Why Electric Bicycles are on the rise in the UK

electric bicycle ukCycling enjoyed a sharp rise in popularity after the London Olympics and the ongoing success of the likes of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. That trend is now being boosted by the rise in demand for electric bicycles which, in 2018, accounted for 30% of all bikes sold in the UK.

What is an electric bicycle?

Electric bicycles are similar to a regular bicycle, except they have battery-powered assistance when required.

Pushing the pedals on an electric bicycle engages a small electric motor, which provides a boost that allows the cyclist to fire their way up hills and zip across tough terrains without tiring themselves out.

Most electric bicycles allow you to set the level of assistance you require, with UK models allowing up to 15.5 miles per hour (25 kilometres per hour).

The rise of electric bicycles

The very first electric bicycles were largely reserved to hobbyists who created their own contraptions via a battery, motor and voltage controller.

The vehicles were rare, had short distance ranges and were slow-moving – but it did beat having to pedal and it was fairly convenient.

But the introduction of lithium-ion batteries, based on electric car technology, has led to a sharp rise in their popularity. 

Electric bicycles have long been popular across Europe, with pedelecs now the biggest bike category in Holland and Germany selling around one million of them in 2018.

But the UK market has been slow to catch onto the trend. That began to change with a sharp increase in 2016, before Halfords claimed 2017 was ‘the year of the ebike’ as sales spiked by 220%.

This trend was aided by Olympic gold medallists Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton publicly lauding electric bicycles.

Pendleton, in particular, claimed they were a ‘game changer’ given their potential to get more people riding bikes, and even launched her own electric bicycle, the Pendleton Somerby Electric Hybrid Bike.

Why use an electric bicycle?

Electric bicycles are a great way for people who want to get fitter, are a little older, or simply want to travel a little further than they’d normally be capable of, to get out on their bike as opposed to driving.

Riding an electric bicycle can also be as healthy as its more traditional cousin. Just like regular cycling, it helps to improve cardiovascular fitness, reduce body fat, build strength and improve circulation.

There are also cost benefits for electric bicycles. While the initial payment for an electric model may be more than you’d expect to spend on a regular bicycle, the running costs compared to a car are significantly lower.

Fully charging the battery costs a few pence and could take you as far as 100 miles per charge.

Future of electric bicycles

The UK Government is being encouraged to promote the uptake of electric bicycles, with the Bicycle Association claiming incentive schemes are required to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and reduce congestion.

The future of electric bicycles, therefore, looks to be bright, and could be vital to people living healthier lives and making cities safer, healthier places to live.