I borrowed an eBike (an electric bike) last week and had a whale of a time cycling to work and for fun. Here’s how I got on…
Firstly, if you’re not sure what that is, an eBike is pretty much a standard bike, with the only difference being that it has an electric motor that assists you when you’re cycling. An eBike is not a moped – you still have to pedal for it to work!
My commute to work is 7 miles, a good 95% of which is along a traffic-free cycle path, which is great, but the journey is book-ended by two steep hills. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t choose to cycle that particular journey because I have cycled that route many times in the past for fun on a regular bike, and what I find is that as well as the hills being a lung-buster to cycle up, the route east to west is also prone to a horrific headwind that leaves you battling to inch the bike forward. When you have to be in work for a specific time, and not looking like a sweaty windswept mess, then it’s not ideal, so I was really excited to see if an eBike could be a feasible solution for me.
Jumping on the eBike for the first time, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I switched it on and silently took off, getting up to a good speed in no time. I whizzed along the path without any effort, meaning I could focus less on the pedalling and more on my surroundings, and arrived home in no time with a massive smile on my face.
En-route one lycra-clad cyclist shouted at me in jest that I was ‘cheating’, but my view is that eBikes aren’t cheating. If you’re using an eBike for a journey that too’s long, too difficult or too hilly to make by regular bike then it’s not cheating. If you’re using an eBike because your fitness or health isn’t quite what it used to be then that’s not cheating. In fact, I think the only time an eBike could be classed as cheating is if you entered the Tour de France on an eBike!
My beloved borrowed eBike and I!
What’s It Like Riding An eBike
I cycled on the Volt Metro, a folding eBike, but it’s worth checking out the electric bike selection at Bikester. They have a great selection of folding and non-folding eBikes.
Riding an eBike is just like riding a normal bike, so if you can ride a bike you can ride an eBike. You pedal it exactly like you would a normal bike, and use the gears and brakes just like you would on a normal bike – the only difference is it feels like Usain Bolt is running behind you, pushing you along as you cycle.
Most eBikes have varying speed settings, so you can choose the level of electric assist that you require. From a low setting for pootling along on the flat, to a high setting for powering up a steep hill. Some bikes even have a boost button, where it will give you an extra boost of power when you need it most (take that, headwinds!). And of course, you can switch the motor off and cycle without it if you want that option too.
Don’t worry about going too fast though. The eBike motor cuts out when you go over 15.5 mph. Go over that speed and you’re pedaling under your own steam, drop below 15.5 mph and the motor automatically kicks back in again.
I cycled along the path for 7 miles at a breezy 15 mph (even with a headwind) without so much as building up a sweat or feeling out of breath. I didn’t have sore legs afterwards, but definitely felt like I got some exercise. The journey was also a million times more fun than my usual commute by car.
Do You Need Any Special Equipment or a License to Ride an eBike?
No special equipment or clothing is required to ride an eBike beyond what you would need to ride a normal bike. Helmets aren’t mandatory for riding an eBike either, but I like to wear mine. The only thing that’s mandatory is front and rear lights if you’re cycling when it’s dark. I also like to carry around a small bike pump and a puncture repair kit for any bike related emergencies.
And you don’t need a license. Before you cycle on the road though, it’s a good idea to have a general awareness of the Highway Code. I always recommend this book as a comprehensive guide to on-road cycling too. If cycling is all new to you then booking some cycle lessons with a local cycle trainer is always a good idea to help boost your confidence and give you the skills for safe and enjoyable cycling.
How Do You Charge An eBike?
Unlike cars, you don’t need to have a charging point installed outside your house, nor do you need to use a special charging point to charge an eBike. eBikes can either be brought indoors and charged with the battery still attached to your bike, or alternatively, you can remove the battery from the bike and just bring the battery indoors for easy charging. eBikes are supplied with a charging cable, which just plugs into any plug point in your house.
Any Other Battery Questions?
Bikester have put together a fully comprehensive eBikes battery FAQ that guides you through all the questions you might have – from charging to how long your battery will last for and more.
I was so sad to hand my electric bike back at the end of my trial period, but it’s definitely something I’m thinking about getting to replace certain car journeys with. Fast, fun and easy cycling – eBikes are a great way to build up stamina, get some gentle exercise in, all whilst travelling from A to B without having to rely on public transport.