Electric bikes for everyone – breaking down the myths. Bike electric bike

Electric bikes for everyonebreaking down the myths

Electric bikes have spent the better part of the last decade making a significant impact in the world of personal transportation (or three decades depending on who you ask). However, despite their booming popularity, there still exists a number of myths around these innovative forms of alternative transportation. One of the most common misconceptions is that electric bikes are for older riders or those with mobility issues.

I keep thinking this will be the year we roll past this myth, and yet it continues to rear its head in e-bike discourse across the US. And it couldn’t be further from the truth! Let’s debunk this myth and shine a light on the universal appeal and benefits of e-bikes for people of all ages.

Myth: E-bikes are only for the elderly

It’s easy to see how this myth has developed. The added assistance that an e-bike provides can be incredibly beneficial for older folks or those with mobility issues. And in the early years, it was true that older riders made up a lion’s share of e-bike sales.

Companies like Pedego have spent over a decade developing a retail-based approach to teaching customers – originally largely older folks – about e-bikes in their brick-and-mortar shops. It was a move that inspired confidence by testing a range of models and got many people back out riding who had given it up years ago. And ten years ago, silver-haired Pedego riders on electric beach cruiser bikes smiling in e-bike ads were one of the first places that many people learned what an e-bike was. Perhaps that is part of where the misconception came from (and to be fair, Pedego’s models have greatly expanded into several cool, fun new models that target younger riders).

However, to say e-bikes are only for this demographic is a significant oversight.

For the young and adventurous

E-bikes offer an exciting blend of traditional cycling with serious infusion of technological advancement. For younger riders this means longer rides, climbing steeper hills with less fatigue, the ability to pair your phone or GPS with your e-bike, and lots of customization opportunities. Companies like SUPER73 have even built an entire culture around modifying and customizing e-bikes, with riders using their e-bikes as an extension of their personalities to show off their unique aesthetics and designs.

For those that didn’t grow up on a bike, e-bikes also serve as a fantastic introduction to the world of cycling, providing a confidence-boosting assist for beginners.

Younger generations are also increasingly eco-conscious, which makes sense as we see ever more clearly the destruction that is being done to our world. E-bikes offer a sustainable alternative to cars by reducing carbon emissions and contributing to a healthier planet.

And when you consider the tighter wallets that younger generations have compared to their parents’ generations, e-bikes also make sense as an alternative to the rising costs of car ownership. on that in a moment!

For the fitness enthusiasts

Many people believe that riding an e-bike doesn’t provide a workout. This, too, is a myth. Not only has this myth been broken by anyone who “feels the burn” on an e-bike in low power mode, but countless studies have disproven the myth by demonstrating the exercise benefits of e-bikes.

Yes, e-bikes do offer assistance, but unless relying entirely on a throttle, the rider is still active and engaged. If you want more of a workout, you can adjust the level of assist to match your fitness goals or just based on how much effort you want to put into a ride on any given day. Higher assistance can help on thigh-cramping climbs or longer rides, while lower assistance can give you more of a workout.

In fact, I never considered myself a cyclist but over time I found the joy of cycling without any electric assist only after getting an e-bike and improving my own cycling.

For urban dwellers

E-bikes can be a game-changer for city dwellers of all ages. They’re faster than walking, more flexible than public transportation, and less stressful than driving in traffic. Plus, with compact, folding models readily available, storage in smaller apartments is less of an issue.

At risk of repeating myself, e-bikes make excellent car replacements for so many reasons. The costs savings are often touted as one of the main reasons for replacing a car with an e-bike, but don’t discount the shorter trips times due to skipping past traffic or the added fun of turning a commute slog into a joy ride!

In fact, I live my life largely car-free thanks to e-bikes (though I also rely on electric scooters and electric motorcycles, to be fair).

E-bikes and the elderly: A match made in heaven

While I think it’s fairly obvious now that e-bikes are not exclusively for the elderly, it’s worth reiterating how beneficial they can be for older riders.

E-bikes can help elderly individuals maintain an active lifestyle while providing a sense of independence. They offer a safe, low-impact exercise that can be customized to individual fitness levels. The added assist allows for longer rides without the risk of overexertion, promoting heart health and overall fitness. A new wave of electric trikes is even bringing electric biking to those without the balance to ride a two-wheeler.

over, e-bikes are a fantastic way for older people to connect with nature and their communities. They can explore local parks, visit friends, or simply enjoy a leisurely ride, all while benefiting from fresh air and sunshine.

I’ve put both my parents on e-bikes, and it’s amazing to see the smiles on their faces each time they hop on the saddle. There’s just something about feeling the boost beneath you that transcends physical age and connects with people on an emotional basis. If you haven’t seen an e-grin yet, put a parent or friend on an e-bike and you’ll instantly know what I’m talking about. That first ride just brings something out in people and it’s a beautiful sight to see.

Electric bikes are a diverse and flexible mode of transportation that simply transcends age demographics.

They provide a boost for those who need it, an adventurous ride for thrill-seekers, a fitness tool for exercise enthusiasts, and a practical solution for urban commuters.

So whether you’re young or just young at heart, there’s an e-bike out there that’s perfect for you. Let’s move beyond the myths and embrace the two-wheeled electric revolution for all ages!

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The Story Electric Commuter is a perfect blend of style, comfort, and efficiency. With simple design and sporty handling, you’ll find your way across town in no time.

This model comes 95% assembled with all the tool necessary included making it easy to put together at home.

Our Electric Commuters come well equipped with a lightweight frame that’s powered by a 350-watt motor, 36-volt battery and includes a USB charging outlet.

electric, bikes, everyone, breaking, down, myths

It also comes ready for any weather or trip with front and rear fenders, integrated front headlight, and a rear-mounted rack.

Both men and women will appreciate it’s comfortable, upright position. It puts you in the perfect position to see and be seen. Lastly, we added 7-speeds to get you going, and hydraulic disc brakes to stop you.

Size Fit

Recommended Height: 5’5. 6’0

The Commuter model features an adjustable quick release handlebar system that allows you to adjust the handlebars both vertically as well as forward/back. This allows for a wide range of customers to ride the Commuter comfortably.

Technical Specifications

Frame Aluminum Frame Size 52cm Weight 39
Speed 20 mph assisted Max Distance Up to 45 miles depending on PAS level, terrain, and the rider Motor 350 watt brushless geared rear hub motor
Battery Samsung lithium-ion 36v x 7.0 AH battery Pedal Assist System Intelligent 5 levels of assist with torque sensing technology LCD Display Backlit digital LCD Screen with USB out port for charging. Includes charge indicator, single/total trip odometer, single/total trip time, PAS level, and more
Brakes Shimano front and rear hydraulic disc brakes Gears Shimano Altus 7 speed derailleur and thumb shifter Tires 700 x 35c


USB Plug For Charging

Using turn-by-turn directions drain battery-life from our phones. Protect your battery and use Story Bike’s integrated USB port so you can charge your phone while you ride to work, school, or around town.

Hidden Battery

Our unique hidden battery that’s built within the frame gives it the sleek look of a traditional bike while giving you the power of a fast and powerful ride!

5 Levels of Pedal Assist

Crank the level up when you get tired. Let the bike do more of the work by changing the Pedal assist levels. Got to get to work and don’t want to show up in a sweat? Turn the pedal assist up. Trying to get in some cardio? Turn the pedal assist off.

20 MPH

Story Bikes are equipped with a powerful motor capable of hitting speeds up to 20 MPH. Big hills? No problem. The 350W motor is discreet yet packs a major punch.


By simply lifting the lever on your handle bars you can adjust them up or down, backwards or forwards to fit you perfectly on your ride! No tools requried.

Torque Sensing crankset

With the Torque Sensing Crankset you are free to enjoy the pleasures of biking. Equipped with up to six different levels of pedal assist, just apply pressure and the motor will instantly power the bike to your preferred level.

Customer Reviews

Same as above. Including great riding advantage with electronic assist.

This bike is very rideable, affordable, light, feels like a regular bike and the motor is intuitive. The geometry feels slow and very upright. It was shipped to me with some damage to paint and components.

details: I really like my new bike, a commuter 1. The common ebikes that are 8-13k dollars and 200 lbs were not a good fit. This one is A real bike with a motor! I rode it 20 miles the first day on trips I would have otherwise driven, and my partner is a little jealous of it! It looks good, is easy to move around like a slightly heavy bike.

I feel calling the bike I received a commuter style is a misnomer. The geometry is very short from handlebars to seat, so it’s a very upright bike that will be too short for many people from seat to pedals. I’m a small person and it’s too short for me even with the handlebars moved out as far as possible. It’s closer to a cruiser style than I would have liked. That makes it hard to climb moderate to steep hills without the motor, since it’s harder to engage your quads like a faster bike. And that’s noticeable on a level straightaway too, when trying to go a little faster.

While unpacking, I found several spots of damage to the paint, deep scratches in metal parts, and the little tool bag came completely shredded out of the box, not holding any of the tools. Also the bolts for the rack were not included, and I had to steal them from something else. Probably because of the adjustable handlebars, the cables are suuuper long and hang way out. Maybe eight to ten inches over the normal loose cable length for my size. It’s hard to imagine a large enough person riding this bike for the length of cable they installed.

Probably because of the battery, there’s no bolts for a water bottle cage. The seat is hard foam, pretty comfortable but not as nice as the seats in the marketing photos. The handlebars have foam that looks like leather and they’re not as nice looking close up or totally comfortable, but fine.

All that said, I will make it work. I wish they would give a longer trial period, since you can’t try it out for fit and get it dialed in in that time frame, even if you’re riding it a bunch. I feel like I should have gotten the road bike, but this one has more features I wanted, and I didn’t want to wait till December for the new model.

The index shifter and other components came perfectly dialed in, but the lowest gear isn’t low enough to actually climb moderate hills without the motor, especially with the very upright posture. The five motor levels are well spaced and it’s cool how it responds to the pedal. It would be good to have more of all of these technical specs available on the website.

It’ll be an awesome tool to get me biking again safely during recovery from a spinal injury.

How The Electric Bike Is Changing Travel: Is An E-bike Worth It?

The electric bike revolution is here, and it’s changing the way we travel.

With their innovative design, ease of use, and low environmental impact, e-bikes are becoming increasingly popular with riders of all ages and experience.

But what exactly are e-bikes? And more importantly – are they worth it?

While electric-assisted bikes were designed with the 35 and over crowd in mind, they are now just as popular with a younger generation of riders who are embracing the technology.

For decades, bikes have been seen as a necessity, not a luxury.

The e-bike has undergone a revolution and is currently the most popular bike on the market.

Technology has improved, making them safer, more durable, and more reliable, while new laws have been passed that make them legal to operate on roads.

So whether you want to reduce your carbon footprint, or take advantage of this new technology on bike trips – let’s look at the pros and cons so you can decide whether going e-bike is right for you.

Why The Sudden Popularity With Electric Bicycles?

Their appeal lies in the ability to level the playing field for cyclists of all experiences.

Electric bikes allow couples, groups, and families with different fitness and experience levels to travel together while making cycling accessible across difficult routes and long distances.

Bicycles have always been a healthy way to keep fit, save money on transportation costs, and enjoy the fresh air with the freedom to explore on your travels.

But once you cross the 20-30 mile mark, for many riders, they become quite tiring.

Electric bicycles solve this problem by giving you a little push when you need it.

The pedal assist can give riders just enough boost to try routes that would otherwise be outside their comfort zones.

And because you don’t tire as quick, you can bike for longer, which can open up opportunities for trips you might not have even considered.

Electric bikes offer more flexibility than traditional bikes when it comes to distance and terrain capability.

They can be ridden anywhere from city streets to rough trails while providing more speed and ease of use compared to regular bikes.

And they provide great exercise benefits without exerting too much effort due to their powered motors. perfect if you’re looking for light physical activity without exhausting yourself completely.

They also don’t require expensive fuel costs or extensive maintenance, you just simply charge up your battery overnight, and you’re ready for another day of riding!

As well as being affordable and convenient, using an e-bike also presents environmental advantages by reducing carbon emissions. a major plus with a climate crisis looming over us.

With all of this in mind, it’s easy to see how electric bikes are worth investing in. economically and socially.

How E-Bikes Are Changing the Active Travel Business

A small boost can lead to incredible possibilities.

E-bikes make it easier for travelers to venture further than ever before with less effort – essentially taking the strain out of sightseeing and commuting.

Riders can keep pace with cars on even steep hills or head off the beaten path without breaking a sweat.

For cyclists intimidated by steep hills or just want to spend less energy pushing a traditional bicycle uphill, an e-bike offers freedom like never before.

An e-bike lets you travel further with less exertion, opening endless possibilities on long-distance bike tours.

They are fast, fun, and very efficient.

Cyclists who have had to stop biking long distances or rough terrain for any reason have found a renewed opportunity by jumping on an electric bike.

But these bikes aren’t just useful for travelers looking to put in the miles on long distance tours and week-long trips.

They’re an increasingly popular option for day trips too, simply because you get the same hands-on experience but can pack more into your trip.

E-bikes can help breathe new life into cycling as they take the fear out of long-distance travel and make those daunting hills and roads a piece of cake for cyclists of all experiences.

E-Bikes Can Be Used where Hiking Is Impossible

The allure of mountain and off-road biking is the thrill of exploring rugged terrain that is usually unreachable by car.

The chasms, cliffs, and steep hills are a challenge to any rider, but electric-powered bikes make it easy to conquer those steep elevations.

For cyclists looking to enjoy spectacular scenery on a mountain trail, regular mountain bikes are often simply unusable because they do not manage steep inclines well.

E-bikes are an excellent way to make milder slopes accessible even for those who aren’t confident in their ability to take on more extreme hills that regular mountain bikes won’t be able to handle.

E-Bikes Can Be Used In Cities Where Cycling Is Not Possible

If you’ve ever tried to cycle around a busy city, then you know it’s challenging.

There are endless obstacles to worry about, like cars that often end up being parked on the street, pedestrians doing what pedestrians do, and bicycle lanes that don’t seem to make any sense!

Way too often, cyclists are forced to merge back onto the sidewalk because they’ve run out of space or can’t cycle at all with so many people walking around.

Electric bicycles allow cyclists to bypass traffic, navigate busy and congested areas, and get around popular destinations much faster.

E-Bikes Make Travelling Accessible

E-bikes are like having a personal transport system that is always there for you: and one that is efficient, reliable, and enjoyable.

The convenience factor of an e-bike is hard to deny: with one charge, you can often reach distances far beyond what could be achieved by cycling alone.

Without needing specialist experience, anyone can use an e-bike to scale mountains and traverse previously inaccessible terrain with ease.

You can take on all challenges at your own pace while at the end of the day, still having enough in tank to enjoy the destination you worked so hard to get to.

Most travelers have their first encounter with electric bikes on a long-distance tour.

Most who opt for an e-bike are new to biking tours, often coming on the trip with a more experienced friend or group.

And generally, after trying one, or seeing someone in their group having a great experience, most people opt for an e-bike over their regular bike on longer trips.

Even if it might feel like you’re swallowing your pride on your first trip, electric bicycles are slowly changing people’s approach to active travel and will soon be a viable choice for most people.

However, many people don’t know that just like cars and motorcycles, there are a lot of of e-bikes out there to choose from.

E-bikes Make Pedalling Easier.

As the weather warms ups and cycling season gains momentum, the warm temperatures can zap your energy on a long trip.

And if you’re an avid cyclist, you know that the extra effort of pedaling across certain terrains and hills can be pretty frustrating, but that is all changing now that e-bikes have been designed to make pedaling easier.

Most E-bikes are fitted with a power switch where you can change the settings from “Eco” to “Turbo mode” for when you need a little more assistance or to catch a breather when taking on steep inclines.

Throttle mode v pedal assist.

Most electric-powered bicycles typically use a combination of different methods to power them.

They are usually either pedal-assist or they use a throttle (where a motor kicks in to help you go faster)

When looking for an e-bike, pick the right one that works for you.

If you suffer from knee or foot issues and don’t want to FOCUS on pedaling, you can use a throttle-only bike.

But for those who worry about getting too much assistance from the bike and not being active, you can still pedal just like a normal bike and keep the assists for the tough terrains where it is needed.

What To Look For In An E-bike

The distance an electric bike can travel is the most important consideration when using an e-bike.

There are two key factors that determine how far an electric bike can travel.

The capacity of the battery. The efficiency of the bike.

It charges just like a mobile phone by connecting the battery pack to an electrical outlet and generally gets a full charge in around 3 hours.

How Long Does It Take To Charge An Electric Bike?

In my experience, it takes 3-4 hours to fully charge an e-bike battery.

Typically, a battery will last for anywhere between 30 – 70 miles on a full charge, but if you manage your power well enough, it can last longer.

The type of terrain and power needed will have an effect on your battery life so it can be important to plan ahead when tackling large hills and rough roads where you need a lot of assistance.

Some bikes allow you to choose different levels of assist to prioritize speed or battery life, which can help you manage battery life on a longer trip.

Here are some approximate charging times for different types of batteries to get an idea of what you can expect on more powerful e-bikes:

500-watt hours (0.5 kWh) battery: 2-4 hours. 750-watt hours (0.75 kWh) battery: 3-6 hours. 1,000-watt hours (1 kWh) battery: 4-8 hours. 1,500-watt hours (1.5 kWh) battery: 6-12 hours.

And all-in-all, the cost to fully charge an electric bike comes in at around 5-15 cents. So, if it takes 500-watt hours (0.5 kWh) to charge the battery, and you are being charged 0.10/kWh for electricity, it would cost about 5 cents to charge the battery.

Knowing the type of trips you’ll be taking ahead of time will help determine which option is best for you.

Also, it’s important to consider the terrain when considering the battery range.

Hills require more power, so your battery will drain faster or get a little more use, so make sure your bike has enough power to tackle any potential challenges!

Although some e-bikes now allow you to choose different levels of assistance to prioritize speed or battery life, which can help you manage battery life on a longer trip.

Are Electric Bikes Faster Than Your Regular Bicycle?

Electric bicycles are always seeing technological advancements, particularly with how the hidden motor inside makes the entire bike run.

But does that mean that they are faster than your normal bicycle?

Not necessarily, as e-bikes are usually restricted with the top speed they can assist you with.

Currently, the assists will help you up to 32 km/h in the US and 25 km/h in most of Europe.

However, the max speed varies depending on the laws within the country you are in as well as the class of model you are using.

How Heavy Are E-bikes?

Many people have the misconception that e-bikes are heavy.

This is not the case. In fact, the average weight of an electric bicycle is 20 kg. The motor, battery, and frame material being the heaviest components.

Lighter bikes are easier to maneuver but heavier ones tend to last longer and come with more accessories like storage racks, headlights etc.

Make sure whatever model you choose fits comfortably within your budget while also providing all the features that matter most to you.

And think about your own comfort too; look for adjustable handlebars and seats and shock-absorbing forks that can provide extra cushioning over bumpy roads.

E-bikes are quite popular with travelers on long trips looking to carry heavier loads, typically for camping or when traveling with a family and needing that extra gear.

Depending on what you are packing can depend on the type of bike you need.

But when traveling with us at BikeHike we always have a support vehicle on hand to take your excess luggage and anything you don’t need on your bike journey so you never have to worry about packing too much.

Health Benefits Of E-Bikes

E-bikes are great for exercise, as they will improve your leg muscles and your cardiovascular system.

They are more environmentally friendly, too, as they emit less CO2 than cars, and don’t require the maintenance that cars require.

They are even easier to maintain than your regular bike while traveling since they have fewer moving parts.

The benefits of electric bikes are many, including the reduced pollution of fossil fuels, the resulting reduced carbon footprint, and the ability to enjoy traveling with less effort.

Are E-bikes Safe?

The short answer is yes; they are safer than regular bicycles due to how they are designed.

They utilize an in-line electric motor powered by a battery, which takes the place of traditional pedaling, and this makes them very safe to ride on the road and ultimately gives you even more control.

A study from Portland University found that 60% of owners felt safer riding an electric bike, and 42% of riders felt they had helped them avoid accidents.

E-bike With Us

Get hands-on with the advantages of an E-bike with our Croatia to Montenegro trip.

Experience the ride of a lifetime through Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro and tackle the scenic mountainous regions of the Balkans where you will use your electric pedal assists to their full potential to tackle these tough terrains, all while soaking in the magnificent views and rich heritage of each destination.

No matter where your travels may take you, an e-bike can help make life easier and more fun.

Whatever your reason for choosing an e-bike, you can always expect to get the same amount of enjoyment out of it as your traditional bike.

And with its combination of convenience, sustainability, and affordability, investing in an electric bicycle can truly be worth every penny spent!

About The Author

Trish Sare is the owner of BikeHike and a passionate outdoor enthusiast with over 30 years of experience as a world traveler. She’s lived, traveled, and guided extensively in North, South and Central America, Europe, Oceania, Africa, and Asia. She has guided and helped to develop every one of our multi-sport holidays. In her spare time, Trish is usually outdoors either mountain biking, hiking, sea kayaking, trail running, or climbing. Trish has a passion for the world and all of the amazing cultures that inhabit it and does her best to immerse herself directly into their distinctive lifestyles.

Mavic X-Tend prototype electric bike motor system first ride review

Mavic’s new X-Tend electric motor system has the potential to change the way bike brands design their electric bikes.

Still in its prototype phase, Mavic has partnered with Swiss brand BMC to make its new electric bike motor system a rideable reality. Visiting the French brand’s new campus – a €10m-plus building near Annecy – I got hands-on with the motor, and took it for an hour’s spin around the hilly local area aboard a specially modified Teammachine road bike.

The course was designed to give a flavour of the motor’s capabilities, with more than 500m of climbing packed into its 25km length. While there’s some development work still to do, Mavic appears to be on the right track to make a motor system that can enable the production of lighter, more ‘natural’-riding electric bikes.

Mavic X-Tend highlights

  • 250W drive unit, developing up to 50Nm torque
  • Can deliver up to 150 per cent pedal assistance
  • 360Wh battery housed inside down tube
  • Includes a power meter accurate to /- 2 per cent
  • Range extender, remote controls and apps in development
  • Motor disengages from drivetrain completely when not in use
  • Motor attaches to normal cranksets
  • Includes 15 patents across the whole system, including the cycloidal reducer
  • Mavic aims to have system ready for production bikes by 2025-2026

Mavic X-Tend ebike motor first ride impressions

A motor is always useful on a climb – I was impressed by the natural feeling of the system under constant effort. G Chenard

Setting out, I initially kept the motor switched off, hoping to acclimate quickly to the modified BMC Teammachine.

Later in the ride, product manager Maxime Brunand demonstrated the effectiveness of the pawl system that enables the cranks to spin freely on the bottom bracket bearings, but by this point I’d already worked out that the Teammachine mule felt like… a regular non-assisted Teammachine.

The system feels totally drag-free when disengaged.

The test bike weighed 9.7kg (without pedals and an iPhone fitted), but I was surprised by how unencumbered it felt, riding just like a non-assisted road bike.

Switch the unit on, and suddenly you get the helpful boost that – depending on your chosen mode – takes the edge off a climb, or helps you drive over it with gusto.

Pedalling motion feels smooth and natural.

You can detect a small amount of ‘shove’ in certain situations – an issue product manager Maxime Brunand (pictured behind me) stresses is being worked on. G Chenard

Mavic had the prototype units set up to a ‘default test’ program and it’s impressive how instantaneous the assistance is.

From these points of view at least, Mavic would appear to be nearing something like production-ready behaviour – just fruits for five years of development effort.

However, there’s work to be done, in addition to the 120,000km of field testing the system is claimed to have been through already.

Mavic admits as much – this is, after all, a prototype test – but there’s a definite imbalance in power delivery between chainrings.

Pedalling in the small ring is far more responsive than the big ring and the system can ‘shove’ for a fraction of a second when you stop pedalling suddenly.

This happened on two occasions – when I was riding hard out of the saddle, shoving when my pedal stroke hesitated as I sat down again, and when dropping my outside foot down quickly when descending into a corner.

It’s more pronounced when the system is working in its 120 per cent top assistance mode, but I hope it will be rectified when it comes to production.

The new motor system is something of a departure for Mavic – it hopes to have the system fitted to bikes by 2025 or 2026. G Chenard

Brunand and Mavic’s RD director Bertrand Jouve admit as much, reassuring me it’s being worked on (I had a behind-closed-doors look at the test lab where the work was happening).

They also say further optimisation will occur as the system is pushed through industrialisation.

The system is a little noisy when fully engaged on a climb. I overheard fellow testers disagreeing on whether it was the volume or ‘type’ of whirring sound the motor emits. I felt it was a combination of the two.

Jouve says the development team recognises the issue, and says it will likely be addressed through material experimentation as well as reprofiling of the drive unit’s patented reducer’s teeth.

No-one can say exactly when the finished article will be ready and rideable on production ebikes, but the signs are promising if my first ride is anything to go by.

electric, bikes, everyone, breaking, down, myths
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Ashley Quinlan

Ashley Quinlan is a senior technical editor for BikeRadar, covering all things road and gravel. A trained journalist, he has been working in and around the bike industry for almost a decade, and riding for much longer. He’s written for road.cc, eBikeTips, RoadCyclingUK and Triathlon Plus magazine, covering the latest news and product launches, and writing in-depth reviews, group tests, buyer’s guides… and more. He’s also worked in PR for some of the industry’s biggest brands. A roadie at heart (who often casts an interested gaze at gravel and XC mountain biking), Ash has been told that he’s best used as windbreak thanks to his 188cm, 80-plus kilogram build. Despite this, he loves spending time in the mountains scaling cols and is a repeat finisher of the Étape du Tour.

The incredible, Earth-saving electric bike is having a moment

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The clean-transportation revolution won’t arrive by way of futuristic hyperloops, driverless taxi pods, or drones the size of minivans — not anytime soon, at least.

And while electric cars get all the hype, a game-changing solution to getting around without warming the planet has flourished right under our noses.

Electric bicycles of all shapes and sizes have whirred and zipped their way into the mainstream in recent years as the pandemic has supercharged an e-biking boom that was already well underway. And that’s a great thing, because while replacing gas-burning cars with electric ones is key to heading off global warming, research has found Americans also need to drive less altogether to avoid climate catastrophe.

The Earth-saving potential of e-bikes

Transportation is the single biggest contributor to US greenhouse-gas emissions. And light-duty vehicles (cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs, not semis and airplanes) make up the largest chunk of that. Gains in vehicle efficiency are being dragged down by rising sales of large SUVs and trucks, while practically no progress has been made in reducing the number of miles people drive, Carter Rubin, a transportation lead at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Insider.

All that makes enticing people to step out of the driver’s seat and onto a bike, bus, or sidewalk increasingly important for meeting climate goals.

Cleaner cars are an important solution, but we can’t just FOCUS on cars, Katherine García, the director of the Clean Transportation for All Campaign at the Sierra Club, told Insider. We need to make sure we are putting programs in place that really encourage people to take alternatives.

E-bikes have loads of potential to pry Americans away from their beloved automobiles, advocates told Insider, especially since short trips could easily be made on two wheels instead. According to the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics, more than half of all trips in the US are under 3 miles.

A University of Oxford study found that swapping a car for a bike just once a day slashed an individual’s transportation emissions by a whopping 67%. Another study found choosing an e-bike for 15% of one’s miles traveled cut their transportation emissions by 12%.

Fast, fun, and convenient, e-bikes are already helping people make that kind of shift in their daily lives.

Victor Silva, a product manager in the suburbs of Washington, DC, bought a RadRunner Plus from Rad Power Bikes for 1,900 in the summer after realizing most of his car trips were only a few miles. Now he’s hooked. He recently bought another e-bike and is looking to sell his and his wife’s second car since it barely gets any use. He said he wasn’t going to miss the insurance payments or traffic jams.

I’m trading an activity that I absolutely hate doing, which is getting stuck in traffic, with something that I actually like doing, which is getting some exercise and riding my bike, he told Insider.

After Wesley Cook and his wife sold their second car last year, they test-rode a pair of e-bikes from a local, Atlanta-based company called Edison Bicycles and never looked back. While they had never biked much before, they’ve slowly replaced daily errands like getting groceries or taking their son to school with e-bike rides.

Cook, a software engineer, just made an addition to the couple’s fleet — a cargo bike from Urban Arrow that has plenty of room for their son and their baby who’s arriving later this year.

The e-bike advantage

The power of e-bikes to alter peoples’ habits and help save the planet is simple and maybe a little obvious. But it’s important and worth spelling out nonetheless: By making biking easier, e-bikes encourage people to ride more.

A little electrical assistance goes a long way toward helping people overcome the obstacles keeping them from biking, whether that’s steep hills, a lengthy commute, physical limitations, or the mortifying thought of showing up somewhere with pit stains, John MacArthur, a professor at Portland State University who researches sustainable transportation, told Insider.

A lot of those barriers can be broken down by putting a motor on a bike, he said.

National surveys he’s conducted have indicated that e-bikes motivate people to ride farther and more often — plus they broaden interest in cycling beyond the stereotypical spandex-clad white man.

Lyft, which operates bike-sharing systems across the US, has noticed similar trends. It’s seen ridership boom by more than 50% since 2020 and attributes much of that growth to e-bikes. In 2021, e-bikes made up just 20% of Lyft’s New York City fleet but 40% of total rides and nearly two-thirds of journeys between boroughs, which typically involve a steep climb over a bridge.

As many people who have ridden an e-bike will tell you, they’re just plain fun — and they can often get you places faster and with less hassle than a car or bus. They’re that rare thing in life that’s both good and good for you.

They’re kind of a rocket fuel for regular biking, Rubin, a daily e-biker, told Insider.

Electric cars are important, too, but they’re expensive and far off for a lot of drivers, MacArthur said. Just consider someone who recently bought a gas car and doesn’t plan on trading it in for a decade. E-bikes, on the other hand, are an option that’s right here, right now.

The most popular electric vehicles in the US don’t have a Tesla logo

While electric cars get all the attention, e-bikes have for years been the best-selling electric vehicles in the US.

Last year, Americans bought just over 800,000 electric cars, according to Kelley Blue Book, a record. E-bike imports (a good proxy for sales since most e-bikes aren’t made in the US) numbered around 1.1 million, surging from 880,000 in 2021 and 437,000 the year before, according to an e-bike-industry trade group.

In dollar terms, e-bike retail sales nearly quadrupled in the past four years, rising from 240.1 million in 2019 to 885.5 million in 2022, the market-research firm Circana estimates. While sales of leg-powered bicycles slumped 16% last year, e-bike sales jumped by 100 million.

electric, bikes, everyone, breaking, down, myths

Ed Benjamin, the Light Electric Vehicle Association’s chair, chalks up the trend to growing awareness among consumers and more interest and know-how among bike sellers. The pandemic, which made people wary of close-quarters public transit, boosted e-bike fandom to new heights, he said. And sales show no sign of slowing down. In China and some parts of Europe, one out of every two bikes sold has a motor, Benjamin said, which indicates there’s plenty of room for growth in the US.

Improving tech and new form factors for different types of shoppers have fueled public appetite, too, MacArthur of Portland State said. Now buyers can choose from a wide variety of regular-looking bikes, folding bikes, tricycles, fat-tire mopeds, and even cargo bikes, which have extra room for groceries and seats for children.

electric, bikes, everyone, breaking, down, myths

The demand explosion has meant boom times for e-bike makers who played their cards right, like California’s Aventon, which got its start in 2013 selling (nonelectric) fixed-gear bikes.

Seeing the potential in e-bikes, the young firm went all in on the technology in 2020, at what turned out to be a very opportune time. Since then, it’s expanded its lineup to seven models and multiplied its revenues by a factor of 42, Aventon’s chief marketing officer, Adele Nasr, told Insider. One key driver of the success, Nasr said: Customers are increasingly seeing e-bikes as legitimate tools for replacing car trips, rather than just toys for recreation.

They’re starting to think about them differently, starting to imagine use cases that are so much more evolved than they were even three years ago, which is incredible, Nasr said.

Congress could give the e-bike boom another jolt

While the federal government has committed billions of dollars to public EV charging and 7,500 tax refunds to buyers of Teslas and electric Ford F-150s, it’s largely left e-bikes out in the cold.

That’s a big mistake, said Noa Banayan, the director of federal affairs at PeopleForBikes, an advocacy group that represents the bike industry. Since e-bikes are much cheaper than electric cars, you can get them into the hands of consumers faster, she said.

But times are changing. In March, a group of congresspeople reintroduced the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment (E-BIKE) Act, which proposes a 30% discount (up to 1,500) for the purchase of a new e-bike. The law could not only make e-bikes more accessible to more Americans, Rubin of the Natural Resources Defense Council said, but also send a powerful message to state and local governments to get serious about safer cycling infrastructure such as protected bike lanes.

Unlike when it was first introduced (then scrapped) in 2021, the bill now has support from major environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and Environment America.

Now they’re realizing that electric bicycles and active transportation, and micromobility more broadly, should be a part of their larger transportation and climate agendas, Banayan said. That’s really exciting.

This article is part of The Great Transition, a series covering the big changes across industries that are leading to a more sustainable future. For more climate-action news, visit Insider’s One Planet hub.

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