The UK’s E-Bike Boom Explained (and Why You Should Cover Yours)

Whether you call them ebikes, e-bikes, electric bikes, or power bikes, there’s no doubt that what is technically an “electric motor-assisted bicycle” has crossed your mind, or your bike path, over the past year. 

You aren’t just imagining it - they’re everywhere, especially if you live in an urban area.

In 2020, e-bikes made up 23% of all bicycles sold in the United Kingdom, and that number is expected to be even higher by the end of 2021. 

Even before the pandemic, the UK government had started taking steps to encourage e-bike usage. For example, the Bike 2 Work scheme, an initiative backed by the government, enables employers to provide staff with a tax-free electric bike at almost half the retail price and at no extra cost to their company.

Since late 2020, the government has also been considering an “opportunity to try” scheme, the idea being that people are more likely to buy an e-bike after they’ve had a chance to ride one. A similar programme is already in effect in Switzerland and has been credited for their e-bike boom.

It’s not just commuters and casual cyclists who are turning to e-bikes - racers are too! Yeti recently released the first e-bike aimed at racers, a £7,200 e-bike designed for the emerging sport of e-enduro racing. 

If you've just bought an e-bike, or are considering getting one, you're in good company. 130 million e-bikes are expected to be sold globally between 2020 - 2023. In fact, some experts even predict that sales of e-bikes will overtake car sales two-to-one in Europe by 2030.

Choosing Between an E-Bike and a Traditional Bicycle

For years, studies have shown that riding a bicycle to work is one of the healthiest, most efficient, and planet-friendly ways to commute. While riding a traditional bicycle is still a fantastic commuting option, many people are finding that the convenience of an electric boost is irresistible.

Because of the pedal-powered battery assist that e-bikes have, cyclists can achieve faster speeds at a quicker rate, along with a power boost when going uphill, facing headwinds, or carrying a heavy load. All these factors ultimately make riding an e-bike less physically demanding than riding a bicycle, which is particularly appealing to those who want to cycle as a functional activity, as opposed to recreational exercise.

But just because you get a power boost, it doesn’t mean you aren’t exercising.  

One study that followed over 10,000 cyclists in seven European cities found that while e-bikers and cyclists rode a similar amount of minutes per week, e-bikers reported significantly longer trip distances - so you’re still getting a great exercise with an e-bike.

Here are some more reasons why people are choosing e-bikes over bicycles:

  • They're appealing to commuters who, on average, sweat two-thirds less when using an e-bike instead of a bicycle - so no more changing out of sweaty cycling gear once you reach the office.
  • Like a traditional bicycle, they can be configured to carry a toddler or groceries. The power boost means carrying extra weight isn’t more physically demanding for the rider.
  • They don’t need specialised charging stations or bike parking. They can be charged almost anywhere and parked like a regular bicycle.
  • The fast-emerging sport of e-enduro racing is giving passionate cyclists a new way to challenge themselves.

Do E-Bikes Need Insurance?

E-bikes generally have a higher price tag than standard bicycles, which naturally makes them appealing to thieves - but beyond that, individual components such as their expensive batteries can also become targets.

While there aren't enough statistics yet to show whether e-bikes are targeted at a higher rate in the UK, over 70,000 bicycles were stolen across England and Wales in 2020. The cities where most of the thefts occurred were:

  • London
  • Cambridge
  • Hackney
  • Tower Hamlets
  • Oxford

A study by Stolen Ride found that a whopping 95% of Londoners felt that their bikes were essentially unprotected while parked. Although cameras are often pointed at bike racks, if a theft does occur, police seldom check the cameras and stolen bikes are usually never recovered.

By insuring your e-bike, you can ride and park with the peace of mind of knowing your bicycle is covered. With Sundays, your e-bike is covered for theft away from home, accidental and malicious damage, and more.

If you want to participate in e-bike racing, we’ve got you covered. You can add optional racing cover to your policy, along with optional worldwide cover for 90 days if you want to kick into gear and explore some of the e-bike festivals and races around the world.

Home & Contents Insurance vs. Specialist E-Bike Insurance

Many cyclists think that their e-bikes are sufficiently covered under their home & contents insurance, but these types of policies often have low limits for sporting equipment (like bicycles and e-bikes). 

Because they’re focused on the home and its contents, items that are stolen or damaged away from home are usually not covered. 

To find out how well your e-bike is covered under your home & contents policy, here are some questions you should ask your insurer:

  • Do you cover my e-bike for theft away from home?
  • Do you provide cover for e-bikes for their full value?
  • Do you insure my e-bike for accidental and malicious damage?
  • Do you provide cover for traveling with my bicycle?
  • Do you cover my e-bike for racing?

Even if your home & contents insurance covers your e-bike, choosing specialist e-bike insurance ensures that your e-bike is covered in a range of out-of-home cycling scenarios.

Protect Yourself While Riding Your E-Bike

If you’re considering changing your morning commute, or have already made the switch to cycling, unfortunately one of the biggest risks you face are other commuters.

In 2020, a cyclist was hit with a £30,000 case after hitting a pedestrian who was looking at her phone, on top of £4,300 worth of damages and an additional £25,000 of his own costs. Altogether, the case cost him over £59,000.

Luckily, in that case, the cyclist was able to set up a GoFundMe and raised enough money that he was only left £2,979 out of pocket - but relying on donations to cover a public liability case is a risky move, to say the least.

Along with covering your e-bike, Sundays also offers cyclist liability insurance with cover of up to £2,000,000 (which can be used towards legal fees), personal accident cover of up to £10,000 in the event of death or permanent injury and private medical for costs up to £300 - all for just £2 a month.

What Makes Sundays Different to Other Specialist Insurers

Monthly premiums

Insurance premiums are usually calculated annually and divided by 12 to give you your monthly premium. Many specialist bicycle insurers require that you pay a portion of the annual amount upfront, but we don't. 

Enjoy simple monthly payments with no upfront or minimum premium. Plus, you can cancel your cover at any time without penalties.

Personalised policies

We draw from 13+ years of cycling insurance data to offer customisable coverage for serious and casual cyclists alike. If you only use your e-bike to commute, you can save by not selecting optional cover extras.

Personal service

Despite our global footprint, our close-knit vibe ensures you always feel like part of our Sundays Insurance cyclist family.

14-Day cooling-off period

Try our policy for 14 days and get your money back if you cancel within 14 days and did not claim. No questions asked, no penalties.