Community E-Bikes: The Gateway to Riding Electric?

By Charlotte Murray

As much as some will try to deny it, electric bike sales are on the rise. It is projected that by 2030, an estimated 30 million bikes will be sold per year, with around half of those being electric bikes.

But for some, despite the clear benefits both personally and to the environment, there are barriers to purchasing such a bike. With the cost of living rising, investing in something which you’re not sure you will use or enjoy is a big risk. That’s where e-bike sharing comes in.

Bike sharing isn’t a new concept. It began in a simple form in Amsterdam in the 1960s. Through the decades, it has evolved with technology to an advanced and sophisticated system of accessible transport. They’re used both in docking and parking stations, or are dockless – these can be picked up and dropped off anywhere. They are also found in workplaces, railway stations, lockers and used between peers.

According to a 2021 report by CoMoUK, over half of bike share users said that a bike share was the motivation they needed to start cycling again. If that’s the case, an ebike share scheme is likely to be a strong contender for getting people out on an e-bike.

In the same report, CoMoUK shared that there’s a gradual increase in schemes offering e-bikes (21 locations according to the report at that time). These are now firmly established as a popular form of bike sharing.

E-bike sharing
Are e-bikes the future of urban transportation? © Profimedia

One such scheme is supported and run by the Sustainability & Energy Network in Staveley. The idea is to get more people onto a bike – to promote a more sustainable way of living. The ebike offers an easier way of making local trips, especially being in a hilly location.

With the initial and running costs of an e-bike being relatively high, this community eb-ike sharing scheme offers everything you need without the cost and the admin associated with having your own bike.

The ebikes are stored in a central location alongside a battery charger, helmets, locks and lights – all included in the cost of your hire. There are various subscription options too so users don’t have to make a long-term commitment like with an ebike purchase.

So, what are the investments you need to consider when buying an e-bike?


You will likely need e-bike specific tyres. Since ebikes often travel further and faster than a regular bike, they will need to be more durable.

Charging costs

During a time when energy costs aren’t cheap, this is certainly a consideration. The cost of this will depend on the battery and type of charger but Bosch batteries are claimed to use between 5p and 10p worth of electricity per charge.

Servicing and maintenance

Servicing should be carried out at least once a year if you’re hoping to maintain the bike in good condition, but should be more the more you’re riding it. Maintenance costs will also be slightly different to a regular bike as there are more parts which could wear out or be damaged. The non-electric parts are also subject to greater speeds, weight and force than non-electric bikes, so may require more frequent maintenance.

Safety equipment

A helmet, lights and a lock are necessities to an ebike if you want to ensure adequate protection. Helmets, while not illegal to ride without one, are relatively inexpensive for a potentially life-saving addition. Lights on the other hand are a legal requirement between sunset and sunrise, according to the UK’s Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations (RVLR). The lock required to protect an ebike may be similar to that of a motorbike, especially if you’ve invested a lot of money. These can therefore be more costly.


A decent ebike should expect to last around seven to ten years if well looked after. But with the rate of technological advancements in ebikes, it may be that a user upgrades sooner than that.


With such an expensive purchase, you’re likely to want to protect it. This may be a monthly cost which is in relation to the level of cover you want (theft, damage, personal liability etc.) and the cost of the bike, i.e. the more expensive the bike, the more expensive the insurance.

All of this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t purchase an e-bike. The opposite in fact. But like with many large purchases, it pays to do a bit of research. With e-bike sharing schemes popping up all over the world, it’s worth giving them a go. You’ll no doubt find the enjoyment of an e-bike well worth the investment.