eBikes, cargo and adapted cycles

Did you know that choosing an electric bike or cycle can help you save money and reduce your carbon footprint? 

Electric bikes, or ebikes, are becoming increasingly popular. More and more people are choosing them as an affordable, healthy, low-carbon alternative to car journeys. Electric cycles includes two-wheeled ebikes as well as non-standard options which covers cargo and adapted cycles.

two people riding ebikes on a cycle path

About electric bikes 

An electric bike has an electric motor and rechargeable battery that helps make cycling easier. 

Using an electric bike is very similar to using a standard bicycle whilst using a non-standard electric cycle may take some getting used to or dedicated training. The same road rules apply; however, in the UK, the legal age limit for using an electric bike is 14. 

How do electric bikes work? 

An electric bike's motor kicks in when the pedals are in motion. The motor assists the cyclist until the ebike reaches the legal limit of 15.5mph. You can cycle faster without support from the motor.

The electric bike's settings allow you to choose how much support you want with cycling. A low mode is particularly suitable for cycling on flat roads. Higher modes add more electric assistance, meaning less effort is needed to pedal, perfect for hills and steep climbs.

Electric bikes have a removable battery, charged by plugging into a regular plug socket at your home or destination. Depending on the capacity, a battery typically takes around 3-10 hours to charge. Following the manufacturer’s instructions when charging your ebike battery is essential. Remember to unplug your charger when it’s finished.

The Scottish Fire & Rescue Service also has helpful guidance on fire safety related to electric bikes.

How far can I cycle before recharging? 

The average range of an electric bike is typically between 25-100 miles on a single charge. However, an ebike's range depends on the model and how much power assistance you use.

A fully charged ebike will likely have more than enough range for most journeys, especially given that 64 per cent of all journeys in Scotland are under 5km!

Multiple factors affect how long the battery will last before needing to recharge. These include the riding style, terrain, weight being carried, and the use and level of motor assistance.

If you run out of battery, the cycle will still function as a standard bicycle or non-electric cycle. Generally, ebikes and electric cycles are heavier than standard bikes and cycles, although more lightweight models are available. 

Benefits of electric bikes and cycles

Electric bikes and cycles are a great way to embrace cycling and have a wide range of benefits.

Cycling 10 miles on an ebike costs as little as 4p in electricity if you charge at home. The average driver would save £215 in fuel costs annually by replacing a daily five-mile commute by car with an ebike.

From drastically lower journey, servicing, and maintenance costs to zero tax and free parking perks, swapping your car for an electric bike makes financial sense.

The extra assistance from an electric bike can help you go further, faster, or tackle more challenging routes. Journeys could be for your commute, for leisure, to do the weekly shopping, or for cycling to a public transport interchange as part of a longer journey.

Thanks to different assistance levels and a wide range of models, electric bikes and cycles are a great way to build confidence, ability, and fitness, especially if you don’t think a standard bike is right for you. 

People have reported feeling safer riding an electric bike, as you can set off quicker from stationary starts, e.g., at traffic lights.

Moreover, their speed boost, ability to take shorter and faster routes, park at their destination and charge at home or on the go make ebikes an efficient way to get around, especially in towns and cities.

Did you know the Highway Code was updated in early 2022 to make cycling safer? The new rules include prioritising walkers, wheelers, and cyclists and putting more responsibility for the safety of cyclists on vehicle users. Drivers should also now leave 1.5 metres when passing a cyclist.

If you're concerned about safety, Cycling UK has five top tips for cycling safet

Electric assistance on electric cycles, including cargo and adapted cycles, can help balance the extra weight, be that from children to shopping to specialist equipment.

Regularly cycling benefits wellbeing, physical and mental health. Cycling can help you manage stress, improve sleep and maintain a health weight. It can also reduce your chance of:

  • type 2 diabetes by 40 per cent
  • cardiovascular disease by 35 per cent
  • depression by 30 per cent
  • joint and back pain by 25 per cent
  • certain cancers by 20 per cent

Electric bikes are fun and allow you to enjoy outdoor activities with less effort. They’re also suitable for experienced and confident cyclists.

Different types of electric cycles

You might be surprised at how many electric cycle options exist, each suited to different rider and journey needs and budgets.

There are electric versions of most standard two-wheeled bicycles, from off-road, hybrid, and single-speed bikes to BMX and road bikes.

There are electric cycles that are accessible and inclusive for all abilities and situations. These include: 

These have been specifically designed to meet the rider's mobility needs. Options include tricycles, handcycles, recumbents, foot restraints, one-hand breaking, and adjusted saddles.

Folding ebikes are compact and ideal for those with limited storage or worried about leaving their bike outside. They’re perfect for combining cycling and public transport journeys. For example, commuters and those living in rural areas may be able to connect with rail and bus services and carry their bike on board, often without charge.

There are also folding adapted cycles available.

The low and open frame of a step-through ebike helps those with limited flexibility lift their legs over the frame and mount the cycle. 

Electric bikes are usually heavier than non-electric bike equivalents. Lightweight models assist those who might struggle to lift or manage the extra weight of an ebike.

Electric cargo bikes and cycles are designed to carry loads like children, equipment, or bulkier items. They are a healthy, environmentally conscious, and family-friendly way to get around and a much cheaper alternative to car journeys.

Different designs suit particular cargo types and rider preferences, including front or rear-load options, with various attachments and accessories to tailor your bike to your needs.

You might be surprised when you explore ecargo bike capabilities; some ecargo bikes can carry up to six children.

How much do ebikes cost? 

Standard ebikes generally cost between £700 and £3,000, depending on the features and specifications. Cargo and adapted electric cycles tend to be more expensive than standard ebikes.

The significantly cheaper running costs and wide range of other benefits make electric cycles an excellent investment.