Why Are Electric Bikes so Expensive?

Considering going the ebike route? Whether you’re looking for a fun way to spend your Sunday afternoons, or you’re looking for an alternative transportation method to get to and from work, there’s no getting around the high price points associated with brand new electric bikes.

They’re pricey, and there’s no getting around that, but the real question here is value: is it worth it? Let’s dive into that topic, and describe some of the main benefits of ebikes and why they might be a good investment for you to make.

There’s a lot that goes into the pricing of electric bikes, from manufacturing costs to international shipping, distribution and more.

The aspects that directly affect the public are branding, ease of access, battery type and power, and quite simply, supply and demand. Electric bikes have come a long way in the past decade, and though it may be a bit daunting to jump in, this should clear things up.

The Average Price of Electric Bikes

average price of electric bikes

There are a ton of different electric bikes to choose from in a wide variety of styles. It’s difficult to pin one narrow price margin as an average, so let’s jump into a few different averages for different types of bikes.

  • Folding Bike: These are among the most affordable, but are built very lightweight and are more prone to damage than other electric bikes. You can find a quality folding bike for around $1,500 up to $3,000. Folding ebikes are designed for portability, travel, and it’s a big help to fold them up and bring them into your home or place of work to prevent theft.
  • Cruisers: Leisurely ebikes designed for relaxing rides on a Sunday afternoon. Cruisers are some of the most common ebikes available, and range from $1,800 up to $7,000 depending on how luxurious you want to get. Cruisers tend to have a more aesthetic appeal and better coverage protection for the battery and motor housing at the same time.
  • Mountain Bike: These get pretty pricey, because the motors tend to be of a higher caliber to help with electric assist in rough terrain. You can expect to start somewhere around $2,000 and work your way up to $7,000 or more. Electric mountain bikes are more prone to lightweight damages than other bikes.
  • Cargo Bike: Zipping around the city, going to and from work, and carrying a bit of an extra load with you when you go: you need a cargo bike. These are difficult to gauge the price on, because some quality models start at about $1,400, but the average tends to rest around $3,300, with a ceiling of $6,800. They’re an investment for sure, but give you a bit of extra stopping power when it counts.

Current Trends in Electric Bikes Impact the Price

Between 2016 and 2017, there was a major jump in the electric bike marketplace across the world. As we watch the environmental disasters playing out on the news every single day, more and more people are becoming conscious of their carbon footprint and doing something to stop it.

Electric bikes have such a small impact on the environment (apart from production practices) that it makes it a no-brainer for many able-bodied people.

Japan and the Netherlands have also seen an increase in supply and demand, making it a much more viable business venture in respective countries.

That being said, it’s still not as big of an industry as people think. Trend impact prices. Think back to a few years ago when everyone was buzzing about being able to bring 4K television definition into their homes, and to how expensive those televisions were.

There was a demand, so manufacturers made a supply to satiate the market. Then they got competitive and found cheaper manufacturing processes, dropped the prices over time, and now you can pick up 4K televisions like it’s nothing.

It’s the same principle: until there is major demand, the supply will stay relatively the same. In the case of electric bikes, that means high upfront costs.

Why Are Electric Bike Batteries so Expensive?

shipping expensive batteries from china

We hate to say it, but this is primarily an issue with the North American market. In Japan, electric bikes are not only on the rise but are extremely affordable due to the high demand.

The rule of supply and demand essentially means that if more people want something, competitors and innovators will crawl out of the woodwork and offer lower prices and different variations of the same product.

Electric bikes are still seen as a niche market in the United States, so there aren’t as many opportunities for big companies to make money since there aren’t nearly as many buyers.

We say this because the battery is one of the biggest parts of the cost. In America, most of the lithium-ion batteries (the most common batteries used in electric bikes) are manufactured in China, and you have to factor in that shipping and distribution cost once it reaches American soil.

Even if batteries are “assembled in the United States,” they’re likely using Samsung or LG cells, which are primarily manufactured in South Korea, China and India.

Will Electric Bikes Get Cheaper?

Mostly due to the battery cost and condition, it’s not likely that they will get much cheaper in the coming years. If manufacturing these batteries in America became more profitable for big companies than receiving them from overseas, then the market would change.

There’s the common misconception that if these companies built their own plants to produce these batteries, that it would drive their prices down. Because of the working conditions in America, it would actually drive the price up because the market is too narrow to support this idea.

When it comes to motors, that’s one thing that Americans are known for making. This still has a supply and demand problem attached to it, but the cost of motors could go down, which would potentially affect the price tag of most electric bikes by about 5% and make replacements cheaper in the future.

Warranties Affect Prices

warranties of electric bikes

Electric bike manufacturers know that releasing a product without a warranty is just a plain bad idea, and they’re right. But since there are so few manufacturers out there and the shipping cost of these heavy bikes can be high, they have to factor warranties into the price at least a little bit.

Even then, some high-end electric bikes only offer a one-year warranty on their models, and those don’t necessarily cover everything. You want a manufacturer direct warranty so you can cut out the middleman, and know that they’re cutting out the cost of doing work with the middleman. Extended warranty plans (when available) can get pretty pricey.

Prices Are Cheaper Online Than In-Store

There are plenty of small cycle shops in states like California who make most of their sales on traditional bicycles. Ebikes had a big boom in the United States recently, but shops can’t exactly cut their losses and lower the cost of their electric bikes to beneath wholesale prices.

Shopping online reduces warehouse costs (when you buy direct from the manufacturer or a supported manufacturer third-party seller), although you aren’t able to hop on the bike and test it like you would in a store.

Distribution costs are majorly slashed with online shopping, which allows you to find some models at a 10-15% discount as opposed to driving by a cyclist shop and seeing electric bikes for sale in the window.

Another perk to buying online is that you know you’re not getting a battery that’s been sitting in a showroom model (and barely getting used) for months on end. Lack of use can severely impact the lifespan of a lithium-ion battery, and essentially turn them into a paperweight rather than a useful battery.

When you’re investing this kind of money into something, you want a never-been-used-before model, not a dinged-up showroom floor model.

Are eBikes a Good Investment?

ebikes a good investment

There’s more than one reason that they are most certainly a good investment. We could simply say “Yes,” but that wouldn’t give much context, now would it?

Electric bikes are more relevant and useful than they were even ten years ago. While these used to be seen as leisurely cruising vehicles, now they are more viable for commuting and transportation. Some of the main monetary reasons it’s a good idea to invest in an electric bike are:

  • Cheaper Maintenance: Think of an electric bike versus a car, and take a wild guess as to which one is going to be cheaper to maintain. Americans spend nearly a thousand dollars on vehicle maintenance every single year, not to mention gasoline prices. Maintenance on your electric bike are usually professional battery charging, drivetrain greasing, tire replacement and general care. The cost of maintaining an electric bike doesn’t hold a candle to the high cost of maintaining a car.
  • Wildly Inexpensive Fuel Consumption: Compared to a car or SUV, where you might spend $160.00+ per month on gas, an electric bike takes an average of $6.00 per month to charge. That’s one charge per day, every single day of the week (so you can take it out on your off-time as well). That’s a savings of $1,848 per year, which more than justifies the upfront cost if you ask us.
  • No Fines or Fees: This is a generalized group, but with an electric bike, you don’t have to pay for expensive parking near your job, or even bother with renewing a license in order to operate it. There’s no registration costs, certifications required, and no time spent in the DMV. This is a small perk, but if you regularly pay for parking, this could be a major benefit. Between this and fuel consumption, your ebike could pay for itself in 12-18 months.

It’s ultimately up to you, but electric bikes do serve as a good investment in almost all areas. The only thing that they are not good for is resale. If you’re getting an electric bike just to see if you like it, just know that it loses value after it has been ridden more than once.

Lithium-ion batteries are fickle and only last for about three to five years, and the motors are more prone to stress than say the motor of a car. If you are jumping into this with both feet, resale won’t be an issue for you.

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