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Get What You Pay For

The E-Bike Dilemma

Get What You Pay ForE-Bikes have seen a huge boom in popularity in urban areas. Economical, practical, and environmentally friendly the E-Bike could very well be the way of the future. Unfortunately, local by-laws and provincial legislation have been creating confusion and limitations. What we’re left with in the aftermath of all the politics are dangerous road conditions and a fleet of junky rides. The way of the future has not arrived here yet, and not all E-Bikes are created equal.

Toronto Police Constable Hugh Smith stated on the CBC radio show Metro Morning that the City of Toronto has passed by-laws allowing E-Bikes (electric powered bicycles with a limited maximum speed of 33 km/hr) to occupy traffic lanes. In theory you could be driving along on a single lane road in Toronto with a 50 – 80 km/hr speed limit, and be stuck crawling behind an E-Bike at 33 km/hr.

We shouldn’t be asking ourselves where on the road an E-Bike should be. Instead, we should be wondering whether or not the current crop of E-Bikes should be allowed on the road at all. We’ve all heard the common worries and complaints:

  • E-Bikes are too quiet to hear coming.
  • Why are some E-Bikes faster than others (in other words:
  • I can’t recognize an E-Bike from a Scooter).
  • E-Bikes are speed limited and can’t keep up with traffic.

Most of the issues could be solved with better driver education and better, faster E-Bikes. Better E-Bikes are out there. German car manufacturer BMW has recently announced the development of its own E-Bike but unfortunately for Ontario, it wouldn’t comply with our Highway Traffic Act. What we’re left with are E-Bikes going for $599.

After spending thousands of dollars learning about numbers in university I graduated only to discover people don’t care much for math. Unfortunately, the damage (or education rather) can’t be undone, and my issue with E-Bikes started when I asked myself a little theoretical question:

If an E-Bike costs the buyer $599. How much does the parts and production cost?


I did a few estimations, and then a few more, and kept getting negative numbers. How could a $599 priced item, come with a snazzy battery, be shipped half way around the world, go through multiple middlemen and import fees, and still bring in a profit? The unit production costs would have to be in the teens, maybe the high $20 range, maximum.

We can ask the same of Chinese made scooters such as Benelli and Pertutti which hide behind an Italian sounding name. Please remember, if it cost as much as a date at the movies than the odds are it will only last just as long. Happy endings aren’t always guaranteed; friends don’t let friends buy dangerous vehicles.

Thank you to Cynthia K from the Toronto Moto Scooter Club for sharing the news. As always, ride safe everyone!

About YouMotorcycle

YouMotorcycle is a lifestyle motorcycle blog to be appreciated by those who see motorcycling as a lifestyle and not simply a hobby, sport, or method of transportation. Most of the posts on the site are written by past and present motorcycle industry staff. We remain fiercely independent, innovative, and unconventional. Our goal is to encourage more people to enjoy the world's greatest outdoor sport by helping new riders get started and inspiring current riders to get out more. We motorcycle, do You?

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