The first example of a bike from the 19th century. Hardly the most comfortable.
I’d been thinking for some time of getting myself an e-bike. At first it seemed an impossible dream. And it might have stayed that way except for two factors:
At the tender old age of 71 I now have arthritis in my knees. My doctor said “Cycling is a wonderful way to keep healthy, but with your knees giving you problems, I would suggest that if you want to keep on riding, get an e-bike. Better still, get an e-bike that’s also a recumbent”. Pretty radical thought as the only recumbents I’d come across always remind me of dicing with death as they battle for space on the roads, knowing that cars don’t always see the person perched on a seat so low from the ground they might as well be shuffling along on their bottom. No, not for me.
A couple of my cyclist friends have recently bought e-bikes which was the second factor. One of the men, younger than me, is now the happy owner of a brand spanking new three-wheeler recumbent. It’s an e-bike and he loves it. He can be forgiven for opting for this metal machine that looks more like a comfortable couch than a bike, because last year he was hit off his hybrid bike by a car which didn’t stop, leaving him lying unconscious by the side of the road. Our friend was lucky. He only ended up in hospital with concussion and a few broken bones, but the healing process took some time and even today he still suffers from the collision. An offshoot of the accident means that he can no longer ride his beloved motor-bike either so, with the money from the sale of that, he was well set to buy the new bicycle.
Soon after he came out on the new bike one of the other cyclists was so impressed that she went straight out and bought herself one, although not a recumbent. Meeting up with her one Sunday, I jealously inspected the e-bike, asking all sorts of questions like “how far can it go on one battery charge? Isn’t it heavier than a conventional bike?”. There was so much to know and I then decided to do some research of my own.
A friend I know at the bowls club I belong to has a natty second-hand e-bike that does only 12 miles before it needs recharging. She’s ok with that because she seldom does more than 10 miles a day. However, I needed something that would last a great deal longer! To be honest, I was hankering after the good old days when I would easily cycle 50 mile plus back in my youth and perhaps I can on the new e-bike.
I looked into the array of cheaper models – some are as little as £600 but I decided not to even look at those because most long-lasting motors cost that much by themselves, before they’re even attached to a bike. Another consideration I had to take into account now that I’m older is that I’d much prefer a step-through because I’m finding it increasingly difficult to lift my leg over the saddle like I used to.
Over the course of a few weeks, I tried out a few different e-bikes but was very loath to make a decision. One Saturday I happened to be in town with John and thought it would be nice to try a local bike shop which generally caters for the more serious cyclist. John thought I was wasting my time but time was certainly something we had a lot of.
The moment I walked into the shop I noticed a few e-bikes and fell in love with the one that I am now the proud owner of.
The next few sections are based on information I have managed to find and may help anybody thinking of purchasing their very own e-bike.
A few good things that an e-bike has going for it
- Less wear and tear on knees and joints
- You won’t get hot and bothered when riding up hills, and battling into a head wind becomes a thing of the past
- You don’t need a driver’s licence to ride a conventional e-bike
- In general, the battery will cut out as soon as you reach more than 15 mph
- E-bikes generally have a more upright seating position than traditional bikes which can help reduce back and neck pain
- So much cheaper than a car to run, and better for the environment!
And now the cons
- More expensive than most conventional bikes
- Heavier too
- You may get more flat tyres because the bike is heavier than a conventional bike
- And when you do get a puncture, tyres are harder to change, even on a quick release wheel because of the weight of the bike (I have puncture-resist tyres)
- Definitely harder to get up and down stairs
- The expensive battery needs replacing after some time because it (even if placed in a cupboard and not used) only has a shelf-life of a few year’s for the older style battery. A report written in 2017 stated that a lithium ion battery won’t fair much better at three to five years. Manufacturers might claim that the life of a battery is much more and of course batteries do evolve all the time. But bear in mind that the more expensive the battery, the longer it should last. This is a crucial question and not one to be neglected
- When it comes to servicing, motors and upkeep will generally cost more than a normal bike. Still want one?
Finally, how to take care of the battery and general maintenance of your e-bike
- Only use the charger and adapter supplied with your battery. This will avoid overcharging and it protects the battery against damage due to short circuits
- Let your battery cool down before recharging. Also, do not use it directly after recharging. Avoid completely draining the battery, but always charge it to 100% if possible
- If you cannot use the bike for prolonged periods of time, make sure to partially charge the battery every few months to keep it topped-up
- Always disconnect the charger from the battery and the network after use
- Avoid letting it get too hot. If you leave the battery out under a hot sun for any length of time, you are asking for trouble. Keep it in a cool and dry place when not in use
- Do not leave the battery by a heat source
- Always remove the battery before cleaning the bike
- If your bike gets wet use a clean cloth to remove any excess water before storing the bike
- Never use a steam pressure washer as you might on a conventional bike for either your e-bike or the battery
- E-bikes are very sought-after so it makes sense that if you’ve spent a lot of money on one you make sure you also buy a very strong lock for it. I have been told that generally you should spend at least 10% of the value of your bike on a lock. This means that, if your new bike cost £2,000 the lock should cost £200! That a heap of money and I don’t think it’s strictly necessary. However, don’t expect a £25 lock to be enough on its own. No thief is about to saw through two or three locks so perhaps there is safety in numbers. Always try to lock the bike onto something static – like a railing or proper bike rack.