A man and a woman ride electric bikes through a park

While e-bikes are gaining in popularity, there are still some myths and misconceptions about electric bicycles. Here are some common electric bike myths and the facts about them.

Myth: E-bikes are motorcycles.

Fact: While electric bikes do indeed have a motor, they are not the same as motorcycles. In fact, the two wheels and a motor are about all the two have in common. An e-bike has pedals that help power the bike and a motor that is less than 1 horsepower. The majority of e-bikes will turn off the pedal-assist once the bike reaches 20 miles per hour. By contrast, motorcycles range from three to over 100 horsepower and can reach speeds comparable to cars.

From a legal perspective, pedal assist e-bikes are classified as bicycles rather than mopeds or motorcycles. In the United States, pedal assist e-bikes with a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph or less are not considered motor vehicles according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  

Myth: E-bikes are cheating.

Fact: E-bikes have a reputation for being “cheating”, but that begs the question, at what are you cheating? From a health perspective, riding an e-bike offers may of the same health benefits as riding a traditional bike. Even if you are using the pedal assist feature, you are still getting consistent exercise through pedaling as well as keeping the bicycle upright.

Additionally, e-bikes allow people to ride who may otherwise be unable to bike due to health or fitness restrictions. Unless you’re racing against people on traditional bicycles, there is no cheating involved with e-bikes.

Myth: E-bikes go too fast.

Fact: When utilizing the motor on an electric bike, the pedal assist on most e-bikes will shut off once the bike reaches 20 mph. While this may seem fast, a strong cyclist could reach this speed without assistance. According to Bicycling Magazine, the average cyclist in the Tour de France rides at a pace of 21 to 28 mph depending on the terrain.

Myth: E-bikes are disruptive on bike paths and trails.

Fact: With the only difference between traditional bikes and e-bikes being the motor, the impact on bike paths and trails isn’t significantly different. The noise of an electric bike’s motor is minimal and they don’t give off emissions. E-bikes also follow the same rules of the road as other bicycles.

Myth: E-bikes are too expensive.

Fact: While the upfront cost of an e-bike may seem pricey, consider the longevity of an e-bike and the savings associated with riding an e-bike. There are relatively few ongoing costs associated with e-biking, and the additional charges on an electric bill from charging an e-bike’s battery are typically negligible. Compared to the initial purchase and ongoing costs of a car, an e-bike is a smart financial alternative.

Myth: E-bikes aren’t safe.

Fact: E-bikes are not inherently any more dangerous than the traditional bicycle. In a study of e-bike riders, respondents reported feeling safer while riding an e-bike than they did a traditional pedal bike. The motorized electric bicycles allow riders to start and stop more easily, allowing e-bikers to clear intersections, climb hills, and keep up with traffic more easily. Without having to rely on momentum, electric bike riders are more likely to obey traffic laws by stopping at red lights and stop signs.

It is still important to take safety precautions while riding electric bikes. Wear a helmet to protect yourself from head, face or neck injury. Be visible by wearing bright colors and reflectors. Make sure your e-bike has functioning lights if you will be riding at night or in rainy or foggy conditions.

Myth: E-bikes are only for people who are lazy or can’t ride traditional bikes.

Fact: E-bikes aren’t for any one type of person. In fact, e-bikes are great for everyone! E-bikes are great for commuters, beginning cyclists, mountain bikers, and people with physical limitations that may struggle with traditional bicycles but benefit from cycling.

Additionally, e-bikes aren’t for the lazy! In fact, the pedal assist on most e-bikes will only kick in if the rider is pedaling, ensuring that the cyclist is actively riding the bike.

Myth: E-bikes can’t be ridden in the rain.

Fact: E-bikes can be ridden in any weather. Just like your favorite digital wristwatch, e-bikes tend to be water resistant. However, they are not completely waterproof, so don’t fully submerge your e-bike in water for an extended period of time.

For information about the water resistance of a specific e-bike, look at the bike’s International Protection (IP) code. This two-digit code rates the level of protection of an electrical enclosure against intrusion, dust, accidental contact, and water. The second digit corresponds to water, and the higher the second digit, the more waterproof the enclosure.

Myth: E-bikes don’t go far on one charge, and you’re stuck if the battery dies.

Fact: The range of an e-bike depends on a variety of factors, including the capacity of the bike’s battery. The larger the battery, the farther you will be able to travel on one charge. Most e-bikes have a range of 20 to 100 miles per hour depending on battery size, terrain, wind conditions, load, and use of pedal assist.

Additionally, many e-bike batteries will require three to five hours to fully charge, so you can charge between trips. For example, a commuter who rides their electric bike to the office may charge their battery while they’re at work, ready for their ride home. If the battery dies, the electric bike still functions the same as a traditional bike, just without the capability to assist with the motor.

Myth: E-bikes aren’t environmentally-friendly.

Fact: E-bikes themselves are environmentally-friendly. Since they run off electricity rather than fossil fuels, they don’t emit greenhouse gasses and they can be charged via clean, renewable energy sources. They also produce minimal waste. When you factor in the decrease in car usage when using an electric bike, e-bikes can greatly reduce your carbon footprint.

Are you looking to bust some electric bike myths? Give us a call at 608.276.5921 to learn more about our e-bikes.


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