26 Common Questions About Electric Bikes Answered

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Electric bikes are the latest craze in cycling, giving you the same fitness benefits as regular bikes yet demanding less physical effort on your part.

If you’re new to concept of them, or just want to know the answers to some electric bike FAQs before considering whether to buy one, here are 26 key points covered for you:

How Do Electric Bikes Work?

Electric bikes are, essentially, a normal push bike with a motor.

It relies on three key components: the motor, which gives you a boost as you ride (many e-bikes use pedal assist, where the motor is only active while you’re pedalling), the battery, which obviously powers the motor, and the sensor, which engages the motor once you’ve started cycling.

Given it runs off battery power, it obviously needs to be charged, of course, but the idea is that it allows you to still reap the fitness benefits of cycling without having to expend as much of your energy as you would when riding a standard bicycle.

In many countries, yes. In the UK, you are permitted to ride an electric bike provided you are least 14 years of age, although no driving licence is required. There are certain restrictions, though; the motor must have a maximum power output of 250 watts and should not be able to propel the bike when it’s travelling more than 15.5 mph.

Across Europe, they’re legal, too, primarily under a European Union directive which approves their use. Though, certain countries have their own specific requirements; for instance, in Belgium, people of all ages can ride without a helmet, Denmark allow those aged 15 or older to ride their ‘super electric bikes’ (reaching speeds of up to 45km/h), and in Turkey, an electric bike’s engine automatically cuts off at 25 km/h to enable safe driving.

Elsewhere, in Australia, each state currently permits their use without the need for licensing or registration, while in America, it varies more from state to state, with different maximum speed and minimum age restrictions, as well as differing on whether a helmet or driver’s licence is needed (see full list here).

Are Electric Bikes Waterproof?

No, but they are water-resistant. Don’t get confused between these two; waterproof means water is literally incapable of passing through an object, whereas water-resistant means it’s harder for water to pass through an object but not impossible.

Can Electric Bikes Be Used In The Rain?

In a nutshell, then, your electric bike if you’re riding it in wet weather. Unless you’re caught up in the most torrential storm while cycling, it’s highly unlikely that rain will cause it any damage.

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Can Electric Bikes Be Left In The Rain?

Just because e-bikes are water-resistant doesn’t mean you should leave them out in the rain, or they will inevitably rust. It isn’t any more dangerous to do this with electric bikes than it would be with regular bikes, but you’ll still be taking a risk, nonetheless.

If you’re worried about this, you can always keep your e-bike inside when not using it, buy a waterproof cover for it and constantly wipe it down after use.

Are Electric Bikes Heavy?

They can be, and are certainly heavier than a ‘normal’ bike. A non-electric bike normally weighs somewhere between 30 and 35 pounds, whereas an electric version of a similar model may be about 45 to 50 pounds.

The addition of a motor system adds a hefty chunk on to the e-bike’s weight, as does the typically bigger frame of the electric bike. But unless you have to lift it up then you might not even notice.

Are Electric Bikes Easy To Ride?

Yes; in fact they’re probably easier to ride than normal bikes despite their heavier weight.

The purpose of its electric motor and battery is to reduce the amount of effort you, the cyclist, need to put in, and so making your cycling less strenuous as a result.

Are Electric Bikes Faster?

Yes; again, the motor will assist you in this so that you can reach your destination in a quicker time. Though, most electric bikes’ motors will only help you up to a certain speed – as mentioned in ‘Are Electric Bikes Legal?’, no faster than 15.5 mph in the UK – so if you want to go even faster than that, you’ll have to rely on pedal power.

How Fast Can Electric Bikes Go?

As fast as you are capable of peddling, essentially. As mentioned in the previous answer, in the UK, motors will only assist you up to a maximum speed of 15.5 mph, and you would struggle to find an electric bike elsewhere that will you any higher than 20 mph at a push. But from then on, it depends entirely on how quickly you can or want to go.

Are E-Bikes Noisy?

Generally, not really. Certainly, you’ll rarely hear the sound of an e-bike over the noise of the road and traffic, although some motors can tend to make a sort of ‘whining’ noise at times. Not to the point where it becomes utterly intolerable, though.

Are Electric Bikes Lazy?

Definitely not. Just because electric bikes have motors doesn’t mean they require no effort on your part; just less of it. E-bikes can also work as normal bicycles without any pedal assistance if you wish, too.

Are E-Bikes Good For Fitness?

Yes because, as mentioned in the previous answer, you still need to pedal, and so are a genuine form of exercise.

How Far Can Electric Bikes Go?

Potentially further than you could feasibly manage on a regular bike. This is because, while not as much effort is needed to ride an e-bike, many tend to cycle greater distances on them given they have preserved more energy, and so make more use of them.

Of course, though, you are limited by the battery life of your electric bike. These are designed to be fully charged overnight so that they can be used every day, and can also be remotely charged virtually anywhere where there is a plug socket or computer.

Are Electric Bikes Eco-Friendly?

Contrary to belief, they are eco-friendly. They don’t release any unhealthy gases and their batteries can be recycled, so in some ways, they actually benefit the environment. Certainly, using an electric bike instead of driving is a greener option, anyway, considering the carbon emissions a car releases.

Can Electric Bikes Go Up Steep Hills?

Yes, and as alluded to in ‘Are Electric Bikes Heavy?’, this is, in fact, easier and less tiring to do on an electric bike than on a regular bicycle. When cycling up steeper terrains such as hills, the assistance provided by an electric bike makes this far more comfortable to navigate than it would be with a regular bicycle.

Can Electric Bikes Be Used On The Road?

Yes. E-bikes are considered an ‘electrically assisted pedal cycle’ (EAPC), which have certain regulations, including they must have pedals that can propel it, they must show the power output or the motor’s manufacturer, and they must also show the batteries voltage or the bike’s top speed.

Electric bicycles which meet these EAPC standards are perfectly free to be used on the roads.

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Can Electric Bikes Be Used On Bike Paths?

Yes, for the same reasons as mentioned in the previous answer. If your electric bike meets the EAPC regulations, you are just entitled to ride it on designated cycle paths.

Can You Take Electric Bikes On Planes?

It’s unlikely, though you may want to double-check with your airline before you fly. As a general rule, large lithium batteries like e-bike ones can’t be flown on planes as any form of luggage, whether it be for the cabin or hold.

Batteries larger than 300WH (e.g. those that power an e-bike) are generally considered ‘dangerous goods’ and can’t be transported by air.

However, an e-bike is a great addition to a caravaning or camping holiday, as you don’t need haul around your entire living space when you’re exploring. 

Which Electric Bikes Have Bosch Motors?

Plenty of electric bikes of all types use a variety of Bosch motors. Different motors serve different purposes; the Active Line model, for instance, boosts your speed even further and reduces noise, whereas other motors like Performance Line are built specifically for off-road cycling, better suited to those who deem cycling more as a sport than a pastime.

To see the full list of Bosch motors, click here.

How Much Do Electric Bikes Cost In The UK?

Generally, most electric bikes in the UK will cost somewhere between £1,000 and £2,500. That said, there are plenty of (relative) bargains to be found, as you’ll see in the next answer:

Which Electric Bike To Buy?

If you’re happy to settle for the cheapest, we recommended three hybrid electric bikes (i.e. electric bikes that work just as efficiently on-road as they do off-road with suspension) available online for less than £1,000. Click here to see them.

Which E-Bike Is The Best?

In terms of types of electric bike, the aforementioned hybrid version is arguably the best of the bunch. These are especially great for commuters, given they are heavier than even the average e-bike, and are better suited to day-to-day use rather than trying to break speed records.

If you priority is to enjoy the best of both worlds (i.e. as pleasurable to ride on smoother surfaces as on rougher terrain), then the hybrid electric bike should be your first port of call.

Matthew Chandler

Matthew Chandler

Matthew is a freelance sports journalist from Warrington, England. A keen cyclist, he is a regular contributor to Discerning Cyclist, as well as FourFourTwo, Click Liverpool and Royal Blue Mersey. See Matthew's Muck Rack profile

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