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Electric bike riders are just as active as conventional bicycle riders and are likely to enjoy similar health benefits, according to the results of a three-year European study released in June 2019. This large electric bike survey monitored the physical activity of nearly 10,000 adults in seven major European cities. In the end, the data showed “that physical activity from travel-related activities is similar for e-bikers and cyclists, as measured by MET-minutes per week...Moreover, overall physical activity among both groups was also comparable. These findings counter the often-raised concern that e-biking may result in a substantial reduction of physical activity for traveling due to the electric assist of e-bikes, which reduces the required physical effort.”

Electric Bike Riders Travel Further, Faster

This begs the question if this study shows that electric bike riders are as active as those who ride conventional bicycles, and if electric bikes require less effort to ride, how is it that e-bike riders get as much activity? The answer is simply that the electric bike riders in the survey often traveled further, faster for longer periods of time. The electric bike riders also rode both e-bikes and conventional bicycles. Specifically, the data showed that a typical electric bike rider used their e-bike about 14.5 days each month. These same electric bike riders also rode a conventional bicycle about eight (7.9) days each month on average. So that perhaps 22 or 23 days a month, e-bike owners rode some form of bicycle. In contrast, the cyclists who only rode a conventional bicycle pedaled about 14 days in an average month.
Rider Group Days Riding an Electric Bike Each Month Days Riding a Conventional Bike Each Month Total Days of Riding Activity Each Month
Electric Bike Group 14.5 7.9 22.4
Conventional Only Group 0 14 14
There may be a few factors contributing to these findings. It may be the case that the ease of riding an electric bike encouraged some participants to travel more often to work, to school, or to the store. It could also be that riding an electric bike his fun, so folks wanted to do it more, and, thus, spent more time riding recreationally or as a travel alternative. “As this study shows,” the researchers wrote, “average trip distance of e-bike and bicycle trips among e-bikers is significantly higher than bicycle trips among cyclists. Equally, e-bikers' daily travel distance by e-bike was also significantly longer than daily cycling distance in cyclists.” The electric bike group generally rode further each time they took an e-bike or bicycle trip. A typical electric bike rider traveled 9.4 kilometers (5.8 miles) when riding an electric bike and about 8.4 kilometers (5.2 miles) when those same e-bike riders chose to use a conventional bike, according to the study. By comparison, folks who only rode a conventional bicycle averaged just 4.8 kilometers (2.9 miles) trip.
Travel behaviour indicators by bicycle user type average trip distance.
Rider Group Average Distance for Each Electric Bike Trip Average Distance for Each Conventional Bicycle Trip
Electric Bike Group 9.4 km / 5.8 miles 8.4 km / 5.2 miles
Conventional Only Group 0 km / 0 miles 4.8 km / 2.9 miles
The amount of time devoted to riding was also greater for electric bike group. On a typical day, a person from the electric bike group would spend about 23.4 minutes riding an e-bike and just short of ten minutes (9.9) riding a conventional bicycle. The cycling group, which again was made up of folks who only rode a standard bicycle, rode for about 21.6 minutes per day on average.
Travel behaviour indicators by bicycle user type Daily average travel duration in minutes.
Rider Group Average Daily Electric Bike Riding Duration Average Daily Conventional Bike Riding Duration Total Average Daily Riding Duration
Electric Bike Group 23.4 minutes 9.9 minutes 33.3 minutes
Conventional Only Group 0 minutes 21.6 minutes 21.6 minutes
In effect, it would appear that electric bikes encourage more riding and activity. So while the specific action of riding an electric bike may be relatively easier than riding a conventional bicycle. The added power and fun actually make you want to ride more. “Introducing an electric bike into your regular travel transforms your daily commutes into an opportunity for some light physical activity and a chance to catch some fresh air,” wrote EVELO founders Boris and Yevgeniy Mordkovich in The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide. “Electric bikes are particularly well suited for daily commuting since the motor assistance helps eliminate challenges such as steep hills and headwinds, and creates a smoother, less demanding cycling experience. By using an electric bike, commuters no longer have to worry about arriving at their destination feeling tired, sweaty, or worn out—the bike’s motor takes care of the overly strenuous portions of the ride while still allowing you to mix some physical exercise into your daily routine.”

Minimal Physical Activity Cuts Risk of Premature Death in Half

Physical activity is important for men and women at any age, but it becomes vital for adults older than 40. In fact, for many adults, physical activity can significantly extend your life. In a separate study, “researchers at the University of Cambridge, School of Clinical Medicine, looked at previous data on 14,599 men and women between the ages of 40 and 79. They assessed their physical activity levels at the beginning of the study, then three more times over the next seven years. They then compared this data to the mortality rates of the participants over the next 12 years,” wrote Diana Bruk in an article for BestLife magazine. “The results showed that meeting the minimum recommended exercise guidelines—at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week—was associated with a 46 percent decreased risk of premature death. And for those who had never exercised in the past, meeting these guidelines gradually over a period of five years was associated with a 29 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death, an 11 percent lower risk of cancer-related death, and a 24 percent lower risk of mortality overall.” Taken together, the data from these two, recent studies imply that for many adults riding an electric bike might improve both the length and quality of one’s life.
Riding an electric bike, whether as you commute or just for fun, can significantly contribute to your health, improving cardiovascular conditioning, improving brain function, and helping you maintain a healthy body weight. Bike riding is one of many kinds of exercise that get you outside, elevate your heart rate, and induce the many benefits of physical activity.

Improve Your Heart Health

Several studies have demonstrated a connection between bicycling and improved heart health. In 2017, for example, researchers from the University of Glasgow found an association between bicycling to work and a lower risk of premature death after studying 264,337 people for five years. In fact, cycling about 30 miles a week was shown to significantly lower the risk of heart disease. “Cycling all or part of the way to work was associated with substantially lower risk of adverse health outcomes. Those who cycled the full length of their commute had an over 40 percent lower risk of heart disease, cancer and overall mortality over the five years of follow-up,” said Dr. Jason Gill of the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, according to a Cycling Weekly article. If one assumes regularly riding a bicycle or electric bike (perhaps 30 miles per week) is similar to bike commuting, it will follow that regularly riding — whether to work or not — may help improve heart health specifically and overall health generally. Finally, UPMC Pinnacle reported that “people who biked regularly had about 15 percent fewer heart attacks than non-cyclists. Even small amounts of time devoted to the activity was linked to lower rates of heart disease.”

Strengthen Your Cardiovascular System

As we have previously reported, “cycling on an electric bike just a few times each week can improve an adult’s cardiorespiratory performance and general health in ways similar to riding a conventional bicycle or taking vigorous walks, according to several clinical studies.” “One of the most telling studies, released in the May 2018 edition of the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, compared the peak oxygen uptake (VO2 max) of 32, overweight adults before and after four weeks of bicycle commuting.” Separately, according to Dr. Amar Singal, a cardiologist, “cycling is one of the best cardio exercises for people of all age groups and all body types. It not only helps burn calories and keeps weight under control, but also helps build stamina and increase muscle and bone strength. Being a low impact exercise, it is also soft on the joints and unlike hard gym training sessions, it doesn’t put you at risk of overuse injuries or sprains. This is why it can also be taken up by elderly people who have arthritic joints.” Riding an electric bike is a great way to stay in shape. This image shows a man riding an EVELO Electric Bike.

Boost Your Immune System

Moderate exercise, like regularly riding an electric bike, may reduce an adult’s risk of contracting an upper respiratory tract infection by 29 percent compared to adults who don’t exercise, according to often-cited research published in The Journal of Applied Physiology. In addition, researchers at the University of California-San Diego found that just 20-minutes of exercise adjusted to your fitness level can boost your immune system, according to a Reader’s Digest report.

Lower Your Risk of Type-2 Diabetes

“Researchers at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom monitored the impact riding an electric bike had on participants with type-2 diabetes. The study’s 18 subjects rode their electric bikes an average of 13 miles per week for 20 weeks,” according to a previously published EVELO article. “The subjects enjoyed a 10.9 percent increase in predicted maximal aerobic power over the course of the study. And participants reached 74.7 percent of their maximum heart rate while riding an electric bike compared to 64.3 percent when walking.” “Riding an electric bike is not as vigorous an exercise as riding a conventional bike or, perhaps, even running long distances, but the activity provides a better workout than simply walking. And, as this study concluded, riding an electric bike may be enough to help reduce the risks associated with type-2 diabetes, perhaps, even playing a role in remission associated with weight loss.”

Lose Weight

As just mentioned in the previous section, regularly riding a conventional bicycle or an electric bike can contribute to weight loss and an associated improvement in general health. In fact, “If you do just two to three vigorous bouts of exercise per week for 45 minutes, you could lose a pound of fat every two weeks from the combination of calories expended during exercise plus what you burn afterward," according to Dr. David Nieman, a professor of exercise science at Appalachian State University who was quoted in PopSugar, an online pop culture magazine.

Preserve Your Mind

“Riding an electric bike just a few times a week may improve brain function in adults 50-years-old and older, potentially reducing the risk of contracting Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and other age-associated neurodegenerative disorders, according to a new report from the U.K.-based cycleBOOM project.” “Released in February 2019, the cycleBOOM study, ‘The Effect of Cycling on Cognitive Function and Well-being in Older Adults,’ shows that to be beneficial outdoor exercise doesn’t necessarily have to be strenuous. A 60-year-old doesn’t have to do high-impact running to improve her brain health. In fact, riding an electric bike for recreation or basic transportation will improve brain function.” “‘It is really encouraging that this research suggests older adults’ cognitive function (particularly what we call executive function as well as processing speed) could be improved by cycling in the natural or urban environment, even when that was on an electrically assisted ebike,’ said Dr. Louise-Ann Leyland, one of the study’s authors,” according to a published EVELO report.

Get Better Sleep

Regular exercise, including riding an electric bike, may also contribute to better sleep and fight insomnia. For example, a long term study found that getting regular exercise helped folks to fall asleep more quickly than sedentary subjects. People who exercised were also less likely to wake up during the night than were people who did not exercise. Similarly, a University of Georgia study found that when adults exercised less they complained about sleep problems more.

Reduce Stress

“People who exercise regularly will tell you they feel better. Some will say it’s because chemicals called neurotransmitters, which are produced in the brain, are stimulated during exercise. Since it’s believed that neurotransmitters mediate people’s moods and emotions, they can make you feel better and less stressed,” according to the American Council on Exercise.
Google Maps is among the best, free online mapping solutions, and it can be a good tool for planning recreational bike rides or commutes. Whether you’re taking a leisurely ride around town, commuting to work or school, or even getting some serious exercise, riding an electric bike is fun and fast. But riding an electric bike is not the same as driving. You don’t necessarily want to use the same roads and you may not be interested in the shortest route. What’s more, riding in unfamiliar places can put you right in the middle of heavy traffic or even get you lost. Here is a scenario. Imagine you are taking an RV trip. You find yourself in Boise, Idaho. You park. And now you want to explore the city on your electric bike. But you don’t know Chindin Boulevard from South Americana. So you could easily end up and Garden City instead of Ann Morrison Park. One solution is to plan your bike route with Google Maps.

Plan Your Bike Ride

Let’s plan a bike route on Google Maps using a laptop or desktop computer. In the end, we will share the directions to a mobile phone.

Set Your Starting Point

Using your favorite web browser, navigate to Google Maps. The first step is to set your starting point. The example uses the Grove Hotel in downtown, Boise, Idaho, but you will enter your address or maybe the spot your RV is parked, etc.
Type the address or name of your starting point into the search field on Google Maps.
 

Set Waypoints

The bike route will be a round trip, but you will certainly want to see some places along the way, so let’s enter a couple of waypoints. These waypoints will also help us plan the bicycle route. Click the directions icon. This icon is positioned just a little way down from the search bar wherein you entered your starting address.
The directions icon opens up the route planning features in Google Maps.
  The Google Maps interface will change. You need to do three things. (1) To start, choose the cycling mode for the map.
Click the cycling mode icon.
  (2) Then switch the position of your starting point so that it is at the top. To do this, click the up-and-down arrow icon.
Click the up-and-down arrow icon to reposition the starting point. You can move waypoints too.
  This will move your starting location to the top of the list.
Your starting position should now be at the top of the list.
  (3) Next, type in the address or name of a new waypoint. You can add several waypoints by clicking the “Add Destination” icon or link. The example includes five waypoints. The last waypoint is the starting point. Thus, we have a loop.
Add waypoints to create a loop.
 

Switch to the Bicycling Map View

Google Maps includes a bicycling view that will add cycling-specific information to the main map. To access this view, first, click on the menu icon.
Click this menu icon to open up some of Google Maps' features.
  Next, click on the word “bicycling” to add the aforementioned bicycling information to the main map.
Not surprisingly, selecting bicycling adds biking information.
  This will fundamentally change the map. You should now see bike-friendly roads, bike lanes, and trails.
Google maps provides helpful information for riding your electric bike.
 

Adjust Your Route

Now you can adjust your route. Click and hold any portion of the route to drag it onto a trail or a more bike-friendly road.
Click, hold, and drag to change your route.
  As you change your route, Google will recalculate the total distance and the amount of elevation change. If you’re riding an electric bike, you will be able to climb the hills like they are not even there.
Google Maps shows you the total distance for your route and how much the elevation will change.
 

Send the Route to Your Mobile

Once you have a route you like, you can send it to your mobile phone.
Send the route to your phone.
  If you are signed into Google on your mobile and on your computer, Google Maps should have your phone available on a list of options. If not, you can email a link to yourself and open that link on your mobile. You could also create a similar route directly in the Google Maps app on your mobile. The steps are the same.
Baby boomers can have fun, improve their fitness, and create or strengthen friendships with bicycling. And riding an electric bike makes getting back into bicycling even easier. Here are five tips to help you get back into riding a bike.

Tip No. 1: Decide to Ride

You’re online reading an article about how to get back into biking, so odds are good you are “thinking about” riding again. Now stop thinking and decide. “Decision is the ultimate power,” according to motivational expert Tony Robbins. “Making a decision puts you in control.” Once you have committed to biking for fun, fitness, and friendship, nothing will stop you.

Tip No. 2: Get the Right Bike

Riding a bike, particularly an e-bike, is going to be a great source of pleasure. It should be easy on joints, flexible in intensity, and a significant benefit to your health and wellbeing. But many of these benefits can go south in a hurry if you don’t have the proper bike, set up in the right way. So take the time to find a bicycle that fits you and the sort of riding you’ve decided to do. If you have knee pain, try moving your seat up. If you have neck or back pain, try a more upright handlebar position. Here are some resources.

Tip No. 3: Find a Riding Companion

“Now if you think about being on a traditional bicycle, you’re like ‘hey honey, let’s go for a bike ride,’” said EVELO’s Bill Cummings. “Naturally, one person is stronger and faster than the other and typically it turns into this situation where somebody is three blocks ahead going ‘ah, hurry up.’ The other person is behind going ‘I feel bad and would you slow down.’ Then they finally meet up and then there’s maybe a little bit of conflict and that romanticized view of a bike ride together suddenly turns into a conversation and nobody’s having any fun. “That changes on an electric bike. You could choose, one person could use the motor less, one person can use the motor more and suddenly you’re rolling down the beach together going look at the beautiful sunset. It really is transformational and it becomes that idealistic view of a bike ride together that we all think of when you head out.”
One of the joys of bicycling is the opportunity to ride with friends and family.
Bill was speaking specifically about riding as a couple, but some of the same things apply for riding with friends or family members. For example, imagine trying to ride with an 11-year-old grandson. He is likely to want to ride fast and tackle some serious hills. Electric bikes balance out the differences in riding ability and let you really enjoy riding with friends and family. In turn, riding with friends and family will help to motivate you as you get back into bicycling again. Your goal then is to find a riding companion. This might be your spouse or partner. A relative could be a great riding partner. You could recruit a friend from work. Or maybe join a local bicycling club.

Tip No. 4: Find a Good Place to Ride

Bicycling in heavy traffic in the United States is, frankly, not terribly safe. The U.S. sometimes lacks good bicycle infrastructure, and while this is changing significantly, you want to be mindful when you plan your rides. This is especially true when you’re just getting back into bicycling.

Tip No 5: Track Your Progress

Few things feel as good as success. So as you get back into riding, track and monitor your progress. The aim is not to start out as a great distance cyclist, but rather to get just a little better every week. The good news is that there are plenty of apps available to help you. Here are a few to consider.
Riding an electric bike is fun. It reminds you of when you were young and you patrolled the streets and roads in your home town. This week, Pete Prebus, the founder of the Electric Bike Report joined EVELO to talk about electric bikes. Turns out they are fun for him too. You can listen to the podcast and follow along with the transcript below.

Riding a Bike is Fun

Armando: Just this week in my own neighborhood there were two teenage boys, young men really, riding down to the community park on electric bikes. So, I asked them what they thought of their rides and they said simply, "They're fun." Fun is going to be the starting point for this episode of The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO. My name is Armando Roggio, shall we get started? You know, while we all have our reasons for riding an e-bike, or being interested in electric bikes, fun is definitely a factor and that was even the case for our guest Pete Prebus. Pete: You know, from early ages on I was just riding bikes for fun with my friends around Eugene, Oregon. Armando: The pleasure we associate with riding often deepens our interest in bicycling so much so that it can impact the choices we make. Even something as simple as how we get around town or stay healthy. Pete: I went on to work in a bike shop at 13-years-old and then I was racing traditional bikes, or mountain bikes and road bikes, quite a bit. And, I actually worked into the professional realm for cross-country mountain bike racing for a couple of years and that was really fun and rewarding. And then, after I finished going to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, I graduated with a civil engineering degree, and went and worked in general, civil, and structural engineering for a while. And then, I had this pull to get back into the bicycle realm and I wasn't racing anymore, but I was still very much excited about just riding my bike as much as possible. So, I'd go out on these long mountain bike rides and I'd come back and just be spent, and then I would jump into the car to go get groceries and go around town, and I just thought, "Man, that just doesn't really make sense." I really want to have a bicycle where I can easily get around town and have the easy button much like a car is where you can just get in and go and it's very convenient.

Getting Started with Electric Bikes

Armando: Pete Prebus is, of course, the founder of the Electric Bike Report, one of the most influential electric bike publications in North America. Now, during a phone conversation, after we'd exchanged some pleasantries about our common connections to the Pacific Northwest, Arizona, and podcasts, I asked Pete about how he got started in the electric bike industry. Pete: What about if I got a cargo bike that also had electric assist, because then I could go get groceries, and I could run errands around town, and with the electric assist then it would really lower that barrier to getting out on my bike compared to just jumping in the car. So, I started researching it and I found a little kit that I installed on a cargo bike conversion that I did and, yeah, it really was a proof-of-concept to say like, "Wow, this, for me, personally, had a lot of benefits," because I could really commute around town and the distance I could commute really opened up. And so, it was a really nice way to have the car alternative at that point. And so, that year, that was 2009, and then by 2010, I'd started Electric Bike Report as a website to give people some easily digestible information, because back then there really weren't a whole lot of electric bike websites. There were some forums that were focused on very technical aspects of electric bikes, but there wasn't really a very easily readable news source for the industry. And so, I started just posting some simple blog posts about things that I was seeing just doing internet searches and then that year I went to Interbike, which is the large bicycle trade show, or was actually because this year it's not happening. But, it was the large, North American trade show convention where everybody shows off the new bikes. And so, I went there and it was inspiring to see that there was a number of electric bike companies presenting there. And, it was a small showing, but it was something. And so, I was able to cover that and I was still working my engineering job full-time, but just doing this on the side. Then later, after that, after covering Interbike and doing some initial reviews of bikes, and continuing to share the news, and stories of how people are using electric bikes it started to gain some traction. And so, I was becoming more and more excited, especially what was happening in Europe, with all the systems that were being developed there, all the different bike brands. It was just amazing. And, there was still very little happening here. It was definitely growing, but it was still very small compared to the European market. So, after, I guess it was, yeah, it was 2011, I actually had an offer to work at an electric bike motor company. They were doing electric motors for other industries as well, but it was called Motor Excellence in Flagstaff, Arizona. And so, I quit the engineering work and dove into the electric motor company and it was an amazing time. We were able to travel to Eurobike, which is the huge bicycle trade show for the European marketplace, and then we went to another show in Munich, and then a couple of other European trips. And to me, that, it just was amazing, you know? It was so cool to just jump in and see not only the industry but also just to see people riding electric bikes. In Switzerland, it was just, and in Germany, it was just, you could see electric bikes almost everywhere. And, back then in the US, it was very, very few e-bikes on the street. So, it was very inspiring to see that and to see so many different types of people using them too, you know? It was full business suits, business people riding around on their bikes and then there were just people running errands on their bikes, and delivery workers on their e-bikes. So, it was very, very cool. And so, the motor company had some issues and I wasn't able to continue working for them, but it was the point where I said, "All right. Well, this is time for Electric Bike Report to go." And so, I, yeah, I really started to launch the website with full time behind it. And, another good thing was at by that point I'd really developed a lot of good relationships in the industry and was able to find some initial advertisers to support the website and it really took off from there. So, I guess, that's a long-winded answer to how I got into electric bikes, but that's how things have gotten to where they are today.

Purpose Built Electric Bikes Have Evolved

Armando: Pete's e-bike experience started in 2009 when he used a conversion kit to add pedal assistance to a conventional bike. He was trying to replace some of the car trips he was taking every day, but I was curious. In the past ten years has the industry changed enough that he would've considered a purpose-built electric bike? Pete: You know, and there are so many bikes out there now that are just really well dialed-in that I think, in a lot of ways, the complete e-bike makes sense. Although the kit is a good option for people who may have their current bike, if they really enjoy riding, maybe they've ridden it for many, many years and it's a great fit for them, then the kit is a very good way to add assist that way. And then, sometimes, economically it can make sense, but not always. Sometimes, you can get a very expensive kit to have all the bells and whistles, or you can find a more economical kit. But, yeah, there's just so many options out there these days. I think that one of the kits that I recommend to a lot of people that are looking for electric bikes is to try a few different types, the mid-drive, or the hub drive, and really get a feel for what they enjoy. And, in that process by test-driving some e-bikes, they can also, you'll get an idea of like, "Well, do they want the mountain bike style or the commuter bike style, or the cruiser, or what have you?" But, yeah, I think that there's too many options out there right now that I think anybody can find almost the perfect bike for them.

Mid-drive and Hub-drive Motors

Armando: Test rides can be very important. In fact, that's why EVELO offers a ten-day at-home test ride. It was also interesting that Pete had described hub motors and mid-drive motors in the context of enjoying a ride. Often, hub and mid-drive motors are compared based on power at the wheel or the fact that a mid-drive takes advantage of the gears and the mechanical features of the bicycle. So, I asked Pete to describe hub and mid-drive motors based on their ride characteristics. Interestingly, his answer focused a bit on throttles, something that's available on all Class 2 electric bikes including the mid and hub drive models. Pete: You know, for people who, maybe, haven't ridden their bike in a while and are just getting back into riding, the hub motor can be a nice way to just get into it without worrying too much about all the different parts of riding a bike. Just get out there and, in some cases, with a hub drive you can have the pedal assistant and the throttle option. That can be available on a mid-drive, but I think, in general, I'm seeing a lot of hub drives that have both options. And so, that's an advantage for some people. The pedal assist isn't always what somebody may want and I think that the ability to have the throttle to give a little bit of a boost getting through a busy intersection or just a little boost to get over a hill with the throttle can be helpful. And so, I think in a lot of ways the hub drive can be a little more simpler and also have that, generally, have the throttle and pedal assist option. With the mid-drive, that is something that, generally, has very strong hill climbing capabilities. You can climb steeper hills by leveraging the drivetrain. So, much like a car, the engine is being run through the transmission. And so, with the mid-drive, it's basically combining your pedal power and the motor power, and then transmitting that through the bicycle transmission. So, the nice thing about that is you can, you really gear down to climb those steeper hills and the motor can operate efficiently in a good RPM range without really getting bogged down. With some hub motors, if you're climbing very, very steep hills, there could be a tendency for it to bog down a little bit. But, I think that, in a lot of ways, the mid-drive fits somebody who's been accustomed to riding bicycles and really enjoys optimizing their shifting and having that, in some ways, it feels like the motor really combines with your pedal power to provide a proportional assist and give you that nice push of the systems. But, it still feels like you're really doing a lot of the pedaling and contributing to the overall motion.

The Cost of Electric Bikes

Armando: Next, I asked Pete why do electric bikes cost what they do. Pete: Some people get a chance to ride these and understand what they can do. I think that the price starts to make more sense, but to really answer your question I think that the battery is one of the most expensive parts of the electric bike. At this point, it's very hard to get around. There are, I think, still some lead acid systems out there, but those are just so heavy and bulky that I wouldn't recommend it. But, with the lithium batteries, they're definitely the pricey part and we may see some changes in them in the future. I keep seeing news articles pop up and it sounds like there's some technology in the works. But, many times those things don't, either they don't come to market, or it's many, many, many years down the line. So, I think that when, if you were to look at the cost of an electric bicycle, I think if somebody is thinking about a bicycle as, oh, it's just this thing that I use every once in a while, or like a kid's toy, then, yeah, the pricing can seem expensive. But, if you look at it as something that you're going to get out more and if you use it as, say, a commuting, or errand-running vehicle, even if you're not using it all the time for that, the trip that you save from driving all time, that can add up substantially. And then, if you think about the fitness that you get from just getting around by e-bike it's, it may not be as much fitness as, say, like a traditional bike but, in general, I think studies have been showing that people who have electric bikes tend to ride even more than if you were comparing it to a traditional bike. So, it's really a pretty awesome vehicle when you consider how much value it can actually give to your life and just the pure fun of it, you know? I think that's really if somebody just looks at the details and the price of it on paper it is what it is. But, if you go and ride an electric bike and you have a good time, you have fun, and you can start to build that fun into your daily life then that has amazing value. It just needs to be considered when you're talking about the prices of electric bikes because these are one of the most attainable electric vehicles on the market today and they can do so much for you. So, yeah, I guess that's my thoughts on the price point of electric bikes.

Electric Bike Report

Armando: The value Pete is describing and the ease at which he's able to describe it has helped the Electric Bike Report become so successful. So, I asked Pete about his readership and viewership on YouTube and why he thought those subscribers are interested in electric bikes. Pete: Yeah, there's definitely quite a few consumers that are part of the demographic and then there are also quite a few people from the industry. And then, I keep track of the e-mails that sign up for the newsletter and there is a fair amount of, well, there is definitely some auto industry people that I'm seeing sign up and are paying attention to the electric bike market. Because, I think, in their world, things are changing significantly. They are getting into electric bikes, and electric scooters, and just electric mobility in general. So, that's interesting. But, yeah, from the consumer standpoint I have people regularly e-mail me and I think a lot of them are just getting into electric bikes and trying to learn as much as they can, and they're looking to buy a bike for themselves. And then, others are people who already got their bike and are looking for just what's happening. And, the other thing that we're trying to do is provide guides on places for people to ride and just get the ideas flowing as far as what people can do with electric bikes. So, yeah, I'd say there's a pretty broad spectrum of consumers where it's from the person who's just getting into it all the way up to somebody who, maybe, already gone through a couple of the first couple bikes and they're really passionate about electric bikes. So, it's really cool and I think that that's something that I'm really personally enjoying seeing because I grew up with the whole mountain biking buzz. Initially, mountain bikes were the random part of the bicycle industry and now it's really developed very well as its own niche and some really passionate riders. And so, now I see this similar thing happening with electric bikes. And, the thing I really enjoy is that it's not a segment where you have to be in really amazing physical shape. The barrier to entry for electric bikes is lower, and so more people can really enjoy this. And so, I think seeing younger people who are looking at commuting solutions, because the cost and just everything that goes into driving is painful these days. And then, you've got families that are looking for ways to take the kids to school. And then, you've got, maybe, people who are getting close to retirement and looking for something fun and active to do. And then, people who have hit retirement and they've got an RV and they're traveling around and the e-bike is a great way, once they park the RV, the e-bike is a great way for them to get around the campground, or get to the local town, or what have you. And then, also, the part that I really like, too, is getting e-mails from readers who haven't ridden a bicycle in a long time and now they're just getting back into it and they're so excited about it. And, they're just getting out and riding more and seeing more of the places where they live. And, I think that's a really important thing, especially right now where a lot of people are really focused in on the computer, or the smartphone, or what have you. The ability for the electric bike to just set you free, just go out for a ride and just truly enjoy the outdoors. That's a great thing without, I think about it from my personal situation. Generally, when I go out for a good ride I suit up in my gear and I go for a mountain bike ride, but with an e-bike, you can just jump on it and go and just go enjoy the place that you live. And so, the bicycle, for me, is a great way to recenter after a stressful day. It's a great way to just disconnect and to open up your mind to just random thoughts, you know? And, I think, in a lot of ways, these days we are very, it can be very stressful and it can be very intense, like day-to-day life. And, the ability to have a little bit of free thought and just get out and appreciate where you live, it's important, I think. And also, just that outside connection. I try and do that every single day, you know? And, it's something that, I think, people that I know in the bike world, they have that same feeling. There's something rejuvenating about it. I guess, coming around to it there's a wide spectrum of people that read Electric Bike Report and it's, I'm just excited to see the new people who are coming into the electric bike world because I think there's just a ton of room for what we can do with electric bikes. And, that's the exciting part going forward, I think.

The Electric Bike Elevator Pitch

Armando: So, Pete, you're out riding an electric bike. Maybe, you stopped on the trail, maybe you're just chaining up in front of the grocery store and someone asks you about your electric bike. What do you say? What's your elevator pitch for e-bikes? Pete: Well, generally, I say that it really just amplifies your riding. And so, I think that if people talk about the cheating part of it it's like, "Oh, yeah," I laugh about that. But, I think, really, it amplifies everything that you can do with a bicycle. So, it can make you go faster, you can go further, and you can choose to not flood as much if you want to. But, I think, in a lot of ways, it's like a bicycle that can do so much more for you than a traditional bicycle. And so, for some people that can be the commuting and really leaving a car at home many days. It could be running errands, it could be, realistically, taking both kids to school on a bike. It could be starting a business with a delivery bike, you know? With the whole gig economy, DoorDash, these other services, using an electric bike for that could be very reasonable. But, yeah, I think, in a lot of ways, it's just something that can open the door to bicycling for so many other people. And, I think, in a lot of ways, in the US we've focused a lot on the sports, and the racing, and the true fitness part cycling. And, what an electric bike does is it amplifies everything and you can just have fun on it. It doesn't have to be a really hardcore exercise, or whatever. It's just, you can get out, have a good time, and you can do so many things with it. And, I think that some of the other areas that we're going to see people using electric bikes is touring, more adventure riding, exploring old dirt roads, and logging roads, and that kind of thing. And, obviously, the mountain biking part of it is really taking off and even seeing competitive races. There's a lot of different ways that electric bikes are being used. And so, I think that that's the exciting part is that it really turns up what you can do with the bike and who can use the bike. And, that really is, it's exciting because there are so many good reasons to ride a bike and this really adds more to that pile. Armando: Awesome. That was well said. Pete: Thanks.

Electric Bike Reviews

Armando: One of the things you do on the Electric Bike Report is to review bikes. You've, in fact, given EVELO some great reviews. Is there a particular method you use when you review an electric bike? Pete: Sure, yeah. Well, part one is, it's the pictures, and real details, and the specifications of the bike. So, the idea is to really give the reader almost every angle of the bike, so they can really see everything, you know? And, I think that one of the reasons why I go so in-depth on these is because there's not an electric bike store in every city and town in the US, you know? We're not to that point yet. So, and especially if people are doing a lot of research online they may be buying a bicycle before they even get a chance to actually ride it. So, I want to give them every single possible angle on the bike with part one and really let them know all the intricacies of it. And then, in part two it's really the ride characteristics and really going into how the bike fits, what kind of a ride feel it is, you know? Is it a laid back cruiser, or is it a mountain bike, or is it a commuter, or a touring bike? And then, what kind of ride feel is like over rough roads, and then how does the assist work and all the different levels of it? How does it kick in and stop, the transitions? So, really trying to give people an idea of what that's like to really ride the bike. And then, I also do a range test for each bike. So, I have a course and I run the bikes over the course, and I track it with a GPS application. And then, so I show people it went for so many miles and it climbs so many total feet in elevation, so I really break that down. And so, giving them the real range test. And, generally, it's on the hardest pedal assist level, so it's a tough range test and, generally, it's over a couple of thousand feet of climbing. So, anyways, people can really get an idea of the tough range test and if they ride it easier then they'll get more range and that kind of thing. And then, after that, it's the pros and cons and then the overall thoughts. So, it's a little more of a real deep dive into these bikes. And, I generally spend about two weeks with each bike to really get to know them and ride them for many miles. So, yeah. And then, oh, and then I do the video part of it, which is, it's similar to part one where it's really looking at all the details, all the specifications, and everything. So, it's a real overview of the bike. And then, that ties in with part two, which is all the ride characteristics and everything else. Armando: Pete really is one of the most influential electric bike experts in North America and it was a real pleasure talking to him about electric bikes for this episode of the Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO. EVELO is one of the original electric bike makers and we really care about the industry. If you want to learn more about electric bikes please subscribe to this podcast, sign up for the EVELO newsletter, and check out The Complete Electric Bike Buyer's Guide. Now, take care. It's been a pleasure.
The short answer is no. In most cases, you cannot use a health savings account (HSA) to purchase an electric bike or really any sports or recreational equipment. But there is a longer answer which could end in “yes.” “Americans can use their health savings account to purchase exercise equipment, like a bicycle, if they have a diagnosed medical condition and receive a Letter of Medical Necessity from their doctor,” said Shobin Uralil, founder and COO of Lively, a customer-centric HSA provider. “Exercise equipment is not eligible for HSA reimbursement simply for general health, well-being, or weight loss,” Uralil continued. “Several examples of medical conditions that a doctor may prescribe exercise equipment for include obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and more.” So, yes, in some circumstances, your doctor can essentially “prescribe” something like an electric bike, paving the way for you to use HSA funds.

What is an HSA?

An HSA is a special kind of savings account. It lets you save money for qualified medical expenses like doctors visits or prescriptions using pre-tax or tax-deductible funds. Thus, contributions to an HSA reduce your taxable income. An HSA may also earn interest tax-free. And the funds in your HSA are not taxed when you use them. Balances remaining in an HSA at the end of the year, roll over to the next year. There are some eligibility requirements for an HSA, so visit HealthCare.gov or IRS Publication 969 if you want to know if you are eligible for an HSA.

What is a Letter of Medical Necessity?

To use funds from your HSA to pay for an electric bike or really any similar exercise equipment, you will need to have been diagnosed with a medical condition. Once diagnosed your physician can provide you with a letter of medical necessity. A letter of medical necessity is a statement from your doctor saying you have a specific diagnosis and purchasing a particular medicine, a medical device, or even an electric bike will help in the treatment of your condition and, therefore, may be purchased with funds from an HSA.

Ask Your Doctor

If you have been diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, or even mood disorders, ask your doctor if riding an electric bike regularly would help. You can even point your physician to “The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide,” to help him or her understand how electric bikes work.

HSA Information and Resources

Here are several good HSA resources for you to consider.

Related Electric Bike Resources

Finally, there are a few electric bike resources you may want if you are considering an e-bike to improve your health.
Between 70-and-90 percent of electric bike owners and shoppers in the United States are 45-years-old or older. These mature, mostly recreational riders are helping to encourage bicycling, fitness, and growth in the popularity of electric bikes. There are, of course, many factors contributing to the interest in and excitement for e-bikes in the United States. For example, some would say bicycling is in vogue. Americans concerned about the environment, health, or just saving money are turning to bicycles, including e-bikes, for transportation and recreation. One can see this trend played out in the form of new bike lanes, trails, and similar infrastructure. Electric bikes are also becoming the mainstay of popular bike-sharing services popping up in cities and towns across American. These services -- like Uber’s Jump or Lime’s pedal assist bikes -- allow “for longer rides, users who may have disabilities or other physical limitations preventing extended cycling, and a car-free way to navigate hilly and steep terrain,” wrote Patrick Sisson in a 2018 Curbed article. Finally, there are the Baby Boomer and Generation X cohorts. In 2019, there are approximately 73 million Baby Boomers and around 66 million Gen Xers in the United States. Taken together these Americans represent as much as 40 percent of the nation’s total population. These mature adults may already have an affinity for bicycles. Many of them grew up riding to school or cruising their hometown’s streets and lanes. Collectively, they may also have the time, financial wherewithal, and interest for recreational bicycling.

A Majority of Electric Bike Enthusiasts are Older than 45

A 2019 survey of more than 1,000 electric bike owners and consumers interested in purchasing an e-bike showed that 90.61 percent of respondents were 45-years-old or older. Baby Boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1964, make up the largest cohort of electric bike owners or interested consumers. These adults, who are between 55 and 73 years old in 2019, represented 79.43 percent of those surveyed. Generation X describes adults born between 1965 and 1980. These Americans, who are between 39 and 54 years old in 2019, made up approximately 15.44 percent of the survey’s respondents.
A 2019 EVELO survey shows the majority of electric bike owners and interested shoppers are 45 years old or older.
  The survey’s findings regarding the age of a typical electric bike owner or interested shopper are consistent with the results of earlier research. As an example, a 2017 survey from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), estimated that 67.2 percent of electric bike owners were age 45 or older. The difference between the two surveys is noteworthy, but consistent enough to show a trend. The NITC data puts about 70 percent of e-bike owners older than 45, while the more recent EVELO survey places that figure at 90 percent. The NITC survey included respondents who follow industry organizations on social media, and, as such may include a greater percentage of industry insiders who could be somewhat younger than electric bike consumers more generally. The EVELO survey focused on consumers more specifically. But both surveys indicate Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are behind the majority of the consumer demand for electric bikes.

Hill Flatteners

The affinity for electric bikes among mature American adults makes a lot of sense. The pedal assist and throttle systems on these bikes give riders the confidence to ride more often, to ride relatively long distances, and to ride in groups with friends or family members. Electric bikes are “hill flatteners” that enable riders to pedal up even steep slopes that would have otherwise required them to dismount and push a conventional bicycle. “With an electric bike...elderly or inexperienced cyclists can confidently head out on rides knowing that if the terrain becomes too difficult, or if they start feeling tired or worn out, they can rely on the motor to help them get back home. Similarly, an electric bike can be helpful to a person trying to get back into shape, allowing them to gradually transition from lighter, primarily motor-assisted workouts to more intensive workouts that rely less and less on motor-generated power,” wrote Boris and Yevgeniy Mordkovich in “The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide.” The electric bike riding experience the Mordkovichs describe is consistent with the reasons respondents to the EVELO survey cited for purchasing or wanting to purchase an electric bike.
Fitness and recreational activities are important to electric bike owners and interested consumers.
Given the opportunity to select multiple reasons for riding or wanting to ride an electric bike, some 78.89 percent of respondents to the EVELO survey said “for recreation” and 76.79 percent of those surveyed said to “stay active.” These responses may indicate that riders and consumers see electric bikes as a fun way to stay engaged with friends, families, and activities.