Your Money: No uphill struggle with e-bikes

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Your Money: No uphill struggle with e-bikes

Getting help in saddle makes commuting easier, cuts costs and is tax-efficient


Pros and cons: Electric bikes are pricey, but they do qualify for the Cycle to Work scheme. Stock image
Pros and cons: Electric bikes are pricey, but they do qualify for the Cycle to Work scheme. Stock image

As the economy continues to improve, one of the drawbacks has been the rise in commuting times mainly in cities.

A survey by CarsIreland.ie found 44pc of workers have seen an increase, although it also found that 70pc have less than 45 minutes to travel.

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It’s no coincidence that there’s been an uptake in using public transport and a revival of the humble bicycle, and the various city bike schemes are phenomenally successful.

Dublin Bikes boasts 67,077 long-term subscribers over 616,000 journeys this year to date. Given the average journey time is just 14 minutes and is free of charge, it’s a no-brainer around town. The other bike schemes in Cork, Limerick and Galway report similar success. Cycle pathways are improving, as are the leisure opportunities, such as the Greenway.

If you’re buying your own bike, it’s easy to get on the road for a couple of hundred euro, especially if you buy second-hand.

Buying new, the Government’s Cycle to Work scheme means any expenditure on bike or equipment up to €1,000 qualifies for tax relief. This is given at the marginal rate, so is even better value for higher earners.

Commuters can apply for this every five years, and qualifying employers pay the bill and deduct it from salary on a monthly basis. It has proven immensely popular.

When it comes to leisure bikes, the sky’s the limit – some triathlon racing bikes can cost as much as a car.

For most people however, what puts them off the bike is the sheer effort involved. The thought of arriving to work hot and sweaty, or tackling slopes and hills, especially if you haven’t been in the saddle since you were a child, can be daunting.

So, perhaps the electric bike ticks those boxes. That’s what I’m looking at this week.

E-bikes are certainly expensive, and you do get exercise, but it’s assisted, removing resistance, and smoothing out the hills, making commuting easier to tackle but remaining a proper mode of transport.

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Electric bikes generally cost more than p;ush bikes. While you can buy an e-bike for under €1,000 you really need to spend double or treble this for a good model (see panel).

The good news is that the battery will last three-to-five years (a replacement costs €400-€500), and they qualify under the Cycle to Work scheme, so there are savings.

You’ll save on public transport (around €80 a month for most commuters); an e-bike costs around 20c per charge, which is needed three times a week for regular commuters.

The legals

Pedal-assisted bikes with a motor up to 250W do not require a licence or insurance to use on the road. The assisted speed is normally capped at 25kmh for this reason (although the bicycle itself is not restricted to this speed, and can be pedalled faster).

Try before you buy

Shane’s Howth Adventures offers panoramic e-bike tours of the Howth Peninsula with Ebikesireland.com.

Owner Shane O’Doherty says at least as many Irish people book as tourists. “Electric bikes work so well especially with people who would normally be put off cycling as they can cycle up hills with ease.

“Howth has a lot of climbs and the e-bikes allow you enjoy all the views and sea air without having to exhaust yourself. The bikes can easily be used wearing regular clothes for travelling to work or social events so no lycra. Our e-bikes have fat tyres, adding comfort and safety on more rugged surfaces and are very easy to maintain.”

Ebikesireland.com will refund the cost of the Panoramic Howth e-Bike Tour to everyone who goes on to buy an e-bike from them. See shaneshowthadventures.com

Irish Independent

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