The True Costs of Owning and Using an Electric Bike

Solom01

Well-Known Member
Well at least in the US there is one cost this isn't taking into account; medical expenses. I'm not at all sure about my figures but your odds of being killed on a bike by car drivers is many times higher than being hurt in a car. I wish that wasn't true, but until some serious thought is put into improving our bike infrastructure it's depressing to see cycling and pedestrian fatalities going up.
 

Mass Deduction

Active Member
Well at least in the US there is one cost this isn't taking into account; medical expenses. I'm not at all sure about my figures but your odds of being killed on a bike by car drivers is many times higher than being hurt in a car. I wish that wasn't true, but until some serious thought is put into improving our bike infrastructure it's depressing to see cycling and pedestrian fatalities going up.

Statistically speaking, your medical expenses should be lower riding an e-bike. One study of commuter cyclists vs. commuter drivers found that (after attempting to control for other factors) the commuter cyclists had about a 40% lower instance of cancer and about a 50% lower instance of heart disease, which the people doing the study concluded was due to the benefit of regular ritualized exercise.

Another study found that commuter cyclists on muscle bikes burned fewer calories than people who did so on e-bikes (and it makes sense that the people riding muscle bikes would ride fewer days per year, might do fewer detours/errands on the way home, would make shorter trips, would choose flatter routes, etc.).

So yes, your odds of being hurt in a vehicular accident may be higher, but your odds of chronic disease may be lower. Since chronic disease affects so many and debilitating vehicular accidents affects comparably fewer, you can argue bicycle riding is less dangerous than other forms of transportation.
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Statistically speaking, your medical expenses should be lower riding an e-bike. One study of commuter cyclists vs. commuter drivers found that (after attempting to control for other factors) the commuter cyclists had about a 40% lower instance of cancer and about a 50% lower instance of heart disease, which the people doing the study concluded was due to the benefit of regular ritualized exercise.

Another study found that commuter cyclists on muscle bikes burned fewer calories than people who did so on e-bikes (and it makes sense that the people riding muscle bikes would ride fewer days per year, might do fewer detours/errands on the way home, would make shorter trips, would choose flatter routes, etc.).

So yes, your odds of being hurt in a vehicular accident may be higher, but your odds of chronic disease may be lower. Since chronic disease affects so many and debilitating vehicular accidents affects comparably fewer, you can argue bicycle riding is less dangerous than other forms of transportation.


I understand your argument, however, I am not sure the higher risk of death is fully offset by the lower risk of chronic illness... YMMV.
 

Ebiker01

Well-Known Member
Let’s think positive. As long as we ride very proactive , aggressive in traffic (that’s safer ) , with bright rear lights and front lights is safer.

Just riding at a faster pace makes many drivers pleased or not angry that they have to wait behind to pass...
I go a Speed pedelec is a must for riding in Us traffic/commute. Maybe in a slow paced community somewhere in Midwest is okay, but in a big city speed Is good.
 

Mass Deduction

Active Member
I understand your argument, however, I am not sure the higher risk of death is fully offset by the lower risk of chronic illness... YMMV.

Chronic disease often leads to death too. Sometimes quite directly. The first sign of heart disease can be a death-dealing heart attack.
 

Mass Deduction

Active Member
I understand your argument, however, I am not sure the higher risk of death is fully offset by the lower risk of chronic illness... YMMV.

Chronic disease often leads to death too. Sometimes quite directly. The first sign of heart disease can be a death-dealing heart attack.

Let’s think positive. As long as we ride very proactive , aggressive in traffic (that’s safer ) , with bright rear lights and front lights is safer.

Just riding at a faster pace makes many drivers pleased or not angry that they have to wait behind to pass...
I go a Speed pedelec is a must for riding in Us traffic/commute. Maybe in a slow paced community somewhere in Midwest is okay, but in a big city speed Is good.

Agreed. I'm a lifelong bike commuter (muscle bikes until 2018, e-bikes starting in January 2019) and have never been hit by a car. And yes, a speed bike can be a winner as it can reduce the speed differential between you and the cars and that can be a good thing for safety in my experience. The exception being when traffic is crawling along, bumper to bumper, and you come winging by at 45 km/h and you have to watch for cars not paying attention. My secret has been to ride as if I'm invisible, so that every decision I make is predicated on that assumption. That and to watch the front wheels of cars, as you can perceive the front wheel turning sooner than you register the angle of inclination of the entire car changing. Learned that last trick from an interview with Neil Peart of Rush. :)
 

Wagonrd

New Member
Hi guys! I'm moving some content off of the main site and into the most relevant categories of the forum. This post was originally made on October 21st 2016:

View attachment 21308

This guide is meant to provide a comprehensive overview of the short and long term costs associated with electric bike purchase, use and ownership. I’ve listed dates for the first section to help orient you as time passes but from what I’ve seen, many electric bicycles are going down in cost with each passing year :)

View attachment 42804

The first cost to factor in is the initial purchase price, there’s a wide range depending on brand, battery size and components. Below are some averages and ranges based on a number of 2016 retail listings for the various categories. Note that you can often find earlier year models for a reduced sale price (especially in the Fall as inventory resets). Also note that these averages do not take into consideration budget electric bikes as you might find at Walmart on Amazon or other big box stores, which tend to cost less up front but rack up higher maintenance and replacement costs down the line. I’ve reviewed three cheaper Amazon bikes here, here and here with details about assembly time and effort.
  • 2016 Cruisers ebikes: Average cost of about $3,050, ranging from roughly $1,500 to $7,900.
  • 2016 Mountain ebikes: Average cost of about $4,150, ranging from roughly $1,200 to $9,000.
  • 2016 Road ebikes: Average cost of about $4,750, ranging from roughly $1,900 to $8,000.
  • 2016 City ebikes: Average cost of about $2,800, ranging from roughly $1,200 to $8,000.
  • 2016 Folding ebikes: Average cost of about $1,750, ranging from roughly $700 to $5,000.
  • 2016 Cargo ebikes: Average cost of about $3,300, ranging from roughly $1,700 to $6,000.
Once you’ve selected your ebike type and model, there’s one big variable cost to consider which is electricity… how much it costs to fill the battery each time you ride and how far that juice will take you. Here’s a quick guide to pricing out fuel costs:
  • Multiply the battery voltage and amp hour rating to get watt hours ie. 36 volt 10 amp hour battery has 360 watt hours (divide by 1,000 to get Kilowatt hours)
  • Check your local electricity prices, the average cost per Kilowatt hour in the USA at the time of this guide was $0.12
  • Multiply the Kilowatt size of your battery by the cost per Kilowatt hour electrical rate ie. .36 and $0.12 = a complete charging cost of $0.0342 or roughly four cents
  • Estimate your trip distance cost by dividing the charge cost by the average range of your battery pack… I estimate the lowest range per charge by dividing the watt hour capacity of the pack by 20 ie. 360 / 20 = 18 miles per charge and now we divide $0.0342 by 18 to get $0.00171 per mile. That’s less than two tents of a penny per mile on an electric bike looking at electricity alone!
Batteries don’t last forever but most of the major manufacturers like Samsung and Panasonic that supply Bosch, Yamaha, Impulse and some Bafang drive systems estimate 1,000 cycles and warranty about two years of continuous use. The cost of battery replacement ranges from $500 to $800 depending on the size of the pack and whether it’s custom or more standardized in shape and interface. Some batteries can’t be replaced via the original equipment manufacturer at all because the brand has gone out of business and in those cases the battery case can often be repacked for ~$500.

Other considerations: Many times electric bikes wear out faster than non-electric bikes because they tend to be ridden more frequently, at higher speeds and for longer distances. If this is going to become your primary means of transportation, it may also see more challenging weather such as rain or snow. Cold weather in particular, cuts down the effective capacity of a pack and some companies offer Neoprene covers to keep them warm… I often store mine in the garage where it’s warmer than the shed but safer than being inside the house in case of a fire. Anyway, a good rule of thumb is to have a tune-up / check-up for your ebike every six months if you’re riding actively or every 500 miles. A tune up for your ebike will range in price depending on who is performing the service, and should any parts be needed, etc., also note that some places include a surcharge for ebikes, even if it’s just a normal service. This is one of the reasons I prefer to buy directly from electric bike dealers, they tend to be more friendly and open to repairs and maintenance if they sold it to you and they are very likely better equipped to help with battery issues, your controller or the display. Here’s a few guidelines for costs:
  • Tune up: $75 – $100+
  • Flat tire fix (not including tube cost): $10 – $20
  • Brake adjustment: $20 – $35
  • Drivetrain replacement or adjusting: $20 – $60
Maintenance tips: The most common necessary repair is fixing a flat tire; keep the necessary tools, and a spare inner-tube, so you can do it yourself. This may require finding an ebike model that doesn’t require a lot of specialized tools to get at / remove the wheels. It’s one of the reason’s that mid-drive bikes have become popular in recent years, not only is the motor more efficient if you switch gears to help it climb or go fast but the wheels tend to be quick release making them much easier to remove than a hub motor.

A couple of additional tips: Purchase a good lock—protect your investment, sometimes it’s shocking to see a $100 u-lock or folding lock but if you just spent $2,000+ on the bike, it’s a good investment. I know people who purchased two locks just to make it extra difficult for a would-be thief! If your ebike doesn’t have lights or a bell, consider adding these as well. Your bike won’t be worth much if you get hurt and can’t ride it and as the seasons change and it gets dark earlier you may be caught off guard by traffic.

All things considered, electric bicycles can be very efficient both in terms of energy use and money spent. They aren’t free and while you can’t charge most by pedaling (something that gets asked a lot) the electricity cost to fill them from a standard outlet is extremely low. Electric bicycles in fact, are often way more efficient than people-powered bicycles due to the fuel that humans consume which tends to be grown remotely, shipped using gasoline, stocked, shipped from there to a home and often cooked, digested and transferred from chemical to kinetic energy. Whether it’s coal, wind power or solar being used to charge an ebike, it’s usually much more efficient than using food to fuel a human being but you can still get a workout and perhaps transition more of your travel from a heavy, inefficient multi-person vehicle to a light weight, safe and affordable ebike.
A great informative artcle Court. As a pedaling MTB'er for 30 years I will note that my ebike surely makes those mountain roads and trails easier; at the same time, the weight of an ebike also eleminates those technical trails that are scenic and challenging. Then too, the relative short range of an ebike eleminates the multi day travels such as the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Trying to pedal an ebike with a dead battery is difficult to impossible for big uphills or for extended periods of time. So, the solution is to have a pedaling MTB and a ebike MTB.
 

Wagonrd

New Member
Chronic disease often leads to death too. Sometimes quite directly. The first sign of heart disease can be a death-dealing heart attack.
Pedaling a bike on any road traveled by cars is a hope that you won't get run down from behind; especially on winding two lane mountain roads with no bike lane, e.g. lower rock creek road north of Bishop, CA. The road of death for road bikes is Carbon Canyon out of Chino Hills, CA. As for heart attacks, there are numerous warnings that your ticker is failing, including "zingers", skipped beats, dizziness. Most of which are self inflicted by alcohol, sugar, and dehydration.
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Pedaling a bike on any road traveled by cars is a hope that you won't get run down from behind; especially on winding two lane mountain roads with no bike lane, e.g. lower rock creek road north of Bishop, CA. The road of death for road bikes is Carbon Canyon out of Chino Hills, CA. As for heart attacks, there are numerous warnings that your ticker is failing, including "zingers", skipped beats, dizziness. Most of which are self-inflicted by alcohol, sugar, and dehydration.

Agreed, however, some poor souls are dealt a bad hand by genetics... ;)
 

Mass Deduction

Active Member
Pedaling a bike on any road traveled by cars is a hope that you won't get run down from behind; especially on winding two lane mountain roads with no bike lane, e.g. lower rock creek road north of Bishop, CA. The road of death for road bikes is Carbon Canyon out of Chino Hills, CA. As for heart attacks, there are numerous warnings that your ticker is failing, including "zingers", skipped beats, dizziness. Most of which are self inflicted by alcohol, sugar, and dehydration.

One British study found that bicycle commuters (after controlling for other factors) had 50% lower rates of heart disease than did car commuters. In that same study, the bicycle commuters had 40% lower rates of cancer than the car commuters). And since more people suffer and die of chronic disease than of bike accidents, as long as I cycle defensively I think my overall chances are better on the bike than in a car.