The cycle sense column with Tony Booth

E-bikes can give you a boost while travelling up hills.
E-bikes can give you a boost while travelling up hills.

Electrically assisted bikes are becoming a common sight on our road and cycle paths – combining a conventional bike with a battery and motor, they take much of the effort out of pedalling.

Not only is this great for older cyclists who don’t want to struggle up hills, but they’re now proving popular with people of all ages for a wide range of reasons.

For example, e-bikes are ideal if you’re commuting, allowing you to cover the miles without arriving at work needing a shower!

They’re also useful for cyclists who are recovering from an injury, helping them to get back in the saddle faster, safe in the knowledge that they have the boost of a motor is they need it.

As anyone over the age of 14 can ride an electric bike, they’re also a great way of giving teenagers more independence and enable cyclists of different abilities to ride together.

In fact, mountain bikers are also turning to motorised bikes for some off-road fun as they enable them to quickly ascend the hills and spend more time enjoying the thrill of hurtling down.

On the continent, electric bikes have long been popular and it’s estimated that almost 40% of German cyclists use e-bikes, with Holland and France also being big players.

The UK too is seeing a surge in demand as people wake up to their many benefits – they’re environmentally-friendly and a very cost-effective way to get around; you don’t need road tax, insurance, a licence or to pay for parking.

E-bikes have a small, integrated electric motor which is engaged by pedalling or using the throttle on the handlebar. As you have to pedal in order for the motor to run, they do involve an element of exercise – with a maximum speed of 15mph uphill, riders are able to choose from different levels of power to assist them.

The lowest setting, usually ‘eco’, only gives a slight push while the highest, ‘turbo’ gives a big boost, particularly from a stationary position or up hills.

Electric bikes have rechargeable batteries that can be charged at a normal mains socket, usually taking about three hours and lasting for around 20 miles.

While originally aimed at the ‘silver cyclists’, e-bikes are the latest craze among young, daredevil mountain bikers with the bonus of having a motor enabling them to tackle even the steepest of off road trails.

These e-MTBs offer all the benefits of a performance-orientated trail bike, but with the added fun of an extra boost of power.

They’re great for mountain bikers recovering from injuries; or for those who enjoy an occasional off-road blast but don’t want to have to commit to a tough training regime in order to keep up with the pack.

E-bikes are perfect for helping you get you up those climbs faster and for covering long distances so you can enjoy the more exciting parts of the trail.

The choice of e-bikes has exploded in recent years and, as with regular bikes, in general terms, the more you pay, the better quality of components you get.

Whether you want a compact model for commuting or a high performance mountain bike with carbon frame, there’s an electric bike for you.

No matter how scathing conventional cyclists have been about the concept of a bike with a motor, e-bikes are certainly carving out a place for themselves and, what’s more, every cycling purist I know who has tried one has quickly been converted!

While I don’t think that e-bikes will ever replace traditional road bikes and MBTs, many avid cyclists are adding an electric bike to their collection – and it’s certainly a great option to have.