I hate it when the first time I introduce someone to the concept of an electric bike they get upset and say it's cheating. I believe this to be a very narrow minded view of the issue, due in part because the opinion comes from someone who has never ridden an electric bike and/or has no personal experience with them. I'm sure not everyone agrees with me. But I'd like to share the unique perspective I've acquired working with people interested in and riding these bikes everyday. From discussing their needs and concerns I've come to see electric bikes as a healthy addition to any lifestyle, rather than a way of cheating.
Our electric bike shop specializes in electric bikes that are more of a hybrid between the rider and motor rather than moped style throttle bikes. These hybrid electric bikes work via two different methods which are based on the idea of an assistance and not a take over. These systems encourage the rider to pedal and put in about 50% the effort. They are not designed to zip around willy-nilly with no effort like a moped or scooter.
Because these pedelec electric bikes merely augment the rider's natural ability they are not cheating. What an electric bike of this type does allow is a rider to go on longer bike rides they would normally be wary of and ride more often without worrying about fatigue or over exertion. It is true that you get a lower intensity of exercise from an electric bike but it is this low level exercise over a longer period of time which can actually stimulate the metabolism and lead to healthier, happier, more energized riders.
In our article on the health benefits of an electric bike we go over some of the many ways in which an electric bike actually helps the average person stay in shape better than an electric bike and how people are more likely to ride every day when riding an electric bike. Take electric bicycle commuting for example:
If you're lucky enough to have a shower and changing room at the office then you should be very thankful, and maybe think about sneaking in bike commuters from other buildings to help out the cause. The rest of us have to show up ready to work, and that means clean (not stinky). With an electric bike you can commute one way with a full assistance and arrive dry, then after work turn the assistance to low and pedal off to home for a bit of exercise. The average person has such a busy schedule that fitting in a bike ride after work can be tough, so why not base it around commuting with an electric bike? This is a great way to increase your energy daily and get in shape.
Bicycle commuting is just one example of how an electric bike can actually benefit you rather than cheating you. In fact, for almost every example of how an electric bike supposedly detracts from the joy of biking you can respond with a better reason why it adds to your enjoyment. Electric bikes aren't cheating, they let you have more fun and encourage you to ride farther and more often. It's no wonder anyone who rides one gets hooked.