Is An Electric Bike Worth It?

Loki

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!
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
-At 25 miles, you would want to recharge the battery for 3-4 hours to ensure you cover the full 50 mile trip. How you gonna do that w/o leaving the battery somewhere?
-An expensive ebike is a target. College campuses are good hunting grounds for bike thieves.
-It would be reasonable to expect a 25 mile commute to take 90 minutes or more. That's a long time for a bike commute, and is time wasted that could be spent reading or sleeping on a sucky bus.

Sounds like a bad idea for the long ride. Now 10 miles makes more sense, but I'd still worry about theft.
 

mrgold35

Well-Known Member
I was originally looking at the GeoOrbital e-wheel: https://www.geoo.com/collections/all

You just replace the front tire from an existing bike to turn it into an ebike. You can purchase any used bike with rim brakes and turn into a 20 mph e-bike with a 20-30 mile range (2X range with 2nd battery). You can lock the (cheap) bike in the rack and take the e-wheel with you to class for security.

I decided against the e-wheel because the bike I had had disk brakes and I needed to replace the forks to add rim brakes. I was ready to purchase an e-bike last summer and the wheel wasn't available until this year.

I parked my car and bike to work 45-75 miles per week (depending on weather). Issues I had to consider that wasn't an issue with a car were:
- back up plan if you have mechanical issues like calling a friend/family, public transport, or uber (I can call my spouse)
- back up plan if you get sick or need to run errands outside of your ebike range
- bad weather (head wind can zap +50% of your range, rain, snow, etc...)
- gear for cold weather, comfort when riding, wet weather, change of clothes for hot sweaty days
- safety gear (lights, helmet, bright cloths, riding eye wear, tail light, etc...)
- basic tools to fix a flat or tighten screws
- backpack, rear rack, rack bag with panniers for everything
- bike lock (no cables, heavy chains and/or U-bolts seem to work best)
- rest, my right knee can start to ache if I ride too many days in a row
- carry more water or access to water, I need 32 to 64 ounces depending on how hot it is
- time to and from to account for weather, road conditions, traffic, intersections, rush hour traffic
- meal, need to eat more regularly to keep energy level up, no more caffeine breakfasts
- more sleep, best way to recharge your body for the next day

I would check into mixing public transportation along with e-bike travel. Most public transport have racks for bikes and maybe 1-2 stops might get you 1/2 to 2/3 of the way to school to cut e-bike road time. 8-12 miles on an e-bike is a piece of cake even at my age of 51. Going 20-25 miles daily is pushing the limits with your budget.
 
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Over50

Well-Known Member
...I would check into mixing public transportation along with e-bike travel. Most public transport have racks for bikes and maybe 1-2 stops might get you 1/2 to 2/3 of the way to school to cut e-bike road time. 8-12 miles on an e-bike is a piece of cake even at my age of 51. Going 20-25 miles daily is pushing the limits with your budget...

This seems like very solid advice. I'd look at concentrating your classes as much as possible by day and campus (optimally all on Tues and Thurs for example) and mixing the transport as Mr Gold recommends (I'm assuming you have researched car pool options). A 25 mile 1-way commute is extreme. I'm 51 and just started making a 35 mile round trip commute on a really solid bike. My terrain is mostly flat but a pretty tough urban environment and I don't think I could do it if I had doubts about the ability of the bike. I think a 50 mile commute would be very demanding for bike and rider and you'd spend a lot of time maintaining that bike in order to keep it road worthy. As well, you won't be successful in class if you arrive everyday completely exhausted and stressed out from a very demanding and time consuming trip. So for your budget maybe it might work out if you end up with classes at the 9 mile distant campus but the 25 mile option doesn't seem doable to me (for the budget you mentioned).