Join the ebike revolution

YOU often know the difference between an ebike and a regular bike, not by the look of it, but the look of the person riding it.

George Robertson with some E Bikes  eBikes electric bicycles                                                          Picture: ROB CURRIE. (29586235)
George Robertson with some E Bikes eBikes electric bicycles Picture: ROB CURRIE. (29586235)

Chances are they may not look like a ‘regular cyclist’. They may be dressed in a suit and tie, moving swiftly with ease and a content, slightly smug smile as they overtake any ‘regular cyclist’ sweating it out up a hill or into a head wind.

Most ebikes are, however, just regular bikes, with a battery mounted on, or within, the frame and an electric-assist motor that is built into the crank (between the pedals). The motor is only activated varyingly by how much effort the rider applies to the pedals, therefore only giving a complimentary assistance to the rider in a passive manner, a little like riding with an enjoyable tail wind, down hill. If you can ride a bike, you can ride an ebike. All ebikes will come with the ability to choose what level of assist you may desire, so you are able to set the level of assist according to the amount of effort you would like to exert, or not.

How to buy an ebike

All local bike shops stock and sell different brands of ebikes (possibly more than regular bikes) so it is worth spending a few hours shopping around and seeing what demo bikes the shops may have and having a test ride before committing. Prices start from around £1,500 (ten months’ parking charges) for a good-quality make and model. The choice available then goes up as far as £10,000, so probably a good place to begin is deciding upon your budget for the bike.

Another option if you want to test ride an ebike is to try out the EVie shared bikes, which are also electrically assisted. However, as these are shared bikes, and built to withstand a bashing, they may not be the best representation of how good a personal ebike can be. They do also, however, have a range of ebikes that can be rented monthly which may be a great try-before-you-buy option. Further details may be found on their website at /evie.je/bluebike.

Variations of ebike

Commuter, cargo, mountain or road racer, the popularity of ebiking is undeniable due to the variations of ebikes available, with commuter and leisure bikes being the most popular.

If considering this category, be sure to look out for built-in lights, mudguards and pannier racks to compliment your daily ride throughout the seasons.

Cargo ebikes are also becoming hugely popular and come in many guises. The ‘Tern GSD’ (see ternbicycles.com) is a fantastic option with the ability to carry two small passengers and a week’s worth of shopping.

It will also fit in the boot of your car or stand up on end in your apartment. Electric mountain bikes are probably one of the biggest-growing variations of ebike in the past few years, giving trail riders as much fun going uphill as down and broadening the choice of trails and paths that are accessible.

Road-racing ebikes do a great job of equalising the abilities of two, or a group of, riders who may like to ride at the same pace with the same effort but differing abilities. In terms of weight, most regular ebikes will be approximately 40% heavier than a regular bike (18 kilos as opposed to 11 kilos). However, this is not an issue in respect of riding due to the assist from the motor. It may, though, be a consideration if there is a need to carry the bike for any reason.

Ebikes and Jersey

There couldn’t be a better place than Jersey to justify an investment in an ebike. We are an island with more registered motor vehicles than people, inefficient frustrating congestion and, with no space left for bigger or more roads, the only way forward is to reduce the space we each need on our roads. This is where the ebike is perfectly placed to travel at roughly the same average speed as a car in urban areas (15mph) and solve the congestion levels and our environmental impact at the same time.

Then there are our hills and our head winds which, as mentioned above, ebikes are perfectly suited to address. Of course, let’s not forget the rain, but maybe we can take a lesson from our Dutch and Danish friends who seem to cope perfectly well with the use of well suited over-clothing – see bicycle2work.com/best-cycling-rain-capes. And, remember, no matter how much you layer up, ebiking is a no-sweat exercise if desired.

Ebike group social rides

Ebiking has become so popular that there are now cycling groups that regularly meet to ride together with many members of the group using ebikes. One such example is the women-only Jersey Breeze Group, which you can find out more about by visiting letsride.co.uk/groups/jersey-breeze.

Conclusion

Ebikes have the potential to improve our economy and the lives of people who are less physically able, while also reducing our congestion and improving our air quality by reducing our emissions. They can also improve our mental and physical health by increasing our activity levels. For those of us who can, let’s do our bit for those that can’t. Go on, join our ebike revolution.

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