Electric Bike Revolution, Two Wheels or Four?
Will the True EV Electric Revolution Be on Two Wheels, Not Four?
Electric car company Tesla and its rival car manufacturers have put in a lot of effort to develop electric vehicles that can replace the traditional combustion engine versions that we’ve been using for over a century. Of course, there is still a long way to go before the technology is capable of fully replacing all cars, vans, and lorries on our roads. Problems with the scarce metals using in their construction, range anxiety, charging infrastructure, and the safety of lithium-ion batteries are all hurdles that need to be overcome.
Regardless, environmental campaigners will point out that even if electric vehicles aren’t perfect today, they are a step in the right direction and offer many benefits over combustion engines. However, there are plenty of barriers to owning one of these electric cars today, including their high costs and the fact that the market is still struggling to keep up with demand, leading to huge waiting lists that span several months. This doesn’t take away the urgent need for changes to the way we get around.
In addition to the climate crisis which is caused by greenhouse gas emissions, it is becoming ever clearer that pollution at a local level is a problem. Simultaneously, research has found that around a quarter of people don’t do enough physical activity, while another study reported that that figure could actually be as high as 80%. Yet, there may actually be a way to tackle both of these problems at the same time. It’s still an electric vehicle, but it’s not the sort you may picture when you hear the letters E and V.
Are Two Wheels the Future?
In recent years, there has been a dramatic rise in both the number of electric bikes [and therefore electric bike reviews] on the market and their availability. These bikes work in a very similar way to any normal bicycle, with two wheels, handlebars, a saddle, and a set of pedals. You ride them in exactly the same way, peddling to provide propulsion and steering through a combination of shifting your weight and twisting the handlebars in one direction of the other.
The difference, though, is that they come with a lithium-ion battery and a motor. Generally, the motor is built inside one of the wheels while the battery can be found either on the luggage carrier or inside the frame. In most instances, the motor only works to provide assistance rather than be the sole method of propulsion.
As EVs go, these electric bicycles are cheaper and more readily available, while offering some distinct benefits to their riders and the planet.
The Benefits of an Electric Bike
Of course, purists will criticise the idea of an electric bike as cheating. To them, riding is all about using your legs to deliver as much power as possible. However, this kind of leisure riding is not the target of electric bikes. Instead, they are intended to make commuting and general errand-running more practical on a push bike. In doing so, they make travel healthier, cheaper, and sometimes quicker than jumping in the car.
One of the biggest barriers to getting people in the saddle more frequently are the fact that riders live too far from their destinations (such as work or the shops), making cycling impractical. Another concern is that riders will arrive at their destination sweaty, smelly, and uncomfortable. That’s certainly not ideal if you have a long day of meetings ahead of you and you have the scent of a gym bag.
Electric bikes address both of these issues. The electrical assistance helps you to find a balance between doing beneficial exercise and not arriving at the office looking like you’d done a spin class. The assistance also extends your stamina, making riding a couple of miles practical.
Plenty of Demand
We’ve been using bicycles to get around for more than centuries, though today’s bikes look considerably different to the giant-wheeled Penny-Farthings that were commonly ridden back then. Even with the invention of the motor car, the push-bike continues to be a popular mode of transport. In fact, a study conducted by PokerStars found that almost one-third of the UK’s population rides a bicycle at least once a month. According to the company, many of those cyclists do so for practical reasons like nipping to the shops rather than simply for pleasure.
We can see, therefore, that there certainly isn’t a lack of interest in using cycling as a mode of transport. Making cycling easier and more convenient can only help to increase the number of people regularly saddling up.
Still Work to Be Done
Making bikes better for riders is only half the job. The built environment also needs to be altered to make cycling more appealing to an average person. This is because many people are put off by the idea of riding instead of driving by the perception that cycling is dangerous. That’s not an unfair opinion to have either. In the UK, cyclists are 46 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured than their car-driving counterparts.
Steps have already been taken, such as making changes to the highway code so that cyclists have priority in certain circumstances and car (and other vehicles) drivers are given greater responsibility in a new “hierarchy of road users”. But this is only one piece of a larger puzzle. Segregated cycle infrastructure will make the biggest impact since it practically eliminates all risks of car-to-bike accidents, making cycling safer.
A Two-Wheeled Revolution?
Cycling remains popular today, just as it has done for two centuries, but issues with distances and practicalities have held some people back. But electric bikes could be the solution to this by making it easier to ride longer distances without getting drenched in sweat. In doing so, they’ll provide new ways to travel that are healthier, cheaper, and more sustainable. On the other hand, electric cars will simply replace existing fossil-fuel burners. Drivers are likely to make the same types of journeys, but with a quieter journey and less pollution from the vehicle itself. More is needed to help encourage more people to take up cycling though, most notably within the built environment. But if we can get this right, then electric bikes could absolutely lead a revolution in transport.