Electric bicycles: Good idea or defeating the purpose of a bike?

I've been closely following the evolution of electric vehicles, and it's safe to say a Chevy Volt or a Fisker Karma are not in my near future. But what about a Brammo or Zero electric motorcycle? They seem to be getting closer to viable every year, and by viable I mean reasonable speed and range for an "affordable" price compared to gas-powered vehicles.

Then there are electric bicycles, which so far look way too nerdy/wicker basket for my taste. But Specialized is about to unleash an electric bike that looks cool and sounds pretty viable for range and speed, although still pricey at $7,300. You can check it out HERE.

My take on this is you could pedal it, and if you get tired, or don't want to work up a sweat while commuting, twist the throttle. It could be great for getting to work, running errands or buzzing downtown. It doesn't look like riding it would require chinos, loafers and a bow tie because even though I may be heading to Mr. Roger's neighborhood, I don't want to look like Mr. Rogers.

But my coworkers are less enthusiastic about an electric powered bike. Anyone else care to weigh in on electric bikes?


45 kph. that's like 28mph.
Maybe if you could find one and steal it!


I would like to see someone do a local cost test on something like an electric bike.

there's no free lunch. And a trip to hospital has to be included in the costs on this type of deal.

Sounds like a good idea

Is it an electric bike, or an electric motorcycle with pedals? This concept is not new and was around 10 years ago in a very well developed form. Spandex recreational cyclists might look down on this, but serious work bike users and commuters will love it. Imagine putting out the same amount of effort and going twice as fast with the electric motor assisting. Europeans have developed a small car with a gas engine, solar panels on top, batteries and pedals. Pedaling gives a good workout and extends the range of the car. I'd love to see four-wheeled motorcycles (ATVs geared and designed for on-road use) as they're safer than the two-wheeled version but our laws are so archaic.

Depends on what costs you consider

A regular bike is a lot cheaper, and doesn't require a battery, just leg power. But if you figure the gas savings from leaving a vehicle at home and commuting on one of these, it starts to look better.

My biggest concern with electric vehicles is there's bound to be a lot of orphaned technology, and if you invest in something like this and it goes away, you have a $7,300 relic and no way to get parts or replace the battery.

And if someone can't handle a bike that top ends at 28 mph, they're definitely not in the market for one of these.

Good points

If you view it as a practical form of transportation, then an electric bike makes sense. If you just want to ride a bike, then the 120-year-old pedal type should work fine.

So, you think he has a good

So, you think he has a good point. And yet, you seem to completely miss his point?

They're just skirting needing a license. That will change.


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?

I'm just looking for an assit package

I'm really tempted to buy this conversion kit, it has good reviews and seems to be what I'm looking for. Two of my teenagers just got drivers licenses so I have two spare mountain bikes to try it on. $299 is a lot less than $7,000.


goodbye freedom!

"Two of my teenagers just got drivers licenses so I have two spare mountain bikes to try it on."

What? So they forever turn their backs on anything but a motor vehicle? Pathetic!

Thoughts on the electric bike

Motorized bikes are for the weak!!

Roger's hand-wringing about the image he might portray to onlookers is pretty amusing. Yeah, that would be a shame if the "real" cyclists looked down on you, huh? haha!

I question the 28mph top speed, and 30 mile range. Both sound like marketing hype to me. But even if those were real-life numbers, what would be the cost to operate this thing, compared with a real bike? I've been a dedicated transportation cyclist for 26 years; I figure my cost per mile to be about 4 cents... and that includes the cost of purchasing the bike and a little scratch for a pair of shorts or a brain-bucket every few years. You'd never approach that with ANY motorized contraption!

Here's another question... are these things legal on the Greenbelt, bike paths, etc? You know - where "no motor vehicles" is clearly posted? (And if they are, how about those obnoxious GAS-powered bicycles? You know, the ones with a wimpy but noisy chainsaw motor on 'em? I see idiots riding those things on sidewalks! Where are the cops?!!)

Finally, even if an electric bike's range and top speed will serve your needs... you still have all the other "disadvantages" of bicycle travel. You know - weather to deal with. Vulnerability if you get smacked by a motorist. (A motorist with a REAL motor vehicle.)

Thanks but no thanks. I'll keep riding the human-powered bicycle until the grandkids force me off for fear that I'll fall and break my hip. Sure, it makes me sweat a little, and sometimes my pump goes pitter-patter. But people who ride $7300 electric bicycles (and other motor vehicles) pay $50/month for a gym membership, so they can sweat and pitter-pat. My bicycle gives me freedom and autonomy that NO motor vechicle can even pretend to have.

(Full disclosure: From the perspective of a motorist, I s'pose something like this would seem practical and cheap. From the perspective of a transportation cyclist, it looks expensive and seems to have all the DISadvantages of a bicycle, with none of the advantages.)


I would just like to point

I would just like to point out in the interest of full disclosure that you may have left out one small fact. Most people haven't confronted this fact of which I speak. Many people on these boards comment on bicycle related articles and bash "Those darned cyclists and their homosecksual spandex", then tout the "Drill baby, drill!" philosophy for ending our energy dependence on fossil fuels. This fact of which I speak has been very well summed up in the following quote from the Exploratorium website (link following):

"The bicycle is a tremendously efficient means of transportation. In fact cycling is more efficient than any other method of travel--including walking!"

So, bash us commuting cyclists all you want. Then hop in your car/truck and drive around town honking your horn and shaking your fist in utter rage at our nerve to ride a bicycle on "your" roads. Then head on home to your computer and spew comments about "Them darned turrists" in the Middle East and how we need to "Drill baby, drill!" to free ourselves from the shackles of foreign oil.

Then maybe for one brief moment reflect on the error of your logic. Please? There exists no one answer to this energy riddle, but we already have one great method for reducing our need for oil. Some of us are fighting terrorism one revolution (of our peddles) at a time. If you don't wish to join us, will you at least stop honking at us? Please?


Call it what you want

Call it what you want, but I consider an electric bike a battery-powered motorcycle. I can imagine how many idiots will be killed, zipping along at 20+ mph on the road shoulder, only to get hit by turning cars. I think it's a BAD idea, all around. If you need an auxiliary powered "bike", buy a moped or scooter. Something you can ride with traffic. Oh, and then what's next-- battery powered mtn. bikes? Yikes! Look out hikers...

I think if you can't, or won't, pedal your bike, you should just drive or get a motorcycle. An electric bike is just a poor excuse for a motorcycle. A lazy man's dream.

Electric mountain bikes exist

I appreciate all the comments here. Interesting perspectives. I ride a commuter bike, mountain bike and a motorcycle. But I think a quiet, electric bike that provides a little extra zip if I am feeling lazy is not a bad alternative, but not enough to drop thousands of dollars for a niche vehicle.

There's a lot of animosity between people based on what type of wheels and propulsion they use for transportation. Seems kind of counter productive, but I guess that's just life in America these days.

Roger Phillips

two until I need three...

The Western Flyer got stolen a week ago, dammit.


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?


Would buy a fantastic bicycle. Forget the weight of the battery. Has anyone checked out one of these electric vehicles? they are extremely heavy and awkward and the bike part is primitive compared to an excellent comuter bike for around $1000-1500. Plus you get the benifit and joy of the exercise and quiet with a regular bike. I'll keep riding my bike and save a ton of money!