It is well known that biking has many benefits, but what about with eBikes? And especially with the price tag how does it effect your wallet?
Western economics researcher and associate professor, Sharon Shewmake, has the answer. After using one our eBikes, she put in the research to decide if it made financial sense for her to buy her own.
Spoiler Alert: It did make sense, AND she bought one. I smell a trend…
“I’d been hesitant to purchase an electric bike. They are cost about $2-3,000, but you might be saving more by biking than you think. In addition to the financial savings, it’s hard to communicate just how much fun electric bikes are. They flatten the hills, and you feel like you are riding with a tailwind the entire time. But don’t trust me, go to Earl’s Bike Shop or Fairhaven Bike and test drive one. I had so much fun on my bike, and it was so much easier to run errands. There was one day when I had to take the bus home, I missed the Viking eBike loaner so much that I bought my own electric bike the next day!
The bike I bought was the Felt Verza-e 30 from Earl’s Bike Shop. The price including tax was just under $2,700. That wasn’t an easy number to justify, but I feel confident in my decision for a number of reasons:
- I know I will ride the bike because I have loved riding the Viking eBike.
- I’ve lost 5 lbs riding the eBike compared to when I was walking, biking and taking the bus without even trying to lose weight because I ride the bike so much more.
- It’s easy to attach a bike trailer to the eBike and take my kids around town. It actually takes about the same amount of time to get them into the trailer as it does to get them in and out of a car seat.
- My commute to my office is now faster than it was when I was driving and parking in the 12A lot.
- It will take me about 3 years to recoup my investment.* A parking permit at WWU costs $340/year. I live 2.5 miles from the closest parking spot to my office, I drive a relatively fuel efficient vehicle that gets 33 miles per gallon, if gas stays at $2.80 per gallon it costs me about $0.08 to drive one mile, however, the gas cost is an underestimate of the true cost of driving a car. The cost of driving a car includes maintenance, insurance, towing, accidents and depreciation. The IRS calculates the cost of driving a car at $0.535 per mile. If I use this number, I save $670 per year. (5 miles per day * $0.535 per mile * 5 days per week * 50 weeks per year). Of course there is maintenance for the eBike and electricity for the eBike. That means I save $670/year (for not driving) + $340/year (for not parking), or a whopping $1,010 per year. If you live farther away, you save more. If you run errands after work with your car that you could run with a bike (it’s easier to park a bike downtown, at Trader Joe’s, etc.) then you save more. The cost of charging my eBike is about $0.00079 per mile if I pay PSE’s $0.06/kWh rates. This means I spend about $0.99 per year on electricity. I’m not yet familiar with the maintenance costs of an eBike. I used to get a tune-up once or twice a year for about $50 for a normal bike, if you include some flat tires, it might be about $100 for a bad year but most years it was much less. As long as the maintenance are below $109.01 per year on average, three years of an electric bike will cost me $3,030 which is how much I save on driving my car. This means that after three years, my $2,700 eBike will be saving me almost $1,000 per year! Add to that having more fun, freeing up the car for my family to use, getting exercise and being able to park closer to my office, never looking for parking downtown, and it’s a great deal!
If you’d like to calculate how much an eBike will save you, I’ve created a spreadsheet that you can download and input your own information.
*This is a simple payback period calculation. As an economist I should use a discount rate, but the payback period is so short the difference is negligible. “