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Electric bikes (e-bikes) have higher upfront costs than non-electric bikes due to the additional components such as the motor and battery. The average price of e-bikes in the UK ranges from £1,477 to £2,921, with some low-cost options available. Ongoing costs include charging, battery replacement (after 3-6 years), and potential insurance expenses.
Electric bikes have become a relevant consideration for active travel and commuting. They’re no longer considered to be the kooky relative of non-electric bikes, or a remedy only for the out-of-shape or lethargic. E-bikes are a serious consideration as a transportation option in the 21st century.
The market for e-bikes covers all of the potential uses a rider may have. You can speed along on a race bike, or tackle trails with a mountain bike, and even transport your shopping, any passengers or the tools of your trade with a cargo bike.
The French government recently announced a subsidy of up to €4,000 for those willing to trade-in their motor vehicle to help buy an e-bike. They can be acquired via a cycle-to-work scheme. Essential equipment such as a lock, lights and mudguards (if not already fitted) as well as a rain jacket and rucksack/panniers can be acquired as part of the same package.
Cost of Buying an Electric Bike
Electric bikes cost more than non-electric versions. The extra up-front costs come via the components built onto an e-bike. These are a display on the handlebars, an electric motor and a battery (with housing unit). The frame, forks and other standard components are largely the same as all other bikes. This means they can easily be replaced when needed.
E-bikes can be bought from anywhere that sells bicycles. In addition, specialist e-bike only retailers now exist, usually in cycling-friendly conurbations. All the major cycling brands offer e-bikes and there are also some niche brands offering different designs and their models are often a lifestyle choice.
An electric bike might be the start of a long-term commitment to change, be that for environmental, ethical or economic reasons. Most e-bikes are also known as ‘pedelecs’.
Pedelecs are treated by the authorities in the same way as traditional bikes. There are no riding tests, or upfront costs of registration or compulsory insurance (in the UK), provided they meet the legal criteria. It’s important to check the classification in your own country, in case you end up buying a ‘light motorbike’.
A good example of a pedelec is the Raleigh Array. A classic commuting bike coming from a highly trusted brand, this offers electric pedalling assistance up to 15.5mph before cutting out, with four power settings you can control. The maximum range of the battery is 60 miles.
Mudguards, fenders, a carrying rack, and lights are standard too. A lot more e-bikes come with standard accessories than non-electric models. The stated weight of the bike is 23kg.
You shouldn’t need to buy any special clothing or shoes to use an e-bike. No bike rider needs to wear lycra or any other hi-tech sports equipment for commuting or general use. The more we see of people cycling in day-to-day clothes, the better.
Average Cost of an Electric Bike (UK)
Electric bikes are available from most retailers. The mean average price in the UK of 196 bikes across three sources we have chosen – a well-known bike department store (Decathlon) , an all-round national bike shop (Evans Cycles) and a specialist e-bike shop (Pure Electric) – is £2,277.
The Decathlon average was £1,477 and had 69 electric models for sale. They mainly offer folding bikes, hybrids, urban commuters and some mountain bikes. Most of the models on sale are from their own brands – Riverside and B-Twin are the best known.
The Riverside Electric Hybrid Original 920E comes in under £1,000. You get an aluminium frame, a 50 mile range with four power settings. It comes with full suspension and the same accessories as the Raleigh Array. The stated weight of the bike is 26kg.
The Evans’ average was £2,921 and had 100 models for sale. These included most of the major, well-known bicycle brands such as Trek, Cannondale and Specialized. This retailer caters for everyone – urban commuters right up to competing e-mountain bikers paying over £10,000 for a racing machine. More expensive machines are more attractive to thieves and you are more likely to have an e-bike stolen than a non-electric version.
As you move up in price, the build-quality, components and weight all tip in your favour. The battery range gets a little longer but motor performance largely stays the same.
Although you won’t get more speed, you’ll enjoy a reliable and smoother ride – plus if it’s lighter you’ll ride further on a single charge. Of course, you should be using the bike with no assistance too – so the comfort levels are really important. Some of the lightest e-bikes are reviewed here.
The Trek Allant + 5 Low Step is available at just over £3,000. Aimed at commuters who still want to ride at the weekend, you get a lighter frame, a Bosch drive system (traditional brands use this), and all the standard accessories are included. The maximum range is 120 miles. The stated weight of the bike is 19.2kg.
Perhaps the most noticeable difference comes with the quality of the frame, forks and design of the bike. Major manufacturers are able to blend their expertise and history in riding comfort with e-bike technology. This Trek is intended to be ridden regularly on different terrains.
Pure Electric is a specialist e-bike retailer with both branches and an online presence across Europe. They cater for the full range of electric models and their branches have workshops for servicing and repairs.
Their average price was £1,936 across 27 models available and they have a mix of non e-bike brands and niche e-bike makers. Niche brands include their own brand Pure, and they also stock models from Eovolt and Bergamont. They have a range of commuter style e-bikes and include folding models from Brompton. You can pick up an e-cargo bike if your needs include more extensive transportation.
The Eovolt City Four is an electric folding bike available at just under £1,500. Multi-mode transportation is destined to increase and getting a boost from a folding bike will make your commute more comfortable and should not therefore leave you arriving at work or study in need of a shower or a rub-down.
It comes with all the accessories you need and has a claimed weight of 14kg. The drive system comes from Specialized with the standard power speed limits. The maximum range is an impressive 81 miles. We examine what determines the differing range of e-bike batteries here.
Low Cost E-Bikes
There are models available at (relatively) low-cost through trusted sites like Decathlon. You’ll still get the standard motor, battery and charger, along with accessories and essentials. The Engwe C20 is under £1,000, while the Vitesse Advance Unisex is less than £800 and is aimed squarely at small-distance commuters, while the Engwe C20 also represents excellent value for money.
You’ll get the standard legal pedalling assistance of up to 15.5mph. It has a range of 20 miles between charges. It comes with seven gears and V-brakes which are not everyone’s preferred stopping option. Many e-bikes have disc brakes which are more reliable in all conditions. The stated weight is 23kg.
The temptation for beginners may be second-hand sites such as eBay or Craigslist, or new models at a very low price. That’s fair because the average prices of e-bikes are a lot more than non-electric models.
Let’s choose £500 as a ceiling. For non-electric models, that’s still a whole lot of bike. For e-bikes, it’s important to know that about half of that price will be in the cost of the battery, motor and controller. So, you’re left with £250 to rely on all of the other parts of the machine to work reliably for a number of years.
It would be a false economy if you cannot use an e-bike as intended due to the failure of the electric components and need to replace them, or worse, give up. Finally, especially if you buy second hand, remember that batteries have a shelf-life and need replacing, normally after three years for the lower level versions. Check how old the bike is, or see evidence of purchase of a new battery if you are unsure.
Additional Expenses of an E-Bike
There are some ongoing costs which you’ll need to look at in detail, beyond what you would spend on a non-electric model. The warranty and after sales service will be higher because of the extra work needed. You might need to replace components more frequently if you maintain higher speeds because they will wear out sooner, for example after hard braking. You might also want to buy a travel battery charger to keep at your (hopefully generous) place of work or study.
Electric Bike Charging Cost
E-bikes are cheaper to run than cars. The up-front investment (plus your ongoing commitment to use) is worth the money. You shouldn’t need to use them on full power all the time. Charging is much simpler than a car, using traditional sockets like you do with a phone.
There is not one answer to the question of cost per charge. There are different systems, different chargers and different charging conditions. And obviously, different riders will need to charge their batteries more or less frequently.
Now, back to the physics classroom. You can skip this bit if you want!
We’ll assume a battery range of 30 miles per charge and 50 miles of travel per week. That works out at 1.66 charges per week needed. We’ll use the Bosch system for our calculations.
When fully charged, their PowerPack 300 frame mounted model has an energy content of 300 Wh (Watt Hours). Electricity use (excluding standing charges) is measured in kWh (Kilowatt Hours). 300 Wh = 0.3 kWh.
One kWh is, on average, 52p / 60¢. A full charge on the PowerPack 300 will cost 15.6p .
Charging an electric bike using the preset figures above should cost less than £1 per week.
Electric Bike Battery Replacement Cost
You’ll know when your battery needs replacing as it does not provide you with as much range per charge. The better batteries will keep you up to date with the current capacity and number of charge cycles used. Most riders will not use the highest power setting on each ride, if at all. Therefore, it is expected that each battery will give hundreds of charges and rides, with a lifespan of 3-6 years depending on use.
You should replace your battery on a like-for-like basis, from the same manufacturer. Speak to the retailer if the original manufacturer is no longer in business. The bikes we have looked at have replacement batteries for sale from £300 up to £659. The higher the cost, the better is the reliability, quality, battery capacity and stated distance per charge.
Electric Bike Insurance Cost
E-bike insurance can be included as part of your home and contents insurance policy, or bought ‘off the shelf’ as a standalone product.
Most insurance premiums for bikes are calculated with a range of risk factors like your postcode and claims history, factored into the cost of a replacement model in mind. Tell your insurer the cost to replace the bike today on a like for like basis. An e-bike should cost more to insure than a non-electric version.
(All prices quoted accurate at 7th September 2022).
READ MORE: Average Electric Bike Price in USA