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4 Things You Need To Know About The Costs of Owning and Using an Electric Bike

Posted by Rommel Lim on


Just like an automobile, there are a lot of things you need to know about the costs of running and owning an electric bicycle. The cost of running an electric bicycle might be compared to a standard bicycle, a public transport, a moped or a motorcycle to help you decide if you want to travel through an electric bicycle or the other modes of transportation. You should also seriously ask yourself the question, “Why should anybody buy an electric bike?” Electric bicycles provide the same good benefits as traditional bicycles. The real advantage of electric bicycles however is in climbing hills or going against the wind as well as better range. If you experience some kind of knee pain or a pulmonary condition such as asthma, electric bicycles could also be a good option. Electric bicycles remove a lot of the roadblocks and challenges that people face with traditional pedal-powered bicycles and solve health and environmental concerns of gas-powered vehicles. To own and run an electric bicycle you have to consider 4 main points:

Initial Cost

Under normal circumstances, an electric bike (eBike) is more expensive than a normal bicycle. You need to add the cost of the battery, motor, design and electrical equipment over the costs of normal bicycle specifications. Of course, the cost factor depends on the brand, size of the battery and the components. The initial cost usually depends on how you can afford and your budget but as the saying goes, ‘you pay for what you get’ is the rule in the electric bicycle world. When it comes to electric bicycles you would often hear people say that buying cheap is buying twice. Therefore, if you spend a little bit more, you would normally be paying for something that is more reliable, that could in turn serve you better in time, reducing your costs overall. Also, you need to remember that when you buy an electric bike you will not need any road tax, not need to pay for congestion charges, not need to pay for insurance and the batteries are relatively small and do not cost much to charge them.

Type of Electric Bike

The kind of electric bicycle has a huge role because some electric bicycles cost more to run compared to others. An electric bicycle that is going to take you further on a single charge is going to reduce running costs. Normally, depending on the model, an electric bicycle is going to cost roughly 8 cents to charge an electric battery. Some models are going to take you 15 miles on a charge while others can get you to 100 miles per charge. The range is based on the capacity of the battery and how efficiently the electric bicycle applies the power. Therefore, the cost of recharging even if small on every charge could work out a lot in the bigger picture. The kind of electric bicycle could also influence the wear and tear as well as the maintenance costs.

Up to $1,000:

In buying a bicycle, you need to factor the electric system. Bicycles under this group are considered on the low-end of the price range and for people on a tight budget. They are characterized by:
*Low grade manufacture – a frame out of cheap alloys or even high tensile steel. Cheap alloys could snap while high tensile steel could be very heavy.
*Unbranded batteries – Branding is a matter of trust and necessity but still you can run electric bicycles on unbranded ones. A lot of electric bicycle users are quite happy with unbranded batteries.
*Warranties- Warranties on the low-end of the price range might not be as comprehensive or as long for cheap bikes so make sure you understand the details of the warranties of these bicycles.

$1,000 – $1,500

This is the price range that most people aim for and is the most competitive price range on the market. Again, you need to focus on the battery, the motor and the controller of these bicycles. More or less, the bicycles in this price range are going to have lithium polymer 36V 10ah batteries. This is going to provide you a range of 20-40 miles of distance on a single charge. A few manufacturers are offering a wider range of batteries now with this price range. You could also be getting a few nice bits at this price range such as Nexus 8 speed hub gears. A few bicycles are really well-engineered at this price range with inexpensive materials that have been well thought out. Batteries are usually branded and normally cost $300-$400.

$1,500 - $2,000

At this point, you would expect to see better engineering than the previous price ranges. Build quality, longevity and finishing kits are more consistent. Batteries with longer price range are also common in this price range because they come from top manufacturers with hydraulic brakes and better motors. As of 2014, this price range also offer crank drives. 2013 was the year of the Bosch motor but you really need to spend a couple of thousand dollars to get these motors on your bike. Some people believe that crank drives are for everybody but this is not always true, as always, you have to try it out yourself and see.

$2,000 - $5,000

If you have more than $2,000 to spare you could start looking at Bosch crank drives or really top of the line hub motors. You are going to see a lot more hydraulic brakes, full suspension, state of battery charge meters, and European or even British manufacture. You can also do some customization on your end if you are capable and build a high end electric system fitted to a decent bicycle. If you are really into electric bicycles, this is the price range that really gets e-bike enthusiasts excited. As expected, bicycles at this level could be very really accomplished.

$5,000+

A few years ago, it would have been impossible to say anything about electric bicycles at this price range. Nowadays, however, there’s surprisingly plenty of things to say about them at this range. This is also known as the superbike range. There are hand-built, garage-made electric bicycles out there that could cost as much as $30,000. Speed and power is what you’ll get at this end of the price spectrum.

Battery Lifespan/Replacement

Battery lifespan is really important if you plan to use the electric bicycle for an long period of time. Today, you get a lot more than you used to, like 10 years ago, because of advancements in Lithium cell technologies. As batteries have advanced, so have range and battery lifespan. Some batteries need to be replaced more often than others. Some batteries can last up to 8-10 years or 1000 cycles depending on how you take care of them while others can last for only 18 months. With that said, longer lasting batteries cost more initially but might save you money in the long run. So, if you plan on using an electric bicycle for a couple of years, a cheaper cell option could lower the overall running costs. Let’s pretend you are going to use an electric bicycle for the next 15 years then you would have:

Basic Battery:
Battery Cost - $200
Lifespan – 3 years
No. of times replaced within 15 years – 5
Total cost after 15 years: $1000

Advanced Battery:
Battery Cost - $400
Lifespan – 7.5yrs
No. of times replaced within 15 years – 2
Total cost after 15 years - $800

Maintenance/Wear and Tear

Anything that is mechanical needs service and repairs, cars, bicycles, cameras, watches, etc. Budget around $50 annually for electric bicycles, around $10 for brake pads every year and $40 for tires every two to three years depending on your mileage. If you go for 100-150 miles every week then try to service your electric bicycle twice a year and you’ll need to change brake pads, tires, chains, etc. more often. Also secure locks for your bicycle as well as waterproofs, lights, helmets and panniers.

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