People are always asking me this question: why choose a human-powered bike over an electric bike? It's true, there have been significant improvements in the ebike market in recent years.

Don't get me wrong, there are lots of advantages to ebikes. They are:
  • They help you cycle further than you might normally.
  • Helpful carrying heavy loads.
  • They keep going when you are exhausted.
But don't forget that ebikes also have some flaws:
  • E-Bike milage is approx 50miles
  • E-Bikes have a weight penalty sometimes adding more than 10Kg
  • E-Bikes chew through drivetrains.

But aren't ebikes more efficient? I'm asked. Won't they get you where you want to go quicker and won't you feel less tired when you get there?

Well, it depends. I decided to drill down into this subject using information that I gleaned from Tesla and Raleigh. I even drew up a handy-dandy table showing you what I discovered.

You'll quickly see that you can unlock the potential of Human Power and go furhter than the limit of a battery.

I'm biased, it's true. Riding a bike outside, using my muscles, experiencing the weather, enjoying the scenery, is my primary reason for getting on my bike. That human-powered bikes happen to be more efficient is a secondary concern for me.   But as the table above explains...

The human body will do the following:

  • store 1500 calories (Kcal) as glycogen in your muscles.
  • will burn approx 750-1000 Kcal/hour.
  • only absorbs 500 Kcal/hour from food.

But there are more reasons to ride a bike than human power alone.

Ebikes feel to me to be like that little runaround your gran has to get to the shops and to her hairdressing appointment - good for going to the supermarket and dealing with that pesky hill on your way home. But for those of us who know, who have earned that first sip of a pint in the pub after pushing against a freezing cold headwind during a biting February shower, or enjoyed the sheer bliss of a downhill cruise after a shockingly steep ascent, human-powered riding isn't just about efficiency. It's about the experience, the camaraderie, the grit. It's about human and machine working together to get where they want to go.

Which is why, despite all their qualities, I'm not an Ebike convert. Ebikes aren't as efficient as human-powered riding, and they simply don't deliver the same rewards.

Next up: powering up during the South Downs Ways.