28 Mar 2013

Electric bikes- bikes for the non-cyclist

Electric bike

Seen by some experienced bike riders as cheating, electric bikes make riding a bit easier and open up cycling to people who see riding a bike as either too hard or too sweaty. 

If you're 14 or over you can ride an electric bike without paying road tax Vehicle Excise Duty, number plates or insurance- but as with normal bikes we'd always recommend you have third party insurance.

The rules are:
  • the bike must have pedals that can be used to propel it
  • the electric motor shouldn’t be able to propel the bike when it’s travelling more than 15mph
  • the bike (including its battery but not the rider) must not be heavier than 40 kilograms (kg) if it’s a bicycle, or 60kg if it’s a tandem or tricycle
  • the motor shouldn’t have a maximum power output of more than 200 watts if it’s a bicycle and 250 watts if it’s a tandem or tricycle
  • the bike must have a plate showing the manufacturer, the nominal voltage of the battery, and the motor’s power output
So there you have it- something easy to ride, range about 20 miles which you can charge by plugging it into the wall. Perfect for short journeys into town if you don't want to pedal. The only problem is the cost- electrics are considerably more expensive than normal pedal bikes.

Here's a quick look at how this might work out for someone who drives 5 miles or so and parks at the station. (This is a perfect distance for a normal bike, but some people are put off because they think they'll get sweaty or need special bike clothes- this isn't true) 

Running costs for a cheapish petrol car are about 19p per mile. That's £9.50 a a week. 
Parking charges are £31 for a weekly ticket.

So you're talking around £40 per week to drive to the station and park fairly close. That's  £1800 for a 45 week year.

£1800 buys you a reasonable electric bike, and you can park it within 10 yards of the station entrance. Power it from renewable energy and you have a zero emissions bike...

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