What you need to know about the electric bike trend

August 24, 2020

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At the beginning of 2020, bicycle manufacturers predicted a surge of sales in one specific niche: electric bikes. By some estimates, retailers expect to sell over 130 million e-bikes in the next three years. During the current pandemic, the popularity of electric biking has exponentially increased as an efficient, low-impact option for outdoor exercise.

What is an electric bike?

An electric bike, or e-bike, looks just like a regular bicycle—but with a motor, battery and controller. These electrical components are not meant to replace the exertion of powering the bike yourself, but can help to make your bike ride easier. This means you can ride an electric bike the same way you would a traditional bicycle, but the motor will provide some extra support on hills or against wind.

Most batteries in an electric bike have power for 20-60 miles, depending on which mode you ride. For example, some bikes will have the option for you to use a “pedal only” mode where you ride the bike just like a traditional bicycle. Conversely, some people may choose the “motor only” mode, where the bike is powered entirely by the motor and ridden more like a scooter. Or, riders can opt for assistive modes where the rider and the motor work together to power the bike.

Benefits of e-biking

Many cyclists are choosing e-bikes as their primary mode of transportation. Particularly in highly populated areas, biking is one strategy for avoiding enclosed public transportation spaces. Additionally, e-biking can be a great option for recreational fitness, either on the road or on the trails. E-biking offers a host of benefits for many types of riders, including:

  • Low-impact exercise. Indoor cycling is often included in lists of low-impact cardiovascular exercise options. With electric bikes, exercisers can experience the same low-impact benefits while enjoying the outdoors. Because you can adjust the motor level on your electric bicycle, the activity can be modified for all fitness levels.
  • Decrease car travel. Biking is a critical way that many people are helping the environment, and electric bikes make it even easier to reduce car trips. You probably won’t work up quite as much of a sweat on an e-bike as on a traditional bicycle, making this the perfect option for your commute to work. Many of these bikes also have options for carrying cargo, so you might consider trying one for your next trip to the grocery store or local farmer’s market.
  • Limited mobility options. Some manufacturers specifically focus on creating electric bikes for people with limited mobility. For example, many traditional bicycles have a step-in height that is much too high for people with decreased mobility. Many e-bike options offer lower step-in and seat heights, make them more accessible for riders with a limited range of motion.

A social distancing-friendly sport

Bicycling is a summer activity that lends itself well to social distancing. Your friends don’t have to all have e-bikes to go cycling together. Just remember that the motor in your bike may increase your cycling speed if you all want to stay together.

Going on a bike ride is also a great way to get outdoors. Public health experts have noted that the risk of coronavirus transmission is lower in outdoor settings and when people are socially distancing—both factors that tie in perfectly with getting on a bicycle.