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Written by
Frances McCann
Frances McCann

The E-Bike Revolution: What is an E-Bike?

E-bikes, or electric bikes ("electrically assisted pedal cycles" to be formal), are big news at the moment, with sales increasing fast across the world. However, considering myself fit, choosing an e-bike on a biking trip did pose a dilemma! Naturally competitive (with myself), did I really need it? But, on the other hand, should I not be putting in the maximum effort? But, after all, this was a break and an escape, and why not have a different way to take it easy?

It was a great decision! My regular cycling routes generally dodge the hills where possible, and in Greece, I faced HILLS. Having the option for extra help from the e-bike truly added to the enjoyment of the trip. So as a convert to the electric bike, I've summarised some information and advice explaining what they are, and how they could help you on your next cycling holiday.

Heading to another vineyard on my e-bike!

What is an E-Bike?

You can use an electric bike or "e-bike" just like a standard bike. Although it has a battery-powered motor, it is not a motorbike, and it won't move unless you're pedaling. An e-bike has a battery pack (usually on the back or attached to the lower bar of the frame), which, when switched on, will give the pedals a boost, making light work for your legs as you push up a hill.

How does an E-Bike work?

Switch it on via the digital display on the handlebars, and you'll get a display that usually gives you distance, battery charge indicator, and power level indicator.

Digital display

Each model is different, but simply switching the display or power on will not mean you automatically have power to the pedals. In the case of my bike, I had to use a throttle in the form of "up" and "down" buttons on the display to offer a choice of power level, from a gentle push to a full-on "oomph"! However, many models sense you pushing on the pedals to seamlessly assist with the appropriate power. The boost we got from full power was quite surprising (and it's fun to feel like you are super-charged for a couple of minutes). That's it. Other than that, you just need to pedal. And steer, of course!

Each bike is different, but in general, you can get as much (or as little) help as you want, and you very quickly get used to the controls.

Charging an E-Bike

The battery charges from the mains power, and you should make sure it is charged daily if you are on a multi-day trip. The bike I used had to be plugged in directly (the battery was not removable due to the pannier rack); however, in Greece, where the weather means most accommodation establishments have outdoor power sockets.

Charging an e-bike

E-bikes are a little heavier than standard bikes, so you have to remember that gentle hills you might typically manage OK on a normal bike may need a bit of power on the e-bike due to the extra battery and motor weight.

Many bikes have removable battery packs, so you take the pack into your room to charge at night. A full charge takes on average 3 - 5 hours. However, because you don't need to use the power much on flatter sections of your rides (or at all when going downhill), I found that there was always leftover charge at the end of the day, even despite asking my bike for a lot of help on some big hills!

Cost to upgrade?

Expect to pay around $70 up to $150 on top of the standard hire price for a classic hybrid/touring bike. As we book your bike hire with locally sourced bike suppliers, it depends entirely on their yearly rates.

Upgrading to an e-bike is possible on nearly all our self-guided cycling holidays for the perfect mix of adventure on two wheels and minimal effort!

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