Why Ebike Commutes Instead of Car Commutes

Discover the Benefits of Ebike Commuting: Faster, Cheaper, and Less Stressful Than Car Commutes
3 weeks ago

Throwing around the word “commute” brings painful memories for people more often than not thanks to one thing and one thing only: traffic. Though it’s not an option for everyone, commuting with an ebike rather than a car might make things a bit more interesting.

To be clear, we are talking about an ebike, as in an electric bicycle, not a regular bike. The difference here is that the former has an electric motor that will help you get where you are going faster and with much less effort on your behalf. As such, you might just be able to replace car commutes with ebike commutes and enjoy some nifty perks.

Five Key Takeaways:

  • Avoid Traffic: Ebikes navigate through traffic more efficiently.
  • Pedal Assist: PAS makes commuting easier with less effort.
  • Cost Savings: Charging an ebike is much cheaper than buying gas.
  • Eco-Friendly: Ebikes reduce pollution and provide light exercise.
  • Versatile: Commuter and hybrid ebikes suit various riding conditions.

The Problem with Commutes and Traffic

Let’s be honest, no one really likes to commute to work. More often than not, you are just spending time getting to the place where you will actually spend time to get paid. Feels a bit like a rip-off, doesn’t it? Indeed, if you look at current fuel prices at the time of this writing, you would not be wrong to feel that way in our opinion.

Moreover, traffic congestion just makes things worse. Idling by, burning fuel, and waiting for the line to move? Nah, that’s crazy. Sadly, that is the reality for most car commuters. However, ebike commuters might have a bit of an edge in those cases.

Ebike Commuting and the Pedal Assist System

Make no mistake, an ebike is a bike but also so much more than that. Through the incorporation of an electric engine and a battery to power it, the ebike can provide you with the pedal assist system (PAS).

As the name suggests, the pedal assist system will, of course, assist you when you are pedaling. Because of the action of sensors spread around the crankset of the ebike, it can tell when you are pedaling and respond accordingly.

This response is nothing short of a godsend since it sends your assistance in the form of propelling you forward as if you were pedaling harder. However, here’s the nifty part: you won’t have to pedal any harder to go any faster.

The pedal assist system will simply pick up on your pedaling and signal the motor that it should propel you forward. How strong that boost is depends entirely on you, though.

woman commutes with ebike n1

Namely because the output of the pedal assist is something that you can set yourself. Located somewhere on the handlebar of every ebike, you can always find a little rectangular display showing a bunch of numbers.

That is the control display, and from it, you will control the pedal assist level to set how much assist you get from the ebike. More often than not, the levels of pedal assist available come in numbers—the higher the number, the higher the assist.

On the other hand, some ebikes use names for them. You can find some with the names: Eco, Tour, Sport, and Turbo, for example. Whenever that happens, check your user manual to figure out which corresponds to which assist level.

The Pedal Assist System as a Game Changer for Cycling Commutes

Think about the past—how did people used to get around before the advent of cars? Yeah, some used horses for sure, but there was a time when cycling on a bicycle was very trendy. But why don’t you see that today?

Well, it’s, of course, due to cars. Since cars make traveling long distances so much easier, it’s easier to connect towns and cities. As such, our cities quickly developed into car-centric cities in the name of efficiency and, of course, profit. (Think about it: cars need gas, but cyclists don’t even need fuel—coincidence? We think not!)

So, to travel farther and often carry more stuff, be it for work or leisure, the car simply made more sense than a bicycle. It’s simply less effort to move around from point A to point B compared to cycling. However, what if we could make cycling easier? Enter the ebike.

Think of the pedal assist system as a way to match the convenience a motor gives to a car. That is to say, the ability to move faster without having to put in much or barely any effort at all. As a result, the ebike becomes a viable contender to the car as a transportation option.

How Fast Can an Ebike Go Anyway?

This answer requires some nuance since it depends on where in the world you are located. Firstly, in the US, there are three distinct classes of ebikes. In other words, they might reach speeds between:

  • 20 miles per hour (32 kilometers per hour) to
  • 28 miles per hour (45 kilometers per hour), depending on the specific class.

Meanwhile, in Europe, the standard limit is uniformly 15.5 miles per hour (25 kilometers per hour).

As a side note, it is possible to modify or outright install a more powerful motor on any ebike. However, in the eyes of the law, any ebike that breaks past those speed limits in its respective jurisdiction is no longer legally considered a bike.

As such, it will then be considered a moped, which means it would be subjected to a different set of legal requirements. As a result, you would lose one of the greatest advantages of ebikes: the lack of licensing, plates, and registration. Thus, we don’t advise you to acquire or modify an ebike in that way.

Why Commute with An Ebike

Cars are big, and ebikes are slim and nimble. Can you see where we are going with this?

The only reason cars need to line up one after the other during traffic is because the road can only accommodate so many of them. However, an ebike is so slim and nimble that during traffic jams it can certainly:
a) squeeze through the spaces between cars
b) have the rider get off and walk the ebike to the top of the line
c) avoid traffic altogether by going through bike lanes or taking some safe shortcuts
d) all of the above

Riding an ebike can allow you to skip most of the hassle of traffic if you are bold, skilled, and inclined to do so. As such, you can save yourself many pains car drivers are subjected to. Here are the reasons why commuting with an ebike might be a great idea:

Easier Than with A Regular Bike

We are taking a break from taking shots at cars with this one, but we will be taking shots at regular bikes instead. The fact is that riding a regular bike as a transportation method is absolutely not an option for most people today.

Why? Well, firstly, the physical effort involved is something not everyone is able or willing to output. Having to work so hard to get to work to work hard? Sounds kind of crazy, don’t you think? Indeed, you can’t fault people for not wanting to take part in that kind of self-exploitation and then looking for an easier way out.

However, that way out doesn’t have to be cars necessarily because the pedal assist system might be just what they need. That is to say that through it, people who were reluctant to bike might find it within them to do so. Specifically, if they can put the pedal assist at a high enough level for them to ride comfortably. Indeed, most people are not into putting much effort into commuting to work, and ebikes can be an easier way out.

woman commutes with ebike n2

Quicker

Since you can make your way around traffic by riding through a variety of ways, you can save yourself time like cars could only dream of. As a result, you will get where you are going faster than they will. As such, you will have more time to yourself to spend however you choose.

Less Stressful

Were you to pass around traffic and look inside car windows, you would likely see only long faces. That is understandable; no one likes to have to wait in line. The noise from engines and the smoke from car exhausts don’t help set much of a positive ambiance either. However, if you ride an ebike, chances are that you can just maneuver your way around it if you are nimble enough. Thus, you might be able to save yourself quite the headache.

Zero Emissions

This one goes out to all of you who care about the environment in one way or another.

The thing about ebikes is they have an electric engine, not an internal combustion engine like cars do. Consequently, ebikes do not produce emissions from burning fuel like combustion engine cars do. That means riding an ebike is less damaging and, thus, better for the environment than riding a car.

Emissions are a whole subject on their own, but the long and short of it is that they have negative effects on you and the environment. How bad are they? Well, cancer and several types of respiratory diseases are on the menu for you, and climate change/global warming for the environment. How is that for bad news?

For those who care about the environment we live in, when you ride an ebike, know that you are doing something good. Indeed, you are not contributing to the deterioration of the environment, your health, or that of your fellow human beings.

Who would have thought you could achieve all that by just riding a bike with a motor on it? Crazy, right?

Works As a Way To Get You Fit

You know what doesn’t get you fit? Sitting on your bum all day in your car while you drive. In contrast, riding an e-bike makes you take part in what they like to call active transport. That is to say that you are actually physically engaging in order to get moving. As a result, you are actually doing the thing that will allow you to burn some calories and, therefore, lose some weight.

And before you even think of saying that it is not the same thing since you have the pedal assist helping you, that is not the case. According to research, e-bike riders tend to ride farther and for longer than regular bike riders. As such, they might end up burning a similar amount, if not more, calories than regular bike riders.

Basically, the hypothesis behind it is that since they have got the pedal assist to back them up, they are more likely to let loose. As such, if you ride an e-bike frequently for whatever reason, like, say, commuting to work, you are bound to lose some pounds.

Cheaper For Your Wallet

One of the worst things about car traffic is that your car remains there idling, burning fuel, and waiting to move very little for a long time. As a result, you are still burning fuel while not going anywhere for the most part. Environmental implications aside, that is indeed a shame for your poor wallet based on the price of gas today.

On the other hand, ebike riders have little to worry about gas prices because their bikes don’t run on gas. As we already established, the “e” in ebike stands for electric. And that is indeed a very convenient power source to have if you are into saving money.

Long story short:

Charging an ebike battery is approximately 79 times cheaper than filling up for gas assuming that:

  • gas is 3.46 USD per gallon
  • price per kilowatt-hour is 0.174 USD
  • size of the gas tank is 14 gallons, which is the average
  • capacity of the battery to charge is 500Wh, which is the average.

If you were to charge your ebike every single day of the year, you would end up spending 31.76 USD. On the other hand, you would spend around 2518.88 USD if you filled up the gas tank 52 times a year (the average for Americans).

Here is the math behind those calculations if you care about that:

How much cheaper it is to charge an ebike battery compared to filling up for gas (math edition)

The following is the math behind the previous assessment that it was 79 times cheaper to charge a bike battery than to fill up for gas. So, if you don’t like math,

then why are you even reading this?

This is how much it takes to fill up for gas:

  • gas price: 3.46 USD per gallon
  • tank size: 14 gallons (average size)

How much to fill up for gas?

3.46 USD/gallon * 14 gallons = 48.44 USD

Number of fill-ups per year: 52 (average for Americans)

How much to fill up for gas annually?

48.44 USD * 52 = 2518.88 USD

This is how much it takes to fill up an ebike battery:

  • kilowatt-hour (kWh) price: 0.174 USD
  • battery capacity: 500Wh (average size)

How much to charge an ebike battery?

0.5 kWh * 0.174 USD/kWh = 0.087 USD

If you were to charge the ebike battery every day, that would be: 365 days

How much to charge an ebike battery annually?

0.087 USD * 365 = 31.76 USD

Fuel cost vs. Power cost – a comparison:

  • if you filled up for gas for a whole year: 2518.88 USD
  • if you charged the ebike battery every day, you would spend: 31.76 USD

Finally, let’s calculate how many times cheaper it would be to charge an ebike battery every single day of a year compared to filling up for gas a whole year:

2518.88 USD / 31.76 USD = 79

Thus, charging an ebike battery every day for a year is approximately 79 times cheaper than filling up for gas.

How is that for a math lesson?

Which Kind of Ebike Should You Choose to Commute With?

Broadly speaking, any kind of ebike can take you where you are going. However, if we are talking about a commute, then the aptly named commuter ebike might be the one. Although we say might because of a couple of things.

Most commuter ebike models have thin tires that are ideal for riding on pavement. Furthermore, they come with lights, fenders, mudguards, and more often than not, a rack to put your stuff on. All that assures that you will be visible, carry your stuff, and hopefully remain clean as a whistle when you ride.

That would be the common answer. However, we know it’s not always that easy. Although we ideally want to think that city streets are all smooth, chances are a lot of potholes make them uneven.

On top of that, lots of daring riders like to cut through more unorthodox roads besides the main streets. If you count yourself among those, then there is indeed a better option for you, and that would be the hybrid ebike.

See, hybrid ebike models combine the best of both worlds: features from the commuter ebike and the off-road ebike. That is to say that the goal is to offer you a bike that can handle both smooth and off-road surfaces relatively well—the best of two into one.

Compared to regular commuter bikes, hybrid ebikes have wider tires and almost always come with a front suspension fork. Thus, they are better equipped to handle uneven terrain, which daring riders often don’t miss a chance to get into. Thus, we need to reiterate, if that sounds like you, then commuting with a hybrid ebike is your cup of tea.

How Does It feel to Commute with An Ebike?

It’s only fair that after all that we at least give our two cents on this.

Therefore, here we go: how does it feel to ride an e-bike?

Well, for starters, ever ridden a bicycle? It’s like that.

Only when you turn on the e-bike and begin to pedal, you are going to feel like a gracious wind at your back boosting you further. It knows, it just knows that you want to get a move on, and it just says, ‘Well, shall we?’ as it throws you forward.

The amount of assist it gives you can be as discrete or as powerful as you choose. It will match what you tell it; you just need to tell it. There comes a point at which the effort you put in and the assist of the e-bike blend seamlessly into one. Indistinguishable from one another, it would make you think, ‘Whoa, when did I become this good at it?’

Moreover, the assist is not only there to make you go faster but also to make you go higher. If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to have uphill inclines on your daily route, then you would know just how tiring they are. Indeed, it is the kind of thing that you would only wish on your worst enemy. Maybe someone wished that upon you, perhaps?

In any case, the e-bike is there to tell you, ‘I got you,’ whenever faced with one of those. Someone came up with the idea to put an electric motor on it, and going uphill has never been easier. Assuming you set the pedal assist level high enough for you and downshifted your gears, it’ll be chill. It’s like the hill was never even there. And who needs a hill in your way when you’ve got to get to work anyway?

The Takeaway

Commuting with an ebike instead of a car might at first glance seem like a downgrade. However, make no mistake. Ebikes are indeed a legitimate alternative to car commuting, which is only rising in prominence as gas prices and the high cost of living exacerbate.

While a lot of people like to look down on bikes as a lower form of transport, we are sure that the benefits they offer stack up. As such, if you ever get fed up with cars and their BS, why not try out an ebike for a change?

This article was written by Fredd Arteaga Valdez

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