There are many advantages to riding an electric bicycle. For example, it is much easier to propel an electric bike uphill because the motor helps you pedal. It is also more practical to ride an electric bike over long distances because you do not get as tired. This is to say nothing of the environmental benefits.
Many cities operate bike-sharing programs that give you the option to borrow a bicycle, electric or otherwise, as needed rather than buying one. Because purchasing an electric bike represents a significant investment, this can be a reasonable alternative for some people. Whether you should rely on bike-sharing or purchase an e-bicycle of your own depends on your situation.
Benefits of Bike-Sharing
Programs that allow you to borrow electric bikes for a short period when you have a need for them are very good for people who only ride once in a while. It is much more cost-efficient to borrow a bike occasionally than it would be to buy an electric bicycle that you only ride a few times per week or month.
If you are concerned about exposure to infectious disease from using public transportation, bike-sharing presents a reasonable alternative. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when commuters in New York City were concerned about riding buses or taking the subway, bike-sharing presented a socially distanced option. Commuters readily availed themselves of it.
As of now, bike-sharing programs are mostly public programs. However, there may be applicability for bike-sharing programs by private companies. For example, hotels could offer it as an amenity to their out-of-town guests to help them get around during their stay.
Benefits of Owning an Electric Bike
Bike-sharing may be fine if you only ride once in a while. However, if you intend to ride on a daily basis, or close to it, it is better to purchase your own bike. Purchasing an electric bike allows you to get exactly the kind you need. For example, you may require an electric beach cruiser fat tire, but this may not be available through bike-sharing. Bikes in these programs are usually uniform, so either they will all be fat tire beach cruisers or none of them will.
If you ride daily, it is much more cost-efficient to buy an electric bike than share one. The cost to use bike-sharing every day for a year may approach the actual purchase cost of an e-bike. You could pay that much every year if you continue to use bike-sharing, whereas if you purchase, you only have to pay it once.
When you own your own e-bike, you are in charge of maintenance so you can be confident that it is safe to ride. When you use bike-sharing, you do not know whether the bike has had proper maintenance or whether the battery is fully charged. Owning an e-bike is better for the environment in the long run because bike-sharing requires daily transportation of the bikes by trucks and vans whenever they need to be repaired or relocated.
For casual cyclists who only take the occasional ride, bike-sharing may make sense. However, if you are a dedicated daily rider, owning an e-bike offers greater benefits. If you are in the market for an electric bicycle, consider purchasing from an online dealer.