So you’re thinking of buying an electric bike, but you don’t want to take the plunge without considering all of the costs involved, right? No problem, we’ve created this handy guide to help you figure out electric bike running costs so you can decide whether or not an electric bike is right for you.
Running an electric bike is similar to running a standard bike, except that has a few extra components and it needs charging. Your electric bike is also likely to need servicing and replacement parts a little more often than a non-electric bike if it’s used regularly. This is because you’ll likely be travelling at faster speeds than you usually do and for longer distances, meaning more wear and tear on your bike.
How long it takes to charge your electric bike will depend on the type of battery it has and they type of charger that’s supplied. Our Bosch powered bikes come with a 300wh, 400wh or 500wh battery and either a standard 4 amp charger or a 2 amp travel charger.
Smaller amp chargers take longer to charge and a larger battery will take slightly longer to charge than a smaller battery. Dependant on which combination of battery and charger you have it will take between 4 and 6 hours to charge your battery. This equates to between 5p and 10p worth of electricity, depending on your electricity tariff. In comparison, it costs about 2.5p to boil a kettle, or 30p to run a washing machine on a 40 degree cycle.
How often you’ll need to charge your battery depends on a number of factors, but the most significant are which electric bike system you’ve chosen and how you use the pedal assistance. A 300wh battery with average usage will generally take you between 25km and 80km on a single charge, whereas 400wh battery will generally last between 40km and 100km with average riding. Take a look at Bosch’s range assistant to demonstrate what will affect the range your electric bike achieves. As always, the more sophisticated systems are more efficient and therefore take you further on a single charge when compared with cheaper alternatives; you’ll need to decide which is right for you.
A standard service lasts about an hour and costs £30 to £50 dependant on the rates of your local bike shop. If any parts need to be replaced there are additional costs to pay for these and the extra labour time to fix the bike.
How often you need to service your bike depends on a range of factors, such as how many miles you ride, how often and on what terrain. Since electric bikes are heavier than standard bikes and often travel faster and for longer distances, we recommend servicing them slightly more frequently. Electric bikes also have additional electrical components, so there are more parts that can wear out or be damaged. The mechanical, non-electric parts of electric bikes wear out slightly more quickly than on standard bikes because they deal with greater speeds, weight and force than non-electric bikes – but not to the point where it’ll break the bank!
If you use your bike a lot, for commuting every day for instance, then servicing it every two to three months will help keep it in top condition. However, if you only use your electric bike once or twice a week, for leisurely rides, you may only need to service it every four to six months.
Regular visual checks and some basic home maintenance can reduce the number of services you need. This can involve cleaning and lubricating the chain, checking all nuts and bolts are tightened and cleaning off any mud or dust from the bike’s moving parts. For more information read our guide on electric bike maintenance.
Don’t forget there may still be a few accessories that you’ll want to go with your electric bike and the basic safety essentials like a helmet and lights are a must! You’ll be able to pick up a decent helmet from around £20, though if you’re looking for something a bit more premium this could be closer to £50. If you intend to ride on the road you’ll also need to purchase lights; this one is a legal requirement! You can pick up a light set from as little as £8 but we’d recommend spending at least £20 to get something a bit more durable. If you want to be extra safe you can also get yourself a visibility vest, or other high visibility clothing which costs around £15.
You’ll also probably want to purchase a bike lock to protect your new bike from theft; to get something which is capable of protecting your electric bike effectively we’d recommend spending at least £25. You may also find accessories like a pannier bag useful, you can pick one of these up from about £40. Although it’s worth noting that all of these costs would still be relevant if you were to purchase a non-electric bike.
One of the main parts that you will need to consider replacing is your tyres. We use electric bike specific tyres, such as the Schwalbe Energiser+ on all of our electric bikes. Electric bike specific tyres will cost around £30 per tyre to replace.
This may sound like a lot at first glance but we really wouldn’t recommend going for a cheaper option when it comes to your tyres. Electric bikes are heavier than non-electric bikes and tend to travel faster and for longer than standard bikes. This means that they need more durable tyres to withstand the extra wear and tear.
Decent tyres are also much safer than cheaper options, so they’re really worth spending the money on!
The lifespan of an electric bike depends on several factors; ironically one of the most important factors is the type of electric bike that you purchased in the first place. The phrase ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ definitely holds true when it comes to electric bikes. Cheap electric bikes rarely have reliable, reputable electric bike systems which often causes them to fail more frequently and reduces their lifespan overall. However other factors such as how frequently it is ridden and how far, how often the battery is charged and how well the bike is maintained are also extremely important.
Most Raleigh customers can expect to keep their electric bike for around seven to ten years, if it is looked after well. This will include regular servicing and replacing any parts as necessary. However you may find that you want to upgrade sooner as the rate that electric bike technologies are advancing at the moment far outstrips the length of time it will take your electric bike to deteriorate.
Raleigh’s electric bike warranty covers your frame for five years, electric components for two years and any standard components (excluding consumable parts) for one year.
If you’re buying an electric bike you may want to consider purchasing insurance. There are two main types of insurance that you can purchase for electric bikes, insurance which protects against theft and damage, or, a policy which covers you for personal accident and public liability (damage or injury to members of the public or their property). Dependant on the value of the bike you’re insuring and which type of insurance you’re looking for this could cost anywhere from £7.50 to £15 per month.
To give you an idea of cost, to insure an electric bike with a retail price of £1,750 (the average sale price of an electric bike) against theft and damage costs £8.85 per month or to insure with Personal Accident Cover, Public Liability, Legal Expenses and Replacement Bike Hire costs £12.26 per month. It is worth noting that in some countries outside the UK electric bike insurance is a legal requirement.
Ultimately only you can decide whether or not an electric bike is worth it to you. It’s clear that owning an electric bike is going to be more expensive than a non-electric bike but perhaps not by as much as you’d first thought! That’s because many of the costs of an electric bike are the same as those that you’ll need for a non-electric bike anyway. It’s also worthwhile considering how low the annual running cost of an electric bike is in comparison to a car – if you’re able to replace your car with an electric bike you may be on track to save thousands of pounds over the years.
Browse our full range of electric bikes now.