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Would you rather cycle with or without a motor?

Electric vehicles of all kinds are ever more popular – and that includes bikes. Of course, after a hard day at work it’s a lot more pleasant to tackle steep hills on your way home with the aid of a motor. And yet, conventional bikes offer some advantages that many people couldn’t do without.

2 april 2020, text: Mirjam Arnold, photo: Helvetia

A man stands on a mountain top, admiring the landscape. His bike is lying on the ground directly in front of the camera.
E-bikes are currently very popular, but conventional bikes offer advantages, too.

With or without a motor – which type of bike do you prefer? Our comparison will help you make up your mind – and reveal the key advantages and disadvantages of both types of bike:

  Conventional bike
E-bike
Ready, set, go! 
Except when it has a flat tyre, a conventional bike is essentially ready to go at any time.
Is the battery charged? You could of course head off with an empty battery, but the added weight of an e-bike means you’d have to pedal even harder. You might need a back-up battery on a long tour, but that also makes for additional weight.
Speed
If you’re an active cyclist, you will pedal hard and reach high speeds. You can work up a sweat relatively quickly with a conventional bike, so allow time for a shower afterwards if you’re cycling to work. 
An e-bike allows you to get faster from A to B with less physical exertion. It is definitely a good alternative to a car in city traffic. The relationship between the effort invested and return is just right because the pedal assistance takes care of the really tiring part of cycling. So, theoretically, you could arrive at work in the morning brimming with energy and still not need to shower and change.
Weight
A conventional bike weighs less than an e-bike. If you like cycling off-road, you’ll certainly be pleased not to have to lift that extra weight across large rocks.
The motor of an e-bike alone weighs around six kilograms, making it definitely heavier than a conventional bike. And you really start to feel the additional weight if the battery runs down.
Safety
Cyclists are subject to the usual road traffic rules. Take care when cycling and watch out for others road users.
E-bikes are of course subject to the same road traffic rules. E-bikers beware: underestimating the speed you are travelling at has often led to accidents and near-misses.
The exercise factor
Cycling is as excellent form of exercise. You’re out in the fresh air, your thigh muscles get a great workout and, if the weather’s good, you can get also grab some sunshine. A long ride on a conventional bike is a great full-body workout.
Riding an e-bike is also sport. If an e-bike is your alternative to taking public transport or going by car, you will definitely get more exercise than you would otherwise. What is more, many e-bikes allow you to regulate the pedal assistance and thus the exercise effect.
The cost factor
The range is extensive and prices depend on the equipment level and the extras you choose. On top of that are the costs for material, maintenance and repairs.
As a general rule, the costs of an e-bike are higher, though prices vary here, too.

Summary

Sporting aces and genuine fitness freaks will obviously stick with their conventional bikes – although professional cyclists also use e-bikes for their basic training. If you are rarely or hardly ever to be found on a bike, you’re more likely to be persuaded to take a trip on an e-bike. Those who have to avoid really strenuous physical activity can sill get some exercise into the their everyday routine with an e-bike. Whether your cycling involves a motor or not, exercise in the fresh air does everyone good.

Insurance check

Whether you prefer a conventional bicycle or an e-bike, you and your two-wheeler need proper insurance. 

Conventional bikes and e-bikes capable of travelling at up to 25 km/h

The value of these bikes is included in the sum insured of your household contents insurance. The corresponding policy covers the cost of damage due to fire or natural forces as well as theft occurring at home. You can take out «theft out-and-about» supplementary insurance to cover the theft of objects while off the premises. Supplementary «all risks» insurance would cover to cost of damage to objects as well. If you cause an accident on your conventional bike, personal injury and property damage to third parties are covered by your private liability insurance

E-bikes capable of travelling at up to 45 km/h

E-bikes with pedal assistance and capable of travelling at up to 45 km/h require supplementary insurance for motorcycles and e-bikes. In addition, the bike must have a yellow licence plate and be covered by compulsory third-party insurance. What is more, you need a corresponding driving licence for bikes of this kind and are required by law to wear a helmet when riding.

Assistance insurance for e-bikes of all kinds

Regardless of how much pedal assistance your e-bike offers, you can take out assistance insurance for electric motorbikes. Assistance insurance provides breakdown cover and covers the cost of towing, transport as well as the cost of renting a replacement bike.

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