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I know they're the proverbial 'Beelzebub's 2 wheeler' to a lot of cyclists and, unless I got pretty decrepid, wouldn't use one to cycle for the sheer fun of it, but when it comes to commuting, the bike is 'another mode of transport' and, for long commutes, could e bikes cut times?  You can't get away from e bikes at the moment; either in the bike shops, or having one catching up with you on a hill after you overtook it earlier!  There's some pretty smart looking road e bikes and I was reading an article about continental riders who use them for commuting, but then are avid club riders (not on e bikes) at the weekend.

I reckon I can average (commuting) on or above the 25km/h e bike limiter, so by my reckoning an e bike would give you a 'helping hand' on climbs but then the extra weight would be a hindrance on the flat above 25km/h.  Apart from perhaps 'taking the heat' out of climbs, I can't see an e bike reducing commute times significantly unless there was a lot of hills....although you can (illegally) de-limit them!  Of my cycling friends, I'm pretty sure I'm not going to see an e bike appearing in their stable in the near future,  but if, under the 'n+1' mantra, e bikes offered the opportunity to cut cycle commute times, it could be a bonus to the manufacturers as regular cyclists head to buy one.

Sounds like a good Road.cc test/trial to me.

29 comments

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mike the bike [1262 posts] 1 year ago
5 likes

 

Although my lady's knees still look shapely they hide a dark secret, rheumatism makes hard pedalling very painful.  So we got her a leccy bike to ease the strain and she loves it.  Being a proper cyclist with a stable of proper bikes I viewed the thing with distrust and disdain but slowly, ever so slowly, I have come to respect its place in the scheme of things.

Take last Sunday for example, when I needed to pop two miles to the shop.  Without the bother of changing into proper clothing and cleated shoes I jumped aboard the Emu and cranked it up to Assistance Level 6.  Ten minutes later, my shopping stashed in the huge pannier, I was on my way home.  No time wasted, no drama, no sweating.  I think we shall soon be seeing more of these.  

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rogermerriman [162 posts] 1 year ago
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I can’t see how it could unless, it was say up a continuous hill, with other traffic and junction and what not. This also is what I have noted both from using different bikes to commute and watching others, that unless you’ve got a some open road for a significant amount of your commute that fast bikes don’t make much difference, equally that your not loosing much by using a slow bike.

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RPK [107 posts] 1 year ago
4 likes

I think it depends on your commute profile and distance.

I'm considering an e-bike for my 25km commute simply because bashing out 50km/day is a bit much for my body. I've tried it but only managed three days before I just had to rest. I also have two considerable hills to climb and a window of 1 hour door-to-door to complete the journey. An e-bike would obliterate the hills and take the strain off my legs. I believe I could commute 5 days a week with an e-bike.

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srchar [1563 posts] 1 year ago
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It depends how quick you are.  eBikes are limited to 15mph, although I've seen some definitely going faster than that on the flat.  If your average moving speed on your commute is lower than that, an eBike would be quicker. Mine isn't, so it's not  1

I think 25km each way should be do-able once you're used to it.  Six months ago, I changed jobs and went from 50km days to 30km. I'm definitely less fit for it, but haven't noticed that I'm any less fatigued - the body adapts.

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rogermerriman [162 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
srchar wrote:

It depends how quick you are.  eBikes are limited to 15mph, although I've seen some definitely going faster than that on the flat.  If your average moving speed on your commute is lower than that, an eBike would be quicker. Mine isn't, so it's not  1

I think 25km each way should be do-able once you're used to it.  Six months ago, I changed jobs and went from 50km days to 30km. I'm definitely less fit for it, but haven't noticed that I'm any less fatigued - the body adapts.

Unless you have a commute that you never have to stop or slow? A E bike is going to be under 15mph average, as stopping for lights/what not. I see a few on my commute which is 12/19 miles/Km some are tweaked and are fair bit faster than 15mph most though are not.

The only ones that would be much faster are the “off road only” ones, ie moped in all but name. With generally terrifying looking brakes in my experience!

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oldstrath [981 posts] 1 year ago
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mike the bike wrote:

 

Although my lady's knees still look shapely they hide a dark secret, rheumatism makes hard pedalling very painful.  So we got her a leccy bike to ease the strain and she loves it.  Being a proper cyclist with a stable of proper bikes I viewed the thing with distrust and disdain but slowly, ever so slowly, I have come to respect its place in the scheme of things.

Take last Sunday for example, when I needed to pop two miles to the shop.  Without the bother of changing into proper clothing and cleated shoes I jumped aboard the Emu and cranked it up to Assistance Level 6.  Ten minutes later, my shopping stashed in the huge pannier, I was on my way home.  No time wasted, no drama, no sweating.  I think we shall soon be seeing more of these.  

My wife's issue is OA rather than rheumatism, but other than that I've had exactly this experience.

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Canyon48 [1147 posts] 1 year ago
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I'd love an ebike for commuting, but the 15 mph limit is useless for me I commute 18 miles and it takes me about an hour.

There's only one hill, about a 5 min climb at the end. Essentially I'd have extra assistance on the 5min climb but just have a heavier bike for the other 55 mins of commuting.

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Sedis [7 posts] 1 year ago
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Living in the Fens, where it is mostly flat but extremely windy, I can see myself benefiting from an electric bike as I get older, but the 15 m.p.h. cut off means there would currently be no point.

To make them a genuine prospect for faster commutes and reduction in car use, the limit needs to be at least slightly higher or work on a system where it adds a percentage of what the rider is putting in.

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fenix [1205 posts] 1 year ago
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If you're currently averaging more than the legal e bike limit now then I don't see the point in the e bike for you.

 

Plenty of people won't be doing 15mph average though - either through lack of fitness or not wanting to arrive at work sweaty.  The e bikes will be perfect for them. 

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Kendalred [379 posts] 1 year ago
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RPK wrote:

I think it depends on your commute profile and distance.

I'm considering an e-bike for my 25km commute simply because bashing out 50km/day is a bit much for my body. I've tried it but only managed three days before I just had to rest. I also have two considerable hills to climb and a window of 1 hour door-to-door to complete the journey. An e-bike would obliterate the hills and take the strain off my legs. I believe I could commute 5 days a week with an e-bike.

Yes, I think if there are hills, then it would make the commute easier. Not sure if the weight would be a factor on the flats would it?

I do a commute that is around 35-40km each way, so if I do three in a row I am pretty bushed - I tend to do three in a week and stick a rest (car) day in there a couple of days. I think if I had that assistance uphill then it could potentially increase my commutes - my route is through the southern areas of the Lake District, so we don't really have any flat roads!

Also, if they keep putting the retirement age up, I'll need one to keep me cycle-commuting until I retire!

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jollygoodvelo [1878 posts] 1 year ago
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Worth saying that ebikes are not limited to 15mph, it's just that they cannot provide assistance above that speed.

I really want one, for all those little journeys where I can't be bothered to walk or it would take slightly longer than really sensible, but also for exploring more than I would otherwise.  Yes, I can grind and walk my way to the top of any hill, and sometimes I do, but why not get a little help and go and explore five times as many places?

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Dicklexic [113 posts] 1 year ago
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An e-bike might not be any faster, but you could potentially arrive at work fresher and a lot less sweaty. If I could avoid having to get changed at the end of my ride to work (where I must do my best to get clean in the confines of a small toilet with handwash sink!) then an ebike could actually save me a good ten minutes on my overall bed-to-desk time!

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alansmurphy [2284 posts] 1 year ago
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Some of the really nice ones - GCN had Matt Stephens versus Si in the alps (I think and he caned him) don't even need to be n+1 depending on your leisure riding. With the battery part of the tube you could either just remove (save a lot of the weight) or push round a heavier bike (if Strava isn't your reason for riding).

 

I love riding and am 'only' 40 but have diabetic neuropathy - spinning certainly helps but some days my feet are numb, some days they're on fire. There will be a day where i probably have an e hybrid and an e racing bike - my n+1 may then be a trusty steel/ti/carbon racer for the day I can thrash an hour in the sunshine...

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johnstol [1 post] 1 year ago
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I ride a recumbent trike and an upright tandem. They weighed in at around 20 kg each. Now they are motorised that figure has risen to 28 kg. The motors certainly make a difference to my speed up hills and even gentle slopes (Iam moderately fit and in my 70s.) A good average speed for me without a motor used to be 20 k/h. Now I can average a little over 25 k/h if I provide moderate effort on the pedals. Each system - one is Shimano Steps crank motor and the other a Heinzmann front wheel motor -has different charcteristics. I find the limitation is range, not speed/comfort. For long distance touring (say 100 km daily) I would need a spare battery. I have run out of battery power several times, usually up that last hill, and then I really feel the difference! But sometimes  I do a 15 to 20 km ride without e-power, to give me a bit of exercise.

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kil0ran [1688 posts] 1 year ago
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There was a report last year which showed that e-bike riders got most of the fitness benefits of unassisted riders so its really not a free ride. If I still had a long commute and I had charging facilities at work I would give one serious consideration. When I was commuting the most direct/safest route included a couple of decent hills that I avoided, which I wouldn't necessarily do with eAssist. Typically I'd average just under 15mph, mainly due to the amount of traffic lights in the last couple of miles and potentially a eBike would help with the stop/start bits of my commute. Ultimately though I think the real benefit is for those days where you're commuting and you're feeling under the weather, or carrying a minor injury, or just CBA - much more likely to still cycle if you have an eBike. I think I would also have been more likely to commute the full 22 miles each way with an eBike rather than driving part of the way. I live in a valley so had a pretty steep hill to overcome on the way to work about a mile from home that I always hated riding because its a narrow S-bend with a crap road surface and poor sight lines. 

Give it a couple of years and if I'm back commuting and technology has progressed I can certainly see a bike like the Focus Project Y in my life - potentially replacing one of our cars.

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cyclesteffer [421 posts] 1 year ago
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I totally see the point. My mate does this and it works a treat.

He commutes 17 miles to central Bristol. There are some huge hills in the way. Previously he had to part drive, part cycle to be able to do that 3 or 4 days a week without being exhausted for a days work.

Now he can do the full distance no problem. Its not a cheap bike he had - its a Specialized Turbo I think. He had it tweaked to do slightly more speed - about 18-19 mph I think.

I can definitely see the use of an ebike even for shorter commutes, I've been using my regular bike to ride round my mums, which is only a few miles away, but has two massive hills in the way. I do it in regular clothes on my road bike, but am always a bit sweaty, I think with an ebike I would be fine.

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srchar [1563 posts] 1 year ago
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Dicklexic wrote:

If I could avoid having to get changed at the end of my ride to work then an ebike could actually save me a good ten minutes on my overall bed-to-desk time!

Are you sure? Wouldn't it just move your morning shower to before the ride rather than after it?

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fatsmoker [35 posts] 1 year ago
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I find the most tiring part of a long commute is the stop start nature of the towns at either end of the commute - accelerating quickly enough to keep pace with traffic.  E-bikes that I've seen have that extra umph when they accelerate. Once you get up to speed on flat roads weight isn't a huge issue. 

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prawny [10 posts] 1 year ago
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I'd love to try one, although most of the times I'm at 15mph or above the idea of being able to do 15mph with much less effort is appealing. 

 

My commute is a 40 mile round trip with 2 significant hill in each direction and a lot of stopping and starting neat the city centre. 5 days a week it is knackering, especially the last big hill up to my house on the way home, I can grind it out at about 8.5mph most days, but pootling up at 15mph would be lovely. 

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billythestickboy [5 posts] 1 year ago
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I think I might just have to give this a go. My commute is 56km with a couple of hills especially on the way home where the last 8k is all uphill. So, I rarely manage both ways in the same day (I'm very fortunate to have nice secure lock up facilities in the underground car park beneath the office, so that's no problem)

Onyourbike in London hire out ebikes by the day, so I could just do both ways one day and see how long it takes.

I average about 25kmh on that route on my road bike, but I'd expect it to be faster as the ebike will be faster on the hills, not much different on the flat and maybe even faster on the downhill (twice the weight of my road bike is just a benefit going downhill isn't it?) It would help with the many many accelerations away from lights in the London part of the route.

 

If I do, I'll report back

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Dr Winston [832 posts] 1 year ago
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All good. No problem with e bikes and will be happy to add one to my collection when the time is right...

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Shades [502 posts] 1 year ago
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Just spotted the Orbea Gain (not out yet) which has the motor in the rear hub, so looks like a normal road bike at a glance.  3 versions (depending on the spec) with space for mudguards and a rack, so could be turned into a good commuter bike.  If you had a decent e bike, I think you'd need a hefty lock as the thieves would definitely target them.

Seems like an e bike would 'take the sting' out of a long hilly commute, but if you want to get some training in you can still insert a regular bike day when it suits.

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dave atkinson [6529 posts] 1 year ago
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a lot of talk about long commutes, but i use an e-bike almost exclusively on my short commute: it's 4km, but my house is about 130m above the office. so getting home is a massive slog, and it means that you really need to wear cycling gear for much of the year because doing it in your jeans is pretty uncomfortable. using an e-bike means i get home quicker and i don't have to worry about what i'm wearing.

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billythestickboy [5 posts] 2 months ago
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 I said I'd report back, so I will. I actually did in June last year but never got round to writing this.

So I hired one of these https://voltbikes.co.uk/e-bikes/hybrid/pulse, it's fair to say it was a beast and not the cutting edge of e-bike tech, but I figured it would give me an idea if these were for me or not.

I hired it one evening, rode it home and then back in the next day. 56km each way. The ride home was fun, I rode most of it with a mate whose FTP is about 75w more than mine. Usually I'm sitting on his wheel the whole way and that was still the case as anything over 25kmh was hard to sustain, but getting away from the many sets of lights was fun. On the hills (through Greenwich park and up Shooters Hill) it really felt like cheating, I just had to apologise to everyone I went past. I didn't really hold back on the battery use as I had the charger with me, but it still had a bit left when I got home. The last 8k uphill was a delight compared to usual and I was about 15min quicker than I would have been on my road bike.

Not sure if anyone can see this, but here's the strava file https://www.strava.com/activities/1651554833

 

The ride in the next day was not so fun, probably not helped by me really worrying that it wasn't charging up (there wasn't a light to show how charged it was for some reason) so even when I was riding I wasn't sure how much charge it had taken on. It did actually run out with about 5k to go on the way back in after which it was a horrible slog. The route into work is more downhill, so in my head I thought it would be less draining on the battery, but I think there was something psychological about going slower on the flat and down hill that made it really draining and probably caused me to use the power more of the time. It was really slow though, 10 mins slower than my average time but mostly it just felt yucky.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1652287656

I suspect that had a lot to do with it the type of bike I hired, it was a 30kg beast compared to me 8kg road bike, but it all worked fine. I think I just had hopes that it might be quicker and leave me feeling less tired, which wasn't really the case.

Maybe I'll try again at somepoint on one of these 12kg ebikes. I'm sure it would feel really different.

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srchar [1563 posts] 2 months ago
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A legal e-bike wouldn't make a difference to my commute; I average 28km/h over 15km. A hacked e-bike though, like the one that regularly creams past me at 50km/h, its rider's legs hanging limply beneath him - yes, that would significantly reduce my times.

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StoopidUserName [696 posts] 2 months ago
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srchar wrote:

A legal e-bike wouldn't make a difference to my commute; I average 28km/h over 15km. A hacked e-bike though, like the one that regularly creams past me at 50km/h, its rider's legs hanging limply beneath him - yes, that would significantly reduce my times.

 

This.

 

One guy on a modified e-mtb told me he can get to near 40mph on his (had a massive battery/motor stuck on) if he bends over for aero gains. aagin he was barely turning his legs at 25mph. Shit's gonna hit the fan if these start hitting people bearing in mind their illegality. 

 

Otherise personally, I've mellowed towards them a fair bit (as long as they are not deresricted - they always seem to be ridden by maniacs!!!!).

 

btw they are far worse for the environment than normal bikes or public transport - they only make sense as an environmental solution if people switch from cars and maybe motorbikes - not normal bikes and public transport!

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OldRidgeback [3221 posts] 2 months ago
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I've been considering an e-bike for my commute, which is 27km in either direction by the shortest route. The non dual carriageway route though is a bit more than that. It is a bit too far to cycle each day, especially as it includes three steep climbs. 

A woman I know commutes on her e-bike into and out of central London every day, and loves it. She tells me she'd not want to arrive at her work all sweaty, but the e-bike makes her commute feasible, and a lot more pleasant than the discomfort of the tube or train.

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nniff [317 posts] 2 months ago
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My commute is 19.3 miles each way into central London.  There are around 100 sets of traffic lights of various persuasions along the way and on the way back the last 5 miles is uphill most of the way and into the prevailing wind.  Doing that 5 days a week is tough going and in winter I tend to drive off the top of the hill and ride 13.5 each way instead, because the flog back up the hill in the dark  is pushing it at the end of a long day.

I am thinking about it.  Seriously,   If I cane it in the morning I can usually manage about 16mph average.  In the eveing, it's someomewhere between 12-14mph depending on traffic usually.  In addition to the hills (of which there are a few mild ones overall plus the more substantial lumps on the way home), it's the stop-start effort at the lights which it would be good to lose.

The choice is whether to embrace the cargo bike thing and go for something like a Tern and dress normally, or  stick with the roadie thing and opt for a Orbea/Ribble/Pinarello/Colnago.  Or, Plan C, get something My Lawful Wedded Opponent might ride, a Go-cycle type thing.  Test ride time.....

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alansmurphy [2284 posts] 2 months ago
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So my health got worse, my commute got longer and it was interfering with my weekend riding enjoyment. I tried a mates Orbea road bike (that he acquired after a quad bypass) and found that the 15mph cut out made it relatively pointless for me.

 

I decided to go for a mountain bike, Cube Acid Hybrid, as it could be my commute for all seasons and maybe open up some trails. The additional speed was pretty good and also allowed my son to ride with me too, it's also nice not to look at the potholes etc and cringe.

 

Again though, as many allude to, being a cyclist I found that the 15mph is too low... So yep I hacked it for about £100. Now the bikes speedo is at 50% of the actual speed so theoretically my assistance will work up to 30mph. I know it's wrong and that if I get mowed down then potentially I'm in trouble. In essence though it is PAS and never pushes you to 30mph, it responds to what you put in. But a nice 20-23mph on the flat is so much better for commuting and will be a godsend when the headwinds start!

 

Strava tells me that on all but an incline going >5% my KOMs are still on my road bike, so i can justify I'm not pushing speeds I'm not used to.