Electric bikes have proven to be a fun and efficient way of getting around town. Various e-bike brands will tout all sorts of benefits, but a lot of them claim that you can hit multiple birds with one e-bike riding stone, such as improved health, reduced emissions, and significant cost savings. All these will inevitably vary depending on the specific lifestyle you lead, so it goes without saying that concrete benefits to e-bike riding are a case-to-case-basis.
Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see just how much money one can save by simply switching over to an electric bicycle. A good example of this was highlighted by a very interesting story over at Cleantechnica about a person who clocked in close to 12,000 miles on an e-bike, and documented quite a lot about the experience. In Cleantechnica’s story, Bryn Grunwald, an associate at Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado, has been riding her Juiced CrossCurrent electric bike since 2018. Since then, she and her partner have clocked in mileage in excess of 11,500 miles.
Bryn talks about the money she spent on the upkeep, repair, and maintenance of her electric bicycle, and shared to Cleantechnica just how much money she was able to save from riding her bike instead of driving her car. In the article, she stated, “My bike has a battery capacity of 624 Watt-hours and I assumed an average range of 35 miles, giving me roughly 0.0178 kilowatt-hours per mile.” Assuming an average electricity cost of 15 cents per kilowatt-hour, Bryn calculated that she’d have spent about $30.71 USD charging her bike for the past 11,500 miles (quick math – 11,500 miles multiplied by 0.0178 kilowatt-hours multiplied by 15 cents).
Bryn also highlights a few maintenance items she spent over the course of her five-year ownership of the bike. These include a new battery for $600 USD, as well as a myriad of usual maintenance items such as tires, a new mirror, a new rack, lock, and brake pads amounting to a total of $500 USD. This brings the grand total on maintenance, repair, and charging of the e-bike to $1,130 over the course of five years, or a meager $226 USD per year. It’s important to note that the price of the e-bike wasn’t factored into the calculations.
In comparison to a car, well, as it would turn out, Bryn is also a car owner, and drives a 2010 Toyota Camry. Assuming an average mileage of 26 miles per gallon, Bryn estimates that she would have needed to spend a whopping $1,751 USD (assuming an average price of $3.96 per gallon) on gasoline alone to cover the same 11,500-mile distance she covered on her bike. On top of that, she estimates $1,161.50 for the car’s total maintenance costs over the five year period. This isn’t even considering the registration, insurance, and other costs relating to the Camry.
In total, Bryn tells Cleantechnica that she theoretically saved $1,782 USD from riding her e-bike rather than driving her car over the course of 11,500 miles. The difference is made even bigger when you factor in the insurance, registration, and actual cost of the car. For reference, the cheapest brand new car you can buy in the US is the Nissan Versa, priced at $16,755 USD, according to a January 2023 report by Motor1. Meanwhile, the cheapest decent-looking Toyota Camry I could find similar to that of Bryn’s is listed at $7,488 USD, and is based in Texas.
Meanwhile, a brand new Juiced Bikes CrossCurrent S2 retails for just $1,599 USD, with no registration needed. For those on even tighter budgets, we’ve talked about electric bicycles that retail for less than $1,000 USD – plus, there’s always the used market for those looking to get the best deals. With all that on the table, it’s always been a no-brainer that riding a bike – be it electric or otherwise – will return massive savings when compared to driving a car. The benefits are made so much more apparent when detailed accounting of expenses is done, just like what Bryn did with her 11,500-mile e-bike journey.