Can electric bicycles be the new choice for Bangladeshi commuters?
With the recent fuel price hike in Bangladesh setting the prices of fuels at an all-time high, alternative means of transportation need to be considered for people who are suffering from the sudden increase in their transportation costs. Today, we look into electric bicycles and how they can be considered to be an alternative mode of transport for people who are looking to minimise their expenses.
What are electric bicycles?
An electric bicycle is a regular bicycle with an electric motor that assists riders when they pedal on the streets. The electric motor essentially provides a boost through a pedal assist which propels riders forward without much physical effort. The motor gets its power from a rechargeable battery that is mounted on the bike.
What are the advantages of riding an electric bicycle?
Electric bicycles offer faster riding due to the boost from the electric motor which is integrated into the cycle. Generally, electric bicycles can move at speeds up to 25km/hour to 35 km/hour.
The electric bicycles also allow the movement of heavy goods as they usually have capacities beyond 100 kilograms. Electric bicycles also enable taking longer trips when compared to traditional bicycle as it moves faster and increases the overall range of the trip. Riders can also use electric bicycles as a way of maintaining their physical well-being as they get some exercise out of riding the bike, even in an assisted mode.
The most useful advantage of using an electric bicycle would be the reduction in transportation expenses as the recent price hike has impacted the transportation budget of many people in the country. If people use electronic bicycles instead of motor vehicles, then they can save money in the long run. Overall, electronic bicycles are convenient as they reduce the physical effort of the rider while also allowing them to travel faster to reach their destinations.
How are bicycles performing globally?
Electronic bicycles have been around for a long time, with a strong presence in European countries and in China. Other countries are also adapting to the electric version of the two-wheeler as the popularity of the electric bicycles are increasing. According to a study conducted by leading audit firm Deloitte recently, electric bicycles are leading the way in terms of EV adoption in Germany. Deloitte also predicted that between 130 million units of electric bicycles would be sold worldwide between 2020 and 2023, suggesting that electric bicycles are becoming more popular than ever before.
In Bangladesh, electric bicycles are getting increasingly popular in the urban areas of the country and proper penetration in the rural areas can increase the demand for the electric two-wheelers in the country.
Where to buy? What is the pricing?
There are many stores that have authorised dealer points where electric two-wheelers are available across the country. Some of the notable shops including Green Tiger, E-Supply Mart, Advanced Dynamics have a vast range of electric bicycles which can be purchased through their websites and showrooms. The Daily Star spoke to multiple dealers and most of them mentioned that the demand for the electric bicycles have been increasing recently.
Most of the electric bicycles are sourced from China. Prices of electric cycles range from Tk. 35,000 up to as high as Tk. 300,000. Please note that price and availability of different electric bikes may vary across different stores.
How do you charge?
Charging an electric bike is a relatively simple process, though it can seem a bit confusing at first.. First, make sure the battery is turned off. Then, release the battery lock to open the battery hatch from your bike. Usually, the battery is easily detachable. Connect the charging adapter and insert the power cord into the adapter slot.
The charging port, usually found on the upper side of the battery, needs to be connected with the charger as well. You can then plug the power cord to any outlet with electricity. Look out for a visible signal, usually a green light, to ensure the charging has begun. The battery usually needs 3 to 6 hours of charging, depending on the power capacity.
Difference between electric bicycles and regular cycles
There isn't much of a difference between riding a regular bicycle and an electric bicycle. Functionally, they are driven the same way. With an electric bicycle, however, you need to start by switching the main motor and choosing an assistance level for the controller and pedal. These features make the initial acceleration easier to control, ensuring you are at a safe speed. Keep in mind that because of the added weight from the motor and battery, riding an electric bicycle may seem a bit slower than regular bicycles. Some electric bicycles also have wide tyres that further add weight, but in turn, provide better grip when turning and accelerating. They also have disc brakes to help decelerate or stop, but these too can add more weight to the bicycle.
Is it legal though?
According to Section 2.1 of the Electric Motor Vehicle Registration and Traffic Regulations 2021 draft proposal, there is no need to avail any licence to ride an electric bicycle in Bangladesh. This means that users can ride an electric bicycle on the streets without any formal issues.
Is it risky? Helmet and safety gears
Riding electric bicycles can prove to be much safer than regular bicycles because of the added protection and drive assistance. Because of the added weight, even during high accelerations, electric bicycles are easier to control and navigate around. The speed is also enough to keep up with cars during typical traffic hours.
However, it must be stated that first-time riders or those lacking experience riding traditional bicycles on city streets should spend time adjusting to two wheels before attempting daily usage on the roads. Keep yourself updated on riding regulations, and always wear a helmet and sufficient gear to stay protected.
What other alternatives?
Regular bicycles, electric scooters, segways, and mopeds are some other alternatives to consider if you feel an electric bicycle isn't the right fit for you. Regular bicycles may not come with the added features, but they are still a much-beloved transportation method for busy non-motorised two-wheel owners. Electric scooters and mopeds are always an option if you want to opt for other electric vehicle alternatives.