With good weather just around the corner and pandemic restrictions slowly lifting there’s never been a better time to get back on the road. And if you’re looking to get the most out of your motorhome in 2021 then have you thought about adding a further two-wheels to the four you already have? Indeed, many outdoor enthusiasts are now looking to take along one of the latest electric bikes on their 2021 motorhome adventure.
Whether you’re returning to cycling after a break or just need to add an extra bit of oomph to your riding experience, read our guide to the best electric bikes to buy in 2021.
Don’t forget, while motorhome insurance does a great job of protecting your home on wheels, it can also cover contents and expensive equipment like electric bikes, too. Give the team at Motorhome Protect a call today and check your latest purchase is covered by your policy.
Electric bikes – rules and regulations
Electric bikes, often known as e-bikes, are pretty much a regular bike with an added rechargeable battery and an electric motor to help power you along. This additional oomph takes some of the pain out of hills and can make long rides a bit more manageable. It’s easy to see why so many motorhome owners have added them to their to-buy list – they really are a great way to explore those narrow rural roads and other places where motorhomes just can’t go!
But while that’s a simple explanation, there are some rules and regulations you’ll need to know before you climb into the saddle. After all, while there are lots of reasons why you should buy an electric bike it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into.
To be defined as an electric bike under UK laws the electric motor can’t exceed 250 watts and can’t assist you when travelling more than 15.5mph (25km/h). You’re not limited to that speed; rather the motor can’t help you exceed it. You can still go faster by pedal-power or going downhill. You can ride these bikes on roads, cycle paths and anywhere else regular non-electric bikes are allowed.
While you must be over 14 to ride an electric bike, you won’t need a driving licence and you won’t need to register it with the DVLA or pay vehicle tax.
If your electric bike is more powerful than this then you’ll need a driving licence and motorcycle helmet to ride it. It will also need to be registered, insured and taxed as a motor vehicle. You’ll also not be able to ride it on cycle paths. Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?
Remember, there are also laws and road regulations on attaching any bike to your motorhome. Read our top tips for carrying bikes on your motorhome safely to find out more.
What to look for in an electric bike
Just a cursory glance at the pages of any cycling magazine will show you the sheer variety of electric bikes to choose from. While this is great news for enthusiasts it can make the process of looking for a new model somewhat bewildering. To avoid being bamboozled here are some key things to look out for when making a purchase.
- Electric bike style – From road bikes and mountain bikes to folding bikes and large cargo bikes, there’s sure to be a model suited to you and your motorhome tour plans. Really consider what you’ll be using the electric bike for. Will it be for relaxed cruises down to the local beach and cafes? Or is your heart set on some hard-core mountain biking? After all, if you’re wanting to chase that adrenaline rush in the Brecon Beacons then a cute and lightweight folding bike might not be the best fit!
- Crank or hub driven motor? – There are two main drive systems that you’ll have to choose from. Motors mounted on the crank are considered highly efficient and can take on even the steepest hill climbs. Meanwhile hub-driven electric bikes have the motor located on the wheel hub – either the front or the rear wheel. They tend to be quieter and sleeker but lack the high performance. They also tend to be cheaper.
- Battery performance – Often the more expensive the electric bike, the better the battery. Manufacturers have put a lot of work into differentiating themselves from competitors by including batteries that are lightweight, long-lasting and quick to charge.
- Range – A big consideration is how much you’re going to be using your electric bike. How far do you think you’ll need to ride before you can charge it again? If you like the thought of wild camping and exploring far from civilization then you might need an electric bike with a longer range.
- Cost – The best electric bikes can cost some serious money. You’ll need to think long and hard about such an investment. If you do decide to take the plunge then call your motorhome insurance provider to make sure it’s covered by your policy.
Best electric bikes to buy in 2021
Electric bikes are made for many different uses. So it’s impossible to say there’s any one best model suited for everyone. Here’s a selection to get you started.
Best for bargain hunters - Gtech eBike Sports or City
Electric bikes are far from cheap but if you’re looking for a great bike at a great price then you’ll need to consider either the eBike City or eBike Sports from Gtech. They really do manage to pack an awful lot in for its £995 price tag.
While they might be missing some of the fancier specs of more high-priced electric bikes they haven’t compromised when it comes to build quality or overall performance. With a high torque motor in the rear wheel and a 200-watt battery (cleverly designed to look like a water bottle), they have a range of just over 30 miles. Riders can choose between two speed modes that will let you either maximise range or minimise effort.
The bike is super low-maintenance so you shouldn’t have to worry about finding a bike shop when you’re out on your adventures. And when it comes to lifting the bike onto your motorhome it’s 16.2kg lightweight aluminium frame makes it easy to lift. An additional benefit is that even if it runs out of power it’s still easily rideable without assistance. It has a charging time of three hours.
Best for trend setters - VanMoof S3
For those who see themselves as glampers rather than campers, the Dutch specialist cycle manufacturer VanMoof has produced an electric bike that’s sure to turn heads. Its sleek, minimalist lines really are stunning and would look great on anyone’s Insta-feed.
But not only does the S3 look like something from the world of high fashion, it’s also crammed full with power, advanced security features and all manner of cool tech tweaks.
Once you’ve paired your bike to your phone using the VanMoof app, you’ll be able to make lots of fun adaptations including when gear changes happen and the digital bell sound.
At around £1,800 you’ll also want to keep it safe. In that respect, VanMoof has pretty much thought of everything. The bike senses when you’ve walked away from it and automatically immobilises the back wheel. When locked it also has a motion detector to trigger an integral alarm if jostled, an alert to tell you if someone is trying to steal it and a GPS location tracker hidden inside so you’ll know where it is at all times. Everything is specially designed to create nightmares for bike thieves!
This well-made bike offers a smooth, natural ride-feel, four automatic gears and a recharge time of four hours. In terms of range, it will travel 37 miles on full power or 93 miles on economy mode. Whether a long leisurely ride or a short, high-powered climb it’ll manage it. There’s also an eye-catching boost button on the right handlebar that you’ll need to try out. It’s the easiest way to launch from a standing start or find that extra bit of speed when you need it – very cool.
Best for space savers - Brompton E-Bike M6L
Space is often at a premium when it comes to touring, and not everyone wants to have a bike rack attached to the back of their precious motorhome. So, that’s where folding bikes come in so handy – they’re so easy to fold down and store safely inside.
And with a number of manufacturers now combining the practicality of a fold-up with the added power of a battery, there’s an ever-growing range to choose from. Perhaps the number one manufacturer to look at is British pioneer brand Brompton. The folding-bike specialist has managed to electrify a number of its most popular models including the M6L, the H6L and the M2L.
All these models see the bike’s motor located in the hub of the front wheel, while the battery is stored in a bag above the wheel. The M2L has 2 gears while the M6L and H6L have a full range of six gears. They can be used in four different assistance modes, offer a decent range of between 20 and 45 miles, and can be folded up just as quickly as non-powered versions. A full charge takes around four hours to complete. But you can shell out for a fast-charging system that will deliver an 80% change in just 90 minutes if you’re keen to get going!
However, at over £3,000 these design classics are quite pricey and their portability makes them attractive to thieves.
If you’re in the market for a folding bike then we must also mention the Gocycle GX. Designed by a former McLaren engineer, this electric bike has a highly distinctive style and is well regarded among those in the know. A worthy challenger for the Brompton’s spot on this list.
Best for speed freaks and adrenaline junkies - Specialized Turbo Creo SL Expert
The American brand Specialized is producing some phenomenal bikes for the electric market, and the Turbo Creo SL Expert is arguably the pick of the litter. It’s got a whopping range of 80 miles (or 120 miles if you’re using the battery extender) and its super-light carbon fibre frame weighs just 13.7kg. With a range of top-quality components included as standard, this is undoubtedly one of the fastest bikes on the road.
If you’re looking to go off-road and leave your mountain biking friends green with envy, the Specialized Turbo Levo SL is also worth a look, if you’ve got deep pockets. Priced at over £12,000 this is not a bike for the faint-hearted but if you’re looking for the equivalent of a mountain biking supercar, then this is it. Say goodbye to having to push your bike back up to the start of downhill trails. The electric motor removes all that effort, giving you even more time to ride the trails. No, it isn’t cheating, it’s bliss!
Remember, whichever electric bike you choose you need to first take it out for a test ride. Not only is this helpful but it’s also a lot of fun. Ask yourself the following fundamental questions:
- Does it work the way I need it to?
- Does it fit me in the way I would like it to?
- Does it have the build quality and functions that I need?
Just like with finding the right motorhome insurance, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer!
Protecting your new electric bike and your trusty motorhome
Even the cheapest electric bikes can be a substantial financial investment, but one that’ll be sure to add to the pleasure of your next trip. However, you need to have the right motorhome insurance in place to cover such expensive items.
Motorhome Protect’s panel of leading insurers offers cover with a range of benefits including:
- Unlimited cover across all the countries that are part of the European Union
- Discounts if you’re a member of a motorhome club
- Up to £3,000 of cover for camping personal effects
Get a quick quote for motorhome insurance today.
Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.