How light are electric bikes? E-bike weight explainedSeptember 4th 2020
It’s a classic sight in any bike shop around the world: the image of interested bike buyers lifting up a potential purchase as they work out how heavy it really is. It’s an understandable concern – after all, no-one wants to ride a bike that takes loads of effort just to get moving!
When it comes to e-bikes, that question remains – alongside the usual bike components, there’s also a battery and motor system to take into account too. So, just how heavy (or light!) are e-bikes, and what are the implications? Let us explain.
How does a new e-bike’s weight compare to a normal bike?
When compared to an ordinary pedal bike of similar value, an e-bike weighs more. Although that statement is fairly obvious, what’s less obvious is where that weight comes from.
When brands design the latest e-bikes, their engineers need to integrate the chosen motor system. For an electric road bike this may carry a weight penalty of only a few kilograms. For a mountain or urban e-bike, it may be larger.
This means that, in addition to the weight of the electronic system, the frame needs to be built to firstly accommodate the physical motor and battery unit(s), and secondly to withstand the additional forces that come with motor assistance. This means that stronger, often heavier, materials are used in a frame.
The components also need to withstand such forces too. Bike components (for example, the fork, chain, gearing system and wheels) make up the vast majority of the total weight of a bike, and once again added strength normally results in additional bulk.
A suspension fork approved for e-bike use might have greater air pressure or coil strength than a normal pedal bike equivalent, a wheelset may be built sturdier, while a chain may be heavier and stronger to deal with the additional power that the motor system sends through it without wearing too quickly.
What does this mean in actual weight?
As an example, a top-spec 2020 Orbea Gain electric road bike can weigh in at a headline-grabbing 11.3kg, while the equivalently-equipped pedal road bike from the same brand might weigh around 7kg. When it comes to electric mountain bikes, a Scott eRide Genius e-bike weighs around 23kg – its counterparts from the pedal Genius range are 10kg less.
Urban and hybrid e-bike weights can vary significantly depending on the type of frame you prefer. A chunkier Scott Sub Sport eRide 20 (with hub-style motor, suspension fork and panniers) comes in at around 25.5kg, with the pedal equivalent 16.9kg.
An Orbea Gain flat bar e-bike (with smaller internal battery and hub motor) might tip the scales at around 14.5kg, with a pedal bike equivalent weighing up to 3kg less. For context, that’s the equivalent of a large bag of pasta – so not that much to lug around!
What about an old bike?
An older bike that you already own – perhaps something that’s been left in the garden shed for a number of years – probably weighs at least a little more than today’s equivalent new bike thanks to the evolution of bike design and material development. So, if you’re thinking of getting back to cycling using an e-bike, you could find that the weight difference is minimal, perhaps even in favour of an e-bike.
For example, an urban pedal bike sitting in your garden shed or garage, bought a decade ago, might have weighed around 15kg, with the aforementioned Orbea Gain flat bar e-bike weighing almost the same or slightly less!
Does the weight make an e-bike hard to ride?
In short, no. Although a new e-bike can be heavier than an equivalent normal pedal bike, the motor system is designed to overcome this even in its lowest power mode, and far more besides.
As long as you have the motor system switched on, an e-bike takes much less effort to accelerate and maintain at speed (up to 25km/h). With it switched off or out of power, the major motor system manufacturers, like Bosch, Shimano and Mahle Ebikemotion, have all focused on developing a natural pedalling motion – so in the vast majority of cases you won’t feel resistance from the out-of-action motor at all.
When it comes to handling, e-bikes and pedal bikes behave in a very similar manner – in many cases, you’d never notice the additional weight of an e-bike at all. In fact, if you compare a pedal bike from a decade ago to now, it’s definitely possible that you’ll feel an improvement.
With e-bike frame design and integration now developing at a pace, and motors and batteries getting steadily lighter, design engineers are also now better able to mitigate the traditional downsides of a heavier bike. This means that, if there is a weight penalty, it’s unlikely to adversely affect how your e-bike feels when you ride it.
How easy is an e-bike to carry?
With many people wanting to carry their e-bikes for short distances – perhaps over a threshold to a secure storage area or even into an upstairs flat – the additional weight can be a worry.
This means that more integrated designs – for example, Orbea’s Gain range – can be a perfect fit, with minimal weight gain versus a normal bike.
At the same time, should a heavier e-bike be more up your street for its practicality, you can remove the battery, which will shave a few kilograms from the load in one go.
What about transporting on a car rack?
Many riders want to take their e-bikes with them on holiday, either domestically or abroad. This can mean loading their bike on a tailgate or roof rack.
Firstly, you must check with your rack provider if it is capable of supporting the total weight of your e-bike(s). If not, do not attempt to transport your e-bike using that model of rack.
Naturally, the extra weight can make raising it onto a roof or tailgate rack – or even into a boot of a car or into a motorhome – a real challenge. Here, you can remove items like batteries to make the job a little easier, but it remains an able-bodied, two-person job for most people to lift overhead. Note: always refit the battery for travel – this helps to ensure that the battery contact points are sealed against bad weather.
What about travelling abroad?
If you’re driving your e-bike to your destination in Europe, then this is fine, subject to the usual dimension restrictions that you might find on your ferry or shuttle service provider. We recommend consulting your service provider for more details on specific restrictions.
If you’re flying, airport baggage restrictions currently largely limit the ability to transport an e-bike, thanks primarily to tight restrictions on battery transport in hand luggage or as part of special luggage in the hold. In this instance, for practicality, we recommend hiring an e-bike with a local, reputable provider at your destination.