Electric Bike Mythbusters: Part One | are they really green?

Is an electric bike a sensible, green investment?

Like any revolutionary, life improving mode of wonder transport, the Electric Bike is subject to its fair share of stigma.

Electric bike riders have to contend with the accusation that their preferred mode of transport is cheating. Their electric powered bicycle isn’t saving energy. The implication can be that the ebike rider is self-righteous for even bothering. But how do these myths hold up under scrutiny? Is it wise to invest? Read on:

MYTH 1: Riding an electric bike is ‘cheating’.

Cycling is the battle between humans, gravity and friction (with just sprockets and kinetic energy on board to help). This most common complaint, usually heard from the cycling old-guard, is understandable - and total guff. Right?



An electric bike lets you cheat only in so far as your car does, or a train, or a bus. It is simply one more mode of transport with its role to play. If you view cycling as a sport (or hobby, or religion), then accusations of cheating make sense - but not everyone is chasing the same ideal of conquering hills purely under their own steam. Some folks want to get to work in comfort or take in the world around them. And a bit of fresh air and exercise is a welcome extra (that is, only if you want it).

Cyclist racing up mountain

MYTH 2: They’re not green.

One complaint regularly levelled against the electric bike is that it’s ‘not really’ green. The argument is that the battery of an e-bike uses energy generated elsewhere. Therefore, it’s wrong to self righteously preach about using an emission-free vehicle when those emissions are generated earlier in the process.



As usual, these arguments ignore the reality of how vehicles are used, by whom, and how regularly. Electric bikes consume fuel at an average rate of 100 to 150 watts of electrical energy, compared to the 15,000 or so of a car. So, considering the average speed of a car during rush hour is a mere 16mph, and that your vehicle is least efficient when used for local journeys (a staggering 80% of car journeys are under 5 miles), it becomes clear that the green credentials of electric bikes are well-founded. Save the car for carpooling.

Image of powerstation chimneys

MYTH 3: They’re overpriced.

A decent electric bike will set you back at least £1200, and there doesn’t seem to be an upper limit on cost when it comes to the more ‘prestigious’ brands. And that’s without factoring in the price of electricity and maintenance. How long will it take before you make back your investment in savings?



Let’s look at the numbers: a full charge of a 10ah Juicy Bike battery costs under 10p and will take you 30 miles or more. That’s the equivalent of at least 1,500 to 2,000 miles per gallon. And as anyone with a car will know, fuel costs are just the start of it.

Considering the time and stress of finding that vacant space for parking your four wheels, hopefully near the working ticket machine, plundering coins from pockets or between seats, it’s enough to turn what should be a pleasure into a palaver.

Is it wise to mention wear and tear on your combustion car heating up and cooling down between trips that should take 10 mins yet turn into another stress-induced hour deducted from YOUR expected lifespan? Never mind the car - you can always get that serviced (for yet another fee)! Stepping up to start riding to work will save hundreds in parking fees, congestion charges and chocolate consumption related to driver stress before you even consider fuel.

Make a full-time switch over to electric commuting and save even more on tax and insurance to top up on the health and well-being experienced by your average two-wheeled traveller. Soon you’ll be swapping the anger management group for a poetry class.

image of congested car park


Aren’t electric bikes just for older riders? Aren’t they a hassle to maintain? All this and more, in Part 2.