5. They can replace driving.
“People are buying electric bicycles as a way to reduce car trips,” Benjamin says. The data backs him up: 28 percent of survey respondents said they bought an e-bike specifically to replace driving a car. And many other reasons buyers listed for wanting an e-bike—including carrying cargo and kids, avoiding parking and traffic, and environmental concerns—also indicate a desire to get out from behind the wheel. Plus, you don’t need to change clothes or clean up when you arrive at your destination, because you don’t have to work up as much of a sweat.
That’s a no-brainer distance to cover by e-bike. In fact, the survey found that owners replaced 46 percent of their car commutes and 30 percent of their driving errands with e-bike rides.
E-bikes do some of the work for you, but they still count as exercise, especially for people who have otherwise been sedentary. Colorado University researchers found that when 20 non-exercising men and women e-biked about 40 minutes three days a week, they improved their cardiovascular fitness and blood sugar in just one month. “Many people are not fit enough to ride long enough to get meaningful health and fitness benefits from biking,” Benjamin says. “Put them on an electric bike and they can go out and ride for an hour and get a significant amount of exercise.”
Even if you’re in excellent shape and very fit, you still can get exercise by e-biking. When I did a head-to-head comparison of commuting with my cross bike versus a recreational e-bike, I found that my relative effort was much lower, and I burned about half as many calories, on the e-bike. But I still burned something—up to 200 calories per hour, the equivalent of what you burn by walking. And I opted for quick e-bike rides to town where I would usually drive, which means I was considerably more active overall.