What Are The Pro’s and Con’s of Electric Bikes?
Electric bicycles seem to be popping up everywhere, and with good reason. The self-sufficiency mixed with a little help here and there has allowed riders across the world to rediscover the fun of biking and, possibly, reconsider driving to and from work.
With so many positive benefits revolving around electric bikes it’s hard to see anything wrong with them, however there are a few cons worth discussing. This list weighs the major pros and cons of electric bikes.
Pros of Electric Bikes:
Electric bike pro #1 – The efficiency and experience of electric bikes
It’s hard not to love the feeling of hopping on an e-bike, turning it on and then flying like the wind. Thanks to the pedal assist, you get a lot more from your pedaling than on a standard bike. A common stigma revolving around electric bikes is that it takes the exercise out of biking, but that’s not true. A recent study showed e-bike riding made for a meaningful workout.
The ability to choose how hard you work when riding is a unique characteristic of e-biking; when riding with assistance you receive a consistent workout and difficulty level throughout the span of your ride, ultimately resulting in a more predictable strain level.
Commuters, off road riders and those getting out for a simple cruise are all going to benefit from being able to alter how difficult the ride is and how fast the bike is moving.
Electric Bike Pro #2 – Electric bikes are good for you and the environment
Electric bikes not only benefit your health, but also benefit the world we live in. It’s commonly accepted that electric bikes and cars are better for the environment than their gas powered predecessors, and with good reason.
A 2019 study done in Italy proved electric bikes consume 40 times less energy than a gas powered car going the same distance.
Not only does electric biking benefit the environment, it benefits you. I’ve found my work day is always better if I’ve got some exercise prior to clocking in. I’m more focused and ready for the task at hand. Being able to ride an electric bike to and from work combines exercising with eco-friendly commuting. That’s two birds with one stone!
Electric Bike Pro #3 – Electric bikes are a mood enhancer
If you’re having a bad day, something as simple as a bike ride can bring a much needed fresh perspective. Especially when that bike ride doesn’t have to be hard. Electric bikes are great tools for clearing your head and improving your overall mood; you feel superhuman when riding and there’s plenty of time to be alone with your thoughts.
For a lot of us, biking can be therapeutic. Electric bikes open that same door to those who never would have considered hopping on a standard bike prior. Throughout my time working at bike shops and for Electric Bike Report one of my favorite things is to see somebody’s life changed for the better because of a bike.
I can note a couple of instances when working at the shop where somebody walked in feeling not so good, but after a test ride on one of our electric bikes their demeanor changed completely.
It doesn’t matter if you’re young, or old, fat, or skinny, it’s pretty much proven that if you go for a ride you’re going to feel better after. While all bikes are mood enhancers I really think electric bikes yield the highest fun factor for the average person.
Electric Bike Pro #4 – Riding an electric bike is so easy anyone can do it
Electric bikes can help create some special experiences that make for cherished memories. It is one of the coolest things to have my mother ride at the same speed as I do when I’m giving it my all up a steep climb. She’s able to climb the same hill without paying for it at the top like me. There are unique ride experiences that simply wouldn’t be possible without electric bikes.
Electric bikes allow less capable riders to keep up with their more fit/spry friends and family members. Gone are the days of getting separated on a ride due to the fatigue and fitness of the less experienced rider.
It’s great to see the fun restored in riding for those who thought the days of riding were behind them. I worked at a local shop for a couple of years and I loved hearing stories about how people would ride farther than they could have ever imagined once they purchased an electric bike.
Cons of Electric Bikes:
Electric Bike Con #1 – Etiquette and e-bike “cheating”
In an interview we conducted with Bianchi USA’s CEO, Pat Hus we gained lots of insight on the long time bike manufacturers stance on electric bikes.
Pat shared a story about his friend responding to a rider accusing them of cheating for riding electric bikes. “ I’m not the cheater, you’re the cheater. You’re cheating yourself out of as much fun as I’m having.”
There are many unwritten rules of cycling, including etiquette and courtesy difficult to know as someone new to bicycling. The general rules of thumb is to be courteous to other users, yield to walkers and don’t sneak up on anyone. But, the most important thing to know as an e-biker is to moderate your speed and be aware of the fact that you’re riding a lightly-motorized vehicle.
Electric bikes are more appealing to the casual masses and because of that you’re going to run into some “nubies” — just be nice, follow the rules of the road and remember common courtesy goes a long way.
Electric Bike Con #2 – Potential safety concerns with electric bikes
They say learning to ride an e-bike is just like riding a bike. Well, it is just like riding a bike, only a little quicker.
Electric bikes are typically heavier than standard bicycles and they can take some practice getting used to when it comes to the speed capabilities and initial “kick” e-bike’s give when assisting you. The throttle can also be potentially hazardous if accidentally pressed when getting on or off the bike.
Basically, e-bikes are as safe as you make them and if you familiarize yourself with their features they become about as safe as a standard bike. I would recommend going to an open lot or grass field if you are feeling out an e-bike for the first time, it won’t take long until you’re comfortable.
There are also concerns with lithium ion batteries experiencing thermal runaway, where the battery heats up to the point of catching on fire. While this is very uncommon it does happen from time to time, but usually only if the battery is compromised or damaged in some way. If you buy an electric bike from a reputable dealer/company, and take care of the battery I’m willing to bet you’ll be okay.
Electric Bike Con #3 Electric bikes are usually pretty heavy
With time, electric bikes have gotten lighter and lighter, but they still have a motor and battery which is going to weigh a little bit. While you can spend a pretty penny on e-bikes that are close in weight to traditional bicycles, a majority of the electric bikes people purchase today are upwards of 45 lbs.
This isn’t much of an issue until you try and carry one up the stairs or try and put it on your bike rack. The same parts that made the bike feel like a feather are now making it challenging to lift. For the older demographic of electric bike riders, lifting and moving around their bikes can be a real issue that should be considered.
There are some other inconveniences that come with the weight of electric bikes, such as needing a bike rack that is e-bike rated, and the added weight causing more potential for the bike to tip over. With the way things are headed the average weight of electric bikes should decrease to the point where special equipment isn’t required.
The Advantages & Disadvantages of E-bikes.
At the end of the day I think the pros outweigh the cons of electric bikes.
With time we will see electric bikes become safer, lighter, and more affordable; ultimately making them better for the masses. With that being said a lot of the current “cons” of electric bikes will go away or become less of an issue.
There is so much to love in the world of electric bikes, and it’s no question why electric bike usage and sales have skyrocketed in the past couple of years. The versatility and utility of electric bikes is hard to beat. They’re efficient, good for the environment, good for you and a lot of fun.
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the bike industry, we are already seeing a lot of the major manufacturers put time and money into designing and manufacturing electric bicycles. The popularity of e-bikes has become hard to ignore and the crowd of “haters” seems to get smaller and smaller every year.
I think people are realizing that there isn’t really anything wrong with electric bikes, but there is a lot that’s “right” with them. Time will tell what happens in the industry, but for now I would bank on electric bikes playing a large role within it.
- Electric bikes are efficient.
- Electric bikes are good for the environment.
- Electric bikes get you outside more.
- Electric bikes give you more mileage per same amount of effort.
- You can go places you otherwise avoid on electric bikes.
- Great alternative to a car.
- Those who thought their riding days were behind them like e-bikes.
- Electric bikes are mood enhancers.
- Most electric bikes are a little bit heavy.
- There tends to be some grey area with electric bike restrictions and regulations.
- Stigma around E-MTB and E-Road biking.
- There are some safety concerns with electric bikes as there is a little bit more of a learning curve than on standard bicycles.
Great article. As an experienced multiple brand ebike owner there is one major Con I wanted to add: Support and Service. It’s difficult and very expensive to find a bike shop that can and will fix many ebikes unless you bought it from them. My buddy here in Los Angeles is having a very difficult time getting his German Spitzing M1 bike fixed and I am selling mine while it works well. I spent $450 to have the gears inside the motor replaced on a nice Surface604 Oryx Carbon Fiber by a local ebike shop, that just happened to have one set of those from another bike with defective motor but good gears. If they didn’t have the part, I would not have found it easily. Bafang BBSHD and BBS02 mid drive custom made bikes are the lowest cost and best solution in my experience. You get the best of all, speed, throttle, customized pedal assist 5-9 levels, low cost batteries and motor/controller are easy to swap, tons of free online support groups on Facebook. It’s like open source.
Norm Diebold says
another Con is that replacements for for warranty related claims for batteries are nearly nonexistent. Ebike manufacturers are extremely reluctant to provide batteries when they can use them on ebikes they sell.
DAVID A WRIGHT says
One rather prolific bike thief commented, “There isn’t a bike lock that I haven’t figured out how to defeat in under three or four minutes”. The common automotive hydraulic jack can easily break open the best “Kryptonite” locks in just a few minutes. If thieves risk being caught for sub-thousand dollar conventional bikes, the really expensive electrics are even more attractive targets. I lost a bike to a thief who broke into my apartment, ignored my flat-screen, stereo equipment, guitars hanging on the walls, and only took my bicycle. Bike thieves these days are specialists. They know that disassembling and selling the individual parts is more lucrative and harder to prosecute should they be apprehended. Still, cops rarely even try to catch bike thieves as the crime is so far down on their list of priorities. A friend of mine saw his stolen bike for sale on the local “craigslist”. He positively identified it because of his own personal modifications, a custom leather bag, a unique seat, and stick-on graphics. Even with that, he could not get the cops to accompany him to the seller’s house to view the bike and claim it as his own. He went with a friend following him, asked if he could take the bike for a short spin to try it out, then met his friend a half-mile or so away. He essentially “stole” his own bike back from the thief.
I have owned a few quality electric bikes within the last 10 yrs. I am 70, female. Been unhappy with the throttles (and the brakes). As we age, some of us have arthritis in our hands and even wringing out a washcloth can bring a bit of pain. Constantly using my thumb or other fingers for the throttle and pulling the brake levers is not fun. I am not happy, because the longer I go without riding a bike, the less comfortable I am about my skills. I don’t want to give up that thrill of throwing my leg over the ‘saddle’ and taking off with the wind in my face!
Dave Decter says
I have 3 different ebike brands. All have needed warranty service. This service was performed by a local bike shop with no problems. Parts were sent by the manufacturer and my costs reimburse. Just follow manufacturers procedure for submitting claim.
PAUL DeGarie says
I Folks I’ve been riding BIONX SINCE 2010 Several Bikes Same G2 System Since 2012 Over 50,000 miles of Experience.
Presently I Have 2 E-Bikes in My Corral Both have Over 12,000 miles. PL350 Free Wheel Motor Hub is the most robust.
My Other Motor from 2012 with over 18,000 miles finely worn out bearings. Still Powers Up I Just have to replace the bearings):
Lastly BIONXS Systems is one of The Few E-Bike Motor System that Has Regenerative Charging Whilst Pedalling.. At Minus Assist Level at least 10 MPH
*Also The Regen can be used like a Jake Brake when going down hill to slow the bike down and recharge the battery .
As Well as Braking *if Your Rear wheel and brake adjustments are centered. You probably won’t have to replace Your REAR Brake Pads Caliper or Disk.
Blaise G. says
Nice article. I bought an electric cargo bike back in 2019. I love it, but yes, it is overbuilt and weighs in at a hefty 74 lbs (33.56 kg), but, I also bought the racks which brought the weight up to 85 lbs (38.55 kg) THEN, I added a heavy-duty cardboard box on the back rack to carry my tire pump, and heavy-duty motorcycle alarm lock (130 dB!) plus, I always carry a liter bottle of water with me wherever I go. So yeah, my bike weighs a lot. I am in my late 50s and have a bad back and knees and, I have to lug my bike up and down two flights of stairs! Not a happy back, that’s for sure. But, I still love my electric bike. I can ride it all the way to Santa Monica from my home in Torrance, California which is a 23-mile jaunt on an 11 Ah battery. Yes, I have to go to my favorite coffee shop where I have to sit for about three hours to recharge the battery, but hey, I like coffee … a LOT! Hahaha!
All that being said, I wouldn’t trade my electric bike for anything … well, except for, maybe one of those jet pack pads you stand on and can fly OVER everyone. You know what I’m talking about, right? You’ve seen that guy on YouTube flying through the desert 60 or 70 feet above the ground zipping along at 50 or 60 miles per hour? Right? Other than that, I think I’ll keep my electric cargo bike.
Adrian Webb says
I own a Giant 2019 Fastroad e bike that I just enjoy immensely. I can go assisted for about 120 km max on a full charge on the 400 wt battery with both hilly & undulating ground when using the 1st & 2nd level of assistance. I always come home with a smile on my face & a feeling of being better for the experience. Battery life is a issue that I think about ,so I try to look after the battery by charging it to around 65-70 % of its capacity and keep it in a comfortable room temperature of around 22 degrees when not riding the bike. This is not something that I would stress about but like all things you can get benefits by being thoughtful about how you treat anything in life. The bike just allows me to ride further than I would normally ride without assistance & to explore areas much further from home. You can always turn off the assistance if you want to work harder. An off road model e bike would probably open up even more opportunities for adventure with getting out on the dirt trails. Just a really nice experience to enjoy by yourself or with friends.
I concur with the first comment. I have been riding homemade ebikes for 20 years. The number of people who design, repair and support them has diminished each year. I have two really nice bikes but I cannot find anyone who will help me. I advise against getting one for this reason. I have been thinking about Bafang though and may try to see whether I can find someone on Facebook or YouTube. Support for Bionx etc. is a no go. I have a LiPing LifePo battery that is pretty good but need help with cables. I started when I was middle aged and there were plenty of people from the Human Powered Vehicle community who were passionate about these things. Now the old guys are gone it is just sell the bike and go away.
I needed and still need assistance on hills in my New England setting. Haven’t been able to ride much this year because the local bike shops couldn’t get tires for my Nomad recumbent trike built by the late Bill Darby. Now I think I can get tires I need help with the electric stuff and can’t find anyone. Such a bummer
Harriett Hollander says
I have found that by turn my indicator to zero when I am ready to get off my bike I don’t worry about my throttle accidentally going on. I also do that when I am ready to ride. I hope I am not doing so I wrong. I am an older rider, over eighty.
Harriett Hollander says
I have found that by turning my indicator to zero when I am ready to get off my bike I don’t worry about my throttle accidentally going on. I also do that when I am ready to ride. I hope I am not doing so I wrong. I am an older rider, over eighty.
If there were a reliable way to secure my e-bike, I would enjoy taking it so many more places. My bike cost way too much to leave unattended for any length of time with available lock mechanisms.
Olivia Smart says
Thank you for explaining that electric bikes are easy to ride. My husband and I have been thinking about going on a bike tour when we’re in Hawaii this summer. We’ll be sure to look for something that offers electric bikes.
Victoria Addington says
It was captivating when you wrote that electric bikes can be a way to make some special experiences that can be one of the unforgettable memories. This got me thinking to try an electric bike. It’s best if there is a supplier near my place that offers quality electric bikes.