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The problem with ebikes

Words by Tony

on 26/01/2018 17:43:58




Over the last couple of years ebike design, technology and ebike offerings have developed steadily. More riders with different needs are seeing the benefits of using an electric powered bike. Whether it is to commute to work, to overcome an injury or to enjoy a leisure riding both off and on road. Put simply, an ebike allows the rider to enjoy more of what makes cycling pleasurable, whatever type of cycling you prefer.

Here at Stows, we can see the benefit of riding bikes with an electric motor. Going further, with less effort, with the convenience of getting to a destination that may not have shower facilities. However, there are some drawbacks or at least perceived drawbacks to riding an electric bike. Here we will address each of these separately and you can make an assessment as to whether an electric bike might be a solution for you.

Is it cheating to use an E-bike?

In spite of their increasing popularity with more people using ebikes people are keen to learn how ebikes work. We hear questions such as: “how are the motors powered?”, “how fast can you go?”, “how far can you travel?”. Many of our customers ask, “isn't it cheating?”. Perhaps for some, cycling is rewarding, but this reward comes as a result of suffering, sweat or effort. For others, cycling is a sport that should never need assistance.

Ebikes are often compared with scooters or mopeds, but this is not a fair comparison. Firstly, E-bikes are pedal-assist, which means they use a small electric motor to boost the power created by your own pedalling. So to ride an e-bike you still have to pedal, which still takes effort. That is why it is not “cheating” — you pedal and the bike just boosts your power.

Secondly, research shows that riding ebikes gives riders 75%-90% of the workout compared with a normal bike. For example, a recent Norwegian study compared electric bike users aged 23 to 54. The researchers found that Electric bike use was found to place users at 8.5 times more active over resting, while pedal power (non electric) registered at 10.9 times more active. This is a closer margin than previously assumed. Furthermore, the same study found devices registering lung output found that aboard pedal cycles users were utilising 58% of their lung capacity, while electric assistance on max output still recorded an average of 51% of lung capacity used. This is just a 12% difference in output between the two methods. Studies such as these show that ebike users benefit from shorter journey times compared to a conventional bike but that the intensity of the ride will still be more than sufficient to bring associated health benefits.

The power delivered by an Ebike comes in particularly handy when tackling steep inclines, as the motor can take some of the burden from cycling. So for those, who do not find the thought of slogging to get up hills appealing. They want the fun of being out on a bike without it feeling like a stage in the Tour.


Ebikes – who they are for

The short answer is any cyclist. Any keen cyclist will probably know about electric bikes and the basics of how they work. Below are some categories of cyclist that might benefit from riding an ebike.

Commuting option

For the commuter, an electric bike makes sense for the reasons already mentioned. You do not need to worry about turning up to your workplace like you have ridden for hours. You will be much fresher with the assistance provided from the electric motor especially if there are any hills that feature on your commute.

Are you thinking about getting back into cycling after a few years away?

The vintage cyclist or born-again bikers

Older cyclists or those who have not cycled for a longer period will find benefits from riding an electric bike. With variable input that is simple to use, you can benefit can choose from different levels of assistance that will allow you to travel faster for longer than would be possible. If you are an older rider who feels they might be limited in range, please drop by our store and we can talk through some different options.

The tourer

For cyclists that like to take the scenic route or like to plan longer journeys, ebikes provide an interesting proposition. Obviously, the main benefit is the reduction in fatigue over longer time spent in the saddle. This means that less experienced tourers can keep up with seasoned tourers in groups and more distance can be covered in a day. As with any touring plan, care is needed to plan for charging points during touring stops.

The aggressive EMTBer

Riders that get their kicks from riding single track, technical trails or even downhill tracks will get a kick from the extra grunt provided by a focussed trail bike. Bikes such as the CUBE STEREO HYBRID 160 SL 500

The electric motors fitted to E-mountain bikes run a higher rating. For example, the Bosch Performance Line CX unit fitted to the Cube hard tail or full suspension bikes have a torque rating of 75Nm. This is higher than the torque produced by a 650cc parallel twin motorcycle! Anyone that has tried an ebike will tell you the feeling of initial boost from a modern electric bike puts the feeling of flying downhill but on the flat and even up hill. However, you are limited to 15.5 miles per hour.

These E mountain bikes have geometry that responds to rider input but will also assist the rider to get back to their runs in double quick time and keep them fresh and focussed. You have to try it to believe, but don’t just take our word for it…. There is even a dedicated ebike race for those that want to race off road over famous mountains like Alpe d’Huez, France and La Massana, Andora

Those recovering from injury

For those that are recovering from injury, ebikes are a great way to ease back into cardio vascular, low impact exercise. All ebikes on offer at Stows Cycles offer the option to adjust the amount of input that the bike is providing. This can be dialled up or down according to the type of surface, gradient and conditions you are riding in. This is a great feature to use if you need extra input from the motor and to put less strain on your body, arms, legs while still working the cardio vascular system and core muscles.

In summary, ebikes offer a solution to many riders with different priorities, whether that be leisure, road, off road or commuting. Ebikes can bring you a more exciting ride, commuting option and allow you to achieve longer rides than otherwise would be possible. Apart from stunt bikes or BMXs, most types of cycling have dedicated ebikes that will meet your needs. Drop into Stows and feel free to take a look at our range of ebikes and we would be delighted to chat through different offers.