With electric bikes becoming more and more popular, they naturally invite comparison between them and motorcycles, both electric and petrol, and it’s understandable. There are powered bikes that are often used for commuting and whizzing around cities. If you own a motorbike already, is it worth investing in an electric bike? In this article, we discuss the major differences between electric bikes and motorcycles in a range of areas.
Before we start, it’s important to establish the key difference between electric bikes and motorcycles: the way you ride them. With electric bikes, you pedal just like a traditional pushbike, and then the electric motor provides you with assistance. With motorcycles, there’s no pedalling involved, and all movement is controlled by the throttle. The differences don’t end there.
1. Legal requirements
Electric bikes and motorcycles are treated very differently in the eyes of the law. motorcycles, whether electric or petrol, are liable for road tax, insurance, and must be registered with the DVLA. Riders of motorcycles must also have a driver’s licence to be able to legally drive the vehicle. With electric bikes, no such restrictions apply. You do not need a driver’s licence, the bike doesn’t need to be registered or insured, and you don’t need to pay tax. In the eyes of the law, electric bikes are generally treated the same as traditional pedal bikes.
The clothing riders must wear differs between motorcycles and electric bikes too. Motorcycle riders are required by law to wear a crash helmet at all times, and it’s advisable to wear more protective clothing. The higher speeds that motorcycles are capable of come with a higher risk of injury. When riding electric bikes, you do not need to wear a crash helmet (although wearing a helmet of some kind is strongly advised). You also don’t need to carry around cumbersome motorcycle outfits. Electric bikes give you the freedom to wear whatever you want, within reason.
That being said, wearing protective clothing is recommended, especially if you’re going to be taking your electric bike onto busy roads. Read more about the legality of electric bikes in our dedicated article here.
It should come as no surprise, but electric bikes cannot compete with motorcycles (electric or petrol) when it comes to speed. The primary factor is regulation that limits the speed at which electric bikes will provide the rider with assistance: electric bikes are required by law to stop providing power when the bike reaches a speed of 15.5mph (25kph).
Motorcycles, on the other hand, do not face such limitations and are legally allowed to reach much higher speeds. If you’re a speed demon, then a motorcycle, either electric or petrol, may be best for you. However, as you’ll see in the next section, being able to travel faster doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll reach your destination sooner.
Electric bikes make for a perfect commuter vehicle. They’re light, fast, reliable, and not subject to train delays!
In a city, the added speed capabilities of a motorcycle are irrelevant because of rush hour traffic and traffic lights. Electric bikes share the advantage that motorcycles have over cars in that they’re able to sidle down the side of traffic. However, electric bikes have the added benefit of being able to use them in cycle lanes and in certain parks around cities. You have more travel options with an electric bike. Motorcycles are restricted to roads. Therefore, in reality, the faster vehicle isn’t necessarily the fastest method of commuting.
Furthermore, electric bikes have a number of other practical advantages over motorcycles. For instance, there’s no need for a parking space, and many offices have space for bikes to be locked away safely. Also, some electric bikes, such as our very our Furo X and eTura, can be folded. Folding electric bikes are even more versatile since you can carry them onto trains and buses, and you can even take them into coffee shops or store them under your desk at work. Every base is covered!
Electric bikes come with far fewer maintenance needs than traditional motorcycles. There’s no oil or cooling system to take care of, and there are fewer parts overall, meaning there’s less to maintain. Additionally, running costs are minimal in comparison to petrol and electric motorcycles. You don’t need to buy any fuel, and you don’t need to charge the bike either. Electric bikes are ready to use at all times – there’s no preparation or forethought needed. When the mood takes you, you can hop on and be on your way!
By virtue of needing to pedal in order to move, electric bikes are far better from an exercise perspective. Of course, electric bikes offer a huge amount of assistance to the rider, which makes them so enjoyable and accessible, but there’s still an element of rider input beyond twisting a throttle. For people who find traditional cycling very taxing – especially in a city – electric bikes offer an accessible form of exercise that motorcycles simply can’t.
While we may be a little biased, in many cases, electric bikes are the more versatile form of transport. They can be used in more places and by more people than motorcycles, and that’s a huge plus in a world that’s constantly looking for new and improved modes of personal transport. If you’ve been thinking about investing in an electric bike, check out our eTura, the lightest folding electric bike you can buy, or our ever-popular Furo X, the electric bike that started it all.