Q: I am weighing up whether to invest in an electric bike to get out and about and get a bit fitter – I’d like to go out with my husband and son cycling, but they are much faster and fitter than me. Is an electric bike a cop-out – or should I just try to get better on my old non-electric bike in the shed?

Sara says: As I have yet to get an electric bike I have been consulting with friends who have taken the plunge and also checking out what’s on offer in shops in York. One friend immediately said it was a brilliant purchase, he now cycles two or three times as far as he used to cycle on his normal non-electric bike. On days when a longer trip is necessary or the wind is blowing he doesn’t hesitate to get on his bike. He is saving money on fuel, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and not getting caught up in traffic jams. iTravel York have some useful information about electric bikes and a leaflet you can download at www.itravelyork.info/cycling/electric-bikes

York Press: E-bikes can be funE-bikes can be fun (Image: supplied)

There are lots of different types of electric bikes and a wide range of prices. I would recommend buying from a bike shop so any technical problems are easy to sort out if you pop back to the shop. I would also recommend trying out a bike before you buy, this should be possible at a good bike shop. You want to be sure you are comfortable, that the bike is the right size and you feel stable. Electric bikes either have engines in the hub of a wheel or in the bottom bracket where the cranks and pedals are attached. Engines in the hub of a wheel are a bit lighter but may not be quite so easy to get used to. There are some amazing load carrying bikes with electric motors which could easily bring back a week’s shopping from the supermarket or carry small children.

Like electric cars, electric bikes have got much better over the last ten years or so. This is mainly due to improvements in battery technology. Range anxiety on an electric bike is probably a thing of the past now. For round town use and day trips you are very unlikely to run out of charge. The downside of electric bikes is that they are heavier than a normal bike, fairly expensive and may be attractive to thieves. The pluses are that you feel as if the wind is always behind you and perhaps you will be able to get rid of your car. I must admit I still do a double take when someone even older than me sails past me, sometimes on a hill. I then console myself when I realise that they are on an electric bike!

Before you finally decide on an electric bike do have a look at the old bike in the shed. It may be useful for some trips if the tyres have been pumped up and the chain oiled.

Happy cycling whatever you decide to do!

* Do you have a question about cycling? Email maxine.gordon@thepress.co.uk and we will pass your question on to Sara

About Sara

York Press: Sara RobinSara Robin

Sara has been riding her bike in York and further afield since 1980. She initially got into cycling in Australia and worked as a mechanic in two bike shops in Sydney. When she moved to York Sara was a founder member of York Cycleworks which was set up as a workers coop in 1980 and she worked there in many roles until 2002. She rides one of her bikes most days and would love to encourage more people of all ages to ride bikes for getting around, shopping, commuting and leisure.