Tony Booth of All Terrain Cycles in Wetherby and the Yorkshire Electric Bike Company explains the appeal of e-bikes.
While traditionally there has been some snobbery from hardcore cyclists about the emergence of electrically assisted bikes, attitudes are changing and today’s e-bikes are appealing to people of all ages. As well as older people, increasingly, 20, 30 and 40-somethings who enjoy the thrill of mountain biking are turning to motorised bikes for some off-road fun.
Electric bikes have been rapidly growing in popularity in Europe in recent years with estimates that as many as 30 per cent of cyclists on the continent have converted and predictions that the craze is about to take off in the UK too. In Germany, 535,000 electric bikes were sold in 2015 alone.
Given their strong environmental credentials and the fact that they are a cost-effective way to get around, many commuters are now using them and they are proving as popular with motorcyclists as with traditional cyclists looking for a little extra power. They’re also a great way of giving teenagers more independence - anyone over the age of 14 can ride them.
With a small, integrated electric motor engaged by pedalling or using the throttle on the handlebar, they have a maximum uphill speed of 15mph and riders can choose from different levels of power to assist them. They have rechargeable batteries that are charged at a normal mains socket; it takes about three hours to charge and they last for around 20 miles.
There is still an element of exercise involved as you have to pedal in order for the motor to run, making them ideal for people who want to get around without getting sweaty or for those who have an injury that prevents them from using a conventional bike. That extra boost of power saves the slog, particularly up hills – meaning you won’t get hot and bothered and can ascend at a steady, safe and consistent speed. They also have the additional advantage of not needing road tax, insurance or a licence - and you can park anywhere.
Providing a practical, cheap and fun way to get around, they are, of course, ideal for older people who want to prolong their cycling life. However, having originally targeted pedal assist bikes at the over 50s, the industry has been surprised to see the huge take-up from hip, young mountain bikers looking for the added thrill of having a motor, enabling them to tackle off road trails no matter how steep.
These e-MTBs offer all the benefits you would expect from a performance-orientated trail bike, but with the added boost of power. They’re ideal for mountain bikers recovering from injuries or for those who want to enjoy an occasional off-road blast without having to commit to a tough training regime in order to keep up with the pack. An e-bike will help get you up those climbs faster and enable you to cover longer distances so they’re a real boost for training as well as helping you to quickly power through to more exciting parts of the trail.
Every cycling purist I know who has claimed that he will never ride an electric bike because it’s lazy to have pedal assistance has changed their mind as soon as they’ve tried one – me included.
There is a huge range of e-bikes to choose from, whether you want a compact model for commuting or a high performance mountain bike with carbon frame.
We’re finding that many of our customers who might already have three or four bikes are now adding an e-bike to their fleet.