Problem: Normal Transport Not Working! Electric Bike?!

Mmmmm, Traffic!

This is the first part of a guest post from Paul, an EBR Community Member, who lives in the UK and has struggled with a tough commute using traditional transport options.

Part 1 – The Problem

The price of fuel in the UK is getting ridiclous; as it stands it costs the equivalent of $8 for a gallon of what we call petrol, or gas in the US. Added to that I was finding that my commute was getting longer and longer.  Congestion in our rapidly expanding town meant that it was taking me over an hour to travel 12 miles into work.  I sat down and did some calculations.

My daily journey involved dropping the kids off in the car, driving to an out of town “park and ride” facility, catching a bus from there into the centre of town and finally walking from the bus stop to work.

Total distance = 12 miles.

Average time = 75 minutes.

Average speed = 9.5 mph.

The cost of the fuel and bus = $6.30,  4 days a week, twice a day.

My commute was clearly costing me dearly in both time and money.  Over a year I was spending over $2000 on fuel and bus fares.  I was sitting in traffic queues, or standing in bus queues.

But I also noticed, that as a single parent, I was getting no time to exercise, with all my spare time taken looking after my children.  Exercise was doubly important for me.  Firstly the action had to be taken against the risk of middle aged spread; secondly I needed to exercise my knee after a cartilage operation earlier in the year.

Time for a Solution!

An Electric Bike Maybe? :)

What could I do to reduce my commuting costs and commute time, which would at the same time get me fitter without stressing my left knee too much ?

I decided to investigate electric bikes.  Could such a bike solve my problems ?  Where I live is very hilly (as it turns out the elevation change from home to work is just under 1000 feet).  A bike would have to help me out on the hills, as I could not afford to overstress my knee.  It would need to be easily chargeable, with a range long enough to get me at least into work, where I could charge it for the return journey.  I decided to have a serious look into it – and that is a story for next time !

To be continued…………..

So what do you think?  Do you have any questions for Paul?  Please leave them in the comments section below.

Thanks!

-Pete

P.S. Don’t forget to join the Electric Bike Report community for updates from the electric bike world, plus ebike riding and maintenance tips!


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7 Comments

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  1. JBob March 11, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    No arguments here. Just got a Bionx 350 unit for my wife for her commute to work (which is about 13 miles each way). We did the research, looked at other systems, but this worked well in the sense that it was a pedalac system versus a throttle. Assistance levels could be adjusted according to terrain. Its the high torque version, so she can take the hills with ease now, and the range (she likes to keep it around assistance level 2.. outta 4) can get her to and from work on a single charge. The added benefit is she does the charging at work, so they in essence are paying for her charging her bike. Its priced on the higher end compared to most other setups, but at todays US gas rates, she’ll have paid it back within 9 months of commuting. After that, its money in her pocket plus all the health benefits ;)

    • Pete at Electric Bike Report March 12, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

      Hi JBob, Great points! It is important to understand that there is a high
      upfront cost with electric bikes, but the lifecycle costs of operating and
      maintaining the bike are sooooo low compared to driving a car. Plus you get
      outside, get some exercise, and forget about traffic jams and parking
      issues.

      One thing I always encourage people to do is buy a high quality bike that
      may cost more now but will reduce the frustrations and costs of dealing with
      a low quality bike later.

      • JBob March 14, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

        Thanks Pete ;)

        Actually, the idea of a ‘low quality bike’ is pretty much a misnomer (at least with regards to converting them to electric assist bikes) in my opinion.

        If you get a bike say at Walmart or Target, all you’re really doing is paying for a steel framed bike versus aluminum, carbon or titanium. Its cheaper because of the lower production costs and added weight of steel bikes and lower cost components. But these actually lend themselves well toward ebike conversions. With the weight no longer being an issue, plus the added strength of steel at the dropouts, these bikes can handle a lot more torsional loads then say aluminum or carbon based bikes.

        I’d say from a build standpoint, these are really where some cost savings can come into play since the kits are usually where most of the money will go to. If one wants to focus on ‘quality’ then this is where the focus of the money should be spent, either with regards to the motor or the battery.

        Just my 2 cents. :)

  2. Pkaragas March 23, 2011 at 1:11 am #

    Pete- Thanks for a great website! I got my first e-bike 4 years ago when gas was going way up the first time, much like today! I was quite heavy at the time so riding a regular bike was sometimes just torture when I went carfree then. The e-bike has helped me lose some weight and allowed me to ride year round even during the long hot Texas summers. As my legs got stronger I was able to ride the regular bike more often and tackle the hills riding around Austin. I wiped out while riding and shattered an ankle last spring, several surgeries and months later while recovering, the e-bike saved me again! I upgraded to another model of the Currie hybrid e-bike and after owning 2, I think they are great for the money and durable. Once again I’m riding and the e-bike has made it possible for me to strengthen my legs and become a nearly full time bicycle rider/commuter!

    • Pete at Electric Bike Report March 23, 2011 at 3:49 am #

      Pkaragas, thanks for sharing your e-bike experiences with us. It is so
      great to hear how an electric bike has helped you a couple of times! Austin
      is a great city, I have visited a couple of times. Ride on!

  3. Michael K. July 3, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    Sounds like a no brainer to get an ebike, either a ready made one or a ebike kit to put on a well made standard bike. The geared kits I sell in the store get you up hills far easier than peddling alone.

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