We’re already preaching to the choir when we try to sell EVA Scotland members on the benefits of electric vehicles, but we’d like to suggest another song to sing. For some, the idea of swapping the car or van for a bike will sound like a step too far – too much effort, too worthy, too… Lycra! – but in fact e-bikes are not just a practical alternative or partner to electric and ICE vehicles, but for some use cases they’re vastly superior.
Let’s address cost head-on first, because it’s definitely the biggest issue for many. Decent e-bikes – and you should always choose a decent e-bike from manufacturers such as Gazelle, Kalkhoff or Riese & Muller, since cheaper ones will prove expensive and hard to maintain in the long run – start not much less than £2,000, and that’s a lot of money. But you’re an EV enthusiast, so you know how this maths goes: expensive to buy up-front, cheap to run. A full charge of an e-bike battery will probably cost you between 5 and 10p, and depending on your riding style could run you about 50 miles. Lots of shops – including ours in Dundee’s City Quay – offer 0% financing to make it easier, and there is currently four-year interest-free financing available via the Scottish government.
And then, at the other end of the spectrum, even before we get to the practical advantages of e-bikes, let us say up front that they’re just fun! Up and down the land, abandoned push-bikes rust in garages and gardens, despite the best of intentions when bought. But with the electric boost you get from an e-bike’s motor, you want to cycle when you can, and you’re not tempted to lapse into more expensive modes of transport.
Of course there are health benefits too. Even with variable pedal assist from the motor, you’re still cycling – these aren’t electric mopeds – and not only do you get fresh air and exercise, but because it’s easy, convenient and fun, you actually do it, and often too!
They’re just so handy for getting door-to-door, as well. Over about five miles or less, they’re actually usually faster than a car, in part because you can literally go door-to-door – no more finding a nearby car park (with the added complication sometimes of needing a charge point for EVs) and walking to your final destination. Low emission zones and most pedestrianised zones are open to you, of course, and cargo e-bikes make so much sense for shuttling goods and other loads around urban areas – for a fraction of the cost of a petrol motorbike, with a nearly infinitely smaller environmental cost, and without tiring yourself or your staff out thanks to the electric power boost. Hills? Not a problem. Access? Solved.
Bike miles are cheaper even than EV miles, and so you’re making an even greater positive green impact too, which may be something parents are thinking about even more; e-bikes, then, are also perfect for getting kids around. Whether you opt for a seat, a trailer, or the luxury of a ‘cargo e-bike’ fitted out for kids, e-bikes are perfect for the parents of little kids.
It’s been our privilege over the decade we’ve served Dundee to watch e-bikes go from clunky hub-driven models to highly-refined, powerful and accessible crank-driven models that open up the health, cost, environmental, convenience and enjoyment benefits of e-bikes to everyone – from cycling evangelicals to anyone looking for a better commute, from folk with health issues who could use an extra bit of help, to families, businesses and uncountable others who might never even have considered how well a bike could fit into their lives. If you’re in Dundee, come and visit us, take one for a spin, and discover it all for yourself; you might change your tune!