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How much does it cost to run and electric bike?

What are the running costs of owning an electric bike?

By Martin Brown on October 23, 2013

OK so how much does it cost to own, run & maintain an electric bike?

Here is a short guide I have written to help you determine the running costs of owning an electric bike over an extended period of time.

Well this depends on a few different factors:

Initial Cost

Typically an electric bike (eBike) costs more to purchase than a normal bike; you obviously have to add the cost of the motor, battery, design and electrical equipment onto the top of any normal bike specification.

The initial outlay depends on your budget, but generally the old saying – ‘you pay for what you get’ is much the rule in the eBiking world. Often buy cheap, buy twice is a phrase I hear a lot when it comes to electric bikes. So if you spend a little more you are normally paying for something more reliable, which in turn will serve you better over time; overall reducing your running costs.

Type of Electric Bike

The type of eBike plays a big part as some cost more to run than others. An eBike that will take you further on one charge could reduce running costs. Typically (depending on the model) an electric bike will cost between 5-10pence to recharge from flat. Some models will take you 15miles on a charge whereas some can take you up to 100miles on a charge. The range depends on battery capacity and how efficiently the eBike applies the power.  So the cost of recharging although small on each charge can work out more in the bigger picture. The type of electric bike can also influence the maintenance / wear and tear costs, but I will cover this further down the article.

Battery Lifespan / Replacement

This one is important if you are planning on using the eBike over an extended period of time. These days you get a lot more than you used to thanks to the advancements in Lithium cell technologies. Where battery technologies have advanced, in turn so has the range and overall lifespan.  Some batteries need replacing more often than others. Some can take 1000 charge cycles so could last 8-10 years depending how well you look after the battery, where-as some can last as little as 18months. That said normally the longer lasting batteries cost a little more initially. So if you only plan on using the eBike for a couple of years a cheaper cell option could lower the overall running costs. Let’s say for example you plan to use the bike for the next 15 years (these are just examples):

 

Basic Battery –                                                     Advanced Battery –

Battery Cost: £200                                              Battery Cost: £400

Lifespan: 3 years                                                 Lifespan: 7.5yrs

No of times replaced in 15yrs: 5                      No of times replaced in 15yrs: 2

Total cost for 15yrs: £1000                               Total Cost for 15yrs: £800

 

This example obviously does not include the time you are without the bike, postage costs, hassle etc.

It basically shows that the advanced batteries are cheaper and less hassle in the long run.

Maintenance / Wear and Tear

In general, wear and tear on an eBike in comparison to a normal bike is much the same. People often think that an electric bike is going to cost an arm and a leg to maintain / service, but this is simply not the case. Most components are generic between eBikes and normal bikes. So therefore they should be maintained the same.

Keeping your electric bike in good shape will reduce the running costs. Simple things like – cleaning it, keeping the tyres inflated, lubing the chain/cables, charging the battery properly should all help extend your eBike’s lifespan. It’s also recommended to service any bike annually to keep it in tip top shape.

Some electric bikes can require more maintenance than others. For example the drive-train on a trekking bike with hub gears will require less maintenance than dérailleur gears on a mountain bike. Typically a mountain eBike will be used in harsher conditions too so will require more frequent drive train servicing.

Comparison

Electric bike running costs should really be compared to those of a car. A lot of people are finding commuting on an electric bike a much more economical way to travel. Some also prefer the eBike experience to that of a car. Overall there are next to no standing charges per year for an eBike.

Standing Charges per Year

Average size Petrol Car
Average Electric Bike
Road Tax
175
0
Insurance
806
0
MOT
55
0
Totals
1036
0

 

As for running costs, well there are so many factors to include it’s a little difficult to average. As many cars and eBikes have such a wide range of running costs between them. One of the biggest factors is going to be fuel prices as they seem to be increasing all of the time. Typically an average petrol car will cost 14.19pence per mile just on petrol. Whereas an average eBike can travel a mile in roughly 0.13 of a penny.

There are other factors to include in the running costs like Tyres, Service Charges, Replacement Parts, Parking tickets, Depreciation etc. But on average an electric bike will run for 8-12pence per mile over a small car which can cost on average 30-150pence per mile.

Conclusion

So to sum up a few things, you can expect to run an electric bike for very little in comparison to other modes of transport. The main costs are-

Battery replacement: £100-£500 (Every 2-8 years depending on battery)

Charging cost: 5-10pence per charge

Servicing: £25 – £45 per year (average cycle shop service charges)

A little should be left in the kitty over a number of years for replacement parts, tyres, brake pads etc but these costs are not substantial enough to worry about.

Electric bikes are becoming more and more popular to the commuter market, looking for an alternative mode of transport. Besides some people can get to work quicker on an electric bike once they have dipped through the traffic, not had to find a space to park, taken cycle lanes / short cuts etc. It can make your morning more enjoyable!

Of course some people are not using their eBike for commuting or to replace their current mode of transport, they are just looking for the thrill factor of riding one!

Martin Brown (www.e-bikeshop.co.uk)

Why not read the Electric Bike Maintenance Guide?

Also worth checking out the Electric Bike Buyers Guide?

About Martin Brown

Martin has been in the electric bike industry for over 10 years & has helped it grow from the start. Promoting eBikes across the UK at events & offering the very best advice, tech articles, blogs & videos. In particular Martin is a major player for progressing the use of eMTB’s, today owner of e-bikeshop.co.uk – The UK’s largest eBike supplier specialising in Bosch & Yamaha, good quality European eBikes.



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