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Top 6 Electric Bike Myths

If you’ve been paying attention to ebike news, then adding an electric bike into your Halloween costume this week might have seemed appropriate. Take this comment from Mayor de Blasio of New York who recently said:

“We can’t have a situation where people feel unsafe crossing the street or even walking down the sidewalk. We can’t have a situation where someone is suddenly facing an electronic bicycle coming the wrong way.” He continued: “It’s just too dangerous.”

Scary, right? More info on the specifics of the NY situation here, but it got us thinking how news like this might impact the public perception of ebikes and what other potential myths might be out there. Here are our top 6 (because we couldn’t figure out which one to drop to get to 5).

Myth #1 – They’re dangerous

In NY specifically, bikes have actually injured 50 fewer pedestrians in 2016 than in 2015 and haven’t killed anyone since 2014, despite the rise of ebikes zipping through Manhattan. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration we know that when faced with car traffic, pedestrians have nearly 8 times the fatality rate of bikers. That’s not to say we shouldn’t bike responsibly – we should. But, while the data on ebikes is admittedly pretty small, it’s still hard to imagine that ebikes are more dangerous than biking, driving, or even walking to work. We hear reports all the time that Faraday riders actually feel more secure with their ability to get up to speed faster and to be able to keep pace with other vehicles around town. On a Faraday in particular, your top assisted speed is 20 mph, and you’ll be well within the speed range that other non-electric bikes are traveling.

Myth #2 – I’m going to exercise less

Admittedly, the logic here is easy to understand. An electric motor means less pedaling and therefore less exercise. The reality is that electric bikes expand opportunities to ride. Recovering from an injury, getting back on the bike after 20 years, going for longer rides, or not being intimidated by rough weather are all made easier by a little assist from the motor. The NY Times, for example, has written about the noticeable health benefits that researchers discovered from participants who simply started riding an electric bike. What about if you’re already active and worried about becoming less fit? We find that Faraday customers are often substituting biking for driving rather than for exercise. There’s nothing limiting about the amount of work you can do on an electric bike. And on our bikes you can always switch off the electric assist or just decide to bike more in order to log the same amount of exercise. There are also plenty of stories, like this one, that we hear from marathoners and athletes who incorporate their Faraday into an exercise regime that allows them to actually exercise more than they otherwise would.

Myth #3 – They’re too expensive

With an average sale price of around $3,000 for a good electric bike, there’s no question that buying one is an investment. Most of that cost is due to the technology and being able to get the battery, motor, and software cleverly integrated into the bike. However, when compared to other monthly expenses, especially other transportation costs, an ebike can often pay for itself in short order. Consider that the average cost of car ownership per year is around $8,500 and for many of us urban dwellers we’re actually using our cars a lot less than we used to. Of course not everyone is going to be able to give up their car, but given other monthly expenses like that rarely used gym membership, a metro pass, or your favorite ride sharing app we think getting a Faraday for around $100/month is a pretty good deal.

Myth #4 – It’s going to get stolen

OK – technically not a myth and it’s understandable why theft is a top concern when considering an ebike. There are a few things to keep in mind though. Here in SF, for example, about 65% of bike theft comes from garage and home break-ins, while only 15% happens while bikes are locked on the street. Making sure that your bike is actually locked in the garage or safely secured in the house is probably the biggest step you can take to avoid theft. You can also invest in a security kit like this one to keep your wheels and other removable parts safe. Insurance is also an option. Our customers have had success placing their Faraday on a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. There are also private insurance options, which allow you insure your Faraday for around $20/month. Frankly that might be worth it just for the peace of mind. In the end, investing in a solid U-lock (either a higher-end Abus or Kryptonite lock are good options) and being smart about where you leave your bike will go a long way to preventing theft and keeping your bike safe.

Myth #5 – They’re for people who can’t bike without help

Electric bikes aren’t just for riders who need help getting over a hill. Often times riders think that they’ll be “cheating” if they use an electric bike if they don’t have to. We say that if you’re taking rides that you wouldn’t have otherwise taken, that’s a good thing. If you’re driving less and getting outside more now that you’re riding an ebike – everybody wins. You can ride an ebike just as hard as you would a non-electrified bike and just get to your destination quicker. In the end, ebikes aren’t like golf cars or moving walkways at the airport – you still have to do your part to make them work. It’s just up to you how much and how hard you want to ride.

Myth #6 – The technology is new and unstable

The electric bike market has skyrocketed in the last 5 years. While it used to be hard to spot an ebike on the street or a place to ride one, you can most likely find an “electric only” bike shop close to your home and the industry’s top manufacturers are now in the game. With our lifetime warranty on our frame and 2-year warranty on all electronics you don’t have to be worried about a risky investment on a Faraday. That said, research is still a crucial component of buying an ebike and there are still plenty of YouTube fail videos of do-it-yourself ebike experiments gone wrong. We recommend visiting your local bike shop and finding out which option is best for you.

Interested in learning more about ebike stats, research, and policy? Check out these great resources from People for Bikes.

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