The Electric Bike: Conveniences of a Car with the Advantages of a Bicycle

The word is getting out and people are enjoying electric bikes!

I have been thinking of quick ways to describe what an electric bike is all about to someone that has no idea what an electric bike is.

Sometimes quick catchy sounds bites can really help someone visualize what these e-bikes are all about.

So far I have come up with this; “Electric bikes combine some conveniences of a car with the advantages of a bicycle”.

Now, I am not saying that this captures the whole idea behind electric bikes but I think it can help a person who has no idea what an electric bike is by identify with two vehicles that they know very well, the car and the bicycle.

With that in mind lets take a look at how these two common vehicles combine to make the awesome vehicle that is an electric bike :)

Conveniences of a Car

With an electric bike you have the ability to get around quickly with little to no sweat if you choose.  This can be handy for being able to wear your normal work clothes to work, or run errands around town without being drenched in sweat.

Carrying some cargo with the Easy Motion Neo Jumper and the Burley Travoy Trailer.

Carrying some cargo with the Easy Motion Neo Jumper and the Burley Travoy Trailer.

Electric bikes make it much easier to haul heavier loads like kids (in a trailer or kids seat), groceries, the stuff that you take to work, your beach towel and some refreshments, etc.  In fact the reason I got into the electric bike scene was because I wanted to make carrying cargo on my bike easier so I could drive my truck less.  Oh, and it worked!

Hills, what hills? Hills can definitely have a big effect on whether someone decides to ride their bike somewhere or grab the keys for their car.  An electric bike can really make hills a non issue.  In fact you may change your biking route because riding over a hill is no longer a concern.

Headwinds, what headwinds? This is basically the same as the hills issue.  Some places have more wind than hills and then there are places that have both!

The hot and cold days. Okay, electric bikes don’t have heaters or A/C; bummer huh?  What they do offer is a way to push the easy button (throttle or lots of pedal assist) and limit how much you will be sweating.  So for the hot summer days you can take it as easy as possible and cruz around with little sweat.  When it is super cold outside you can bundle up and take it easy with some electric assist.  Pedaling a little will help you get warmed up, but not too much to sweat like crazy.

Electric assist helps more people enjoy a bicycle ride.  Almost anyone can drive a car right?  E-bikes have helped people with disabilities, poor physical fitness, and/or concerns with keeping up with family/friends in order to enjoy riding a bicycle again.  I really like hearing about the success stories of people who have reconnected with biking thanks to an electric bike.

Advantages of a Bicycle

One of the things I like most about a bicycle is that it can go almost anywhere.  You have the choice of pathways that are not open to cars, bike paths on streets, and small neighborhood side streets that don’t have much traffic.  I have found that sometimes I can get from point A to Point B quicker on my bike than in a car thanks to the bicycle’s versatility.  Quick note: I don’t recommend riding on sidewalks.

Quick Tip:  Google Maps has incorporated bike directions as an option.  The directions are intended to guide you on a safer route that is also efficient (quick and avoids big hills).  Their system may not be perfect right now but it is evolving with user input.

Parking problems, what parking problems? This is another way a bicycle can save you time and money.  It’s as simple as finding a bike parking area, sign post, or tree to lock your bike to.  Forget about the frustration of circling the block for a parking spot and potentially having to pay for it.

Traffic jams, what traffic jams? It is pretty nice to forget about traffic and planning your day around avoiding it.  Most of the time I don’t even see traffic because my riding routes are away from any of the major streets.  The closest thing to a bike traffic jam happens on Bike to Work week and I am happy to see that kind of “traffic jam” :)

Enjoying a nice bike ride in the open air.  There is something so refreshing about a nice bike ride on a warm summer day!  Any time we can enjoy the fresh air while gliding along on our bicycle is a good thing.

Saying “Hi!” to your friends, neighbors, pedestrians, and fellow bikers.  Bikes are a great way to get around quickly but they also provide a nice way to connect with other people we come across on our ride.  Cars have a tendency to isolate us from others and fuel the “road rage”.

Getting some exercise! I have heard the argument that electric bikes are for lazy people.  I disagree.  First of all lets compare an e-bike to the car: If you ride your e-bike instead of driving your car you will get more exercise, period.

For someone who would not normally ride a traditional bicycle because of physical limitations or they don’t want to sweat too much then an e-bike provides more exercise than not riding a bike at all.  Some people may want an easy ride to work (lots of assist) and then a hard ride home (less assist) for some exercise to decompress from the day.  After all you can select your level of assist.

Okay, I will agree that you will probably get less exercise compared to riding a normal bike.  But for some people riding an electric bike could mean they ride more than they ever would on a traditional bicycle.

So What Does this all Mean?

I hope that my ramblings have helped you understand electric bikes and their benefits a little more.  You may already know all of this but maybe you can use these ideas when you talk with someone who has no idea what an electric bike represents.

Just to recap here are some thoughts.  If you use an electric bike more and drive less you will save money, have fun, and get some exercise.  If you currently don’t ride a bicycle much you probably will ride an electric bike more.

What are Your Thoughts?

I am sure I haven’t covered all of the points of electric bikes combining some of the conveniences of a car with the advantages of a bicycle.  What do you have to add to the list?  Also, let me know if these ideas will or have helped you explain e-bikes to someone.

Please leave your comments or questions 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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30 Comments

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  1. Don April 19, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    Great stuff Pete! Keep up the good work!

    Don DiCostanzo
    Pedego Electric Bikes
    17155 Gillette Avenue
    Irvine, CA 92614
    Office (949) 336-8333
    Toll Free (800) 646-8604
    http://www.pedegoelectricbikes.com
    http://ratepoint.com/profile/65969
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abK2GWTsQ6w

  2. Brian Hill April 28, 2011 at 7:14 am #

    In bikebenefits, you could also add: doesn’t spook wildlife, lets you enjoy it instead. I’d headed out for a short ride this morning, cruised close past kangaroos who barely glanced at my eMtb

  3. Brian Hill April 28, 2011 at 7:16 am #

    In bikebenefits, you could also add: doesn’t spook wildlife, lets you enjoy it instead. I’d headed out for a short ride this morning, cruised close past kangaroos who barely glanced at my eMtb, quiet enough to say g’day to other friendly walkers out enjoying the local flora, fauna..

  4. LuvabElizabethullie April 29, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    I think you covered it well!!
    I would add one thing.”Surgery? What knee surgery?” I’m a 56 year old woman who loves to be outdoors. Right after I recooperated from knee surgery I broke my ankle. Spring hit, and so did cabin fever. I had spent far too much time staying off my feet and working from home. My doctor would probably not be happy, but with my ebike I can get up and out again.

  5. Chelseyw December 21, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    I completely agree! I hate when I’m called a cheater when I use my electric assist. It’s not cheating – driving is cheating! 

  6. Jussilyons December 23, 2011 at 3:28 am #

    Hi Pete, I enjoyed your well written article. I will add that electric bike conversion kits afford all the advantages that you mentioned without the need to go out and purchase an electric bike in addition to the bicycle that you already own. The cost of an electric bike conversion kit is also significantly less then purchasing a new bike and you can use your own bike.

    http://www.electric-bike-kit.com/hill-topper.aspx
    http://youtu.be/mSonugqhYuE

  7. Barry@ diamondknot.com March 9, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    I could not say this better. I am 55 years old and have always loved riding a bike. Having my electric bike makes me want to ride whenever possible and this keeps me peddling and this means exercising which I hope keeps me forever 29. Love very few thing more. Barry Cave.

  8. JDuck March 9, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    I’m 64 years old.  I get the lazy argument all the time.  Last year I put over 700 miles on my electric bike(Hilltopper).  I used the electric assist for much less than 10 percent of those miles.  Almost all of those miles would have been in my car if I didn’t have the security of electric assist.  So that’s well over 600 miles that I pedaled when I wouldn’t have taken the regular bike!

  9. NancyR April 20, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    I have always loved biking. After heart problems developed I didn’t have the stamina to ride as much. I got an e-bike and now I am back in the saddle going everywhere! I enjoy reading this site, thanks, Pete!

  10. Ken Sanders - Trek Navigator June 4, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    Did it up well Peter
    Ken Sanders in Saskatchewan Canada e biker since 2006 summer and Winter riding

    Been a Blast

  11. Ken Kalb June 5, 2012 at 7:27 am #

    All good points, but number 1 is FUN!

  12. Senior biker October 20, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    I was at a community event and some 20 something biker told me I didn’t “believe” in real bikes (because I wouldn’t put a sticker on my bike advertising his peddle messenger service). I responded with “you’re right, let me go home and get my car instead” and that shut him up. He, and many others, don’t realize it’s not a choice between bike and e-bike, it’s a choice between e-bike and car. If we can help them to realize that, then they get it. I used to ride a mountain bike til I permanently injured my knee – without the e-bike I’d be driving all the time. With my e-bike I only drive when I have a passenger. I don’t always have the opportunity to explain this to cyclists but when I do, the lightbulb usually goes on. They don’t want more cars on the road and just need some helping understanding the concept.

    • Pete October 20, 2012 at 11:39 am #

      Hi Senior Biker, thanks so much for sharing that! I think that is a common (mis)perception from the conventional bike world. Your response was perfect and I hope that many more people begin to see e-bikes as a car alternative. They are a lot more fun!

      In case you haven’t seen it yet, I think you will like this video about the electric cargo bike revolution. Electric cargo bikes are great car alternatives (replacements?) :)

      Keep up the great work of spreading the word about e-bikes!

  13. Linda Coburn (@LCinLA) April 15, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    I would add that an ebike lets you feel more comfortable riding in traffic. I am less stressed about doing things like getting across a busy street, using the left turn lane, etc. because the power assist ensures that I’ll get through it quickly.

    • Scrove April 15, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

      This has really had an effect on me, it allows me to be comfortable and confident, which leads me to riding more often and farther.

  14. Michael September 30, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    Maybe you can help me. I have had 5 knee surgeries to my right knee, 2 shoulder surgeries and neck surgery where I have had to disc taken out and two articulating disc’s put in. I still have one more bad disc in my neck but it’s not giving me any trouble right now. I have been looking at E-bike for a while now and I would already own one if they didn’t cost so much. Can you recommend a E-bike that will allow me to sit in the upright position that will also allow me to use it on and off road. I was looking at recumbent trikes but the one’s I want are 5 to 6 thousand and I cant afford that.

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