Some cyclists show animosity towards e-bikes for the following reasons:
1. A crutch
One of bicycles’ unique qualities is that the rider is also the engine of the machine and the passenger. How fast you go depends on your physical abilities.
By introducing an electric motor, the rider can reach far greater speeds via external help. Some consider that help a form of cheating and a crutch because the extra power comes from the motor rather than the rider.
In practice, an e-bike would be a cheater only if it’s used to compete against non-motorized bicycles.
2. Extra Weight
Bicycles are associated with freedom that comes from two factors – simplicity and lightness. The heavier a bike is, the more user-unfriendly it becomes.
Regardless of how fancy and expensive an e-bike is, it will always be notably heavier than a standard unit. For example, a basic road bike is around 10kg/22lbs. An e-bike is 25kg/55lbs. The extra weight of e-bikes makes them a lot more difficult to carry around.
A quality e-bike can cost more than a second-hand car in good condition. The price of high-end models is even higher.
The extra cost reduces the freedom of the cyclist even more because locking the bike outside becomes a large financial risk.
The rider faces two options – 1) never lock the bike outside 2) carry multiple large locks.
In the first case, the rider’s freedom is greatly reduced because his possible destinations are limited. In the second, the weight increases even further and the journey becomes less comfortable. Thankfully, it’s easier to carry extra locks on an e-bike because the motor reduces the strain on the rider.
It’s also worth mentioning that the most expensive part of an e-bike is usually the battery. It is also a consumable since its capacity diminishes over time. Sooner or later, it will have to be replaced.
Normal bikes run on fat and carbs. This makes them self-reliant. As long as the rider is fed and in good condition, the bike can operate. E-bikes, however, are hungry for electricity. Sure, one can pedal an e-bike, but the process isn’t very pleasant due to the extra weight. An e-bike without a charge is nothing more than a needlessly heavy bike.
Ultimately, the dependence on electricity is a turnoff and another restriction that pushes purists away from e-bikes.
5. Too Fast and Too Slow
An e-bike is fast for a bicycle but much slower than an electric motorcycle. Thus, with an e-bike, one gets neither the freedom of a light bike nor the high speed of a motorized vehicle. Hence why some people prefer to buy a scooter or a motorcycle of some sort because those are much faster and potentially cheaper. They are also less likely to get stolen.
6. Reduced Exercise Effect
When you pedal a normal bike, the power always comes from you regardless of how fast you’re going. An e-bike can run on its own. Thus, the strain on the rider can be reduced to minimal levels. On one hand that’s a good thing because unfit people can ride the bike, on the other, people are more likely to rely on the motor and thus benefit less from the exercise effect of the machine.
Cyclists care about looks to a very high degree. Some cyclists consider both converted and dedicated e-bikes non-aesthetically pleasing and stay from those products due to their appearance.
Some cyclists aren’t exactly against the idea of a powered bike but would rather supplement their normal bike with an e-scooter, which is much more compact and does all the work for you, rather than purchase a dedicated e-bike.
9. Elitist Mindset
Some cyclists have a set-in-stone idea how bikes should be and how one should use them. If your bike, equipment, or riding style doesn’t fit in their picture, you are disqualified from their circle and considered an outsider or even an enemy.
In this case, the hate isn’t rational and powered by the technical characteristics of an e-bike.
10. Breaking The Laws
The hate could be motivated by the behavior of e-cyclists too. For example, some people ride e-bikes on trails designed only for normal bikes and damage the terrain. Also, some e-cyclists infiltrate events for pedal bikes and negatively affect the dynamics of the race.
11. Cycling is Segregated
The elitist mindset in the world of cycling has been causing segregation for a long time. Some groups of cyclists hate on others simply for being different. For example, if a group of road cyclists catches to a lonely mountain biker on the road they could make fun of him for being slow.
Of course, something similar might happen if a road cyclist finds himself on off-road terrain for whatever reason.
Cyclists play “mental” frame games all the time just like car owners do. For example, the owner of a fast and loud sports car will make sure that you hear his exhaust to exert dominance.
12. Change Is Hard
Once people get used to certain dynamics as a group, it’s difficult to introduce a new concept not necessarily because it’s bad in and of itself but because it’s different and requires adjustment.
As much as we like to brag about development, the truth is that it takes a lot of time for us to introduce a new concept in our lifestyle.
FAQ: I am an e-cyclist. People are calling me a cheater when they pass next to me. What can I do?
You can’t control other people. There isn’t much you can do to prevent that outcome. The best you can do is ignore the insult and keep riding, although this may be hard to do if someone catches you on a bad day.
However, if you want to feel less hated, you can join group e-bike rides where you will find other fans of the sport.
Also, think of the positive sides of e-biking. Those would be:
- Extra speed
- Longer distances
- Less fatigue
- An option to carry more luggage
- More friendly towards injured and unfit people
- Cargo models
There is a reason why chose to ride an e-bike. It’s probably more important to you than the arbitrary opinion of strangers who know nothing about your life.