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Is It Worth Getting an Electric Bike?

Is It Worth Getting an Electric Bike?

May 25, 2022 | Pete Prebus

Putting down your hard earned money on something that you may not be 100% sure about can be a little stressful. Electric bikes are not the cheapest vehicle around, but they have many great benefits that cumulatively add up to providing a lot of financial savings, as well as the intangible value of just having a lot of fun.

In this article we will look at the many great benefits of riding an eBike, and how they add up to making an electric bike worth the investment.

What is a Good Starting Price for an Electric Bike?

There are a ton of electric bikes to choose from these days, and choosing one can be overwhelming. A good place to start is the price point that will give you solid value as well as good quality. If you go too low on the price the quality and customer service is usually the sacrifice you will pay for down the road.

At Bike.com, we believe $1,500 is a good price point to start with. Bikes in this price range are serviceable, can be maintained and upgraded, and are worth fixing as consumable parts wear with consistent use. At this price you generally get an eBike with a lot of the features of the much more expensive bikes, while compromising a bit on the weight of the bike and not getting premium quality components, which may be needlessly expensive for casual riding.

Below this price point, you may find that eBikes come with several challenges: the first is availability of service parts, and the second is that when something breaks, the eBike may simply be not worth fixing, because repairs can cost more than the bike's value.

Going up in price will improve the quality of the bike, how it performs, and it will usually result in a lighter-weight eBike.

Overall a base price of around $1,500 is a good starting point to look at the value of an electric bike and whether it is worth buying one.

Making an Electric Bike More Affordable

Electric automobiles have long benefited from tax incentives and/or rebates to reduce the overall price and encourage more people to get an electric vehicle.

With the rise in popularity of eBikes, a number of states, counties, cities, and utilities have begun to offer electric bike incentive programs to make them more affordable and attainable for more people in their community.

Many of the incentive programs are focused on encouraging more people to ride an electric bike in lieu of driving a car to reduce vehicle emissions, reduce vehicle traffic, improve physical and mental health, and to offer a more economical transportation option.

Some of these programs offer big rebates to the tune of more than $1,000. Many of the larger rebates are provided to residents that are in the lower income bracket who could really benefit from an electric bike as an economical transportation option.

In addition to incentive programs, there are loans and eBike subscriptions that make owning an electric bike easier with lower monthly payments. Here is an article with a look at the many electric bike incentives and loan programs that are available to help you afford and purchase an eBike.

In some cases you may be able to get a good discount off of the overall price of an electric bike, or spread the payment out over months to make it more reasonable in the long run.

Financing options

Financing your eBike is another viable option that allows you to pay over time. Bike.com offers Affirm, a popular financing program to eligible customers on approved credit, for example. Consumer financing options like Affirm can make eBikes affordable that might otherwise be out of reach.

Physical and Mental Health Benefits

Finding time to get some exercise these days can be tough with a busy schedule. But what if you could combine some moderate cardiovascular exercise while commuting to and from work and while running some errands?

Riding an electric bike can offer that double benefit of some moderate exercise while multitasking with getting around town. With an electric bike you can set how much of a workout you want by adjusting the pedal assist level and/or throttle. That allows you to arrive at work with little to no sweat and then use less pedal assist on the way home to get more of a workout.

The average monthly cost of a gym membership is $50 to $60 per month, of course your pricing may vary. Over a year that is $600 to $720 which is about halfway to a $1,500 electric bike, so in a 2 year timeframe an electric bike could be covered with the savings from a gym membership alone.

The savings from the gym membership is just scratching the surface because consistent exercise can also help to reduce your long term healthcare costs. There are so many variables to determine the healthcare costs savings which makes it hard to easily quantify. But it is important to keep this in mind when evaluating the worth of an electric bike.

The Substantial Costs of Car Use and Ownership

Driving a car adds significant cost to everyday life, especially with the higher gas prices these days. Let’s take a look at the potential savings if you you have a 15 mile commute & errand running each way. That’s 30 miles round trip 5 days a week and 4 weeks per month:

  • 30 miles a day x 5 days a week x 4 weeks per month = 600 miles per month

And let’s estimate an average vehicle gets 20 mpg in stop and go commuting traffic:

  • 600 miles / 20 miles per gallon = 30 gallons of gas consumed per month

And let’s estimate an average of $5 per gallon of gas:

  • 30 gallons x $5 per gallon = $150 per month of gas savings.

A $150 monthly savings in fuel costs can easily pay for an eBike over time, and quickly! Energy costs for an electric bike are pretty insignificant by comparison. A general rule of thumb is about 10 cents per charge of the battery and assuming 30 miles of range per charge, then 20 days of riding per month would cost you just $2 in electricity costs. 

Keep in mind, that $150 per month in just gas savings. There is also savings in the wear and tear maintenance of the vehicle. AAA Has Average Monthly Maintenance costs at $0.09 per mile.

By saving 600 miles of driving per month that would be:

  • $0.09 per mile x 600 miles per month = $54 per month.

Maintenance costs for an electric bike are certainly there but we can safely estimate $30 a month to set aside for small and more sizable repairs.

Totaling everything up is:

  • + $150 in gas savings
  • + $54 in auto maintenance savings
  • - $2 in eBike electricity
  • - $30 in eBike maintenance
  • = net savings of $172 per month from riding an eBike.

Over a year's time, that is $2,064 in savings which is more than the $1,500 price of an affordable eBike. Of course, your mileage may vary but even if you don’t ride that much you can see the savings are significant.

If you really want to turbo charge the savings you may want to consider replacing a car with an electric bike plus other transportation options like taxi/rideshare, car rental, bus, ferry, train, etc.

AAA has the Average Monthly Cost For Car Ownership At $773.50 per month or $9,282 per year. That is not cheap!

With that significant cost it is a good idea to take a look at car ownership. Do you have 2 cars but could do well with 1 car and an electric bike? Or do you live in a city with other great transportation options that you could completely eliminate owning a car?

At nearly $10,000 of savings per year (after tax) it is worth considering other options like an electric bike. Here is an article with tips on going car-light or car-free with an electric bike.

The Value of Fun!

Electric bikes are just a lot of fun to ride but it might be hard to put a dollar amount on all that fun. One way to approximate the fun value is to compare the cost of an electric bike to another vehicle of fun.

For instance, a stand up paddleboard (SUP) could be a good comparison. A good value and quality paddle board will be in the $800 to $1,000 price range. If you consider that a paddleboard is mainly all about having a good time with less pragmatic use then the overall value is mainly in the fun category.

With an electric bike you get both the pragmatic financial benefits and the fun benefits. So if you consider 50% of the $1,500 price for fun then at $750 it matches the fun value of a stand up paddle board well.

A similar comparison could be done with skis, a snowboard, golf clubs, and other recreational sports equipment.

Is it Worth Getting an eBike?

Yes, it absolutely is worth getting an electric bike!

When you add up the many ways you can save money by using an electric bike for getting around and getting exercise you can quickly offset the purchase price of an electric bike and make it completely worth it within a year's time.

If you are able to get an eBike incentive to bring the price down then it can really shorten your return on investment time frame. Then when you add in the less monetarily tangible fun and mental health benefits it is clear that an electric bike offers a ton of value and upside for a modest investment.

Enjoy your rides!

-Pete