Is An Electric Bike Worth It? *Noob alert!*


New Member
Hello, I'm currently a senior in high school and going to be attending a local community college that have various campus locations located around 9-25 miles away from my house. I'm 5'5, and 117 lbs. I'm in okay shape, just a little lazy. But I want to start exercising before gaining that freshman 15.

I'm a total bike noob and have lots of questions... so please help? :D

Due to sucky public transportation and not wanting to share a car among 3 busy family members, I've been thinking about getting myself an electric bike to travel to college. But I don't know if it's worth getting an ebike as an incoming college student... especially with college expenses. I love biking and electric bikes seem really interesting to me. But I'm still new to all this...

Would you recommend a college student to buy an electric bike?

I live in the suburbs of NorCal. There's lots of hills and I don't need to worry about dirt roads. However, I don't have enough strength to bike up the several hills. Even some adult cyclists have trouble riding up a hill near my house... so I would need a bike powerful enough to help bike up hills. Preferably I would like the bike to be able to travel ~50 miles, but it just needs to last at least 25 miles. However, I'm worried about the price. I saved up some money from my part time job and I'm willing to spend ~$1200. I can also spend a little more for a good bike that can last me through college and maybe longer. But I still want to have enough money to survive college (~4 yrs)...

Do you know/recommend any good ebikes that could work for me? And for a noob like me, would it be better to start off with a cheaper ebike?

Sorry if this is confusing. And thanks for your help!

Ann M.

Well-Known Member
As someone who lived without owning a car until her mid thirties, a regular bike with rack, saddlebags & a trailer got me down the road many days. I only wish that there had been reliable electric bikes then to make the Austin hills & heat a little easier to deal with. An ebike would be an excellent option for you @Loki. Do test rides of lots of ebikes, even if they're outside your price point just to get a feel for what different bikes are like.

Maybe a local shop will have a closeout model or demo unit discounted that still has a warranty. One of my customers just brought a new EGlide to us to assemble (nice $1200 bike) and it had the basics and looks well built. Although I prefer that folks go to a shop to get an ebike, she got a reasonable deal and made the effort to find a shop to help her with service now & in the future. Same with Raleigh & Juiced bikes; reasonably priced. Ask about factory rebuilt bikes too; that might be a way to get a better bike for less $$. Primarily look at brands that have been around for a while, have US service available instead of leaping out for the cheapest thing on the internet. Given that you want to ride this bike for a few years and have to live on a budget, it would be smart to choose one that still has a warranty rather than an unknown used bike. It's hard to gauge the real condition of the motor, battery & electronics of a used bike without some special tools and you want to avoid an unexpected expense of replacing one of the more expensive components (battery).


Active Member
I agree with the other replies, and think an ebike would probably work great for you. You'll more that pay for the bike in what you save for the parking permit for a car! Just make sure you get a good lock and are able to park in a safe place.

Ann M.

Well-Known Member
@elyhim, there are hills with such a steep gradient that it takes a really strong person to ride up them without some kind of assist or really low gearing. Especially if you're carrying a bunch of stuff. I think the OP is simply being honest about his riding ability and hopes to make this a non-issue :)


Well-Known Member
Have fun at college.. Before you decide what kind of transportation to shop for you need to figure out how many miles you will be travelling to reach all your classes each day.

If you don't think you will need to go more than 30 miles total per day, and electric bike might do the trick if you could find a place to charge your battery, say at lunch every day. Steep hills kill battery range.

IMPO I think you would be better off with a nice 250cc scooter.. They get 100 mpg and are very reliable and fine so long as you stay off highways or fast roads.


I'm going to play devils advocate and suggest a gas scooter or a used car. I went to a suburban school and traffic is rarely 'bad'. And I was always crunched for time and I never had time to ride a bike to school or work. Maybe if you want to save money on gas get a bike rack and a regular bike to take around campus but thinking back there were way too many times I was traveling late at night or early in the morning in the dark...and not always for parties although keep those in mind too.

And I had a dorm on campus, it would have been a lot more difficult living off campus.


Active Member
50 mile range, good hill climbing, and reliability are going to be tough for $1200, but not impossible.

Verses a gas car or scooter, remember either of these is going to incur greater ongoing cost than an ebike, for things like gas and insurance. In California, a 250cc scooter is going to require an M1 license, and insurance is going to be through the roof for a new rider.


New Member
Which ever bike you choose, make sure you save some money for locks. I've seen a lot of missing bike components ( seatpost, wheels, ect) while in college.


Well-Known Member
I've only been work commuting since Sept/2016 on my ebike (Radrover, 45-70 per week). I have to take my car sometimes for 1-2 days and up to a week because of weather, errands, too tired, too windy at +20 mph, or ebike repair reasons (waiting on parts). I would think about a car/motorcycle/scooter first, ride sharing/car pooling, knowing public transportation third, and then an ebike forth.

It looks like you will be at the max range for an ebike operating at a low PAS level on mostly level ground. You might have to factor in an used ebike might not have the battery range compared to new one. I can also drop 20%-35% of my range with hills and/or stiff headwinds. Stiff headwinds are much worst because it will zap your range up or down hills. You might have to invest in a spare battery for those days if your ebike is too heavy to pedal without power.

Is there a possibility to mix public and personal transportation together? Start on public transportation 1 or 2 stops and ebike the rest of the way in? It might get you past the big hills or busy roads for more bike friendly areas.


Well-Known Member
25 miles would be 50 miles and over 3 hours of riding each day on an ebike. That would have been a waste of time in my college days, although I probably spent 1-2 hours a day walking between classrooms, I did not spend 3 hours getting there.

Time wasted aside, that's a long commute by bike. Too far in my opinion. At 9 miles, OK, but you can do that on a regular bike.

Barkme Wolf

Active Member
5000 miles on my Radwagon in one year. Worth it?
Yes, if you use it. I ride mine 40 miles a day to and from work.
Price $1,700
Essential Gear: Helmet, Lights, Rain Gear, Shoes, Bags (panniers).
Add $250
Tune up and true- (Unless you are proficient in bicycle maintenance you will need to have the tires trued and mechanics tuned within the first 100 miles).
Add $50
Since you are getting it tuned anyway, good time to throw on some tire liners. Went from 2 flats a month to no flats with Mr. Tuffy tire liners.
Add $20

Along the way you will need to have the bike tuned, tires trued, cables replaced.... I have not estimated the monthly costs.

Before I got the Radwagon I had not ridden a bike in 25 years. I am 47, a smoker and have a bad knee and back.
I went from taking the bus daily to riding the bike.
Last winter I rode the bus mostly because I still do not have proper lights for night riding (Add $150 for quality high lumen headlamp).
This has not stopped me from racking up 5000 miles on the Radwagon since I bought it last year.

I was spending $100 monthly on a bus pass which I no longer need.
So in the end I am saving money and improving my quality life.

An E-bike will not replace a car! These things are heavy and limited (considering battery capacity and recharge time).
I still need rides for grocery runs and date night. To be safe I assume a limit of 20-25 miles on a battery (although I get much more in lower assist levels).
I carry 2 batteries to get safely to work and charge them over the day (5 hours per battery).
I have to fully charge one and then just top off the other.

I just made 5000 mile review on the YouTube.

I have several other applicable videos including a hit and run.