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Myth busting: Breaking down Misconceptions about Electric Bikes

Words by Cycle Solutions

on 26/02/2021 13:09:21

Electric bikes have been dividing opinion for some time now. It’s easy to see why, but there really is little reason for people to dislike them. They are just bikes, albeit with added assistance. If you’ve never ridden an e-bike it can be easy to dislike them but if you have, you’re likely converted to the many benefits.

For the record, we’re not saying e-bikes are perfect, we appreciate that they are costly and not everyone can afford one, but there are certainly a few things you’ll hear repeatedly when it comes to electric bikes. We wanted to explore the potential issues and see if we can’t change a few minds in the process. The electric bike market is steadily growing, with the Bicycle Association reporting a 29% increase in sales at the start of 2020. So, let’s dive into some of the reasons e-bikes have got their reputation and do some myth busting.

MY21 Roam E+ electric bike action images

E-bikes are cheating

Cheating who, cheating what? We can empathise when people use Strava and don’t select e-bike ride and end up taking all the QOM or KOMs, but otherwise, why is it an issue if people choose to ride with some assistance?

There are so many reasons people choose to do so. Whether it’s just because they want to, due to injury, recovery, or for any other reason, as long as people are out riding their bike and being respectful of the rules and others around them (we know not everyone will do this, but we can’t tar everyone with the same brush) then why should it have any impact on anyone else?

Electric bikes are for injured or older people

Whilst this is one of their many benefits, electric bikes are for anyone. They will assist you as much as you want. You can choose to boost it everywhere or conserve the battery and cruise in eco.

Electric bikes have indeed made things more accessible. We can see that they are becoming more popular and that there will always be misconceptions and things that need to be discussed. That’s another reason we wanted to open up a narrative to talk about any concerns as well as talking about the benefits. We can also appreciate that they are a big outlay and some people may not be able to afford one. They are a great investment, though, whatever your situation. They will allow you to ride longer than you would otherwise be able to, open up new travel possibilities and allow those who need it, the extra support to get back to doing something they enjoy.

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You can’t ride them in bad weather

As long as you’re not riding in a full-on monsoon, or submerging your bike, they are fine to ride in wet weather. An electric bike needs different care to a bike with no battery or motor. You may find that the longevity of your battery will be affected in very cold or particularly wet conditions, but you can still ride them when the weather is bad.

They are too fast and not safe

In the UK, once you reach 15MPH (24.14KPH) an electric bike will stop assisting you, after that it’s all your own leg power. You can arguably get up to speed quicker and with less effort, but essentially past 15MPH, an electric bike is just like any other bike. Safety is a priority of course, so always make sure you adhere to manufacturers guidelines and wear safety gear appropriate for the kind of riding you’re doing.

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You can treat them like any normal bike

For the most part, yes you can. However there are a few things you have to be mindful of.

Washing it

It’s a good idea to be extra careful where possible when washing your electric bike. If you are using a pressure washer, make sure you don’t use it too close, don’t wash the bike upside down, and be mindful of cleaning around the battery, motor and controls.

Different manufacturers recommend different things, so always make sure you check out what your manufacturer and indeed, the motor manufacturer say about looking after, and getting the most out of your e-bike.

Be careful when washing your bike, you don’t want to penetrate anything that isn’t supposed to get too wet. Many motor manufacturers recommend not using a pressure washer, but instead using a hose or a damp cloth. The main thing is to ensure it’s thoroughly dry once you’re done. Every so often you should remove the battery and motor cover to clean inside where mud and dirt have ingressed.

Checking it

As with usual bikes, getting it serviced is important. You will need to get it serviced more regularly if you ride it often. But the main thing is to care for it as you would with a normal bike. Check your bolts regularly, keep things clean and maintained and replace things when necessary.

There’s a lot of advice and guidance about charging, some differs from others, and as usual each manufacturer will have their own care instructions, so make sure you read them to help prolong the life of your battery.

It is recommended that you don’t leave your battery at 100% when storing it (this would be if you haven’t ridden it for around two months). Between 40-80% charge is adequate. You can charge it once you’re ready to use it. If you won’t be using your bike for a while, remove the battery and store it in a warm, dry place. You don’t need to charge your battery up to 100% at all times, in fact this can put stress on the battery, so only charge before a ride where possible.

Action images for 2021 Trance X E+ Pro 29 electric bike

They are for lazy people

We’re not sure where this comes from or why others have decided to perceive electric bike riders in this way. The truth is, most of the time people will cycle occasionally. Life is busy, people are busy. Why not get enjoyment and make things easier. Electric bikes make riding more accessible, they allow people to come back from injury, those with health issues to ride. Even those who are able-bodied and fit can get great enjoyment, more riding and typically go further with the assistance they provide.

Not all of us are athletes, we fit in a ride when we can. You don’t need an electric bike. If you don’t want one that’s entirely up to you, but more people on bikes means the environment benefits, as does people’s mental health. It also means there will be more investment into better infrastructure such as cycle lanes and bike parking.

So whether we’re preaching to the choir, or you’re not convinced, electric bikes are here to stay and their popularity is growing. They help make things choosing to ride a bike shorter distances rather than taking the car that much easier. E-bikes can help you get out more, ride when you feel tired, help when you’re recovering, aid you in training, keep up with other people and so much more. Again, we appreciate the cost is greater than a normal bike and this may not be something everyone can afford, but if you’re able to, through schemes like Cycle to Work, then it’s great to make the change and commit to cycling more.

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