It is considered normal for most people; when travelling to and from work, to simply hop in their car, and drive. For many it is considered the most efficient method of getting from point A, to point B. I would like to challenge that notion, and probably not in the normal way. I am not going to preach the gospel of public transport, though it does make sense in many cases.

bike-1I am talking about the costs and benefits of an electric assist bicycle, versus a car. The bike I have was the cheapest mountain bike I could find new, that had cable disc brakes. That is, in my opinion, a sensible starting point. Disc brakes give much better stopping power for the higher average speeds that the electrification gives than the standard vee brakes, of old. And cables are much simpler than hydraulics. From there I added a permanent magnet motor, with regenerative braking (reduces the effort required from the brakes), a controller, and a LiFePO4 (Lithium) battery. In addition, I also added a rear vision mirror to the side of my handle bar, and very powerfull led riding lights, front and rear. Cost wise, it is about the same as a very small motor scooter, new.

The difference though, is in running costs, and health benefits. Starting with the running costs, what would cost around $20 in real costs for running my car, costs around 15 cents on the bike. To put that in context, the fuel cost in the car would be around $10, but then there are other on road costs associated, including registration and insurance, and of course regular maintenance. With the bike, the on road costs are maintenance only, and since it is a much smaller vehicle; parts are much less, and I do the work myself. By my estimate, even if I only use the bike to commute to work 50% of the time, the bike will pay for itself after about 18 months, in savings. Also, I won't need to replace the car with a new one as often, because it is doing much lower mileage now.

Then there is the health benefit. Though it only takes very light pedal power to run, that continuous light pedaling contributes to daily aerobic exersize, which with time tends to become more physical as you become fitter, without the effort required from more traditional exersize forms. This in turn leads to better sleep at night and being more alert on arrival to work, due to more exersize, which you don't have to dedicate more time to, since it is occuring during your daily commute.

My daily commute is a little over 30 kilometers, with around a third of that climbing hills. My electric assist bicycle has exceeded my expectations.