A guest blog from Raleigh Cycles:

Electric Bikes for Touring

Cycle touring can be a fantastic way to holiday and one of the most rewarding ways to explore a new location.  You’ll get the opportunity to stop and smell the roses, get back to nature and find your sense of adventure as you go.  However, regardless of whether you’re a seasoned cycling tourer or you’re just embarking on your first adventure you may find some of the less glamorous elements of cycle touring cross your mind from time to time!  Aching legs, sweaty clothes and big hills always play a part in longer touring routes and that’s where an electric bike might be just the helping hand you need.

How does an electric bike work?

Electric bikes have a motor, a battery and a control or display unit.  Though there are different types of electric bike, the most common in the UK due to regulations are pedal assist electric bikes. 

These bikes only add assistance from the motor as you pedal and have a removable battery which is charged using a mains plug socket. 

The bikes generally have a variety of assistance levels which you can choose between using the controls.  Sometimes additional details will be shown on a display screen on the handlebars such as speed, battery range, mileage etc.

Does that mean electric bikes are cheating?

No, absolutely not!  You may have heard this from time to time but you’ll usually find that these comments are made by people who have never tried an electric bike before or are avid riders who think they would be teased by their riding buddies.

In fact, recent research has shown that those riding an electric bike “experience physical exertion 95% of the time” so all in all it’s a great way to keep fit and healthy by removing the barriers to regular and long distance riding – perfect for cycle touring.

Electric bikes are also a great solution for: people who have been off their bike for a while and may lack a bit of confidence on longer rides; for those who live in particularly hilly areas; for people who are recovering from an injury or for those who simply want to ride as far as they possibly can exploring as they go.

How far can an electric bike go?

The distance that an electric bike can travel varies considerably depending on a number of factors. 

The most fundamental factors are the size of the battery and the assistance level selected however other factors such as terrain, incline, weather and the weight of the passenger and any luggage will also affect the range achievable. 

Some more sophisticated systems such as Bosch and Shimano Steps have improved efficiency and will travel considerably further than other systems.

Entry level electric bikes will generally achieve maximum distances of around 40-60 miles whereas more advanced electric bikes will achieve maximum distances of around 80 -100 miles, making these electric bikes the perfect solution for our Long Distance Cycle-touring Routes around the UK.

How long does it take to charge an electric bike battery?

Again, this is an area where it is difficult to provide a definitive answer because charge time varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.  As a general rule, 400wh batteries which are probably the most common size battery will take around 4 hours to charge with a standard size charger. However, travel chargers may charge more slowly.  More advanced systems such as the Bosch 400wh battery will charge to 50% capacity in only 1.5 hours.

The good news is that due to technological advancements over the last decade or so almost all electric bikes are now fitted with new Lithium-Ion batteries.  These batteries are far more efficient than older Lead Acid batteries, do not deteriorate as quickly and will not be degraded by running at lower power levels or only being charged to part-capacity.  So that means that even if you’ve only got an hour to charge your electric bike it isn’t a problem!

Which electric bikes are best for camping and caravanning holidays?

Finding the best electric bike for you depends what you’re looking for on your perfect holiday.  If you’re looking to save space because you’re travelling in a caravan or large car and don’t want a bike rack or want to store your bike inside your tent then you could try the Raleigh Stow-E-Way.  This bike folds to a small size (880mm x 800mm x 440mm), charges in only 3 hours and is perfect for day trips.

Alternatively if you’re looking to take on longer touring routes the Raleigh Motus and Captus ranges are ideal as they have a large battery range and feature high quality Bosch electric bike systems as well as front suspension to even out the lumps and bumps of more rural routes.  If that’s not quite right for you either then you can always try Raleigh’s bike finder quiz to find the best touring bike for you.

Plus Raleigh offers a discount for caravan and motorhome club members which can be redeemed online for 10% off bikes and a free helmet – a great way of saving a bit of money if you’re a regular tourer.

Where can I try an electric bike?

 If you want to try out an electric bike most electric bike stores will allow you to test ride one before making a purchase. That way, you can figure out whether or not it is suitable for your type of riding.  You can find a local Raleigh electric store by entering your postcode into Raleigh’s store locator.”

Electric Bikes for Touring – guest blog by Raleigh Cycles

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If you would like to learn more about electric bikes, there is an extremely good book available:

Electric Bicycles, by David Henshaw and Richard Peace’

Electric Bicycles, by David Henshaw & Richard Peace

Suggested routes for touring with an electric bike:

Scottish C2C guide book
The Scottish C2C
Bay Cycle Way 2017 edition
Bay Cycle Way
South Coast West Sustrans Cycle Map
South Coast West Sustrans Cycle Route
London to Brighton Sustrans Cycle Map
London to Brighton