When riding an electric bike, you may attract strong feelings or even nasty comments from your fellow road or trail users. It’s a combination of reasons:
- The perception that you don’t get exercise on an e-bike
- That it’s somehow cheating
- Overtaking a fit person on a regular bike with bruise some egos
- Unfortunately, some e-bike riders are entitled and snobby
- Some e-bike riders are not respectful of other road users
- Some people don’t understand why someone would use an eMTB on trails
The perception that you get no exercise on an E-Bike
It’s not true that e-bike users get zero exercise benefits on an electric bike. In fact, I wrote a whole article about how e-bike riders actually get more exercise on average than riders of normal bikes and burn 100s of calories. The amount of calories burned depends of course on the distance traveled, the terrain, your fitness level, the level of boost selected, and so on.
This perception about the lack of effort while pedaling may fade as e-bikes become more and more popular, and the benefits are more widely known, but it’s certainly still a factor in some people’s minds. It leads to the idea that an e-bike is “cheating” (cheating at what exactly?). The obvious exception to this is throttle e-bike users, as I’ll discuss next.
Throttle Electric Bikes are Used with no Effort
Throttle e-bikes are an exception to the perception that e-bikes don’t give exercise benefits, and may be a source of confusion. Throttle e-bikes are a type of electric bike that is activated by twisting a throttle, instead of pedal assist. In this regard, they are more akin to an electric moped rather than an electric bicycle, so they are not recommended if getting exercise and burning calories is your goal. Pedal-assist simply means that the electric motor only kicks in when the rider is actively pedaling and cuts off when they stop.
Pedal-assist e-bikes are also called “Pedelecs“, and these types of e-bikes offer significant exercise benefits, including burning calories.
Getting overtaken by someone who is not as fit or older hurts some egos
If you’ve cycled on bike paths for a little while, you’ve no doubt noticed this- some people really don’t like being overtaken and take it as an insult! This is especially true if they’re overtaken by someone who is not in good shape, is older, or generally perceived as being a “lesser” cyclist (perhaps on a cheap bike), or you’re traveling up an exhausting hill climb and you breeze past merrily on your e-bike, while they puff and pant to the summit.
Therefore, getting overtaken by an electric bike breeds resentment and envy for some people. Personally, I think it’s daft, you should ignore other cyclists and focus on enjoying your own time on the e-bike, and use it to clear your mind.
Some E-Bike Riders are a bit … Entitled and Snobbish
This may sound a little controversial, but unfortunately, it’s true. From personal observation, and from researching online, unfortunately, some e-bike riders think they own the bike path or trails. Since e-bikes are often quite expensive (although they get more affordable and accessible with every passing year), it attracts enthusiasts who are usually above average income level, who like to show off their expensive gear, and can be rude and arrogant to other road, cycle path or trail users. You’ve heard the stereotype about BMW drivers being rude and arrogant? That sort of applies to some e-bike riders too. Don’t be that person!
Some E-Bike Riders don’t respect other road users
From personal observation, I’ve noticed that some e-bike riders act like they own the cycle paths, unfortunately. However, this certainly applies to other cyclists too, particularly those on expensive road bikes with the full cycling gear head to toe! Some behavior that I’ve seen includes: not making space on the path for other pedestrians- cycling full speed in the middle of the path, they charge up behind people at high speed taking them by surprise, without using the bell, taking blind corners at high speed- which risks injury both to themselves and to pedestrians, not checking behind or to the side when turning off- which can lead to a collision with another rider to the side that they haven’t noticed.
On the road, where the road is shared with cars, some cyclists keep quite far out from the verge, which means cars must veer around them in traffic, often into the oncoming lane. Some cyclists also break red lights by rolling up to the intersection and keep going if they think the way is clear. Another dangerous behavior is switching quickly between the footpath and the roadside which may catch car drivers unawares and lead to a collision.
You should always be respectful of other road users, especially slower moving bicycles or pedestrians.
E-MTB perceived lack of effort
On mountain trails, it’s a badge of honor for many to conquer a tough, technical trail on a mountain bike. However, when some of these enthusiasts see an out of shape cyclist breezing up the slope without much effort and without training, they get angry and resentful. Some mountain biking enthusiasts don’t understand the point of hitting the trails if you’re on an e-MTB.
However again it’s much better to focus on your own enjoyment rather than focusing on what others are doing. If you enjoy testing your skills on the trails on a mountain bike, do that and enjoy your day. What is to be gained by getting mad about what strangers are doing?
There’s a myriad of reasons why people don’t like e-bike and their riders. They range from misunderstandings about cheating or lack of effort while pedaling, to bruised egos stemming from getting overtaken by e-bike users, to unfortunate entitled attitudes from e-bike users, disrespectful or dangerous riding by e-bike riders, and jealous feelings on the mountain trails from mountain bike enthusiasts.
Remember to always be courteous and respectful to other road users, particularly if they are traveling slower than you. Happy riding!