There is no denying that we are picking up an upward trend in the last 5 years, especially in Europe. For example 45% of all bikes sold in Belgium last year - was electric. That definitely says something. Compared to Belgium or Netherlands, UK is somehow behind the cycling culture and infrastructure, but things are getting better. Definitely at least infrastructure wise. Although the overall sales of bikes is pretty static here, Halfords since last year reported a 220% sale increase on bikes. Statistics show, electric bikes gives us the confidence to explore more.
E Bikes from sceptical and rational perspective
Here you are, probably pondering what is the point of a bike which is electricity powered and you don’t need to peddle?
When it comes to electric bikes, I must admit I have been sceptic too. I do like to exercise and have done a lot of training (5 years of Thai Boxing, 4 years of weightlifting and 2 years of calisthenics combined with some casual cycling to relax). I really doubt I own a label “lazy” or “unfit”. I said numerous times: Ebike is not a “real” bike. E-bike is one of these upgrades spoiling the original, taking away the challenge , it is cheating the sport by making cycling easier.
This scepticism was strengthened when myself being in top shape overall, although not in cycling & struggling with my bike up the hill, I got surpassed by people on e bikes. Cheaters I thought. Here I was sweating my way up and being surpassed by a tourist couple in late 50s who looked nothing more than softies against me. How dear they!
I guess I felt like I’d been cheated out of the rewards of my hard work. Or because of a thought that they may feel superior. Or, because of them taking a “shortcut” while myself doing this the "real & correct" way.
Now when I reflect, I see another side of this.
That tourist couple knew full well that they weren’t “proper” cyclists, yet here they were, cycling on very hilly and strikingly scenic countryside. There are a lot of people who ,also, same as that couple would ride more and get out more, but due to hills, age or physical problems doesn’t. Lets admit: E bikes make challenging rides more approachable. And often, challenging rides reward cyclists with magnificent scenery. There are also a lot of people who doesn’t want to take cycling as sport seriously, but do love to get out and enjoy a nice ride – myself including.
I wonder how many of the car drivers would cycle more? And how much fitter would they all be if they cycled, even with pedelec assist?
How much nicer would our cities be with less cars and more bikes? And maybe, this is something I need myself?
Well it happened that summer I have tried an e-bike and it was that much fun that I bought one myself. You think I exercised less or I did not push myself? Wrong! You think I lost the adrenaline? Again Wrong!
The practicality of my e-bike which many sceptics ignore
2000miles later on my Electric Bike, I can say that this meets my requirements perfectly:
- Encourages me to get outside for some fresh air to cycle way more than I would normally would
- Provides a form of light exercise getting me to work which doesn’t require changing clothes.
- Helps to handle hills (I live on one)
- Limits me from using public transport and makes my commuting an experience
The truth is , combination of e-bike portability, simplicity, flexibility and speed in the city has a big potential to create new trends in city commuting. Continuous improvements in e-bike technology combined with growing population, increasing number of people living single, traffic and some headaches coming while owning a car, all these are a perfect trigger for e bikes to thrive as new practical, green and cool transport means.
After all, anything bike or e-bike that gets people out of their cars and out-of-doors is positive. Having said that e + bike = great way to share cycling experience with a broader group of people.