No matter which bike store you visit you're sure to find an e-bike or two. The rise in popularity of the e-bike over the past few years has grown at a fantastic rate. E-bike frame design, battery and motor design and innovation have all come a long way since the first power-assisted e-bikes.
This rise in popularity is due to the versatility of e-bikes and the variety of e-bikes available. Mountain bikes with front or full suspension, hybrid bikes, folding bikes and, possibly the most recent addition, road/race bikes, are all available with power assistance.
Initially many within the cycling ‘community’ considered e-bikes to be of little benefit as they did the work for you. This has proven to be grossly untrue. The fact that e-bikes need to be pedalled to get the assistance means that, for some, they are a great way of getting back on a bike and benefitting from the exercise they may have otherwise missed out on.
So what type of people are buying e-bikes; who is pushing this rise in popularity?
Mountain biking has, for many, many years been a very popular sport, especially for those in the 20-30 age bracket (admittedly, not exclusively). Areas designated for mountain biking have seen an increase and off-road riding remains as popular as ever. Mountain bikes were the first to benefit from e-bike technology. One of the great joys of mountain biking is the fast, exhilarating descent with one of the major drawbacks being the long, hard slog up to the top. The assistance given by an e-bike makes this chore a thing of the past. Riding uphill is now something to enjoy rather than endure and as the tech, spec and design develops these e-mountain bikes look and feel more and more like a standard non-power assisted mountain bike. Many bike manufacturers now try to replicate their regular mountain bike frame design and geometry so the power-assisted versions handle equally as well.
Hybrid and folding bikes are ideal for short leisure rides and commutes and due to their versatility have been used by many for such journeys over recent years. The introduction of power-assisted hybrid and folding bikes has seen a rise in people using these bikes for commuting to work, trips to the shops and social/leisure rides, especially for those in the 30-50 age bracket. Again, not exclusively, as both younger and older people also take advantage of e-bikes for commuting and social rides. Shorter journeys that may have previously seen many taking the car are now completed on their e-bikes.
Some older riders have cycled previously and have re-engaged with cycling because of e-bikes. There’s nothing worse than getting back on a bike and finding your fitness is not what it once was and even little rides, with slight inclines, can be hard going. With an e-bike, there’s enough assistance to help get back your base fitness level.
The rise in road e-bikes has again seen cyclists re-born. The ability to ride with younger or fitter riders is a benefit gained from power assistance. On the flat, they may still be able to hold their own, but when the road rises, they find themselves bringing up the rear and are conscious of their mates waiting at the top. Young at heart, 40-60-year-olds with a little more expendable income make the most of these great looking e-road bikes. Like their hybrid counterparts, they’re also a great form of transport and shorter commutes are made a lot more bearable. They also help save on fuel and parking costs, bonus!
There are many people who would like to exercise or who are advised to do so. It may be due to a sedentary lifestyle, illness, injury or old age and choosing the right exercise can prove difficult. Cycling has always been a good form of exercise. It’s low impact, offers good cardiovascular benefits and boosts a body’s core strength. But for some, even a short ride can prove too much and may not be sustainable. Many older 60+ riders have discovered that a quality e-bike (usually a hybrid/step-through) offers a chance to get fit again. The health profession recommends moderate exercise (about 2-3 hours per week) and an e-bike gives older riders, those recovering from injury or illness, to hit this target, with relative ease. Many enjoy riding an e-bike so much they exceed the target quite easily. And unlike standard bikes, the weight of the bike is less of an issue to the motor assistance. In fact, some studies, have found the heavier bike adds additional benefits to a person’s core strength. Even those with joint problems are able to sustain a decent bike journey with an e-bike, as the motor matches the power put in by the rider limiting the stress placed on the knees and back.
E-bikes are now part of cycling, a major part and the benefits for fun or health can not be refuted. No matter your age, ability, fitness or health, an e-bike is able to offer a great way of getting fitter, saving money and, helping with the environment.
They may not be for everyone, but even if you don’t like the idea for yourself, it’s easy to see why they are a boon for many.