Why are electric bikes so expensive?

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Electric bikes cost money; probably more money than the average person might expect. So why are electric bikes so expensive?

Bicycles have come a long way since the heyday of Schwinn and the classic six-speed. Even without a motor and battery, a traditional bicycle is a complex piece of engineering. That engineering takes time and money — likely a lot more time and money than the average person might expect, which could explain some of the sticker shock so many first-time e-bike buyers experience.

This post will offer some explanations for modern e-bike costs and hopefully help you better understand what you’re paying for when you do pop for a new ride. It’s not comprehensive by any means, but these are at least some of the reasons you might think twice before balking at the price of that new e-bike.

 

Why E-Bikes Are So Expensive: Motors and batteries (especially batteries) aren’t cheap

Bicycles in general aren’t cheap, but add in a motor and battery and that cost can go much, much higher.

Batteries are often regarded as the single most expensive part of an e-bike, ranging from a few hundred dollars for a very low-cost unit to well over $1,000 for some of the nicer ones. This is also a component you really don’t want to go cheap on, as it’s going to dictate how far you ride. Larger batteries cost more, so if you want range on a single charge you’re going to pay for it.

The Battery will also partially dictate the lifespan of your e-bike. Quality lithium-ion batteries, the most common type on e-bikes, have a typical lifespan of 2-4 years depending on how they’re used and taken care of. More expensive batteries are often engineered to give the cells inside their best shot at the longest lifespan — either through a specially designed battery management system or careful attention paid to hardening it against the elements — and cheaper ones may not have been given that special attention.

Why E-Bikes Are So Expensive: Quality components make for more expensive bikes

E-bike cost is also dictated by the quality and type of normal bicycle components that come with it.

The cost of those components can vary wildly, which is a large part of the reason overall e-bike price ranges from right around $1,000 on the low end to $15,000 on the extremely high end. For some people, a $1,000 e-bike suits their needs perfectly, but for others, they may have the means and a passion for cycling great enough to justify a substantially more expensive bike. It all just depends on what you’re doing with your e-bike and what you want out of it.

Cheaper e-bikes are coming, but don’t hold your breath

First, the good news: The cost of e-bikes and e-bike componentry will eventually fall as the technology matures and becomes more readily available.

On top of that, several nations across the globe have instituted incentives that offset the cost of e-bike ownership with many others following suit. Here in the U.S., a proposed tax credit could cover the cost of a new e-bike by up to 30 percent, so even if prices are slow to fall there is hopefully financial help on the way.

Now for the sobering news: Don’t hold your breath that e-bike prices will come down anytime soon. In fact, be ready for them to go up.

E-bikes are expected to be the best-selling electric vehicle on the market over the next several years, according to Deloitte, with more than 130 million expected to be sold globally from 2020 to 2023. Demand for e-bikes worldwide has never been higher, and the relatively young e-bike industry is straining to keep pace. Add in the outsized impact of COVID-19, which sparked a global bicycle part shortage (that’s still ongoing) and further drove up e-bike demand, and it’s never been tougher to find an e-bike, let alone an affordable one.

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