Why are so many people using electric bikes? The obvious reason is to save money. Electric bikes have very low running costs. Each complete battery charged is estimated to cost between eight and fifteen pence which is roughly the price of running a domestic light bulb. Other running costs include the general servicing and maintenance of the bike, which are minimal compared with other road vehicles.
Commuting to work by electric bike is a much more pleasurable experience than if you were making the jump from motor vehicle straight to pedal cycle. You will arrive at work fresh and on time!
Electric bikes have also been recommended as a form of rehabilitation following an illness or operation. People who may be physically impaired are choosing electric bikes because they offer sufficient power to enable them to begin or continue cycling. Electric bikes require no licence, no petrol, no insurance or road tax and you can park a bicycle almost anywhere completely free of charge.
Electric bikes are relatively inexpensive to buy starting from around £500 for a bike with sealed lead acid battery and rising to £1000 and above for additional battery technology and better overall quality.
Are electric bikes legal to use on UK roads?
Electric bikes are not classed as motor vehicles and as a result do not require rider insurance, road tax, driving licence or the compulsory wearing of a helmet. However there are rules governing the specification of Electric bikes as follows
The top speed must not exceed 15 mph whilst under power. All electric bikes must have usable pedals just like a standard bicycle.
Total weight of the electric must not exceed 40kg (excluding rider!)
The motors power must not exceed 0.25kw or 250 watts. Minimum rider age must be 14 years.
Legislation for electric tandems and tricycles differs slightly in that the maximum weight increases to 60kg and the maximum motor output increases to 250 watts.
Can I save money and buy my Electric bike using the government Cycle Scheme?
· Yes - Electric bikes are included in the scheme.
What is the difference in battery technology?
Advances in battery technology continue to reduce the weight and increase the power output. The only down side is that as the battery technology increases so does the cost. You will therefore find that as the retail price of the Electric bike is linked directly to the battery technology specified on the bike.
Sealed Lead Acid ( SLA )
This type of battery has been used for many years and is best known for its use in motor vehicles.
· Low maintenance
· Tried and tested on electric bikes
· Low cost
· Heavier option
· Slower to charge
· Battery cells deteriorate with age
Battery Care â€“ The less complete discharges your battery experiences the longer your battery will last. Therefore the best way to ensure battery life longevity is to recharge your battery after each ride this is commonly referred to as trickle charging. Lead Acid Batteries are also best stored and recharged at room temperature.
Nickel â€“ Metal â€“ Hydride ( NiMH )
· Fast Charging
· Lighter than Lead Acid
· Low Toxicity
· Reduced Performance in Cold Weather
Battery Care â€“ Again this type of battery should be charged on a regular basis if it is to maintain power and longevity, however unlike the SLA battery, NiMH batteries do require a complete discharge and recharge periodically to maintain battery life. With regular (daily use) it is recommended that this process takes place once every three months.
Lithium ion (Li â€“ ion)
· Very Light
· No Maintenance
· Very Fast Charge
Battery Care â€“ Once again regular charging is the way to prolong the life span of your Lithium ion battery. Deep discharging of your battery will decrease the overall life span of your battery.
IMPORTANT â€“ In all cases it is important that initial charge and ongoing battery care is carried out in line with the instruction provided with your electric bike.