille Valley, Vermont

Claremont Cycle Depot, Claremont, NH

Old Spokes Home Burlington, Vermont

Omer & Bob’s Lebanon, New Hampshire

Drummond Custom Cycles Enfield, New Hampshire


What do you think?

Are you in the Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em camp? Would you consider using an e-bike? For what purpose? Let us know in the comments!