Should I use a normal bicycle or an electric bicycle?

One of the not-so-common questions was once asked was: Should I use an electric bicycle or a normal one?

Well, that’s an interesting question, isn’t it?

Many of you would have seen, and at least some of you would have used electric bicycles – those cool ones that can run entirely on batteries, or partly on batteries and partly through manual riding.

Well, normal bicycles are cool as well – I use a bicycle almost every day for running errands in the neighbourhoods. As many of you will agree, riding a bicycle is one of the more enjoyable forms of exercise (while at the same time getting errands done).

Having used both electric bicycles and normal bicycles, I can tell you that normal bicycles and electric bicycles both have their goods and bads.

So, which is better? I guess the answer is “It depends,” but rather than leave it there, I will provide the following, and it is for you to decide:

  1. Compared to a fossil fuel vehicle: An electric bicycle is indeed a cool thing, and prevents emissions of greenhouse gases compared to using a fossil fuel based bike or car. So, compared to using a fossil fuel driven motor vehicle, using an electric bicycle is a more environment friendly option.
    • But the top speeds that can be achieved by electric bicycles are usually a lot lower than those of conventional scooters and motorbikes.
  2. Compared to a conventional bicycle: Compared to conventional bicycles, electric bikes are easier to ride because you don’t have to exert yourself. The hybrid bikes today also seamlessly combine manual riding and the use of electric power, thus giving you that bit of exercise without you needing to sweat it out too much.
    • But compared to conventional bicycles, electric bicycles are expensive. In addition, they can run only for a limited distance on one charge of the battery, so you need to charge the batteries frequently.
    • If your electric bike uses lead acid batteries, they could be fairly heavy as well making your electric bicycle more bulky compared to a conventional bicycle. Lithium ion batteries are a lot less heavy, but they are far more expensive.
  3. Ideal distances for electric bicycles – Typically, electric bikes are used when the distances to be covered are neither too small (less than 3 Kms – when normal bicycles themselves could be used), nor too large (over 6 Kms – their relatively low speeds make them unattractive for distances longer than this). This situation however might change with faster electric bicycles hitting the road in the recent past.

So, based on the above, it is up to decide which of the two bikes to use – normal human-pedalled bicycles or electric bicycles.

While I had used a pure electric bicycle for sometime, it was only in 2013 that I first used a hybrid electric bike – one I could either pedal or ride purely using its motor (or sometimes, use both at the same time!). Interestingly, it was in a city where I had never driven any vehicle – New York. On a visit to the city, I had taken a hybrid bicycle on a trial ride, and boy, it was fun – firstly because it was a really cool experience, and next because it was the first time ever in my life I was riding or driving in a country where you had to travel on the right side of the road.

Imagine the fear filled fun!

Should I use a normal bicycle or an electric bicycle? - Cleantech Guide

One comment

  1. >>>nor too large (over 6 Kms – their relatively low speeds make them unattractive for distances longer than this)

    What rock did you live under for the past couple of years, I commute 40km round trip on an electric bicycle, your advice is not helpful.

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