A Bike With Benefits
Electric bikes, “e-bikes,” have been around for kind of a long time now, more commonly in Asia and European countries but only within the last several years has this segment really seen steady growth in the United States and gained momentum that’s snowballed into one of the most popular topics and fastest growing categories within the bike industry today and is now breaking out even more into the mainstream for its practicality and fun factor.
Although some US state governing bodies and land management bureaus are still working out kinks pertaining to how to appropriately and fairly regulate recreational e-bike use for on and off trails, we think it’s safe to say e-bikes are here to stay and we should expect to see a lot more of them in common everyday use as motor and battery packaging technology and performance continues to improve and develop into an even more affordable and realistic option for many as a reliable means of transportation with a growing infrastructure to help support it.
01. Ride Faster and For Longer
Probably the strongest characteristic that makes e-bike riding so enjoyable is the fact it allows the rider the ability to travel greater distances at greater speeds and do so for a longer period of time when compared to a non-electrically assisted pedal bike. Some of the more conservative-minded cyclists paint the entire category of e-bikes in a negative light and label their use as, “cheating,” which is perhaps true when measured against traditional cycling like in prestigious races such as Tour de France, but for the average person none of that matters nor is it relevant.
The appeal of the e-bike is very much the same appeal of what a traditional pedal bike provides except its capability is amplified (literally and figuratively), an e-bike can do the same things as a regular bike but can do them while turned up to 11… and without needing a fifteen minute rest, snack, and Gatorade afterward. For those whom like to bikepack and ride trails far off the beaten path an eMTB can allow even further exploration and take you deeper into secluded areas that may have been unreachable by conventional MTB means, and with the ability to pack more weight and supplies onto an e-bike with little or no consequence to physical endurance this can let you stay in these remote places for longer than before.
02. Economical and Environmentally Beneficial
According to 2018 United States Census figures 8.7% of households did not have access to a vehicle, which means 91.3% of American people did have access. This means e-bikes hold the potential to fulfill this need as a more affordable mode of transportation for some of those people whom can’t commit to ownership of a vehicle plus the financial responsibility of auto insurance, registration, fuel, maintenance, and parking fees (dependent on location). Alternatively, depending on circumstances, for people that do have access to a vehicle, an e-bike may actually be a more attractive solution than to depend on a car. If more people chose to fill their transportation needs with an e-bike it’s not unrealistic that we could expect to see a noticeable improvement in air quality as well as a decline in vehicle traffic congestion.
03. Positive Health Effects
A popular misconception is that e-bikes do all the hard work for you — in short, this isn’t true. Despite this common misnomer, pedal assist e-bikes do still require physical exertion and is an excellent means of aerobic and cardiovascular exercise. In fact, a research study conducted by The Department of Public Heath at Brigham Young University compared electrically assisted eMTB rider’s heart rates to that of conventional non-electrically-assisted MTB riders and results showed:
“Average heart rate during eMTB use was 93.6% of average heart rate during conventional mountain bike use. Riding both types of bikes on the study loop caused the participants to exceed at least heart-rate levels for moderate-intensity fitness activities and placed the average heart rate for a majority of participants in the vigorous-intensity zone. Therefore, eMTB use in this study retained the bulk of the exercise response and exceeded established biometric thresholds for cardiovascular fitness.” — Pedal-Assist Mountain Bikes: A Pilot Study Comparison of the Exercise Response, Perceptions, and Beliefs of Experienced Mountain Bikers
Another positive health effect is that e-bikes can more easily lead to building strong healthy habits and encourage an overall healthier lifestyle. E-bikes can be an attractive way to help people whom may of been formerly discouraged or physically limited in their ability to get on a bike due to being faced with personal physical challenges including prior injury, surgical recovery, or living with other physical limitations. People that are already experienced life long cyclists with a love for the activity, e-bikes can allow many of these people to continue doing what they love for as long as they possibly can despite any new physical hindrances that commonly comes with age.
04. Ease of Access
In the United States many forms of motorized transportation have restrictions that require a license, license plate, title, insurance, or vehicle registration to legally operate that vehicle. E-bikes, with fewer purchase and use limitations, are much more easily accessible while remaining both efficient, fun, and affordable — for many buyers all that’s required is getting yourself to a local bike shop to check out their inventory and to chat with the knowledgeable staff to learn about what options are best for you. Or, for those that prefer to stay home there are many online e-bike vendors to choose from that can ship either directly to your house or nearby local bike shop where you can pick up.
Regulations vary state-by-state — Before riding or final purchase it is the responsibility of the e-bike rider to contact the appropriate local governing body for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding e-bike use in your area.
05. Hills? No Sweat!
Apart from all the other great advantages that come with riding an e-bike mentioned above, the fact that an e-bike can make pedaling up hills drastically easier is a HUGE benefit. It’s a very specific benefit worth calling attention to because for many people that either don’t ride conventional pedal bikes often, or even for some that do ride on a regular basis, unless you’re a glutton for punishment pedaling up hills is one of the most tiring and miserable parts of riding a bike, period. Even without any data to back this statement I’d wager it’s not a wildly inaccurate thing to say that riding up hills is one of the top reasons why a lot of people avoid riding altogether. Now, obviously if you live in a flat area where hills are of not much concern this then doesn’t apply, although in this situation your limiting factor is essentially how much fuel you have in your metaphorical gas tank, when at some point distance itself inevitably becomes an obstacle even on flat ground.
The grand point we’re making here is that drastically reducing the chore and energy sap of having to climb hills may be enough to bridge the gap in some people’s decision making process when the option to choose between hopping in a car versus using a bike presents itself. If you need to go somewhere and there are frequent hills along the way you’re probably most likely to get in your car because truth is if you’re not biking solely for exercise nobody wants to arrive at their destination tired and drenched in sweat. Now, if this were with an e-bike, those very same hills are suddenly no longer a concern and pedaling to your destination actually becomes a fun activity that you start to look forward to, and just maybe you begin to find excuses to make more of your future trips using an e-Bike instead of a car.