Electric Bikes Experts Interviews

Here’s the idea with this page. Rather than you contact and talk to dozens of electric bike experts about the benefits of electric bikes, I’ve gone and asked some of your frequently asked questions here on your behalf. Some of them are all in agreement, some strongly in opposition - it’s an interesting read.

Thank you very much to the contributors to this page.

* Richard Peace
* David Henshaw
* Mark Loveridge
* Peter Eland
* Dave H
* David Miall

You can read a short profile about them at the bottom, where you can also add your contribution.

mark loveridge ultra motor

Meeting with Mark Loveridge, one of the contributors

How far do electric bikes travel?

15-50 miles on a single battery charge - depending on battery size and riding variables ~ Richard Peace

10-50 miles ~ David Henshaw

Mainstream bikes travel up to 50 miles ~ Mark Loveridge

It depends. Essentially infinite (at least 50-90 miles - i.e. what most fittish people could cycle unassisted in a day) if you pedal almost exclusively, or very short (say 5-10 miles) if you make it haul you up a series of steep hills with no pedalling. ~ Peter Eland

15 miles without pedalling. 36v 10ah lifepo. 25 miles with pedalling. ~ Dave

Between 10 and 80 miles depending on many variables such as battery, drive system, tyre pressure etc on the bike, weight and fitness of the rider and road, terrain and weather conditions. ~ David Miall

How long do the batteries take to recharge?

Between 1 and 7 hours depending on chemistry, quality and size of battery and quality and amperage of the charger. Most decent batteries will charge in 3.5 - 4.5 hours. ~ David Miall

Anything from 30 minutes to 8 hours depending on the technology ~ Richard Peace

2-12 hours ~ David Henshaw

From flat Li-ion take between 4-6 hrs ~ Mark Loveridge

Several hours, usually. Doesn't particularly matter for most purposes so long as it's shorter than a working day or an overnight sleep - which it generally is. ~ Peter Eland

3 hours. ~ Dave H

How much have you saved (or can you save) with an electric bike?

A typical electric bike costs 10-15p per mile to run [with ownership costs]

Anything from 20p up to £2.50 per mile depending on what bike is compared to what car. ~ Richard Peace

Depends on mileage, and the sort of vehicle you’re replacing. A typical electric bike costs 10-15p per mile to run, so if it replaces a car you can save a great deal. If it replaces a worn-out old bike it will cost you more! ~ David Henshaw

A fortune! Depends on your commute and usage level but anywhere upwards of £300/month dependant on commutes ~ Mark Loveridge

People switching from cars will see fuel savings, of course, but it's not a question that particularly interests me. Once you've swallowed the purchase price the running costs are small (at least until it's new battery time). If the electric bike makes travel easier or more enjoyable then the enjoyment will remain while cost is long forgotten (especially if you've bought a quality bike in the first place). ~ Peter Eland

Nothing. You don't save anything unless you sell the car or do more than 2000 miles per year, but may have saved my life by being more healthy. ~ Dave

On a commute in a car to London with daily costs such as £8 soon to become £10.00 congestion charges and parking upwards of £30.00 at least £800/ month before you have started on car and fuel costs. This of course is high and savings will vary massively depending on the mode of transport electric biking is being compared to and for what purpose the transport is being used. ~ David Miall

Do electric bikes make you fitter?

The evidence seems to be YES. People use electric bikes a lot more than ordinary bikes ~ David Henshaw

Yes - you still have to do some pedalling and can always switch the power off if you want a good workout. ~ Richard Peace

Yes- there are many cases of people losing weight when swapping to an e-bike from another form of motorised transports ~ Mark Loveridge

Depends on what it's compared to. Yes vs sitting in a chair or car seat, not so much compared to walking or unassisted cycling. ~ Peter Eland

I'm fitter than I was before I had it. ~ Dave

Yes, if you are moving out of a car or off public transport. ~ David Miall

Are electric bikes safer than traditional bicycles?

Yes, they get you out in front of traffic quicker, help you maintain a faster speed and help you maintain a speed uphills ~ Mark Loveridge

Yes - better acceleration means less speed relative to fast moving motor vehicles ~ Richard Peace

YES. They have the power to get you through roundabouts, out of side turnings and up hills faster and more safely ~ David Henshaw

Not much in it. The power can assist keeping your speed up and help with accelerating, which can be useful to keep up with traffic. But on some of the less sophisticated models it can also catch you out when it continues on for a few fractions of a second after you stop pedalling. ~ Peter Eland

Yes - easier and faster to get across junctions and roundabouts. ~ Dave

Yes, due to acceleration out of junctions and the ability to keep up a higher average speed. The higher average speed means trafic is passing at a lower differential. ~ David Miall

Are electric bikes quicker than other forms of transport?

In urban situations it’s usually by far the fastest way to travel, but motorbikes can come close if they have useful cut-throughs and easy parking ~ David Henshaw

In towns yes - not for very long journeys! ~ Richard Peace

In a congested city then they are the quickest from A2B if you also consider parking ~ Mark Loveridge

Depends entirely on levels of congestion and your journey. Bikes are usually fastest in congested cities anyway. Electric ones are about the same as a normal bike with a fit rider, or faster than one with an unfit or weaker rider. If you've a long stretch with a hill or headwind the electric bike will definitely pull ahead. ~ Peter Eland

Only in limited circumstances. A moped/motorcycle beats them easily. ~ Peter Eland

Depends on the journey, if you are off to Australia probably not!! However in the City electric bikes are probably the fastest form of transport available. This has been bourn out by the chief of the City of London Cycle squad who now uses a Wisper as his patrol vehicle. ~ David Miall

What do you think of electric bike conversion kits?

An excellent, cheap way to get an electric bike, but there are a lot of things to consider when matching the kit to your bike. Take advice from a forum. ~ Dave

A very good idea but needing a bit of development ~ Richard Peace

Useful, but not half as important as properly made, properly guaranteed electric bikes ~ David Henshaw

Not a good idea. A bike should be designed from the ground up to be electric. Else you maybe putting additional strain on a bike not suitable for a kits ~ Mark Loveridge

Very tempting idea for many people who already have a nice bike, although some of the more sophisticated "complete bike" systems are now so complex and integrated into the bike with numerous sensors etc that a kit may seem a little crude in comparison. But that said they can still be useful, especially for adapting cycles (e.g. tandems) which aren't readily available with electric assist factory fitted. ~ Peter Eland

Fantastic as long as they are of a high enough quality. If the weight is well distributed and the components are fitted well and of high quality the electric components add very little to the stresses put onto a pedal bike. A man weighing 10kg more than another would put more stress on the bike than a kit. It also allows cyclists to morph their chosen bike into an electric version. ~ David Miall

What should people look for in the best electric bike battery?

A well-known make who have been around a while and you expect to be around into the future. A specific warranty which promises a good percentage of capacity remaining after say 2 years. ~ Peter Eland

NiMH OR a 2 year plus guarantee on a Li Ion one. ~ Richard Peace

A guarantee of two years or more is ESSENTIAL as they can be very unreliable. Then a reasonable price (less than £300), and finally a goof capacity of 350Wh+ ~ David Henshaw

Brand, brand, brand and warrantys ~ Mark Loveridge

A lot of different batteries with different prices, specs, quality. I've had no problems with 3 cheap Chinese Lifepos ~ Dave

It should be as big as possible 500Wh up for a decent bike and of very high quality with a decent management system. lithium polymer is probably the best but there are some very good dry cell lithium batteries on the market now. The most important thing to look for is a minimum two year guarantee with the power drop allowed in that time published. In two years the drop should not be more than 25/30% ~ David Miall

What should you look for in a quality electric bike?

If it’s nice to ride without power it’s often a good electric bike. ~ Richard Peace

Quality European brand, Japanese or German electrics. Crank drives are best for most situations (but not all) ~ David Henshaw

Quality components, back up support from the retailer and manufacturer in terms of phone support and sparess ~ Mark Loveridge

An established brand with good backup (ideally locally via a dealer). Good controllable performance, with and without power. ~ Peter Eland

Cartridge type headset and bottom bracket bearings.. Properly sealed (waterproof) electrics. Good rolling (free-wheeling). ~ Dave H

Quality branded parts and proper battery installation as low as possible on the bike to keep the C of G low. Of course the most important thing to look for is back up and service available from the supplier. ~ David Miall

Would you recommend looking at a second hand e-bike?

Possibly - but if at all possible test it first. The condition of the batteries may be hard to determine from a quick look, though - if they're shot it'll be a hefty extra cost to replace them. ~ Peter Eland

Yes - if you read up a bit first. ~ Richard Peace

Only one of the above (ie a quality European-made crank-drive). The 200-2006 Giant Lafree is very good too. Chinese bikes, absolutely not. ~ David Henshaw

Yes- although its hard to tell how old the battery is ~ Mark Loveridge

If you are mechanically competent, there should be no problem. Check that the battery has the full capacity and check the cost of replacement. ~ Dave

Absolutely, there are many decent second hand bikes on the market, just make certain you are buying a reconised brand and it is not stolen! ~ David Miall

How much do electric bikes cost?

£400 - £2,500. A good reliable bike is currently £1,250 - £1,500 ~ David Henshaw

New ones from about £500 up so around £3000. ~ Richard Peace

For a decent one £1000+ Budget from £500- but don’t expect it to last longs ~ Mark Loveridge

In the UK, £450ish upwards. Most of the better ones are into four figures. ~ Peter Eland

£450 - £2000. Cheap ones can be made very good if you know what you are doing. ~ Dave

£299.00 to £5,000. However if you spend less than £1000.00 be very careful that full back up is available. Expect to pay between £1,400 and £3,000 for a decent bike with £1,600 being about the average price for a good bike that will last and perform well.

What should you look for in a quality electric bike dealer?

Long established, trustworthy, willing to accept a battery or electrics failure when they see it ~ David Henshaw

2 year guarantee on the battery - at least if possible (hopefully if they stock such models they will be concerned with quality). ~ Richard Peace

Knowledgeable and able to services ~ Mark Loveridge

Trained to handle the electric bike by the supplier, able to get parts swiftly and fit them competently. A lot of this is down to the manufacturer/distributor working well with the dealer, so it's a package. Bigger brands are more likely to have this all in place. ~ Peter Eland

No quibble support for when things go wrong during the guarantee period. You can get most spares over the internet far cheaper than from a dealer. ~ Dave

Knowledge, stock and the ability to service your bike. ~ David Miall

How long would you expect an electric bike to last before being replaced?

Indefinitely, if heavy use the battery every 3-4 years ~ Mark Loveridge

No real time limit - just a finite limit on LiIon batteries - about 2 years and 5 years plus on NiMH ~ Richard Peace

I would expect nothing less than a ten year life, with perhaps one new battery in that time. We have an eight year old Lafree that looks as if it will exceed that ~ David Henshaw

The bike itself, indefinite or 10+ years. Battery, 2-5 years at least depending on use. ~ Peter Eland

They're like PCs. They should last many years, but new technology makes you want to replace them after about 2 years. ~ Dave

Six to ten years depending on usage. ~ David Miall

What do you think would help electric bikes really "take off" in the UK?

Publicity, availability through independent bike dealers, a better cycling infrastructure and user confidence. ~ David Miall

Govt subsidy in the same way they are going to be available for electric cars BUT PRIMARILY better cycle lanes that make people feel safe ~ Richard Peace

Cheaper prices, fewer battery failures, better dealer back-up. More acceptance by young people. ~ David Henshaw

Exposure and becoming desirables ~ Mark Loveridge

More public awareness, especially more people having actually tried a good one! Prices are also an obstacle for many - if they could come down while retaining or improving quality and reliability that would help. Also some real political will to promote non-car forms of transport, but I'm not holding my breath! ~ Peter Eland

Prohibitive costs of other forms of transport. Prohibition of other types of transport. More exposure to the general public. ~ Dave

What do you see as the biggest block to your answer above?

Unsafe cycling conditions - or at least ones that people perceive as unsafe ~ Richard Peace

Expensive prices, many battery failures, poor dealer back-up! ~ David Henshaw

lack of exposures ~ Mark Loveridge

Lack of visibility of electric bikes in dealers and also in use. Both are slowly improving... As to the wider question of bike use and how it can be grown, that's a whole other debate for another time. ~ Peter Eland

Apathy, ignorance, lack of enterprise. ~ Dave

IBD's having been burned in the past are unwilling to invest unless they are certain quality product and back up is available ~ David Miall

About the Contributors

A short mini-profile about the contributors who have kindly given a few minutes of their time. Check out their websites and profiles.

Richard Peace

Cycling author and publisher for more than 15 years, Richard Peace is also founder of Excellent Books. He’s also recently co-authored the recently published Electric Bicycle’s book which covers the advantages and details of electric bikes in detail.

David Henshaw

Writer and Editor of A to B Magazine, a publication on folding and electric bike which has been running since 1997. David has also co-authored the Electric Bicycle book with Richard.

Mark Loveridge

Mark Loveridge is Managing Director of Ultra Motor, the firm behind the popular A2B Metro and A2B Hybrid Electric Bikes. He is also the secretery for the British Electric Bike Association (BEBA).

Peter Eland

Peter Eland is Editor and Publisher of Velovision - a popular cycling publication. The Velovision family recently grew with the addition of Electric Bike Mag which comes out every quarter featuring the latest news, reviews and articles on electric bikes.

David Miall

David Miall is Director of Wisper Bikes one of the largest electric bike brands in the UK, he's Chairman of the British Electric Bike Association (BEBA) since it's formation.

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