Written by Simon, Digital Marketer at Edinburgh Bike Co-op
Executive summary: A good electric bike is amazing; twice as much fun for a fraction of the effort, like having a permanent tailwind and then some. You can get 35-70 miles out of a single charge, depending on how heavy you are and how much effort you put in, and it takes about 4 hours to charge a battery. But there are a lot of terrible electric bikes out there with terrible motors, which is why we only stock the best. For more on what it's like to ride an electric bike, read "Owning an electric bike: Confessions of a fit young lad".
What happens if the battery dies?
Riding an electric bike with the motor turned off is not a great experience. With the battery still on the frame, the bike weighs about 20 kilos and you feel it. This has happened to me on my Whyte Coniston exactly twice when I forgot to charge up the battery, and I was beyond sweaty when I got to work.
However, there’s no reason you’d want to “go acoustic” on an electric bike, because that’s not what they’re designed for. You wouldn’t buy an electric guitar and then complain that it sounds rubbish with the power switched off.
There's a lot of crap out there.
Michael, our bike buyer, works extremely hard to bring in the absolute best bikes he can for the money, instead of trying to offer customers the cheapest thing he can find – and believe us, there’s plenty of that out around.
That’s why we only stock reputable brands such as Whyte (Britain’s own), Giant (world's biggest bike manufacturer), Specialized (international experts) and Kalkhoff (urban cool).
These brands not only make excellent non-electric bikes, they also take the technology seriously. Whyte uses the Shimano Steps System, Specialized uses the highly-regarded Brose system, and Giant use the Yamaha system (the motorbike people!)
That means the motors are dependable, easy to fix and easy to find replacement parts for. The motor is also integrated into the bicycle frame, as opposed to being “stuck on” as an afterthought.
Finally, the bikes from these brands also tend to be lighter than their cheaper counterparts.
Why don’t I spend all that money on an expensive road bike instead?
An expensive road bike rides like a dream. But no matter how expensive a non-electric bike is, you’ll always work a lot harder going uphill than you would on an electric bike. Gravity has the upper hand on this one.
Why don’t I use one of those DIY electric bike kits?
Because they don’t work as well, you have to put them together yourself, and there’s no guarantees. Some of them also allow you to go at dangerous speeds which are illegal on an electric bike. We don’t stock these at the Bicycle Co-op and we probably never will, because we want our customers to enjoy safe cycling and to not break the law.
Save the DIY for putting up shelves.
On yer bike
Commuting, mountain biking, and generally going uphill on an electric bike is an incredible experience, and if you want to read more about that check out this article ‘Confessions of a fit young lad: On Owning an Electric Bicycle.’
One try of an electric bike is all it will take to convince you that they’re amazing, and you can swing by one of our shops to try one out at any time.