Electric-powered bikes are going to be big, but are they a godsend or missing the point?

Two mbr writers debate the pros and cons of the e-revolution…

Electric nightmare

By Benji Haworth

Electric bikes aren’t bicycles. That’s it. They are motorbikes for people too scared or too cheap to commit to a proper motorbike. They should be called Electric Powered Half-Arsed Motorbikes For People Scared Of Sweating. They are not bicycles.

Electric bikes will not get more people on bicycles. People who get reintroduced to cycling via an electric bike will forever hate the moments when they’re called upon to put a bit of effort in. Electric bikes stop people from ever understanding or appreciating the point of cycling. With cycling, the tough bits are the most rewarding bits. Electric bike riders will never experience the epiphany of effort. They will never fall in love with cycling as a result.

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With cycling, it’s a beautiful melding of man and machine, where the human fuels the whole operation. I am by no means an anti-technology cyclist. I love my full suspension, my disc brakes, my drivetrain, my dropper seatpost. All of those things can be seen as making things easier, and they do, to a degree. But none of them stray into the hallowed core of what makes cycling cycling.

The whole point of cycling is self-propulsion. Self-propulsion is the best bit of cycling. It is cycling’s raison d’etre.


Electric dream

By Jamie Darlow

There are two kinds of riders out there: those that are lazy and those that are liars. I fall into the former category. I don’t mean I sit on my bum of a weekend, just that I take every opportunity to pedal downhill more, uphill less. So if there’s a space on an uplift, I want to be on it. If a friend drives past on the road I can’t stop myself sprinting towards the car and clinging on like it’s some old Routemaster and I’m a barrow boy late for his market stall. And if someone invents an electric-powered mountain bike that delivers me to the top of the hill then I bloody well want to be on that too.

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Imagine the possibilities of e-powered bikes: 30-mile loops will become 60-mile loops with no extra effort (that’s more riding time, buddy!). Less fit friends and partners can come along on proper rides. We’ll blast into corners and power out like we’re on a motorbike, earth jetting into the air behind us. Flippin brilliant!

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Benji is a Luddite, so don’t listen to his old beardy opinions. Anyone against technological advances is nuts, particularly when they’re strangely selective — disc brakes, suspension forks and functioning headsets, yes please; electric power and bigger wheels, oh no thank you. It’s still cycling, it’s just different.