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Rant: Why I Think Electric Bicycles Are A Big Scam

Written by Boston Biker on Aug 02

Lately I have been seeing a lot of the following. Some guys (almost always men) who think they have found the “new thing” get together and start selling electric bikes to people. They don’t actually ride bikes, they don’t even like bikes, they just thought “hey this bike thing is getting popular, you know what would make us a crap load of money, electric bikes!” I am guessing they are thinking that fat/lazy Americans will be more lured towards riding something that moves without much effort. So they contract with some shitty bicycle maker in China, who takes a sub par 40 pound POS mountain bike frame that you can buy at Walmart for $150 and straps an additional 30-40 pounds of batteries and electronics to it, and sells it as the next best thing (for thousands of dollar.)

$5995.00 and 58.5 lbs, 20 mile range what a deal!

There are so many things wrong with this business model. One, because the bicycle is so heavy you NEED to have an electric assist on the damn thing or you wont be going up anything higher than a mole hill. Two Americans are not fat/lazy, they just have never been shown how awesome it is to ride a bicycle. Selling them a super heavy, poorly designed, crapcycle isn’t going to inspire a lifetime of cycling.

$2,399.99 top speed 18mph, weeee!

Oh and did I mention the price…for the “privilege” of carrying around all those heavy batteries, and riding that shitty mountain bike, you get to pay WAY more than you would had you purchased a high end custom bike. I mean why spend $1000 on a very decent road bike, when you can drop $4500 on a super shitty mountain bike with electric assist. I am honestly flabbergasted that anyone would pay what most retailers are asking for electric bicycles.

$1649, 57lbs, top speed 20mph, awesome!

You might say, “But doesn’t this help the environment?” You might argue, “they will be on a bike and not in a car, so umm that’s good right?” No. The batteries are filled with highly toxic materials, the manufacturing process is highly toxic, and the shipping of heavy batteries from china incurs a lot of emissions. Basically take all the environmental impact of creating a bicycle, then strap the environmental impact of a bunch of toxic batteries on top of that. This is a trade off I might be willing to make, if these electric bicycles were better (in any way) than a normal bicycle.

$3,799.00, 53lbs...

In every way these electric bicycles are inferior to a regular bike. They weigh too much, they have short ranges, take energy to recharge, and are so poorly designed that most people will find them falling apart soon after they purchase them. In short these are gimmick products destined to end up in a land fill, or sit unused in a basement.

People will quickly realize that the power in their own legs is far better than any battery on the market. Even if you are riding a heavy city bike you will be better off because after 20 miles on a heavy city bike your bicycle doesn’t suddenly lose functions because the battery died, a heavy city bike doesn’t have a bunch of electronics that can get ruined either.

To be fair, I can think of a couple people who would do well with an electric cycle. Anyone with mobility problems would welcome the freedom that a little electric boost might give, if they can deal with the high price tag, and poor performance, and massive weight. Most people however don’t have mobility problems.

$1,899.99 64lbs top speed up to 15mph depending on terrain

Many people have never ridden a bicycle, and think that its going to be super hard, and that they would do better with a nice battery assist. They are ignorant of the ease and enjoyment of riding a normal old pedal with your legs bicycle. They don’t need any sort of electric assist, but are told that it will open up a world of excitement for them. Ride for miles with out moving your legs! Go up hills without breaking a sweat! At 60+ pounds the only excitement you are going to have with most electric bicycles is the excitement of hearing your spine creak as you try to hoist it up the steps to your house.

Electric bicycles are in my opinion not ready for prime time. They cost too much, are poor quality, are worse for the environment than a normal bicycle, weigh too much, and don’t have the range. Perhaps in the future when batteries magically get light, and electric motors get tiny, and the whole thing gets cheap, and they figure out a way to make it without using toxic materials, then we will be ready for e-bikes. Until then, get on your bike, and move your feet.


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