One of the most common uses of e-bikes is for commuting to work. I have several years of experience with commuting on an e-bike, in all kinds of weather so I can offer real-world experience on whether this is a good idea.
Yes, e-bikes are great for commuting. The average e-bike gets 20-50 miles/32-80km on a single charge. The average US commute is 16 miles/25.75km or 17.7 miles/28.56km in the EU. An e-bike will cover most commutes on a single charge and will allow you to get exercise, save money, and avoid traffic and parking issues.
Of course, there is much more to the decision on whether to use an electric bike or not for commuting. Read on for more factors to consider.
Pros and Cons of Using an E-Bike for Commuting
- On average, an e-bike will comfortably get you to and from work, based on average commute distances and the typical range of e-bike batteries
- E-bikes save money compared to other typical options of a car or public transport
- E-Bikes are good for the environment, they are small and energy-efficient
- E-bikes are cheaper than cars and, often, public transport
- Getting exercise in the morning allows you to de-stress
- Parking is much easier on an e-bike
- Riding a bike on a cycle path is much less stressful than driving in traffic
- Riding an e-bike is much faster than walking or using an e-scooter
- E-bikes cost money upfront – unlike public transports, and are more expensive than regular bikes – sometimes much more expensive, as can be seen on this list of luxury, high-performance e-bikes
- In very cold or extreme weather, for example during high winds, an e-bike may be uncomfortable or unsafe to ride
- In very warm weather, sweat may be an issue
- If you live in an area that doesn’t have good cycle paths, riding may be stressful next to traffic
Commuting in Bad Weather
So, how bad is it to ride in wet weather?
Actually, it may not be as bad as you think. The main trick here is to dress appropriately for the weather. Getting a suitable rain jacket, that is breathable to prevent too much sweating is essential.
The next most important thing is to have mudguards for your wheels. Many commuter e-bikes will have these by default, if not they can easily be purchased as an aftermarket accessory. Make sure to check the size of your bike wheels before you purchase.
You can purchase covers that go over your bike helmet, that prevent rain from getting into your hair and making you uncomfortable.
If the weather is also cold, you wear gloves with fingertip cutoffs get to help grip the handlebars and to prevent your hands from getting too cold. Cold hands make it difficult to react quickly to grab the brakes.
Commuting in the Dark
If you expect to be commuting in dark weather, either in the morning or evening, you must have suitable reflectors and lights on your bike – front and back. If your bike does not have them from the factory, it’s very easy to purchase high-quality lights online or from your local bike shop.
If you are cycling along a particularly dark stretch of road, consider purchasing a head-mounted lamp. This will greatly increase your visibility, and make it much easier for other road users to spot you quicker.
Another worthwhile purchase is a reflector vest. This will make it very obvious where you are. There are also newer rain jackets that are completely reflective, saw the entire surface of the jacket reflects car headlights. This is another great option to consider.
Some bike helmets also come with a red light at the back. This is also great for visibility for cars approaching from behind.
For more tips on staying visisble and safe while riding in the dark
What if the Battery Runs Out?
So, if you have not ridden an e-bike before, you may wonder what happens if your battery runs out. The good news is, if you have a hub motor e-bike, you can simply cycle home like you would on a regular bike. Apart from the increased weight of the battery, it is identical to riding a regular bike.
E-Bike vs Car
The main advantages of commuting via e-bike versus a car increased exercise, so you could be mentally focused at work, less stress, no issues with parking, and you don’t have to deal with stressful traffic. If your commute in a car cause through very heavy traffic, commuting on aim a bike may actually save you time. Compared to commuting by car, an e-bike will quickly save you money. The cost of fuel is almost nothing, and the maintenance is minimal with typical modern bikes.
The main disadvantages of commuting with an e-bike versus a car are- you have to carefully park your bike with theft in mind, ideally away from a public street, you cannot easily commute in the extreme weather such as extreme hot or cold, such as freezing temperatures. If your Route doesn’t have dedicated cycle lanes, riding a bike may be somewhat stressful.
E-Bike vs Regular Bike
The main advantages of commuting with an e-bike compared to a regular bike are- you can maintain a high speed with much less effort, so you get to your destination quicker. If your route has steep hills, you can get up the hill much more easily, so you are not covered in sweat when you get to work.
The disadvantages of commuting with an e-bike compared to a regular bike are the increased purchase cost of an e-bike compared to the regular bike, increased weight of the bike due to the battery and motor, increased complexity of maintenance, for example changing the tire on a hub motor e-bike. Overall an e-bike is a much better option for commuting in my experience.
Whether you ride to work on a regular bike or by e-bike, I strongly recommend puncture-resistant bike tires. These have saved me multiple times during the past few years due to the amount of glass on the cycle path on my commute.
E-Bike vs Public Transport
I did an e-bike vs public transport cost comparison in an earlier article. I discovered that an e-bike is cheaper than using public transport. It’s also safer for my health as riding a bike is a socially distant activity during the coronavirus outbreak. Similarly to the advantages compared to cars, e-bikes allow you to get exercise and de-stress. Sometimes commuting with busy crowds and rushing to make train and bus schedules can be stressful. Cycling an e-bike is the opposite experience.
The disadvantages of an e-bike compared to public transport are similar to the disadvantages of commuting by car. You are exposed to extreme weather, you have to consider where you park your bike, and if you do not have dedicated cycle lanes you may find this problematic.
E-Bike vs E-Scooter
The advantages of an e-bike compared to e-scooters are considerable, I do not consider an e-scooter to be a worthwhile mode of commuting transport apart from very short distances or routes where combined means of transport- like on a train- are viable. An e-bike is much faster than and the scooter, has a much better range, can navigate hills far better, is much more reliable in wet weather due to the danger of slipping on a scooter, and has minimal danger of falling off compared to an e-scooter.
The disadvantage of an e-bike compared to e-scooters are very minor. On average, e-bikes cost more, they take up slightly more space to park. However, it is a very minor disadvantage- a budget-priced e-bike made in fact be cheaper than a good quality e scooter. Having tested both, an e-bike is vastly superior in almost every aspect, especially considering the unstable nature of riding e-scooters which have a decent chance of falls due to the position of your feet on the board.
E-bike vs Walking
An e-bike is obviously much faster than walking. If your commute is so short that it is tricky to decide if an e-bike is worth to you or not, consider testing your route on a regular bike to see you the time difference between cycling and walking. This should help you to make a decision. You may like having the variety between cycling and walking even if the time difference between the two is negligible.
Overall, I find using on a bike to be my best option for commuting to work compared to the other options. It’s cheap, I get exercise, I’m mentally energised and focused, and I’m not sweating too much when I get the office. In my experience, the battery on my mid-range e-bike lasts for 3 to 4 days. My commute is about 18 km round-trip, and I can easily charge my bike in the office since the battery is removable. By being prepared with a suitable rain jacket, bike lights, and a headlamp, I am equipped to handle most weather whether or not it’s wet and dark.
I hope you enjoyed my experiences with e-bike commuting. Happy riding!