What is an Electric Bike?
When it comes to commuting, the nail has finally dropped for Robin Smith who has finally converted over to electric. Robin (56) from Somerset, is one of our latest customers converting over to an Electric Bike which is fast becoming a two wheeled commuting revolution sweeping across the UK and parts of Europe.
Robin describes how, by ditching the car in favour of his Electric Bike (or eBikes as some like to call them), he has transformed his daily 50 mile round trip commute. "I've got to travel across the Mendips, where there are some big hills to climb", he goes on to say "The Electric Bike is brilliant and far exceeds my expectations. It helps me to keep a good speed, even when climbing, so when I get to work I'm not exhausted. It's almost as fast as taking the car as I don't get caught up in any rush hour traffic, plus I find it's a great way to start my dad. Put me in such a good mood for my working day. I absolutely love it".
For those of you who are unsure. What is an Electric Bike (eBike)?
In essence it is a regular bike that has been pimped up by adding an electric motor, a battery and other hi-tech accessories to complete the eBike story. The electric motor kicks in automatically as soon as you start pedalling and you can then alter how much help you get from the motor when cycling (Pedal Assist). So when you're struggling and need some help, you can raise the level of assistance instead of putting your body through too much strain.
"Long gone are the days when I used to fight against rush hour traffic and feel stressed even before reaching my office. Now I get to work feeling refreshed, calm and ready to tackle my daily workload with the correct mind set"
But you can't let the motor do all the hard work for you, as Electric Bikes (eBikes) are neither classed as mini scooters nor mopeds. For Electric Bikes to be road legal in the UK the motor must cut out once you hit 15.5mph. Now, you can of course still cycle faster than this like when you pedal like the clappers of freewheel downhill, but the point is that this is down to your effort and not that of the motor. All Electric Bikes from Electric Bike Conversions Ltd will have a speed limiter function where you can restrict the speed that the motor cuts out.
The battery will usually let you cycle anything from 15-40 miles depending on many aspects but more importantly how you ride the bike. Using just the throttle will get you roughly 15 miles where using just the lower levels of assistance will get you nearer to 40 miles. If you do then run out of juice, you can still get to your destination using just the conventional pedal power of a normal bike.
The batteries on our Fireball range of Electric Bikes are all detachable from the bike frame allowing you to recharge them via a regular plug socket which normally takes between 6-7 hours from flat to fully charges.
"I find 50 miles daily too much to do on one charge so I charge my battery up overnight at home, and then charge it up again while at work. That gives me more than enough power to get each way"
We've even had customers tell us that because they generate their own power (Solar Panels), running their Electric Bike is 100% sustainable and carbon free.
The best thing about an Electric Bike is that you don't need a licence to ride one or pass any kind of test. So if your unable to drive a car, you might not have passed your driving test, might have lost your driving licence, or down to health you can still get from A to B on an Electric Bike. You're not legally obliged to wear a helmet, although we recommend that you do so.
Many people will take up cycling to get fitter, but given that you've got an electric motor to help whizz you up the steepest of hills, can an Electric Bike really help you shift some unwanted weight? "Most definitely", says Robin Smith. "You still need to make some effort on an Electric Bike, but you can manage the amount of help you get. If I'm not feeling so energetic than I increase my level of assistance, but if I'm up for it I tend to use less assistance".
"In the three months I've been using my Electric Bike (eBike) I've got much fitter without really noticing it and don't need to now visit the gym in the evening as I've had my workout getting to and from the office".
The difference between Electric Bikes and regular bikes, though, comes with the cost – as most Electric Bikes are priced at upwards of £2000. The cost of converting your bike or buying a converted Fireball Electric Bike helps you to buy a ready built eBike for a fraction of the cost.
So, can an Electric Bike help you to save money on your commute? With your battery costing roughly 6-7p to recharge (or free if you use renewable energy), plus an annual eBike service normally costing between £100-£150, the financial benefits of having an Electric Bike are compelling. "I'm well on track for my Electric Bike to have paid for itself within four months, so only one more month to go. After that, I'm still saving money compared with commuting in the car. I don't have to pay for fuel, car parking, and have cancelled my gym membership as well. All done to regular cycling on my Fireball Electric Bike", said Robin Smith. If you live in London you also don't need to pay any Congestion Charge on an Electric Bike.
Research suggests that 43% of commuters who aren't currently cycling to work don't because they are either not fit enough or need to arrive at work wearing a business suit and there are no facilities to change or to have a shower. "The big plus for riding my Electric Bike is that you don't get hot and sweaty like you do on a regular bike. Plus at the end of a long day you can enjoy the ride home because you've got the backup power from the battery", said Robin.
In our opinion Electric Bikes have the potential to transform cycling for many people including commuters. With leadership and urgent action from government, eBikes could also tackle the public health emergency of poor air quality by making a realistic travel choice for everyone.
We'll leave the last word to Robin who has some advice for anyone thinking of buying an Electric Bike
"You really need to try an Electric Bike to really understand what it feels like and to really appreciate its benefits. When you're our riding with the breeze blowing in your face it's wonderful to know that you're getting fitter, helping the environment and saving money. It feels like the future has already arrived".