One of the benefits of electric bikes is getting out to explore

“Are electric bikes any good?”

When we are out on our e-bikes we are often asked this question. The short answer is: “Yes. Absolutely. I love my e-bike!” The benefits of electric bikes are many and varied. There is a genuine interest in electric bikes and they are becoming very popular now. I think we have sold quite a few people on the idea of trying an electric bike.

I did not go out looking for an e-bike though. In fact, I was a bit snobbish about them. After all, it is cheating, isn’t it?

So how did I come to acquire an electric bike?

A few years ago we were on a trip in our motorhome in Wales. I obviously complained too much about the hills whilst we were out on our bikes. When we returned home, Peter disappeared into the garage for a few evenings and when he finally emerged, my old bike had acquired a new addition: a battery. It had been transformed to an e-Bike!

My initial reaction was similar to that of many people: it was not real cycling, it was a granny bike, it was cheating. My teenage daughter had a go though and she was enthusiastic. “Try it, mum! It’s brill!” So I did, and was an immediate convert.

Peter had difficulty keeping up with me when I was on my e-Bike (although they are restricted by law in the UK to about 15 mph), so he made one for himself. Several years later we are now on new, updated versions.

Enjoying the benefits of electric bikes

Are electric bikes worth it?

This is another question we are often asked as electric bikes are still quite expensive. It is possible to pick one up for a few hundred pounds, but a good one will cost closer to a thousand pounds. Similarly, it is possible to spend several thousand pounds! Even the e-bike conversion kits that we used are over £300 (including the battery) and of course, you need a bike to convert! Despite this, e-bikes are a great investment in your fitness. Research has shown that more people are more likely to actually go out on a bike if they have an electric bike. Investing in an e-bike is a way of investing in your own health and there are many other advantages too (see below). As with anything though, it is best to try before you buy. Hiring an e-bike for a day would be advisable. Some outlets allow you to hire a bike and then if you go ahead and make a purchase, the hire cost is deducted from the purchase price.

What are the benefits of electric bikes?

There are many benefits to owning an electric bike:

  • Pleasure: I really enjoy going out on my e-bike to explore without the dread of those hills!

 

  • Fitness: riding an electric bike is definitely not cheating and you still get a work out. The battery assist does exactly that: assists. If you stop pedalling, it stops assisting. You still have to work at it, but it takes the chore out of cycling.  E-Bikes get people out exercising and enjoying the open air, regardless of fitness. I still have a great, high-spec, unadulterated mountain bike if the mood takes me, but I love my e-bike. Encouraging and enabling fitness is one of the main benefits of electric bikes.

 

  • Go further: I am reasonably fit but on my electric bike I can go further and faster. On an ordinary bike, I might hesitate to go on a 30 mile ride; with an e-bike, bring it on!

 

  • An electric bike is the perfect partner to a motor home. They are portable so you can take them in the camper van or on the back if you remove the battery. They provide the flexibility needed if your main transport is a large vehicle.

 

  • Electric bikes are “green”: People, me included, are more likely to hop on an e-bike than a normal bike for all kinds of journeys: nipping down to the shops for a pint of milk (instead of going in the car), or going out for a full-day jolly. E-bikes save fuel.

 

  • Mobility: one of my oldest friends had an accident whilst skiing a few years ago. Her mobility was severely restricted for a long time and she had difficulty walking or doing any weight bearing exercise. She tried my electric bike though and found that she could pedal easily. She went out and bought one! The electric bike gave her back her mobility during this period.

 

  • One of the more recent benefits of electric bikes: they are an easy way to employ social distancing whilst commuting!

 

  • And an even more recent advantage of electric bikes, at least to us, is that they are great if you have a dog! Yes, we have acquired Jasper, a gorgeous border collie, but this presents a new problem when we are away in our motorhome. Once we have parked up, we tend to use bikes (or a scooter) to get around rather than unhook the motorhome every time we want to go a few miles to the shop or a trailhead. With a dog that is rather more difficult, but we then we bought  a “DoggyHut”. So much easier to take the trailer plus dog with an electric bike! (Check out Travelling with a Dog for more ideas about taking a dog along!)

Transporting our border collie, one of the benefits of an electric bike

So many advantages to electric bikes! I am a huge fan.

 

Out with the electric bikes

These are our original e-bikes with the battery pack loaded on the rear. The new ones are mounted on centrally (see below) which is better for balance

 

Are there any disadvantages to electric bikes?

There are certainly aspects you need to be aware of when thinking about investing in an electric bike.

  • They are expensive and so buying one really is an investment. Try before you buy to make sure you will use it. Because they are more expensive, they are also at more risk of theft so have to be firmly secured if left.

 

  • They can go faster than many people might have been used to. This is not a problem as long as you are aware of it and know how control your speed.

 

  • They are heavier. This is mainly because of the battery and these can be removed if you have to lift the bike, say, into a vehicle.

 

  • The battery could run out of charge on a long journey. This has never happened to me, but it is important to monitor.

 

There are pros and cons to electric bikes, therefore, but I firmly believe the pros outweigh the cons quite significantly.

How long does the battery last on an electric bike?

This is another frequently asked question about electric bikes. The answer is: it depends. There are a few variables involved: how big is the battery?  how heavy is the rider? what is the terrain like? How much power do you use? (eg. there are five power settings on my current bike. I would only use level 5 briefly for a very steep hill; most of the time I cruise in level 2, sometimes level 3. If you cruised at level 3 all the time, you would use more power.)

On my first electric bike I had a huge battery. The downside to this was that it was really heavy. On one occasion I rode about 60 miles on fairly flat terrain; I weigh around eight and a half stones. When we arrived home, my battery was still three quarters full!

On my latest bike, the battery is much smaller and lighter. So far I have ridden about 40 miles on mixed terrain (some hills, some flat, some road and some track) and still had about half left. Peter has the same battery but he is heavier. He still had plenty left after this ride.

E-bike conversion kits

Peter bought e-bike conversion kits online and fitted them to our old bikes. He has now converted five, the two original versions, the two updated ones and a spare one for visitors! How difficult is it to convert an ordinary bike to an electric bike? He says that it is relatively straightforward if you are at all practical and have a knowledge of bikes. I should point out, however, that he is an engineer! Some customisation of the kit always seems to be required to make it fit an existing bike, but certainly the last one that he did took a couple of hours. He sourced the kits for our bikes from Yosepower, although I believe there are several conversion kits available on the market.

E-bike conversion kit

The e-Bike conversion kit arrives in a box!

 

A work in progress

 

Display on the electric bike

Our new bikes have a very clear digital display

 

The finished electric bike from the conversion kit

Peter’s newly converted e-bike

 

E-Bikes: the way ahead

The technology has come on a lot since Peter first put our electric bikes together. Before he converted the last two, we considered buying ready made bikes, but good ones are very expensive and as we already had bikes, it seemed sensible to convert these. The new kits are a great improvement on the original ones.  Hopefully the cost of off-the-peg electric bikes will come down as they become more popular, but even now, I think they are a great investment. The benefits of electric bikes are clear and more and more people are enjoying the freedom they bring.

Using an e bike to explore is one of the benefits of electric bikes

If you found this post interesting, please PIN it for later!

The benefits of E-Bikes pin

 

Related Articles:

Have Dog, Will Travel!

Jasper in the bike trailer

Travelling with a dog requires a little more planning but is a joy. Electric bikes are part of our plan!

 

On the Whisky Trail

The Glenfiddich Distillery

A tour of Scottish whisky distilleries – by e-bike!

 

 

 

26 Comments

  1. Puting an E-Bike all by yourself is really Brill 😉 I once rode an E-Bike and it has a thrill of its own and as you said it only “ASSISTS”, you still need to paddle 😛

    Reply
    • Absolutely! I think more and more people are coming round to them now.

      Reply
      • You have me googling ebike conversion kits. Not for me, my bike is a foldable one that lives in my car boot. But my wife would be happy. And that site has some good prices.

        Reply
  2. I had never even heard of e-bikes until a few months ago when my neighbour mentioned them and loved them when they rented some in Japan.
    Your review makes me even more curious!
    Will try it some day for sure!

    Reply
    • I would absolutely recommend them. They are becoming really popular now as people are catching on.

      Reply
  3. Thanks for explaining how electric bikes can be operated by people who have limited mobility. Ever since my uncle got into a car accident, he has been having trouble bending his knees but wants to find a way to lose weight this summer. Maybe he should get an electronic bike to help him stay active.

    Reply
    • I think that is a great idea Toby. I would suggest renting before buying to check that your uncle manages it okay with his knees, but it would be a great way to improve mobility and keep fit without putting too much stress on joints.

      Reply
  4. Hi Jane: Thank you for this excellent article. I am in Alberta Canada and bought my electric bike a month ago and LOVE it ! My question and concern is leaving it anywhere. I do NOT leave it anywhere for fear of it being stolen. It was expensive. What type of locking system do you suggest. Thank you in advance for your attention

    Reply
    • Thank you for your kind words Joan. Difficult one. We do not have so much of a problem in that whilst we would be upset to lose the bikes, as conversions, they were not so expensive. I doubt if there is an absolutely safe way to leave the bikes, but we usually both take a cable lock, lock them together through the wheels and frames and to something immobile. We also try to leave them where it would be conspicuous if someone was tampering or, if we are leaving them to hike, somewhere hidden from view. Good luck! Enjoy your bike. And btw, we love Alberta!

      Reply
  5. I know I’ll be going this way someday when pedal long hills gets too hard. Better than giving up cycling. These will extend a lot of people’s cycling life.

    Reply
    • Absolutely correct Ryan, but they are not just for older people: for commuting or simply going further than you might normally go on an ordinary bike they are perfect. We use ours as a local means of transport both at home and when in the camper van.

      Reply
  6. fun! i can’t believe your husband fitted your first e-bike on his own. well done!

    i’m not much of a cyclist, so a batter-powered assist would be nice. 🙂

    Reply
  7. This sounds like a great investment Jane! I’d not thought of trying an e-bike let alone getting one, but you’re slowly changing my mind 🙂

    Reply
  8. I’ve never considered an eBike…but this looks super fun and would be perfect for running errands.

    Reply
  9. Really enjoyed this post, Jane. E-bikes sound like a good option for city commuters as well as for recreational uses! I used to bike to work when I lived in DC and the hill going home was a killer! Then my bike got stolen out of my apartment building’s garage! After that, I was hesitant to invest that much in a bike again. An e-bike sounds like a good idea for the future, as long as I have a more secure location to keep it!

    Reply
    • Yes, they can be quite attractive to the unscrupulous. No easy answers. A good secure lock and left in a safe place. It is possible to remove the battery and take it with you which makes the ebike less desirable. Hope it has not put you off cycling for good.

      Reply
  10. I love it! It’s 2020, eBike is definitely a great buy! Bikes are transportation in so many places too so why not!! Very nice job on the conversion!

    Reply
  11. We too love our eBikes. They have given us the ability to ride for longer. And tackle routes we would not have done without a little power help. Some people might thing they are “cheaters” but it actually gets us more biking hours. And I try not to use power unless I need the pedal assist. The downside is they are heavier for sure. And mine is really clumsy to move around. But still worth the trade off.

    Reply
  12. I had never given e-bikes much thought. This was a great overview!

    Reply
  13. Thank you for mentioning how an electric bike’s battery will only assist you if you are pedaling. My wife has been having trouble bending her knee ever since her car was rear-ended last month, and she would like to find a bike that she can use while her knee has limited mobility. Maybe she should consider getting an electric bike.

    Reply
    • Will she manage to pedal with a damaged knee? She would certainly be advised to try one before committing. Good luck. I hope it works out for her and that she makes a speedy recovery.

      Reply
  14. Interesting article ????
    Im looking at e bikes as I have very dodgy knees and just had one new knee fitted ????
    Please could you send me a link for the ebike conversion kits
    Thanks
    Linda x

    Reply
    • Hi Linda. The link is in the article: https://yosepower.com/
      Hope this works for you. Would recommend that you borrow or hire before investing. Good luck!

      Reply
  15. Hi Jane, great site!
    On the subject of ebike security, I recently built a mid motor ebike conversion out of a cheap old Kona Lava dome (£78 off eBay), but the Bafang BBSHD motor kit, battery etc came in at a heftier £900. I just use a good quality motorcycle lock. Sure, it weighs a few kilos, but when you’ve got an extra 1800watts in ‘your legs’ the extra weight of the lock in a saddle bag or coiled round the frame is not noticeable. The other thing I always do is take off the battery and take it with me, even if just nipping into a shop. The ‘lock’ the batteries have is just a small plastic tab, one kick and it’s off.

    The most enjoyable aspect of ebikes for me, as a middle aged man, is not on your list. The possibility of building one that’s not legal for UK road use, that prompts a small frisson of excitement every time I take it out. Such small, but relatively harmless frissons are life affirming for an otherwise sensible dad.

    Reply
    • Thanks Jake. Great idea about the motorcycle lock. That last bit made me laugh. Could not possibly comment!

      Reply

Tell us what you think. We love comments!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Jane profile pic

Hello

Hello!  I’m Jane. I live in the Lake District in the north of England with my husband, Peter. We love to travel, but this is a great place to call home.

We gave up work in order to travel and do all the things we were not able to do in our careers. We know we are incredibly lucky to be able to do this.

We are quite active and love skiing, hiking, biking, exploring etc, but we also enjoy history, art, music, science…..and good food and wine! In this blog, you will find articles on all of these subjects as we discover them on our travels.

Please subscribe to the blog. You will only receive an email letting you know when there is a new post. I would love to have your feedback and hear about your experiences.

Thank you!

Jane

Follow AbFabTravels via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this site and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Copyright

All photos & content are © Jane Frith and may not be used without permission. (Sharing this blog post on social media is appreciated though!)

Follow us on Social Media