This guide rates the top ten electric bikes as rated by ‘A to B’ magazine, plus those offered by the biggest bike brands in the UK.
“Does it recharge when you go downhill?”
I’m not sure why, but this is the first thing I get asked by a good three quarters of people who hear that I have an ebike (electric bike). The answer, I’m afraid, is no. There are a few ebikes that do claim to do this, but the experts are scathing, saying that it is marketing nonsense as it is not worth the extra weight and resistance.
But apart from the disappointing lack of regenerative braking, there is a huge amount to be said for ebikes. There is research showing that they increase the amount of cycling that people do so much that they can actually increase the exercise people do overall, even though they lessen it per mile.
Environmentally, they are definitely winners. As people tend to use ebikes more seriously, it reduces car mileage. One UK study estimated that lending people ebikes reduced car miles travelled by at least 20%. With the current average EU electricity grid mix, an ebike’s carbon footprint is basically equivalent to a normal pushbike’s once you take into account the extra food the pushbike rider needs (based on an average EU diet): easily 10 times less than a car.
Ebikes are also enabling the rise of ‘silver cyclists’: in the UK 62% are sold to people over the age of 55. One study in which older people agreed to use one for at least 30 minutes three times a week found it significantly improved health, mental wellbeing and cognitive ability. On many variables the pushbike group did even better, but the ebike group won outright on self-assessed mental health – unsurprising given how much fun they are.