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During the last few years I moved farther and farther away from work. I used to commute by bike a lot when I lived nearer to my workplace, but now it would by about 40km one way.

I am thinking about getting a pedelec for the commute, which would allow me to cycle to work at least sometimes, reducing the time to manageable levels, and maybe leting me arrive fresh(er) for work.

However, I'm afraid that getting used to an electric bike will take the fun out of riding my regular bike, and make it seem too strenuous.

Is anyone here riding both a regular bike and a pedelec? Has this been an issue?

My regular bike is a recumbent. Since recumbent pedelecs are rather rare (I don't want a trike), I would probaly take a "upright" pedelec.

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    The way I look at it is that if it keeps you on a bike and out of a car than I don't think you have to worry about that. In fact, it may even be more enjoyable. – npsantini Oct 24 '16 at 12:19
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I can only say "probably not" as while I've borrowed an e-bike a few times for rides similar to my current commute, it doesn't really suit me and doesn't come close to spoiling my normal riding. Commuting is quite different to riding for fun and most pedelecs are quite heavy and handle very differently. You may even find that your regular bike feels more nimble (though I'm basing this on uprights not recumbents). If you're in Europe (or at least most of it) the motor is required by law to cut out above 25km/h -- which isn't very fast. Similar rules apply in some other countries. Given stopping and starting you'd be unlikely to make your 40km in under 2 hours, which you could probably do on the recumbent under the same conditions.

A few things to watch out for:

  • The range isn't always as good as stated even with a new bike. Do you have plenty of reserve between charges?
  • Make sure you get a good test ride, not just 5 minutes in a car park. Many aren't optimised for long periods in the saddle and use unusual components making geometry changes harder.
  • Decent electric bikes are expensive. If you spend as much as for a reasonable hybrid (call it £1000/€1000/$1000 within rounding error) you'll end up with something very heavy, with cheap components.
  • Most bike shops will struggle to get e-bike specific parts; I've had to hunt down spokes and motor cut-off switches myself.

You might also look into electric front wheel kits (for your existing bike). They're certainly available for 26" and 700C wheels; maybe your recumbent has smaller wheels which might require a custom solution. You would then have a choice of battery pack sizes as well. If you really like the recumbent then this might prove worthwhile.

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    Very good point about the max speed. Unless you're willing to ignore the speed rules (plenty of people do), then getting an electric assist bike really just makes you less tired, rather than actually making you go faster. – Kibbee Oct 24 '16 at 12:54
  • @Kibbee the mod is apparently normally a simple electronics task, but the gearing would probably spin out not much faster. The max motor is 250W and built/controlled for the legal speed (illegal motors are of course widely sold). It would start to struggle and range would suffer as well. I wonder how fast you'd have to go with no apparent effort before the authorities got interested (public road would be one thing, bike path another) – Chris H Oct 24 '16 at 13:22
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    The rules vary widely. In the US, some states allow speeds up to 30 mph (48 KM/H), and motors up to 2 HP (1500 watt). In Canada I frequently have people on electric assist bikes whiz past me even though the law only allows up to 32 km/h. I would have to say that seeing somebody go 40 km/h is not uncommon. I've never heard of cops charging anybody with breaking the rules. Even saw one guy on a bicycle with a retrofitted gasoline motor. – Kibbee Oct 24 '16 at 13:49
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    @Kibbee I had a suspicion that this was Germany; the impression I have from visiting there is that enforcement of cycling regulations can be quite strict. – Chris H Oct 24 '16 at 14:15
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    Not sure if this should be a comment or a proper answer, but, if you ride a pedelec enough, you'll likely become "spoiled" in being able to quickly accelerate and the "accelerating part" of cycling (pedaling hard, shifting, measuring your breath) will no longer be exhilarating. As an extreme example, when I do a lot of motorcycling (at e.g. >100kph) and then get onto a bicycle, I feel like I might as well be walking. – errantlinguist Oct 24 '16 at 19:43
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In my experience, riding a pedelec doesn't ruin the joy of riding human powered bikes. But if your normal ride isn't particularly joyful, a pedelec can make it bearable, even fun.

The main advantage of electric assist is that it makes riding in hilly terrain much easier, and riding in bad weather much more pleasant.

As pointed out by Chris H, switching to a pedelec doesn't usually make riding long commutes any faster. Now, sporty bikes with electric assist do exist, and they're likely to be faster overall (unless you're fit enough, or your commute is flat enough, to maintain at least 25 km/h up all the hills unassisted). But most people who commute long distances to work regularly are quite fit, they ride road bikes or light hybrids, and don't have lots of steep hills. For commuting, those who gain the most from a pedelec are those who feel unable to commute on a regular bike.

For me, the weather advantage is actually the most important. My road bike is more fun to ride on warm summer days, but when it's 5 degrees Celcius and raining (not to mention -10 and snowing) it's just too convenient to be able to dress up with as many layers of warm, rainproof clothes as needed, without no worries about sweating. If I need to wear formal dress at work during a winter storm, I just put on my insulated coverall before I go out — utterly impractical for riding a normal bike, but works really well on my pedelec, even if it looks weird.

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    So you're saying assistance on bikes is an "enabler" for those who otherwise would not ride. – Criggie Aug 10 '17 at 9:48
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I am riding both an ebike and a road bike; for various purposes. My ebike takes me sweat less to work in my biz suit 42 km back and forth 5 days a week throughout winter, spring, summer and autumn from my home i a suburb outside Oslo, the capitol of Norway. Through rain, snow and blizzards at temperatures down to minus 15 celsius. My road bike I ride for exercise purposes until snow starts falling. Slim tyres are not suitable for dealing with snowy conditions, and cross country skiing is by far more physically and mentally rewarding during vinter time. However, to me the most charming aspect of ebiking to work and elsewhere (visits, parties, restaurants etc), is that while doing that I stil gain some approx. 60-70 percent training effect of what my super light road bike provides. Without having to change clothes and shower. All the taxi bills, bus and subway fares saved as well, comes as a pleasant bonus. Allowing me to drink better wines...!

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