Ebikes are becoming more and more popular and for good reason, they make cycling easier, more accessible and more enjoyable for many. Ebikes are bringing more and more people back to an enjoyment of cycling, allowing them to access the many benefits that cycling offers including better health and fitness and reducing stress. It doesn’t matter what reason you have for cycling, be it leisure, transport, adventure sport or fitness, the benefits are available to all.
The ‘why’ of ebikes
It's surprising how big a difference an ebike can make to the riding experience. The two most common reasons we hear for people not wanting to cycle are the weather and hills. While we can’t do a lot about the weather, these days there is a huge range of modern cycling gear that will keep you dry and comfortable, whatever weather you ride in. The hills of course, are where an ebike can make all the difference and with some modern ebikes able to provide two or three times the rider input it not only makes things easier, it can make you feel something like a superhero as you easily cruise up a steep grade with the same effort as you would sauntering along the promenade. It is important to point out at this point that the level of assistance the bike provides can be easily varied, meaning with the press of a button you can vary how much input you want the bike to provide. This means you can do the same ride as an easy pedal or a full workout depending on how you are feeling and your fitness goals. This also makes them a great tool for convalescence, providing an easy way to vary the level of effort required to support progressive improvement.
Ebikes also extend your riding range, making longer rides more achievable than they might be with a regular bike, pushing outwards the boundaries of your adventures and opening up new possibilities for exploration. Most motor systems will provide accurate range expectations, showing how far you can expect to ride on the charge you have, based on individual use data. Some manufacturers even provide support apps such as
Specialized’s Mission Control App which allows you to accurately plan and plot routes to range expectations and then provide smart battery management to ensure you arrive at your destination with charge left in the tank. This technology not only helps riders make the most from their bike and riding but allows them to connect with others, allowing them to easily share details of their rides with the wider cycling community.
The F word
There is a very important point we need to make about these bikes, the overriding experience of riders is that they are FUN! For new and returning riders the experience is the same, these bikes put a huge smile on your face. Wherever you ride, tackling steep hills, cruising cycle paths or exploring the back lanes of Wales you are likely to be doing it with a grin on your face. We have some amazing feedback and see riders so attached to their ebike that they’re reluctant to part with them even for the duration of a service. These bikes are capable of transforming many peoples experience of cycling, helping to provide an experience that is more accessible and enjoyable. They add confidence and comfort and extend what can be done by bike. Commuting, shopping, an off-road adventure?
Whatever type of riding you want to do you can be sure that there is an ebike already made for it. Some of our favourites are the practical allrounders that can be your bike for fitness, an everyday commute to work or a weekend cycle adventure. Bikes like the Specialized Turbo Vado and Trek Allant+ are not just good everyday workhorses but eager for weekend cycle adventures too.
There are a few things that need to be considered with regards to upkeep. Ebikes are significantly more complex than a regular bike as you are adding a motor and battery system to the normal working components of a bike. The USB cable has become as commonplace as the wrench in the modern cycle workshop as ebike diagnostic systems are checked, firmware updates applied and use data analysed during remedial and service work. But don’t be put off as most users will never need to worry about any of these things as any good bike shop will have these covered. Our workshop, as an example, is equipped with specific diagnostic tools for popular systems from Bosch, Shimano, Fazua and Brose (Specialized) and well stocked with motor and battery system service components, with staff manufacturer trained in the specifics of each system. The only other things worthy of a mention is that with the additional power an ebike generates you can, mile for mile, expect a rate of wear to components to be above what you would expect on a non-assist bike. It’s no surprise really that a bike that supplies the power of two riders may go through chains, cogs and brake pads faster than a regular one but in the end it really all boils down to individual use, no two riders are the same in this respect.
With complex systems such as those in modern ebikes, problems can arise at times and when they do its good to know that you have backup from a solid warranty and the support of a trusted brand who’s reputation is built on good customer care. The brands that we work with are all very well established, in fact, some of the biggest names in the cycle business and we know from working with them for many years, that their commitment to customer care is paramount. It is here that we would issue a small note of caution to those tempted by attractive looking, lower priced options. An ebike, even a cheap one, is a very big purchase so when things go wrong, and they do sometimes go wrong, you will have much greater peace of mine (and in our experience a much less stressful time) dealing with a brand who’s name is well known and founded on a long history of providing excellent support.
Where you store your bike will impact its longevity. It probably goes without saying that no bike left out in the rain in all weathers will be happy, a shed is better, but a dry garage or house better still. A bike stored well and serviced properly will provide many years of use. Chain it to a lamp post by the sea and you’ll be lucky if it lasts a winter. A little care and routine maintenance will ensure your bike serves you well, and in this respect looking after an ebike is not so different to a regular bike. Modern battery systems don’t have ‘battery memory’ like systems of old, so there is no need to be constantly topping up or fully draining batteries to ensure their health. But of course, it’s always desirable to keep your battery topped up and ready to ride so you are always ready for your next cycle adventure.
Choosing a bike
With so many brands, styles and models available, picking the right bike can feel a little challenging, and with the addition of motor and battery, they also come equipped with a significantly elevated price tag when compared to a non-assist bike. This means choosing an ebike is likely to be a major investment. Our advice would always be to carefully consider the purchase, think about the type of riding you want to do and what your budget will allow, always remembering to allow for other costs like cycle clothing, helmet, lock, lights or anything else you may need to get riding. These things are in many cases as important as the bike itself and should be considered as part of the overall purchase price. Likewise, upkeep and although a new bike will need less servicing, service costs should be considered as regular servicing will not only keep your bike running smoothly but prevent bigger costs down the road and protect your investment. A little bit of preventative work along the way can save you from a large amount of remedial work later.
If you can find someone who already owns an ebike, talk to them. Cyclists are a friendly bunch and usually very happy to share their experiences and talk bikes at any available opportunity and this information can provide valuable support for your own cycle ownership journey.
Your LBS (Local Bike Shop)
Then of course there’s your local bike shop, we’re always keen to create as many happy cyclists as we can, not just because it keeps us in business but because we’re mad keen on cycling too, so much so in fact that we have chosen to cast aside other options and trust bikes for our daily bread. You’d be hard pushed to find a soul within these walls that isn’t brimming with enthusiasm for bikes, we love them! And, it’s strange how even for those of us who have done this for many (many) years that enthusiasm for riding bikes has not diminished. If we can set others off on that same path, it provides us with a far greater reward than just paying the bills. And who knows, that next new cyclist might just be the one that someday comes to our rescue with a pump, tyre lever or spare tube on a rainy day, many miles from home.
Its good to build up a relationship with your local bike shop, they are there to support your everyday riding needs and provide expert knowledge and support. If you buy your bike from a local store it means you have a local point of contact for service and support issues and a friendly face to ask any follow up questions about your bike that you may have. At the beginning of the process, it gives you someone to help and guide you through your purchase, asking questions about your riding ambitions and requirements in order to help you find a bike that’s right for you. Size and fit are also crucial and being sized and checked properly by an experienced cycle technician is the best way to ensure that you have a bike that fits you well, and that will be comfortable and safe to ride. A fit check is usually performed before purchase but also on collection of the built bike, to be 100% sure that it is the best fit for you, and that things like handlebar and saddle position are set correctly for you.