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Is buying an electric bicycle worth it

Is Buying an Electric Bicycle Worth it?

COVID-19 has impacted every country in a way nobody has ever seen in a hundred years and India is no exception. People of India have been forced to make changes in their lifestyle to make a living. For many in India Work From Home was impossible, so they were forced to get out from their home to work.

I also had to resume office at the end of May 2020, but travelling by buses was not possible due to the risk of getting infected. So I decided to travel by cab and share it with a few of my colleagues to cut down the cost. Though it was costing me daily around 10 times more than a bus fare. It was at this time I started researching the feasibility of buying an electric cycle. 

Before going into any detail, I would emphasise that even after a year, I still consider that buying an electric cycle was one of my best decisions, especially amidst the pandemic. It has helped me maintain social distancing while commuting, which does not require much energy contrary to a traditional cycle and is extremely cost-efficient. It makes it absolutely worth the money. 

Here are the set of questions to which I found the answers to make my decision to buy an electric cycle. 

What is the Price Range of an Electric Bicycle?

Being from a typical Indian middle-class family, the cost of an electric cycle was the most important question. The range of the cycles starts from ₹23,999 to over a lakh. 

I started listing down the cycles which were under budget and also was available to purchase near to my place. 

At the moment of publishing this article, many states of India were still under lockdown due to the second wave, so many e-cycle companies were affected due to restrictions but some were delivering through Amazon.

Here are the best Electric Bicycles that you can Buy for Under ₹36,000

Cycle NamePrice Purchase optionsLink
Hero Lectro Kinza SS₹24,999Online Purchasehttps://amzn.to/3fS0Mxb
Hero Lectro Kinza 7S₹28,999Online Purchasehttps://amzn.to/3ilDRMz
Hero Lectro Clix 26T SS₹24,999Online Purchasehttps://amzn.to/34QfJcQ
Hero Lectro Clix 26T 7S₹29,999Online Purchasehttps://amzn.to/34XbMD2
Hero Lectro C3₹23,999Offline Purchase (May be affected due to local restrictions)https://www.herolectro.com/product-details-c3-26''ss
Hero Lectro C4₹23,999Offline Purchase (May be affected due to local restrictions)https://www.herolectro.com/product-details-c4-26''ss
Hero Lectro C5₹24,999Offline Purchase (May be affected due to local restrictions)https://www.herolectro.com/product-details-c5-27.5''ss
Hero Lectro C5i₹29,999Offline Purchase (May be affected due to local restrictions)https://www.herolectro.com/product-details-c5i-27.5'ss
Hero Lectro Townmaster₹30,999.00Offline Purchase (May be affected due to local restrictions)https://www.herolectro.com/product-details-lectro-townmaster
LightSpeed GLYD₹30,999.00Online Purchase (May be affected due to local restrictions)https://lightspeed.bike/product/glyd-electric-bicycle/
Uni M368+ Matte Black₹35,999.00Online Purchase (May be affected due to local restrictions)https://elektroncycles.in/products/uni-m368,/a>

(No cost EMI might be available for offline purchase only) 

Now that you know all the best cycles within your budget, you have to choose which one best suits you. It will be easy to pin down one if you know for what purpose you want to use the cycle. Whether for the daily commute or for a leisure ride.

I wanted to buy the cycle for daily commuting. I also had a list of criteria apart from the cost of the cycle which helped me to choose the one. They are as follows:

  • Range: I had calculated the distance using Google Maps, from my home to office and back to be approximately 25km. So, I needed a range of at least 30 km per charge. But the best part of electric cycles, which is unique to itself, is that even if I drain the battery I still can pedal to my destination. This is not possible in any other electric vehicle available. 
  • Suspension: The route that I had chosen had a lot of bumps on it. So, to make the commuting as smooth as possible, the suspension was an important aspect for me.
  • Gears: Gears was at first not a priority but after much research and consultation it was better to have an option. There was one bridge I have to climb, and after watching many Youtube videos I learnt that it makes it easy to climb up a slope and also makes it easy on the foot.
  • Brakes: One of the most important parts of any vehicle is the responsiveness of the braking system. An electric cycle runs faster than a normal cycle given the same effort. If you are planning to ride in wet or rainy conditions, I highly recommend you to opt disc for both rear and front wheels. V branks are less responsive as compared to disc brakes, even more so in rainy conditions. 
  • Speed: Every electric cycle available in India has a capped speed of 25 km/hr. I mean capped as it is intentionally done because of the Indian law for road safety. A vehicle above 25km/hr has to have a driving license. In most electric bicycles, you can reach 25km/hr using the throttle mode, but you can exceed the limit with padel assist (which I do not recommend doing on the main road as it might be risky).
  • Headlights: If you plan to ride at night then headlights are highly recommended. As I had a fixed route for the daily commute, at first I had to be very careful on those low lit roads. Without a headlight, potholes can be fatal and might easily throw you off balance as cycles have a low motion of inertia due to their lightweight. In the list above, only LightSpeed GLYD did not come with a headlight, so you have to buy it separately.
  • Weight of the cycles: The weight of the cycle was not a priority for me but still it wanted it to be under 20kgs as it required me to carry the cycle to the first floor of my house to charge.
  • Height of the seat: If you have a height of 5’6” or higher then you will have 27.5-inch and 26-inch diameter tyre options to choose from. But if you are having a shorter than 5’6” then I would recommend 26-inch type will be comfortable. 
  • Seat: I would highly recommend you to buy an extra seat cushion as cycles seats are very uncomfortable if you intend to daily commute like me 

So now we know that are the features you want, we can dive right in to see if it is worth buying an electric cycle in India.

What is the Range of Electric Cycles?

Range anxiety is defined as the fear of draining the battery of my electric vehicle before reaching the destination or to the nearest charging station. 

This fear is very genuine if you own an electric vehicle and there aren’t enough charging stations on the route to juice it up.

This fear is irrelevant if you own an electric cycle.

Basically, it is a cycle that has the additional feature of having a battery, which makes it far easier to ride.

The battery capacity of my cycle, Hero Lectro Townmaster was having 36 v, 5.8Ah, which on paper estimated a range of 25 km on pedal-assist. To proof the number was legitimate I had to test it on road. Here I will be sharing with you my real-life experience with the data which you will not find anywhere else.

When I was cycling daily to the office, covering around 25kms, I still had around 30 to 40% of charge left. Despite that, I use to charge the cycle every day in speculation of the range or you might say Range anxiety. So to get over it I experimented by not charging my cycle after reaching home.

On the next day, which was the 24th of July, I left for office having a charge of about 40 to 50%. In hope that it will last the journey. 

But unfortunately, I can out of charge when I was about 5 km away from my home. In the graph, you can see that it took me more time to cover the distance on that date. Unlike any other electric vehicle even without the battery, I easy pedalled to my home. The thing was that it took me more time to reach home, which was fine.

Though it depends on which mode you are cycling, whether the throttle mode (no pedalling) or with pedal assist, which has different battery input options.

I had been switching between the pedal-assist in high and the throttle mode throughout the journey. So the results might vary a bit for you but you will defiantly get a range between 25 to 30kms.

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What is the cost per Kilometer of an Electric Cycle? 

Electric bicycles are the most cost-effective, efficient and eco-friendly form of transport after a non-electric cycle. 

Let’s see how much it costs me for riding my cycle, the Lectro Townmaster, for a month in comparison to a bus.

To calculate the cost, you will need to know the following

  • Battery capacity- Wattage (W) of the battery, which is Voltage (V) multiplied by Ampere hour (Ah)
  • Time is taken to charge the battery 
  • Cost of your local electricity provider per 1 kWh

For my cycle:

  • Battery Capacity (W):
    = 36V * 5.8Ah 

         = 208.8 W

  • Time is taken to full charge
    = 4 hours (Approx.)

         So the total electricity consumed per charge in kWh is

         =208.8W * 4 hours
         = 835.2Wh

         To convert it into kWh we have to divide it into 1000 which comes to 

         = (835.2/1000)kWh 
         = 0.835 kWh

  • Now you have to multiply it by the cost per unit (1 kWh) as per your local service provider

         Our local electricity provider, CESC, calculates it in slab rates. Even if I take the highest slab, which costs ₹ 8.92 (0.12 $)  per unit for           anything above 300 units, it will cost

         = 0.835 kWh * ₹8.92= ₹7.449984 (0.10$)  per change.

  • So per km, it has cost me only

         = the cost per charge divided by the total km travelled per charge

         =25km / ₹7.449984= ₹3.3557 (0.046$)

         Electric cycles are a pretty cheap form of transportation. In 28 days of commuting it will cost =28days * ₹7.449984

         =₹208 (2.85$)

Now, to make it more evident let us compare it with the cost of commuting via a bus.

I am taking the cheapest bus fare option available for daily commute to my office, which was ₹18.

So the total cost of 28 days of travel is 

=28 * 18
=₹504 (6.91$)

So a monthly savings of ₹304, which might not be more but here I have taken into consideration. the ideal scenario of travelling on the cheapest bus fare for 28 days. But on many occasions, I had to travel on a bus which cost me ₹28 daily before the pandemic. The cab was costing me around ₹150 per day, so I was able to save a lot of money per trip.

Also to mention the bus and the taxi took a longer route which took almost 2 to 3hrs of total time per day to travel.                                     

Conclusion

After enough research, I was convinced to go ahead with the purchase and bought the Hero Lectro Townmaster from a local dealer. They had an option for no cost EMI for 6 months with a downpayment of ₹10,000. 

Even after a year of its use, it was definitely worth it. I would highly recommend you to at least get a test drive if it is available at your nearest store. 

Thanks for reading!!

Do comment or contact me if you have any query related to electric cycles, I would certainly give a reply.

Cheers!..

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5 Comments

  1. E-bikes may also be having an effect on public policy. I live in a small town that is about 10 km south of a major city. The town and city are now proposing a bike path between the two municipalities. Why? E-bikes can easily do that distance in little time. Every time you take a car off the road, that is a win.

    • Oh that’s great. E-bikes are so easy to ride. I just love ride mine. I think it will gain popularity fast as it does not require much energy

  2. More and more people go for an e-bike, also in Belgium !

  3. CycleAnand

    Nice, informative article!💐

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