From financial incentives to greener commutes and improved fitness, there are plenty of pros to getting a bike that gives you a boost.
Fitness, the pandemic or the environment. Whatever the reason, many of us have re-evaluated how we’d like to travel in 2021 and beyond. One knock-on effect of this is that sales of electric bikes have really started to take off in the UK. Halfords reported a 230% increase in e-bike and e-scooter sales in 2020. E-bikes have a built-in battery-powered motor, which gives you assistance when you need it. It’s a handy backup for longer or tougher journeys, making getting around town or further afield possible without breaking a sweat. And it’s a good year to get involved. 2021 models offer a raft of new connectivity and smart features, plus there’s government support in the pipeline for cycling infrastructure and financial incentives for purchasing e-bikes. We’ve rounded up the key things you need to know if you’re considering jumping on the electric bike bandwagon this year.
1. Increased government support for cycling
In July 2020, the government announced a £2bn investment in cycling and walking, known as Operation Gear Change. Part of a long-term ‘green recovery’ plan, the money is pledged towards: Creating thousands of miles of new, protected bike lanes Creating a long-term cycling programme and budget, such as the one that already exists for roads Establishing a national e-bike support programme, which could include loans, subsidies or other financial incentives. This last point echoes the findings of the Future of Transport: User Study report. Conducted for the Department for Transport, it highlighted cost as being one of the main barriers to people buying an e-bike (typical prices start from around £1,500, although there are some cheaper options around at £500-plus). With a potential e-bike subsidy coming as early as spring 2021 (trials are currently taking place, but nothing has been confirmed yet), the price you’ll pay for an electric bike could potentially fall dramatically in the coming months. If it follows the pattern of subsidies on other electric transport options, it could be as much as a third off the price.
Don’t forget the Cycle to Work scheme. This existing scheme is worth knowing about if you don’t want to wait, as it could potentially save you 40% on the purchase price of an electric bike. First, check with your employer to find out if it offers the scheme. The way it works is your employer buys the e-bike for you to ride to work and you hire the bike through a salary sacrifice. By paying monthly for the e-bike with your pre-tax salary, you’ll reduce your taxable income – meaning you’ll pay less tax. At the end of the hire period you have the option to buy the e-bike from your employer for a nominal fee. This scheme is only for e-bikes where 50% of the journeys are for commuting, though. It might be worth holding out to see what the new grants might be if you want to own your e-bike outright, or use it mainly for recreational purposes.
2. Smarter electric bikes on the scene
One of the biggest changes coming to electric bikes this year is increased smart connectivity. This can be seen in models such as the Cowboy 3 e-bike, which uses your smartphone as a display, a key, and a means to alert friends and family of your location if you’re involed in a crash. Read about our first look experience with the Cowboy 3 to learn more. But we’ll see this connectivity coming to many more models thanks to third-party systems, such as that announced by Bosch. Called Nyon, this new display has a 3.5-inch touchscreen which connects to Bosch’s e-bike connect app. The display can provide navigation and fitness tracking. It can also ‘lock’ the motor as additional theft protection. Because they’re typically heavier than non-electric bikes, deactivating the motor makes the bike less attractive to thieves as it’s harder to run off with. eShift could make for a smoother ride Another incoming feature called is called eShift. Developed by several e-bike motor manufacturers, 2021 models with systems that support this feature will be able to automatically shift gears depending on how quickly you want to pedal and the effort you’re putting in. All this means that cycling with e-bikes in 2021 looks set to get smarter, simpler and easier. This doesn’t always go to plan, though, as Brompton’s recent e-bike safety recall shows.
3. Health and environmental benefits
E-bikes aren’t perfect; they can be heavy, and the lithium-ion batteries have a limited life and are tricky to recycle. But if you use them for journeys where you might have used the car or public transport, then they can help cut emissions and increase your activity. They can also make hilly or longer trips more feasible by bike and get you exercising while helping you out when needed. So, if you’re worried that you’re too old or unfit for cycling, an electric bike will give you the support you need. Finding the best e-bike The first step to choosing an e-bike is picking one with a good motor and battery system that will power you effectively for longer, and provide smooth assistance during your ride. Many bikes share the same third-party motor and battery combinations, so check our e-bike bike motor system reviews to help you narrow down your search to models with the best gear to power you along. If you’re after something more compact, check our independent folding e-bike bike reviews to see which models are easy to fold, light to carry and smooth to ride.
London is to launch a trial of e-scooters within weeks – but concerns have been raised after their rollout in other UK cities.
The number of e-scooters on the UK’s roads is set to soar as London prepares to launch a trial of the vehicles in the coming weeks. They have been hailed as a greener, more sustainable mode of transport that can reduce traffic congestion, but concerns have been raised after trials in other UK cities. Newcastle has introduced an overnight curfew for e-scooter riders after a spate of drink-driving arrests, with six men due in court on Thursday.
A councillor in Merseyside recently branded the devices “orange death traps” after witnessing people riding them on pavements in Liverpool.
And in Leicester, where e-scooters are not being trialled, a six-year-old boy suffered a fractured skull after being struck by a teenager riding one of the vehicles.
Where are e-scooters being trialled in the UK?
The government is trialling rental e-scooters in more than 40 towns and cities across England as it assesses their safety and whether they reduce traffic. Birmingham, Liverpool, Salford, Bristol, Milton Keynes and Newcastle are among the locations taking part in the scheme.
London is preparing to launch a trial of e-scooters in the coming weeks, with the devices expected to be deployed in 11 out of 33 boroughs in the capital in May, according to reports. Transport for London (TfL) has not revealed details of the launch but confirmed the trial is expected to start “later this spring”.
A TfL spokesperson told Sky News it was in the “final stages of the procurement process” and an announcement on the outcome will be made “in due course”. Further e-scooter trials are due to to begin in Sunderland, North Devon, Rochdale and Great Yarmouth, with the last one expected to end in November. Riders need to have a full or provisional car, motorcycle or moped licence, and have been urged to wear a helmet. Only rental e-scooters are allowed on roads, and they are limited to 15.5mph.
E-scooter company Voi, which is involved in trials in 21 towns and cities in the UK, says it has recorded more than one million rides in just over six months. Sam Pooke, the firm’s public policy manager, said e-scooters were “easing the pressure” on public transport systems and providing a “socially distanced way to travel” during the pandemic.
“We’re helping people to use a more sustainable, green way of getting around,” he said.
“That in turn improves air quality, it improves health, it decreases congestion on the roads and it makes cities much easier and much better for living.”
How are e-scooter companies tackling irresponsible riders?
Mr Pooke said Voi has introduced four-digit code licence plates to its e-scooters so anyone riding irresponsibly can be identified. In order to “battle against drunk-riding”, people have to pass a reaction test to use a Voi e-scooter at night, he added. Those who fail the test are sent a link to a local taxi service.
There have been some reports of “slight injuries” but “accident data is remarkably low”, according to Mr Pooke.
He said the “vast majority of our users are riding them responsibly and safely” but added: “Unfortunately there is a very small minority who ride irresponsibly, such as going on the pavement. “The best way to tackle this is to work collaboratively with our council partners and the police.”
Another e-scooter company, Neuron, operates in Newcastle and Slough and will launch in Sunderland next week. It said there had been “some issues with a very small proportion of riders not following the rules and people parking the e-scooters irresponsibly”.
However Neuron said the overnight curfew in Newcastle, which immobilises its e-scooters between 11pm and 5am, has led to an “immediate and significant reduction in the number of reports of irresponsible riding”.
“Overall the vast majority of users abide by the rules and behave in a safe and responsible manner,” it added. “For those who do break the rules, we generally warn and educate them further and usually cases of repeat offending are rare.”
Are e-scooters set to be legalised across the UK?
Privately-owned e-scooters cannot be used on the UK’s roads – one of the last countries in Europe where this is the case – due to their classification as a motor vehicle under the Road Traffic Act 1988. Motor vehicles are required to have number plates, with users needing to have a driver’s licence, insurance and wear a helmet. In October, MPs recommended that e-scooters should be legalised in the UK within 18 months to help make cities greener.
A consultation by parliament’s transport committee found the vehicles could be an effective way to cut car journeys and clean up the air. But the MPs said e-scooters should remain banned from pavements for pedestrian safety. The transport committee has called for e-scooters to be opened up to everyone, even those without a licence, and helmets to be strongly recommended but not mandated by law.
British carmaker Aston Martin will reportedly begin building two fully electric car models in the United Kingdom from 2025, an electric sports car and an electric SUV.
Lawrence Stroll, Aston Martin’s Executive Chairman and Canadian billionaire who led a rescue of the company in 2020 and now holds a 22% stake, told the Financial Times in an interview published over the weekend that the company has pledged to build its electric models in the UK from 2025.
Aston Martin will start with the production of an battery electric sports car to be produced at the company’s manufacturing plant in Gaydon, England, and an electric SUV to be built at the company’s facility in St. Athan in Wales.
The two models will follow on the heels of hybrid versions of a range of Aston Martin models – including the hybrid version of the DBX SUV, which is due later this year. Aston Martin is also purportedly to release more hybrid versions from 2023, according to Stroll.
News of Aston Martin EVs picks up a year on from the scrapping of the company’s Rapide E, which was originally designed as the company’s first all-electric production vehicle and “the most powerful Rapide ever”, but which was reportedly scrapped in January, 2020.
The news also comes soon after it was reported that Aston Martin was linked, albeit tenuously, to an anti-EV propaganda document which gained traction in the UK media and falsely claimed that electric vehicle only “pay back” the emissions used in manufacturing after 80,000 kilometres.
One hopes, then, that Lawrence Stroll’s decision to reveal Aston Martin’s EV plans is a first demonstrable step away from the taint of the reported anti-EV propaganda.
Whether or not Aston Martin will use its famous ‘DB’ moniker on its electric models is uncertain, according to Stroll, who explained that “we will have a front engine version of a DB11/Vantage, and an SUV higher four-wheel drive one, but we don’t know the names yet.”
Mercedes-Benz, which owns 20% of the company and has partnered with Aston Martin on vehicle manufacturing, supplying some of its engines and technology, may also provide batteries for the promised Aston Martin EVs, according to Stroll, who simply said that “we’re looking at all options”.
Another 7kW Zappi charger installed as an upgrade from a basic Rolec charger and earth rod to a smart charger with built in protection, much neater!
The customer also chose to have the wireless Harvi energy harvesting sensor to avoid unnecessary cables and add solar panel and water heater integration possibilities in the future. Very forward-thinking!
Yes fossil fuels are polluting, but EV’s just shift all that pollution to the power station, don’t they? You might be surprised to find out how efficient a fossil fuel burning car is compared to an electric vehicle, and shocked by the crazy amounts of energy needed to keep your car moving before you even turn the key! Watch this video to find out more…
This is what motivates us to accelerate the move to renewable energy and electric transport, and hopefully it will help to clarify some of the misinformation out there about how dirty electricity really is compared to fossil fuel.