Cycling through the Tasmanian countryside near St Helens | Andrew Bain
Want to join a cycling adventure but not sure if you should use a traditional bicycle or an electric bike? We've answered all your electric bikes FAQ questions on how an e-bike works, who rides them, and why you should consider one.
What is an Electric Bicycle or e-Bike?
Electric bikes give cyclists a helping hand when it comes to powering up hills or keeping up with the pack. They are powered by both human power (through the pedals like a normal bicycle) and electrical power (provided by a small electric motor). Their small, hidden engines respond to and complement your pedalling speed and power, which means that if you pedal hard, less battery power will be used; but if you begin to slow down, the electrical system kicks in and provides a welcome boost! The motor gets its electricity from a rechargeable battery.
What kinds of people ride e-bikes?
People of varying skill levels use e-bikes, from the fit (and not so fit), young and old! Even seasoned cyclists can enjoy the benefits of an e-bike, whether it’s powering up hills or having that bit of assistance for those extra long days. The power boost is always welcome, and can turn a good bike trip into a great one with the stroke of a pedal. Some of the most common types of people that use e-bikes are:
- First-time cycle tour travellers - If you’re considering joining your very first cycling tour and are concerned with your ability to keep up with the group, rest assured that an e-bike will give you the additional power you need to make your trip more pleasurable. With the assistance of an electric bike, those longer distances are more achievable, easier, and difficult terrain more manageable, giving you the chance to better enjoy the sights along the route. Going uphill suddenly becomes a breeze!
- Multi-generational groups - If you’re planning a cycling trip with friends or family, where there’s an age gap that may impact your performance, an e-bike is an excellent solution for people of all ages to join in and maintain and enjoyable level of exertion.
- Anyone! - You don’t need any ‘excuse’ to use an e-bike!
What are the advantages of electric bicycles?
Electronic bikes can have many advantages for the majority of the population; you can ride further and faster, carry more and have more control and confidence on the road. One of the major perks for those cycling long distances on particularly hilly roads, is they can make hills feel flat, and flat sections into downhill. The convenience, sustainable and enjoyable of e-bikes has made it one of the most sought after transport solutions for some of our Tasmanian cycling tours.
Don't electric bicycles defeat the purpose of cycling? Isn't it cheating?
Our main objective in introducing e-bikes to our cycling fleet is to give travellers the chance to experience the spectacular scenery of Tasmanian on an active adventure. While electronic bikes certainly reduce the amount of physical exertion you’d experience on a cycling trip, you still use your muscles when on an e-bike and exploring the countryside- you just have a little support along the way. If you ride everywhere you go, are fit and are excited about the challenge of riding a bicycle across Tasmania, then an e-bike may not be for you. However, if the idea of exploring Tasmania’s East Coast on two wheels excites you, however you have reservations about keeping up with the group, not very much experience riding for long distances, or are just looking for a more relaxed active adventure, then an e-bike offers the perfect solution. At the end of the day, you decide how much exercise you want to get by adjusting the power assist level on the bike. One strategy is to start the day with higher assist, and then use a lower assist when riding in the afternoon to get more of a work out before the day is out.
I'm just not sure that I'll enjoy riding an electric bicycle
It’s true; an e-bike isn’t for everyone. If you’re keen on cycling under your own steam down Tasmania’s East Coast, and are looking forward to the challenges and hills that can come along with it, perhaps a standard road bike is your best bet. However if you know you love cycling and know you DON’T love the sweaty, hard hills that can come along with it, we know that you’ll love your e-bike.
Can I pedal like on a normal bicycle or do I always have to use the electric motor?
You can definitely pedal on an e-bike like you would a normal bicycle without the electric motor on. Electric bikes can be heavier than normal bicycles, however they still roll very well, and the electronic motor only kicks in when you want it to.
How fast does the electric bicycle go?
While it really depend on your weight and how hilly the area is, the Avanti Discovery Low E electric bicycles in our fleet travel as fast as 25km per hour, and keep you there! While you may need to pedal a bit on the hills, you’ll find yourself comfortable cruising without breaking a sweat.
Can e-bikes go up any hill?
While e-bikes are capable of many things, some hills are just too steep for e-bikes to manage. However, if you pedal on an e-bike up a hill, you’ll be able to pedal for longer and up much steeper hills than you would be able to do on a standard bike.
How do I charge the e-bike? How long does it take to charge?
With the Avanti bike quick charger, the electric bikes can go from flat to full battery in just 4 hours. We charge the e-bikes by plugging in the battery charger to a wall socket during the evening after we check into the accommodation.
When should I charge the battery?
We recommend charging your e-bike every night while you are on tour. The battery does not have to be completely flat to charge it; it’s actually worse to leave the batter discharged for long periods of time.
Are e-bikes good for the environment?
A human on a bicycle is more energy-efficient than any other animal and any other form of transportation. In fact, an electric bicycle uses far less energy to move around compared to a car, motorbike, or even a train or a bus. If you are considering exploring Tasmania by car or motorbike and have found that you can explore it on a deeper level with an e-bike, then an e-bike is by far the more environmentally friendly option. An electric bicycle will travel around 50km on one battery that takes approximately 500Wh to charge. That's around 15c on an electricity bill. So if your afternoon cycle is 20km then you're looking at 200Wh of electricity or 6c of electricity or 200g of CO2 emissions if you're using only coal power. That's similar to driving 600m in an average car.
Why can’t they go faster than 25km per hour?
If e-bikes had higher assisted speeds, they would be regulated like a motorcycle or scooter which requires it to be registered licensed, and insured. This would also limit where we could ride e-bikes. An e-bike is designed to be very similar to a standard bicycle, including setting its max speed the same as the highest speeds of a conventional bicycle.
How much power do they have?
The e-bikes in our fleet generally sit at about 500 watts.
Can I charge the battery by pedalling?
While some electric bikes allow you to charge the battery by pedalling, this actually requires a substantial amount of energy and is not the most practical feature for a cycle tour. Our bikes have quick charge batteries that take up to 4 hours to charge the battery from empty to full, and a long range which means you can go further with your e-bike before you need to charge them.
I like riding conventional bikes, why would I need an electric bike for a cycle tour?
If you have experience riding long distances on your conventional bike for multiple days in a row, perhaps an e-bike is not for you. However, if you do have experience on a conventional bike but do not have experience journeying across an island over many days, an e-bike can be the difference between a good and a great trip! Also, you may know of family and friends that currently don’t ride a bike but would enjoy joining you on a cycling adventure. E-bikes can “level the playing field” so that couples and/or friends of different riding ability levels can enjoy riding together.