E-bike FAQ

How much are e-bikes?

Good entry level e-bikes start at about $1000. There are lots of models in the $2,000-$4,000 range. Cargo bikes are $3,000-$5,000

Are there any rebates?

Some. Low income residents of some Bay area zip codes can turn in an old polluting car for a voucher for e-bikes from the Air District.

Some cities, counties & utilities offer rebates. Learn more at E-bike Incentive Programs 

Learn how you can help pass legislation for more incentives in more places at E-bike Legislation  

Are e-bikes really that great for the environment?

YES! E-bikes are super efficient

  • 1000-4000 MPGe

  • 20 times more efficient than an electric car

  • 70 times farther than a gas car per pound of climate emissions

  • 30 times farther than an electric car per pound of battery

Read about the studies at E-bike Studies

How does an e-bike work?

Simple. A Class 1 e-bike has a sensor to detect when you press the pedal and instantly start the motor to assist. You select the level of help you desire with a button on your handlebar. You can also pedal without the motor.

A Class 2 bike also has a throttle like a motor scooter that can turn on the motor independent of the pedals.

See E-bike 101 for more on how e-bikes work

Can I pedal an e-bike without the motor (or when it runs out of battery power)?

Yes, All e-bikes can be pedaled without the motor. 


How fast do e-bikes go?

20 MPH. Class-1 & 2 e-bikes cut off the electric motor assistance at 20 MPH. Class 3 can go up to 28 MPH, require a helmet, and are not allowed on many bike paths. There is no limiter restraining how fast you can pedal without motor assistance. As with any pedal bike, on a downhill and/or with a strong tailwind you may be able to pedal faster than 20 mph.    


How far do e-bikes go?

20 to 80 miles on a charge. The distance you get will depend upon the size of your battery, how much assistance you use, and the terrain. Plugs into any regular home outlet. No special circuits needed.

To make your battery (and your e-bike) last longer, see How to ride & take care of your e-bike

Can I power my e-bike with solar power? 

Yes. At least on sunny days! A number of do-it-yourselfers and custom bike shops have added solar electric panels to e-bikes to add 20-40 miles power day to their range when the sun shines.

Sol Mobil: custom e-bike company that makes solar e-bike charging systems.

Sun Pedal Ride: Two e-bikers cycling across the country with a sun powered bike 


Is riding an e-bike cheating? Will I get exercise? 

E-bikes provide a wonderful conundrum. On the one hand, they provide a way for you to ride a bike with less effort and no sweat for substantial distances and steep hills. Yet, riding an e-bike can actually provide a pretty good workout. How can that be? 

In several studies, researchers have found - as you would expect - that study volunteers who rode standard bicycles had a higher heart rate and felt higher exertion than e-bike riders when they rode. But e-bike riders ride their bikes more frequently and go farther.   As a result, the e-bike riders actually expended more energy expenditure overall than the standard bike riders and are more likely to ride enough to meet recommended guidelines for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise. So e-bikes provide an easier way to get the exercise that is so good for you. And with your choice of levels of motor support, you can always choose how intense of a workout you want.