Cycling is the most efficient form of personal transportation in terms of energy consumed to move a person over a certain distance. Here’s a quick overview of differences between cycling on a regular bike and on an electric bike. What are the benefits regarding your health, finances and the environment? 


Cycling on a regular bicycle versus an e-bike

Humans are made to cycle. Cycling is the most efficient form of personal transportation in terms of energy consumed to move a person over a certain distance.

Humans on their own are very inefficient in moving a certain distance. But if you put them on a bicycle, they become the most efficiently moving objects on earth — far more efficient than a person in a car.

Humans on bicycles achieve speeds of four times faster than walking pedestrians while using five times less energy. The bicycle, in a manner of speech, gives humans wings.

Now imagine if you could make cycling even more efficient. That is where e-bikes come into play. Those superpowers translate into extending your average range, getting you to your destination faster, and enabling you to skip the car or public transportation for a personal commuting solution that takes you door-to-door whenever you want.


Health benefits of riding an e-bike

Riding an e-bike is fun and healthy. Feeling the wind and sun on your face, watching nature go by, gliding along smoothly – it can make you feel like a kid again.

  • Removes obstacles to cycling – E-bikes remove the physical barriers from cycling – hills, wind, and sweat – and open up the activity to more riders than regular bicycles. This means more people can access a healthier lifestyle. Even if you just have bad knees that have kept you from riding bikes for years, you may be able to ride an e-bike without this pain.
  • Extended range compared to regular cycling – Cycling is the most energy-efficient form of personal movement and transportation. E-bikes increase your body’s power output by five times, meaning that you can easily battle longer distances, hills and wind without breaking a sweat.
  • More exercise and time spent outdoors – E-bikes are an effective way to get more people to enjoy the outdoors. Spending time outside improves your memory, lowers stress levels, reduces eye strain, lowers blood pressure, reins in your focus and boosts your immune system. Research also shows that the percentage of riders who rode daily or weekly increased from 55% to 91% when switching from a regular bike to an e-bike. Even e-biking just three times a week for 40 minutes can improve cardiovascular fitness and blood sugar levels.
  • Better mental health – Increased physical activity can also benefit mental health. Endorphins and enkephalins produced during exercise have been shown to boost mood and help alleviate depression and anxiety symptoms.
  • Less commuting stress – Wasting your time in rush hour traffic, planning your route according to bus stop locations, or being tightly packed in public transport – it all generates stress. Commuting by bicycle, on the other hand, is personal transport, at your disposal when you need it. It’s door-to-door, not station to station, which means you’re flexible, fast and independent. The effects of this freedom on mental health are huge. With an e-bike, you can go where you want when you want. It clears your head, gives you moderate exercise and sets your mind up for your daily challenges.

Riding an e-bike is just plain fun. Feeling the wind and sun on your face, watching nature go by, gliding along smoothly – it can make you feel like a kid again.


Environmental benefits to e-bikes

E-bikes are one of the solutions to help save the environment. They don’t burn any fuel, don’t release any gases to the atmosphere, and come with rechargeable batteries that last for many years.

  • Less air pollution – While a car can release more than two tonnes of CO2 every year, e-bikes don’t release toxic gases into the atmosphere. E-bikes are also an estimated six times more energy-efficient than rail trains.
  • Rechargeable batteries –  The batteries that run e-bikes are also relatively environmentally friendly. They last long, are rechargeable, can be charged with renewable energy and can be charged after hours so you don’t stress the power grid.
  • Better roads – Riding e-bikes is also better for road conditions. Cars and trucks can damage roads which leads to costly and environmentally-damaging repairs. E-bikes, in contrast, won’t have the same wear and tear, helping to cut down on these large infrastructure construction projects.

E-bikes don’t release any toxic gases into the atmosphere, making it an environmentally-friendly choice of transportation.


Financial Benefits of Riding an E-bike

E-bike prices

If you compare e-bike prices to regular commuter bikes, you may find yourself wondering — are e-bikes worth it? E-bikes can look pricey compared to regular bicycles. At the low end, most e-bikes cost around 1000-1500 €. Don’t be tempted to try and go lower than this. Bikes that seem like deals will most likely lead to disappointing experiences with lower quality and less powerful batteries.

However, the decision to invest in an e-bike is not e-bike vs regular bike, but rather e-bikes vs scooters vs mopeds vs motorcycles vs cars vs public transport. Essentially, it’s e-bikes versus the world of transport. When looked at with this lens, e-bikes are definitely worth it. Consider the costs associated with these other methods of transportation:

  • Public transport: Even with monthly or annual passes, the costs of riding buses or metros can add up over the year.
  • Motorised two-wheel transport: Scooters, mopeds, and motorcycles require the cost of the vehicle, licensing, registration, maintenance, insurance and petrol.
  • Motorised four-wheel transport: Similarly, with electric cars or petrol-powered cars you have to pay a high price for purchasing, registering, running, maintaining, insuring and repairing the vehicle. Parking costs for cars can also be quite steep in city centres.

Indirect Cost Savings

In addition to direct costs, there are also indirect cost savings that support the financial case for buying e-bikes. As we mentioned above, riding an e-bike can have significant physical and mental health benefits. When you’re healthier, you won’t have to take as many days of work or pay for costly doctor and hospital visits.

Riding an e-bike can be a way to avoid having to pay for expensive medications to manage chronic illnesses. Choosing to stay healthy with an e-bike can also help you stop wasting money on that gym membership you never use.

Tax Incentives

In order to help the environment and lower the amount of ongoing, expensive infrastructure investments, some countries in Europe are offering tax incentives to encourage increased biking.

Countries such as Belgium and France, for example, are giving residents tax breaks based on the number of kilometres they ride.

Energy and cost-efficiency

E-bikes give you the tools to skip petrol-thirsty cars and buying tickets for public transportation. A full charge of a 336Wh e-bike costs only around 15 cents.

Below is shown the energy consumption by mode of transport:

 

E-bike

Regular bicycle

Walking*

Electric car**

Regular car***

4.8

Wh/km

30

Wh/km

75

Wh/km

182

Wh/km

664

Wh/km

* https://www.agoravox.fr/actualites/environnement/article/gourmandise-energetique-des-1313112
**
https://pushevs.com/2016/11/23/electric-cars-range-efficiency-comparison/
***
http://www.odyssee-mure.eu/publications/efficiency-by-sector/transport/cars-energy-consumption-per-km.html