In recent months, fuel prices have shot up thanks to a number of different factors. Indeed, the RAC reports that, as of 14 August 2022, the average price of unleaded petrol stood at almost 174 pence a litre, while diesel was more than 184 pence a litre.
With the cost of living crisis still ongoing, you may be looking for ways you can save money – especially on soaring fuel bills. So, have you considered an e-bike as a way to cut costs?
Of course, e-bikes come with benefits as well as disadvantages for both the environmentally-conscious and the economically-astute. So, read on for the pros and cons of switching to an e-bike.
An e-bike could save you money on your commute
If you’re looking to purchase an e-bike as a way to save money in the long run, then you’re in luck.
According to the Lothian Buses website, if you were to get a season ticket for use on trams and buses in Edinburgh, it would cost you £600 for the year, or £56 monthly for direct debit payments.
Meanwhile, e-bikes are typically fitted with 36V lithium batteries, which, according to Volt, cost around 15 pence to charge fully. Now, depending on the manufacturer of the bike, you should expect to get up to 60 miles of range from a fully charged e-bike.
If you were to travel this same distance by a car with a petrol engine, you would have to pay around £13. Of course, this price will change depending on fuel prices and the fuel efficiency of the car, but that is without accounting for things like road tax, MOT or insurance.
Furthermore, Cycling UK reports that the average trip length on a bike in 2020 was 4.1 miles, meaning you would get around 14 trips on your e-bike before you needed to recharge it, depending on the manufacturer.
Of course, when it comes to cutting costs, the largest deterrent you will most likely face when considering purchasing an e-bike is the upfront cost.
Indeed, the average price for an e-bike sits somewhere between £1,000 and £10,000. This may seem like a substantial initial outlay, but you should know that there are several government initiatives that help reduce the initial costs of e-bikes.
For example, the Cycle to Work Scheme is designed to encourage employees to start cycling to work, which also lets employers benefit from a healthier workforce.
If you take advantage of the Cycle to Work Scheme you can choose a bike, including an e-bike, and hire it for an agreed length of time. When this hiring period has expired, you can then purchase the bike outright for a reduced sum of money – a reduction of between 26% and 40% on the original price, according to the Cycle Scheme website.
Or, if you live in Scotland, Transport Scotland are offering an interest-free electric bike loan, with which you can purchase two e-bikes up to the cost of £3,000 each, which is repayable over four years.
E-bikes have zero emissions, which makes them great for the environment
Other than saving money, one of the biggest allures to e-bikes would be their limited impact on the environment.
As is to be expected, there are absolutely zero emissions from e-bikes. The only damage that would be done to the environment would be from charging the battery, and even then, the effects are likely to be negligible.
If you are passionate about environmental issues, making the switch from cars to e-bikes makes sense – according to a study reported by Halfords, motor vehicles account for a fifth of the UK’s greenhouse gases.
Aside from carbon emissions, other forms of pollution are lessened when more people are on e-bikes. Indeed, noise pollution would be reduced, and general congestion in city centres would be diminished, making journeys easier and less stressful.
Also, depending on the manufacturer, most e-bikes can be completely recycled when they reach the end of their life.
Some people may also think it’s pointless to get an e-bike since you won’t get any exercise thanks to the motor-assisted pedalling. Well, think again, because e-bikes mostly help you to push off and get up steep hills – they don’t take all the effort out of cycling.
Indeed, a study in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity found that e-bike riders are physically exerting themselves for 95% of their journey. So, you’ll still get plenty of exercise riding an e-bike.
You may have to pay a steep upfront cost to purchase an e-bike
Like most things, e-bikes come with some disadvantages that you should take note of before you purchase one.
As mentioned, the initial price to buy an e-bike can be quite steep – usually between £1,000 and £10,000. Even though there are several government schemes that make purchasing an e-bike more affordable, you may still need to pay a significant upfront cost to obtain one.
Theft is another e-bike issue you should consider before you purchase one. Since people know they’re more expensive and sought after, e-bikes likely stand out to opportunistic thieves.
Some brands of e-bikes, such as Bosch, have tried tackling this problem by fitting anti-theft devices that lock the motor in an attempt to make it more difficult to stop opportunistic thieves from stealing your e-bike.
Still though, if someone is determined enough and has targeted your bike, chances are little is going to stop them from stealing it. Of course, you can take out insurance that covers your e-bike, but this is another cost you have to consider on top of the upfront cost.
While they have zero emissions, the production of e-bikes still affects the environment
Even though e-bikes are typically good for the environment in that they are zero-emission, their production still damages the planet.
Indeed, figures reported by the Guardian estimate that e-bikes have an average manufacturing carbon footprint of 134kg carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), while traditional push bikes cost around 92kg CO2e.
It has also been said that e-bikes can be more difficult to repair when compared to traditional push bikes. Since e-bikes have more complex parts, like motors, LCD screens and sensors, it is unlikely that you would be able to repair them yourself.
This means that, if something goes wrong with your e-bike, a trip to a bike repair shop will most likely be needed, which means more costs.
One such bicycle repair shop, the e-bike store, states that a basic electric bike service will cost £39.99, while a full service will cost upwards of £85. Of course, this cost will vary depending on the shop you visit and whether you have insurance or a warranty, but you can still expect to pay a fair amount of money to get your bike fixed.
Also, if you aren’t planning on using your e-bike for urban commutes, a traditional push bike may better suit you. This is because, even though a full battery charge lasts for around 60 miles, if you were to cycle around a national park, for example, chances are you would have to stop somewhere to recharge.
Get in touch
If you’re not sure if e-bikes are for you, but you still want to further discuss the ways you could save money amid the cost of living crisis, please email us at email@example.com or call 01313 786680.