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Electric Bikes: A Motorhome Essential?

Electric bikes mounted on a motorhome

I’m sure that you’ve noticed the increasing use of Electric Bikes by motorhome users these days. As more people are travelling around the UK and Europe they often need an alternative mode of transport when they get to the campsite.  Not everyone wants to take their motorhome on a tour of the area, or even down to the supermarket.  Normal cycling is all well and good but if you’re not so able, getting up those hills is not an easy task. An electric bike takes away all the hard work.

Electric Bikes and Motorhomes: Growing Marketplaces

Did you know that the motorhome market is growing at an astounding rate of over 15% per year? Interestingly, so has the electric bike market. Apart from China, Europe is seeing a huge growth in electric bike sales and the demographics of both are similar in age group at 45-75 year-olds. Also, electric bikes are one of the most sought-after accessories that motorhomers are requesting alongside an awning and satellite TV.

Electric Bike: An Ideal motorhome Companion vehicle

If a motorbike or scooter is just not your thing then an electric bike seems to be a good compromise as a motorhome companion vehicle. It requires no license, is relatively lightweight and can be relatively inexpensive. It’s worth remembering that an electric bike is different to a standard bike as you’re carrying about 7Kg extra weight in the battery and motor components and they cost more as well.  You may also need to keep in mind that they take a few hours to charge too.  But don’t worry if you drain the battery while you’re out, you can still pedal.

Pricing

As of September 2017, Electric bikes can vary widely in price due to design, componentry quality and Brand name.  Having looked closely at several makes of e-bikes and conversion kits we feel that going too cheap is often as bad as paying too much. You will find plenty of choice between £1,000 and £2,000 that are worth considering. Sometimes, paying £3,000+ doesn’t provide any significant physical benefit and may well only identify you for theft.

Try before you buy

There are a number of companies that are enticing customers to buy an electric bike by offering a try-before-you-buy service.  This is a great way to see if they would suit your lifestyle, but most bike retailers will let you take one for a spin. Here are a couple of companies that we found. At least you can understand the range as well as the effectiveness of the assistance mode.

Gtech
www.gtech.co.uk
Gtech offer a 14 day home trial on their eBike.

Aerobike 
www.aero-bike.co.uk
Aerobike offer a 14 day home trial on their X-Ride and X-Ride ST models.

Know the Law

European and UK Legislation were harmonised in 2015 and defines the modern electric bike as a “Pedelec”. A “Pedelec” bike provides pedalling assistance through an electric motor when the rider is pedalling, not when freewheeling.  The full requirements amount to the following:

  • The motor must not give more than 250w of help (Powered Assistance)
  • Any Powered Assistance must cease at 25 KPH (15.6 MPH)
  • You can only receive Powered Assistance when pedalling.

It is worth noting that this eliminates the older “Twist & Go” bikes from the Pedelec definition. It also removes the restriction on under 14’s, who can now ride a Pedelec!

All Electric Bikes sold should fully meet the European Legislation (EN15194) and are therefore formally “Pedelecs”.

Terminology that you may need to understand in comparing different bikes.

Battery voltage:  Most battery voltages are in the 24, 36v or 48v ranges higher voltages can often deliver higher Wattages, which means increased range and, potentially, speed.

Front/Rear/Mid Hub:  Denotes where the powered hub is with the motor in it?  This will be where all the hard work is done.

Charging time: Fast charge and total charge can vary between 1-7 hours depending on battery capacity and charge rate. check the charge amps as you may only be able to charge one at a time on a European 10 Amp camp site

Motor Wattage: Can range between 250W (European standard and street legal) and 1KW+ for additional speed and range – not legal on the road, but great for off-road fun.

Motor Torque: Twisting energy in Newton meters. 50Nm is very good.  More is better.

Motor Amp/Hour (Ah) typically 8-15Ah and shows the total capacity of the battery.  More is better and will allow you a greater range.

Speed:  The system will cut off any pedal assist around 15.6 mph/25kph

Battery range: often given as a number such as 20-90KM.  it really does depend on the terrain (flat or hilly), the weight of the rider, outdoor temperature and a host of other variables.

Overall Weight: A crucial aspect of each bike, especially if it’s necessary to lift them onto a bike rack.  Make sure the bike rack and the motorhome mounting points can withstand the total weight of your bikes.

A few Interesting articles for further reading…

A Buyers Guide: Best Electric Bikes 2017

Here is a good article to explain more Why Motorhome Owners are Buying Electric Bikes

The Independent: e-bikes under £500 http://www.independent.co.uk

Out&AboutLive – e-Bikes Buying Tips https://www.outandaboutlive.co.uk

Caravan Guard https://www.caravanguard.co.uk

Purpose designed electric bikes…

Piaggio WI-BIKE http://www.piaggio.com

Panda e-Bikes https://www.pandaebikes.com

Decathlon https://www.decathlon.co.uk

Halfords http://www.halfords.com/

Kits and Conversions

E-Bikes Direct https://www.e-bikesdirect.co.uk

Panda –Bikes https://www.pandaebikes.com

GoCycle https://gocycle.com/

Electric Bike Conversions http://www.electric-bike-conversions.co.uk/

Finally, Things to Consider as a Motorhome User

Battery Range can be crucial, so, be mindful of the terrain when you go out on your electric bike.

Where will you carry your Electric Bikes on your motorhome?  If you have a large garage, that may be ideal, but there is always a weight limit to consider as well as loading limited for bike racks.

Understand if the bikes are covered by your insurance.  You may need to take out a leisure equipment policy for the additional value.  It may well be useful to investigate the limitations first.

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