Gas prices suck right now. Blame the Russian president. Blame our president. Blame me if you want, even though I’m not the president of anything. All I know is, after watching the counter blow past $70 filling up my tank the other day, I had a sudden diabolical urge to blow up my Honda. Cooler thoughts prevailed and I entertained a more productive hypothetical: I should get an e-bike.
If you’re looking for a way to save money at a time when paying for gas is a gut punch, consider investing in an e-bike. They’re a fast and efficient way to travel and a smart substitute to driving. If all you need to do is travel a few blocks to run an errand, what’s the point of driving?
What is an e-bike?
An e-bike is an electronic bicycle—any bike with an integrated electric motor used to assist in propulsion. Riding an e-bike feels pretty similar to riding a traditional bike, but you have the option to fire up the electric motor and battery for an extra boost. This makes it easier on the rider to go up hills, keep up with traffic (always important), or even pull a trailer.
There are e-bikes with pedal assist, which turns on the motor when the rider pedals, seamlessly combining manual power with electric power for a smooth ride. And then there are e-bikes with throttles with motors that propel the bike even without pedaling at all.
How fast can an e-bike go?
(In other words, when does an e-bike stop being an e-bike and becomes a motorcycle?) E-bike laws vary state by state. Most states have laws that say e-bikes cannot go faster than 20mph. Other states like California bump that up to 28mph, which means e-bikes can achieve a top speed somewhere in between those two, depending on where you live. The average road speed of a bicycle is about 15mph, so going with an e-bike makes you at a minimum 5mph faster, and you don’t have to exert any extra effort to get there. Nice.
How are e-bikes powered?
Our friends at Aventon break down the difference between the three battery types found in e-bikes:
- Lead-Acid: More economical, but rather hefty and sensitive to climate variations.
- Nickel-Cadmium: Lighter batteries, but suffer the most performance impacting defects.
- Lithium-Ion: The most optimal and longest battery hours, but also the most expensive.
Lead-acid batteries are a no-go. They’re three times heavier than lithium-ion batteries, have a shorter lifespan, and are much less efficient. Aventon only makes bikes with lithium-ion batteries. They are pricier, but worth the investment in the long-run.
E-bike batteries charge just like most other electronic devices. Just plug it in when not in use. On a full charge, depending on how powerful your battery is, you can get between 30 and 60 miles before you need to charge it again.
What are the advantages of e-bikes?
As I already mentioned, e-bikes are a gas-free alternative to driving. If all you need to do is travel a few miles, hop on your bike and hit the road instead of driving your car. If you live in an urban area with good bicycling infrastructure, e-bikes are an exceptionally good choice.
And it’s not just gas you’re saving on. By driving your car less and choosing to take an e-bike when you can, you’re extending the life of your car. There’s less maintenance required on a car that you don’t drive as often.
As a bonus, e-bikes also help you stay fit. Sure, there’s a motor on it that assists in pedaling, but you’re still moving your body when you’re pedaling an e-bike. Riding is good for your cardiovascular, respiratory, and mental health, three things everyone should take into account. Especially as you get older. It happens to everyone.
E-bikes also have an advantage over regular bikes because the motor lets you travel more efficiently, especially on inclines. When you come to a steep hill, fire up the motor and conquer that bad boy without killing your legs.
So if you’re feeling the pain at the pump just like everyone else is right now, consider how often you really NEED to drive your car. Are there trips you take with your car that you could realistically take with an e-bike? If you can answer “yes” to that question, consider putting your GovX membership to work and get your exclusive discount on the e-bike that’s right for you.