FITNESS Feeling electric E -bikes, or electronic bikes, have been around for several years and the technology is improving constantly, but are they good for you or just a lazy alternative to ‘proper’ cycling? In 2018, a French amateur rider was sentenced to 60 hours of community service after being caught for ‘mechanical doping’ when it was discovered he had covertly hidden an electric motor in his racing bike. There has also been some negative press, such as Simon Cowell recently breaking his back falling from one. But outside of competitive racing and celebrity mishaps, electric bikes have a much more positive side. For those not familiar with it, an e-bike looks and works exactly the same as a regular pedal bike, but when you need it (for steep hills, strong headwinds, or long distances when your legs are tired) you can switch to an electronic motor that will give you extra pedal power to keep going, or take over completely when you want to rest and enjoy the scenery. Various studies have shown that although e-bikes mean that a rider isn’t spending as much time pedalling, or having to use as much energy when they do pedal, they are actually spending on average more time on their bikes, and using them more often than regular pedal bike users. Therefore, the health benefits from using an e-bike are just as important, as it encourages those of us not blessed with Bradley Wiggins’ sideburned brilliance to still enjoy the perks of a long bike ride. These perks aren’t just physical, but also mental too. With bike rides often taking you away from home, the benefits of taking in countryside views, fresh air, and also the social aspect of cycling with friends or family can all help improve mental wellbeing no end. The newest health craze or a ‘cheaters’ way to cycle? Here’s everything you need to know about e-bikes Judith Palmer WORDS: The other huge benefit to e-bikes is their low impact on the environment. If you have a solar panel fitted at home, then charging your bike makes it almost completely carbon neutral, and if you use it to change up your commute to work instead of driving, you reduce your impact on the environment even further. For those of you thinking of getting an e-bike, there are many routes to take. With a wide price range available, there is one to suit every budget, and for anyone who loves the bike they already have, there are also conversion kits available. There are a few things you need to consider when looking to buy an e-bike, though. What do you need it for? What is important to you? Comfort? Hill climbing? Long-distance cycling? Light and foldable or heavier with more power? Will it be for mountain biking through the countryside or the daily commute to the city office? Think hard about what you want to be able to accomplish with your e-bike, and once you have, you need to do your research on which bikes will help you reach these targets. As with most large purchases you will get what you pay for. In terms of the level of technology and power provided, you will get more, the more you spend, but don’t let that put you off. Just prioritise the elements that are important to you. Of course, don’t forget the other essential purchases that come with riding a bike, and factor them into any budget you set yourself. Helmets, lights and high visibility clothing are all necessary purchases that can bring up your total spend if you’re not careful, and are all best purchased in store to make sure they fit, and you know how to operate them before you splurge. Happy cycling. ABOVE: E-bikes are suitable for all walks of life, not just the physically taxing LEFT: The battery is simple to charge, and there’s even the option to do that via solar panels N 188 Yorkshire Life: October 2020
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