Electric Bike vs. Regular Bike: A Detailed Comparison

The electric bike, or “e-bike,” market has seen massive growth in the last decade. So much so that even skeptics and purists find themselves wondering if their next bike shouldn’t be an e-bike. Perhaps you aren’t a skeptic, but you’re not in a rush to waste money and regret your decision, and you just need to know the differences between an e-bike and a regular bike.

The primary difference between a regular bike and an electric bike is that the e-bike has a motor that assists you and makes pedaling easier. The motor and lithium battery make e-bikes considerably heavier than regular bikes. The added components and electronics also make e-bikes more expensive.

Picking the right bike shouldn’t be overwhelming. Understanding the pros and cons of both regular- and e-bikes makes the process less stressful and far more exciting. So, we have compiled some of the most important differences and similarities to help you.

The Differences Between Regular and Electric Bikes

Before we look at some similarities between electric and regular bikes, let’s first cover the substantial differences that could make picking one over the other difficult. All the significant differences can be grouped into three categories: weight and price.

Electronic Bikes Assist The Rider With Power

Regardless of how you look at it, electronic bikes are more powerful than regular bikes. Sure, you could argue that Nino Schurter on a normal bike will still beat you riding an e-bike. But that’s not comparing apples with apples.

Electric Bike Mid Drive

The fact is that Nino Schurter on an e-bike will beat Nino Schurter on a regular bike.

Electric bikes provide this added power with a battery-powered motor located in the hub or fixed on the rear wheel. By using clever sensors, the bike will detect when you are pedaling and then turn the motor to assist you.

The Average Rider Can Go Further On An Electric Bike

This power assistance is instrumental in a few cases. Firstly, suppose you are a newer rider trying to keep up with your Garmin-wearing, Strava-rocking friends. In that case, an e-bike is a fantastic way to keep you motivated and included.

Secondly, because they assist you, e-bikes are excellent for commuters. We’ve all had days when our energy levels aren’t quite up to jogging or riding a bike to work. Fortunately, an electric bike can help carry the load on those off days.

On the days when you’re up for a good workout, you can simply dial down the level of powered assistance the bike gives you, making you work a little harder.

Finally, even if you are a fit and experienced rider, an e-bike is a fantastic top-up to your capabilities. The fitter you are, the less assistance you will need from the bike, which means the battery will last longer. You can potentially ride further or faster than you could on your own steam.

Electric Bikes Can Be Faster Than Regular Bikes

Another area where the added power of an electric comes in handy is speed. Still, there is also some confusion here as well. Firstly, it would be inaccurate to say that e-bikes are always faster than regular bikes, but that isn’t the case.

Electric Bike Rear Drive

An e-bike’s speed is restricted on levels. Firstly, much like a car, your bike’s motor and battery combination can only put out so much power. It isn’t a bottomless pit of speed that you can tap into.

Secondly, almost all countries have some form of regulation on e-bikes that divides them into classes, with the highest being limited to a top speed of around 28 miles per hour. That may seem fast enough, but fit and skilled riders on standard bikes often exceed that speed, so an e-bike isn’t faster as a hard rule.

But, an electric bike does shine in its ability to maintain faster speeds for longer. The average rider will find it challenging to maintain a speed of 20mph over changing terrain on a regular bike. But with the added power assistance of an e-bike, that becomes a possibility, which means that an e-bike can be faster over a longer distance.

Electric Bikes Climb Better Than Regular Bikes

The third benefit of the added power is that it makes electric bikes fantastic at climbing, as you can see in this video:

As with speed and distance, an e-bike’s ability to climb complements the rider’s ability. So, if you have never done any technical climbs on a bike, then don’t expect to turn into a mountain goat simply because you’re on an e-bike.

Advanced riders, however, gain super-human abilities when they mount an e-bike because it allows them to climb up slopes that would otherwise be impossible.

Electric Bikes Are Heavier Than Regular Bikes

Unfortunately, nothing in life is free, and the many benefits of an electronic bike’s added power come with their own cost.

One of the drawbacks of an e-bike is the added weight. On average, you can expect an electric bike to weigh between 45 – 60 pounds, or around 25 pounds heavier than a regular bike. That’s because the motor and battery add about 10 pounds each.

This isn’t necessarily the worst thing because the added power of the motor, even at the lowest output, should be more than enough to compensate for the weight. So, while using the added e-power, you won’t be aware of the added weight when riding casually.

You may feel the weight a lot more out on the trails because it makes the bike harder to handle through tight corners than its lighter regular cousin. But with some practice, you will likely get used to the difference in handling relatively quickly.

Unfortunately, where weight does become a valid concern is when you couple it with the fact that your battery doesn’t last forever. If or when your battery runs flat, you will need to pedal without the motor’s assistance, and then those extra 25 pounds will make for an unpleasant experience.

This means that if you have an e-bike, you need to plan your rides around the fact that your bike has a set range that it can ride. Fortunately, there are a few tools, like range calculators, that you can use when planning a ride to make sure that you don’t get stranded without juice.

Some lightweight e-bikes on the market try to resolve this drawback, but this usually comes at the cost of power or a hefty price tag.

Electric Bikes Are More Expensive

As you can likely imagine, the motor, battery, controller, wiring, custom frame fitting, and all the other added electric bike components come with a price tag that can be quite considerable. While you can probably find an entry-level e-bike in the range of $500, realistically, a decent e-bike will set you back upwards of $ 2,000.

Suppose you are a mountain biker looking for a good dual suspension, carbon fiber electric bike. In that case, that price can quickly rocket past $ 6,000, with some bikes even breaking the $ 10,000 mark. That’s a lot of money.

Even if you were to look at the $ 2,500 range and compare electric bikes with regular bikes, you would quickly see that while that is enough money for a decent e-bike, it’s also enough money for a fantastic regular bike.

Then comes the fact that batteries have a lifetime of around 500 cycles for the typical e-bike. After a while, the battery starts deteriorating, and eventually, you will need to replace it, which can cost between $ 500 and $ 1,000.

Due to added components and moving parts, your average service and maintenance costs will also be higher than with a regular bike.

Unfortunately, until the clever people in labs come up with cheaper ways to manufacture batteries, the price of electric bikes is unlikely to fall any time soon.

The Similarities Between Electric Bikes And Regular Bikes

Surprisingly, electric bikes and regular have far more in common than the motor and battery that separates them.

Perhaps you really want an electric bike, but you’re unsure if you can run your favorite Shimano drive train on it. Well, you can. Nearly every component is inter-compatible. So, if you want to use a dropper post, a short stem, or a specific crankset, you should be good to go as long as they fit your e-bike’s frame.

This typically even applies to components such as wheels and suspension. You will only be limited by what frame your e-bike has, and not simply the fact that it is an electric bike.

Conclusion

The major difference between an electric bike and a regular bike is that an e-bike has a motor and battery which assists the rider. This allows you to potentially ride further and faster and climb up steeper and more complicated slopes. The added power comes at the cost of extra weight, limited range, and a considerably more expensive price tag.

Author

  • Miles Baxter

    Miles Baxter is an engineer with a longstanding love for bicycles, sparked by winning a mountain bike in a childhood lottery. Balancing a keen interest in mechanics with the thrill of biking, his career is a testament to the art of turning wheels and gears into adventures.

    Baxter Miles