Pros and cons of e-bikes and electric scooters

November 3, 2015

After years of promise, e-bikes have finally hit their stride. New electric bikes sold today are affordable, sturdy and have none of the mechanical issues earlier models suffered from. This is why there has been a big boom in e-bike usage across Canada. In this article, we will look at the pros and cons of using e-bikes and see whether they are the right alternative for you.

Pros and cons of e-bikes and electric scooters

Advantages of e-bikes

The following are some of the most distinct advantages of an e-bike. Read on to find out more.

1. Save time and energy

The electric motor in an e-bike makes pedalling significantly less labour intensive, especially when going uphill. The motor also makes it possible to cycle at higher speeds than a conventional bicycle. This means you will save both time and energy on your commutes.

2. Low cost of ownership

Although more expensive than conventional bicycles, e-bikes are still remarkably affordable, especially when compared to a car or motorcycle. Besides a low upfront cost as compared to a vehicle, the operational costs are exceptionally low as well. You can save hundreds of dollars on fuel costs alone by ditching the car in favour of an e-bike. Throw in low maintenance costs and you are looking at savings of thousands of dollars every year.

3. Low carbon footprint

According to a study commissioned by the European Cyclists Federation, an average car releases 229 g of greenhouse gases per passenger, per kilometer. For an e-bike, this number is as low as 16 g. Effectively speaking, using an e-bike will cut down your carbon footprint by over 1,300 percent.

4. Burn calories and get fit

The average Canadian spends nearly 26 minutes commuting one way to work every day. In big cities like Toronto, this number is as high as 33 minutes. If you were to use an e-bike instead of a car for your daily commute, you would burn between 200 and 600 additional calories every day.

Assuming the high-end (600 calories), you would burn 3,000 calories every work week, or roughly 1kg of fat every month. Commute by e-bike for 12 months a year, and you are looking at upwards of 10 kg of weight loss.

Disadvantages of e-bikes

Great as e-bikes might be, they also have a few distinct disadvantages.

1. Higher upfront costs

You can buy a brand new bicycle for just over $100, but a new e-bike will set you back by at least $500 or more. This higher cost of ownership deters a lot of would be cyclists (even though it is much, much cheaper than a car or even a motorcycle).

2. Safety concerns

Two-wheeled vehicles are, as a rule, less safe than a car. The lack of adequate safety infrastructure for bicycles in many Canadian cities makes e-bikes doubly dangerous, especially given the high speeds you can achieve with them. Fortunately, governments in most cities are coming around to adopting strict bike lanes and bike crossings to accommodate cyclists and make e-bike travel safer.

3. Requires more effort when battery runs out

A modern e-bike battery can last for 35 km or more. However, when the battery does run out, it will be much more difficult to pedal the cycle since the battery and motor add a lot of weight to the bike's frame. This can be a challenge if you plan to bike long distances and don't have ready access to an electrical recharge point.

4. Higher chances of theft

Because of their high costs, demand and portability, e-bikes make an attractive target for thieves. E-bike owners have to practice a lot of caution when storing their cycles in public. Make sure to use quality locks and anti-theft devices to deter criminals when parking publicly.

Despite these disadvantages, e-bikes are a healthy, affordable and environmentally friendly alternative to cars and public transport. They are fun to ride, easy to store, cheap to charge and will do wonders for your health, and your wallet.

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