We give loans for electric bikes

Imagine it’s a nice summer’s day (I know that can be hard sometimes!) and instead of climbing in the car, you jump onto your electric bike for a pleasant ride to church.  You’ll be getting out in the fresh air and getting some exercise … without killing yourself or the planet.  Most e-bikes can do at least 30 miles of powered riding, so ample to get around the parish.  a social media campaign on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to boost awareness of the credit union.

There are a blistering array of bikes with prices that range from £500 to more than £15,000.  The first stage is to decide what you want to use the bike for.  If it will be for purely urban riding, then a comfortable step through bike, with big tyres (great for pot-holed roads) would be ideal.  But if you are interested in also riding on bridleways and canal paths then a gravel bike might suit you better.

But what bike should you buy?

Let me first fess-up.  I am a card-carrying, Lycra wearing OMIL (I’m too old to be called a Middle-Aged Man in Lycra).  I love my bikes … and I have a few of them!  BTW the card I carry is a British Cycling membership card which provides me, amongst other things, with 3rd party insurance.

Another confession … I don’t use my bikes for transport, only for exercise and fun.  However, with the advent of moderately cheap and functional electric bikes, using electric bikes for transport is today a realistic option, particularly if it’s not foul weather – but I think it was Wainwright who said there is no bad weather, just bad clothing!  

 Now, let me provide an overview of what’s available within the world of electric bikes.  The first classification to be aware of is those which can reach powered speeds over 15.5mph and those which can’t.  Electric bikes that can reach powered speeds over 15.5mph are typically called ‘speed pedelecs’ and are basically mopeds or motor bikes.  As such to ride one of these bikes you need to register the vehicle with the DVLA, have an appropriate license and insurance, and you’ll need to wear a helmet when riding it.  However, if the bike is a normal pedelec [ie its power cuts off at 15.5mph, has a maximum power of 250 watts (about 1/3 of a horsepower) and only provides power support when it is pedalled] you can ride it as you would a normal bike – although I would still recommend wearing a helmet and getting insurance!

For me, there are four main benefits to using an e-bike.  

  1. You can ride tens of miles without having to have thighs like Chris Hoy!  
  2. Because you don’t have to exert a lot of energy riding, you won’t arrive at you destination all hot and sweaty and in desperate need of a shower before you can meet another human being.  
  3. You don’t need to wear Lycra; in fact, you can wear loose fitting waterproof clothing, making the bike suitable for most weathers. 
  4. Finally, you don’t add to your carbon footprint when you’re travelling.

 A quick Google, or a visit to any of the bike websites will soon confirm the bewildering array of e-bikes on offer: city bikes, folding bikes, gravel bikes, downhill bikes, road bikes to name but five.  Needless to say, this is also accompanied by a blistering array of prices from £500 to £15,000!  So, it is important you think through how you are going to use the bike (and how far you are likely to travel) before you arrange

your loan.  Even with city or road bikes you get a range of frame styles: traditional frame with a crossbar, a ‘women’s’ frame (with a lowered cross bar) and a step-through which does not have a cross bar.

If you have some experience of cycling, you might be able to select the best bike without trying it and therefor be able to get a good deal on the internet.  However, for most people it would be wise to go to your local bike dealer, talk about how you want to use the bike and try a few out.

Happy cycling.

Alan Yates,

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