Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric Bikes

Electric bikes have revolutionized the world of short-distance commuting. Their global popularity has considerably grown the size of the biking community.

With numerous e-bike companies worldwide, their demand is bound to keep growing. Market insights suggest that the global e-bike market will be worth approximately $48.5 billion by 2028.

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Just like every other consumer product, electric bikes also come with their respective advantages and disadvantages. These pros and cons decide whether an electric bike is the right purchase for you.

Advantages and Disadvantages of an Electric Bike

Electric bikes are very similar to regular bikes. Both almost look the same, have similar components and have the same functions.

However, electric bikes have many differences as well. While some cyclists still choose to stick to their traditional bikes, many have shifted to electric bikes.

Research shows that electric bikes turn people into regular bikers. A scoping review of the e-bike industry shows that people with e-bikes are more likely ride them more regularly, compared to those who own regular bicycles.

Electric bikes have numerous qualities that have contributed to their popularity across the world. However, much like any new electric vehicle, there are some disadvantages to consider as well. Because of these qualities, some people are hesitant about e-bikes while others are obsessed.

This article will elaborate on the advantages and disadvantages that come with owning an e-bike.

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Advantages of an Electric Bike

The popularity of electric bikes has attracted many non-bikers to the biking community. Most of these bikers are seen riding their electric bikes on a regular basis.

The many advantages of electric bikes have given rise to their global popularity and demand. With nearly 550,000 units sold in the US in 2021, the sales are expected to increase.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric Bikes
Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric Bikes

1. Electric Bikes have Eco-friendly Technology

With the climate crisis being a concerning issue,  most people want to do their part by reducing their carbon footprint. Since vehicular traffic is one of the main contributors to carbon pollution, their increased usage will only exacerbate the problem.

Electric bikes are an eco-friendlier form of transportation compared to cars, buses, and motorbikes. Unlike traditional transport methods that run on fossil fuel, electric bikes run on electricity.

Regular vehicles that burn fossil fuel emit high amounts of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. These gasses harm the environment, affect global climate and pose threats to human health.

Excess carbon dioxide emissions forms a layer above the earth’s atmosphere, trapping the heat inside. This trapped heat results in global warming, rising sea levels, and have a negative impact on food and water supply.

Furthermore, nitrous oxide emissions deplete the ozone layer. This allows harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun to reach the earth’s surface.

These rays further increase global temperatures and can have drastic effects on health. Increased exposure to harmful UV rays could lead to skin cancer.

Hence, shifting to electric-powered vehicle sources can control these harmful emissions. This change would allow global warming and other drastic climate changes to slow down.

According to a study conducted by the European Cyclists Federation, e-bikes are even better than e-cars. An e-car produces 150 grams/mile of carbon dioxide on average, while an e-bike only produces 3-5 grams/mile. 

The table below shows different transport vehicles and their average carbon dioxide emissions per kilometer.

Vehicle TypeCarbon Dioxide Emissions grams/Kilometer
Electric Bike22
Electric Car104
Hybrid Car168
Petrol Car258

Moreover, fossil fuels are not renewable sources of energy. The world will eventually run out of them, making the need for alternative energy sources necessary.

Hence, shifting to electric bikes now to preserve fossil fuels for industry uses only is a smart strategy.

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2. Improves Physical and Mental Health

Electric bikes do not solely rely on electric-powered motors to keep going. Unlike motorbikes, an electric bike needs to be pedaled to activate the electrical assistance.

These kinds of e-bikes are called pedal-assist bikes and are the most common type of e-bikes.

Just like regular bikes, riders need to put in the physical effort to keep the bike going. This effort results in a good cardio workout and improved physical health.

With electric assistance making the ride easier and smoother, many people ride their e-bikes regularly. As a result, people can develop a healthy daily exercise routine.

Moreover, cycling around town can help a person destress and improve their mental health. It allows the person a moment of isolation to clear their mind and relax.

Hence, riding an electric bike can be therapeutic and improve mental health.

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3. Perfect for People with Physical Inabilities

Not everyone has the right physical health or capacity to enjoy an effortless bike ride.

Pedaling a regular bike could add stress and pressure to the joints. Someone already suffering from joint or bone issues might find it painful to pedal for too long.

Moreover, a person’s muscle density and size decrease with age. As a result, they no longer have the capacity to exert energy and pedal a regular bike.

In many such cases, doctors recommend bike riding to restore health and improve muscle strength. For such individuals, riding an electric bike is the best possible option.

The added electrical assistance requires less physical exertion and reduced need for continuous pedaling. The electric assistance requires less effort, and hence the joints or bones feel less stress.

As a result, people who otherwise could not ride can now enjoy a relaxing bike ride.

Moreover, getting old means losing the strength and capacity to pedal with ease. As a result, many older adults become dependent on others for simple daily commutes.

An electric bike hence is especially great for older adults. It allows them to regain control of their independence and move around at their own will.

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4. It’s a Cheap Mode of Transportation

With rising fuel prices around the world, affording fuel for a personal car has become a challenge for many people. This increase in fuel prices has led to bus and taxi fares going up as well.

Compared to refueling, charging an electric bike battery is far cheaper and more cost-effective. Hence, owning an electric bike can help save excessive fuel-related transportation costs.

Moreover, you do not have to worry about paying for parking or license registration with an e-bike.

5. Travel More Distance

Unless one is an athlete with above-average physical abilities, one cannot keep pedaling for too long. As a result, traveling either on foot or on a regular bike cannot be done for longer distances.

Having an electric bike allows a person to travel longer distances without getting too tired.

Electric bikes come with different modes for electrical assistance. These modes determine how much electrical assistance the e-bike’s motor provides.

The table below shows different Bosch e-bike modes and their respective electrical power assistance. The numbers shown below are for a flat landscape ride and vary on different terrains.

Bosch Pedal Assist ModesAdditional Electrical Power Assistance (%)
Eco Mode40%
Tour Mode100%
Sport Mode150%
Turbo Mode225%

When riders get too tired to continue pedaling, they can shift to a higher pedal assist mode. Doing so would allow more electrical power assistance while requiring less physical pedaling.

As a result, the rider is able to cover more distances in one go.

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6. Travel at Higher Speeds

It is impossible for an average human being to maintain their pedaling speed over long distances. The rider is bound to get tired and hence slow down.

Moreover, riding a regular bike against strong winds could significantly reduce your pedaling speed.

On the other hand, an electric bike is great for maintaining high speeds. One can simply shift to a higher pedal-assist mode and travel much faster.

The added electrical assistance would allow speed to be maintained or increased even against strong winds.

According to research, average bike riders can maintain a 15miles/hour speed for a one-hour ride. Whereas, with a high-powered electric bike, one can travel at almost double the speed. 

The table below shows the different Bosch e-bike modes and their respective speeds on flat surfaces.

Bosch Pedal Assist ModesTop Average Speeds (miles/hour)
Eco Mode15
Tour Mode20
Sport Mode28
Turbo Mode30

These e-bikes are especially great for traveling fast uphill, which otherwise is incredibly hard on regular bikes.

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7. Help Reduce Traffic Jams

The traffic jams are a result of the increase in personally owned cars and high demand for public transport.

Electric bikes are significantly smaller in size than cars and buses. If more people switch to e-bikes, it will reduce vehicular traffic on the road.

With more individuals riding electric bikes for daily commutes, the traffic situation is bound to improve. Furthermore, it will reduce the impact of carbon pollution on the atmosphere.

8. Makes for a Great Recreational Activity

It is quite challenging to plan an extensive trip or holiday with family or friends with busy schedules. Rather, one can much more easily plan an e-biking activity for the weekend.

Riding e-bikes together with family or friends is a great way for spending quality time together. It helps strengthen bonds and improve relationships.

Moreover, people with the limited physical ability also get an opportunity to participate equally.

Furthermore, having an e-bike allows a person to become a part of the widespread e-biking community. This instills a feeling of belonging and helps one contact and ride with similar interests.

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Disadvantages of an Electric Bike

Just like all consumer products, electric bikes also have some downsides. These disadvantages could affect some people more than others.

1. Higher Purchase Price

An electric bike has a motor, wiring, battery, and advanced technology. Hence, it is costlier than a regular bike.

Compared to regular bikes, an average electric bike is almost two or three times the price. This high price makes these e-bikes impossible to purchase for some people.

2. Higher Repair and Management Costs

The electric battery is the heart of an electric bike. An electric bike is nothing more than a regular bike without a battery.

The battery is also the most expensive component of an electric bike. In case of damage, repairs or replacement can be much costlier than repairing any conventional bike’s components.

Most electric bikes run on lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are sensitive to extreme temperatures and can get damaged without proper care. Getting a new battery would be a significant expense for most e-bike owners.

Many conventional bike owners usually are able to manage repairs or change tires by themselves. However, repairing an e-bike’s component requires more knowledge and expertise, requiring professional assistance. 

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3. Heavy Weight

An electric bike’s body is designed to be strong and capable enough to withstand electrical force. For this, its body is bulkier and is made of stronger materials.

As a result, electric bikes are far heavier than regular bikes. While the heavyweight allows a smoother bike ride, it makes the bike’s mobility a challenge.

Lifting the bike onto a car’s trunk can be challenging for many bike owners. Moreover, not all cars don’t have roofs strong enough to carry heavy bikes on their roof racks.

Hence, the weight makes the e-bike’s transportation very challenging.

4. Permission Issues

While most electric bikes are allowed on the streets, many American states have a battery power limit. Many states do not allow e-bikes with 750W or 1000W batteries on the streets.

Moreover, since most e-bikes have lithium-ion batteries, their hazard risks limit their transportation. Most airlines have a strict size limit for these batteries, making their transportation a challenge.

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Final Thoughts

Electric bikes are the ultimate transport vehicles that allow an effortless commute while protecting the environment. However, there are advantages and a few disadvantages to consider before investing in one.

For people who can afford to buy and maintain an e-bike, the advantages largely outweigh the disadvantages. However, for those with strict budgets, a regular bike might be the better choice.