Commuter E-Bikes – Are they worth the money?
E-Bikes are getting more popular for a lot of reasons. First, the move towards more environmentally friendly transportation has made gas-powered options less appealing. Next, some people claim e-bikes (and e-rides in general) are a good way to save money. But are e-bikes for commuting really worth the cost?
Will e-bikes save you money?
A solid mid-range e-bike will cost around $3,000, while higher-end models can easily cost $5,000 or more. That’s a pretty big chunk of change, but you should remember the money you’ll be saving on fuel. Most estimates show Americans spending at least $400 on gas per year. Rural states, which require more driving to get around, having a higher average.
If you spend $500 on gas annually, it would take about six years of gas-less driving to earn back a $3,000 e-bike investment. But gas is not the only cost reduction; remember to factor in savings for wear-and-tear on your vehicle, which can easily cost $500 a year or more on average. This reduces the time to recuperate your investment to 3 years or less.
Parking costs at your workplace can also be an expense for many people which can be saved by riding to work. If you pay $100 a month for parking, you will save an additional $1200 a year. E-bikes are starting to sound more and more appealing!
The above, however, assumes you have free electricity…
How much do e-bikes cost to charge?
When it comes to e-bikes, electricity is in the name (literally). While you will save money on gas, wear-and-tear and parking, e-rides require charging rather frequently. However, there’s a big range for e-bike battery life. Some rides last about 50 miles on a single charge while others go for double that. Here’s the good news: Regardless of the bike you choose, you will spend less on a single charge than you would on gas. At an average of 3-20 cents per charge, e-bikes are definitely cheaper than cars when it comes to power.
That sounds great, but what about distance? Are e-bikes a good option when considering their relatively short runtime?
How long does an e-bike battery last?
E-bikes don’t last as long as cars on a single charge. As mentioned, their battery life has a pretty big range, but ultimately, the longer you need your battery to last, the more you’ll spend. As a result, e-bikes may not be a good option if you travel a lot throughout the day. Traveling to and from work makes sense for shorter distances, but driving all over town will result in a dead battery pretty quickly.
Beyond the power of a single charge, e-bike batteries have another factor to consider: Total lifespan. Like any tech, batteries will die eventually. For e-bike batteries, that expiration date is generally between two and four years. Since they cost between $400 and $1,000, factoring in the eventual repair/replacement of an e-bike battery is important.
Are there other benefits?
Getting older? Don’t have time to stay in shape? E-bikes allow riders who are not in great physical shape to cycle much longer distances in less time and with less effort. Not only does this enable more easily commuting to work or doing errands on a bike, but biking in general can be more fun. For an older person, riding can feel like it was when you were young again. Saving money is not the only consideration if e-bikes can improve the quality of your life.
Who are e-bikes good for?
Now that you understand some of the important factors of an e-bike, you may be wondering who should purchase one. Here’s a little guide:
“I travel more than thirty miles each day.” For long-distance travelers, e-bikes run the risk of dying without a charger nearby, making them a questionable option.
“I just need something to get to work on.” For short commutes, e-bikes are a great way to save money on gas.
“I live in a big city.” Living in a big city means having less space for parking. If that’s you, e-bikes are a good way to fit in tight, metropolitan spaces.
“I want more enjoyment when riding a bike.” E-bikes provide the ability to go faster and farther than non-assisted bikes.
Ultimately, e-bikes might be a good idea if you mostly travel short distances. They can be especially useful in bigger or crowded cities as their compact design makes them ideal for tight spaces. They can increase your enjoyment while riding and allow you to ride more. Before making a purchase, you should consider short-term and long-term costs like electricity and battery replacements, as well as the reason you are considering an e-bike.