Why Are Electric Bikes So Expensive – Are Their High Price Tags Justifiable?

by Ruaan Nelson 

February 26, 2023

It’s an interesting piece of information that Yamaha gave birth to the first legitimate e-bike prototypes back in 1989. 

Only a couple of years later, the manufacturers began to pump in the resources necessary for the mass production of e-bikes, reaching its first peak in 2007, when 10% - 20% of all two-wheeled vehicles in China were categorized as e-bikes.

From that point, the demand for electric bicycles grew gradually, creating a sufficient global market for e-bikes. In hindsight, people strongly believe that e-bikes bring more positives than negatives (which are quite small in numbers).

However, if we had to pinpoint the weakest point of e-bikes - it has to be their intimidating price tag. All of this begs the question: “Why are electric bikes so expensive?”.

In today’s article, we’ll learn the truth behind this mystery. Stay around until the end!


Electric Bikes vs. Standard Bicycles

Those who have dedicated several years of their lives to honing the art of driving an e-bike are well aware of why most electric bikes have high price tags. To understand the science behind this, we’ll need to tilt your point of view slightly:

Try to imagine a standard bicycle and an electric one side-by-side. Without closer inspection, the similarities, as well as the differences, should be quite apparent. 

Both are two-wheeled vehicles with a strong frame which allows the rider to travel fast and conveniently from point A to point B - given that it's a short distance between them.

However, upon closer inspection, the differences start to pile up rapidly as we begin to notice the presence of a motor, battery, and other components that conjure the last two parts to create a stable electric vehicle.

Is the puzzle aligning itself?

The presence of these parts is vital for differentiating a standard bicycle from an electric one and is the number one reason why the price tag diverges drastically from one another.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about these parts individually, as well as other aspects that are noteworthy to remember!

The Batteries

If you’re a hardcore fan of e-bikes, you’ve probably noticed by now that most e-bike topics revolving around dissecting their specific parts start by introducing the motor. However, when discussing the price tag of an e-bike - the battery sits firmly on top of the food chain.

Most electric bicycles, regardless of their class, have integrated batteries that, on their own, battery cost roughly 30% to 40% of the total bike’s price. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the battery is the symbolic heart of all e-bikes.

Without proper functions and a sufficient composition - a battery wouldn’t be capable of providing the necessary amount of electricity to power those mighty motors that can propel you to maximum speeds of 28mph.

So, intricate construction and costly materials are vital for a robust battery, which can simultaneously pump energy and resist all weather elements, especially those that compromise the batteries’ internal temperature.

The most common batteries present on e-bikes are Lithium-Ion. In simple terms, they are light and long-lasting.

Manufacturers in the past had difficulty creating suitable batteries for e-bikes, as they were usually either too heavy or unable to provide a sufficient amount of energy.

With the introduction of Lithium-Ion, everything has changed - their light composition gave birth to many other possibilities, which were mainly hindered by the fact that the overall stability of the e-bikes was way off balance due to heavy batteries.

As a result, some manufacturers have decided to push Lithium-Ion batteries a step further by placing the main body inside the middle section of the frame. After several test runs, it was discovered that the stability of e-bikes wasn’t jeopardized even in those situations.

Of course, having a robust frame that can internally house a battery further pushes the price tag, which is another example of why electric bikes are so expensive.

On the other hand, Lithium-Ion batteries usually provide a whooping 1000 charging cycles, which won’t force you to think about a new battery for the next several years, even if you ride with the same battery almost every day!

Sara drives her envo electric bike

The Motor

Not so shy from the first place - the motor on electric bicycles sits firmly in second place when talking about the most expensive components on an e-bike.

Placing a battery on a regular bicycle won’t allow it to harness electrical energy into mechanical. But, if we connect a motor, we’ll have the necessary tools to convert and use that energy to travel.

Lithium-Ion batteries might not have a real competitor, but when it comes to motors - we’re usually left with two prime choices, a mid-drive or a hub motor.

Both motor types are phenomenal for e-bikes; they provide a sufficient mechanism for harnessing and converting the previously mentioned types of energy. 

The main difference is in their capabilities, as mid-drive motors can reach higher efficiency levels alongside offering a better riding experience (keep in mind that riding experiences are individual).

Nonetheless, if there isn’t a correct connection between the motor and the battery - all of the alleged capabilities won’t be reached.

To ensure that those situations never occur - it’s vital to have versatile and experienced manufacturers capable of producing e-bikes composed of parts that work optimally.

As you can imagine, most of these things are rather costly, so it’s up to you, at the end of the day, to decide if you are willing to pay the extra mile to have a device that assists the user in cycling by utilizing the energy produced from the battery.

my new electric bike

The Frame

Previously, we briefly touched on the frame of the e-bike, which is one of the most important aspects in ensuring the vehicle's overall stability.

A golden standard is creating a robust frame that doesn’t weigh much. That’s easier said than done, as most sturdy frames are heavy by nature.

The 6601 aluminum frame is, by far, the most popular choice for most e-bikes, given that they provide the ideal balance between sturdiness and weight. 

The 7005 aluminum frame, on the other hand, might seem better, given that it offers even more sturdiness alongside being more corrosion resistant.

When all is said and done, the 7005 aluminum frame is better in every aspect if you are willing to pay considerably more.

Just like the previous two components, the frame of an e-bike needs to provide a sufficient amount of durability if you wish to sit on it comfortably and move around the city at a formidable pace.

The Electronic Controller

Regardless of how well-versed they are in the e-biking world, most people are more familiar with the term LCD, so we’ll stick with that today.

An LCD is always good to have since it allows for a clear picture of what is happening between the battery and the motor (and everything in between). 

From tracking your current speed to monitoring the overall mileage and the current state of your battery - without a display, you wouldn’t have the ability to know what’s happening with the current state of the electric bicycle.

People usually neglect this part, but the electric controller serves as the primary brake for your bike - immediately after you apply the brakes, the controller kicks in and shuts down the power.

Standard bicycles do not need these bits of information, but e-bikes, on the other hand, can’t be ridden properly without an LCD.

Read next: Cheap electric bikes

The Throttle

Lastly, we have the throttle. There shouldn’t be any misconceptions about this part - with the throttle, we can power our electric bicycle without utilizing rider pedaling.

It’s a convenient and fun way to accelerate to a desired speed alongside a reliable mechanism to push the capabilities of your vehicle when trying to conquer the steepest hills.

Why Are Electric Bikes So Expensive - Conclusion

If you have reached this point in today’s article, then it should be quite apparent why are electric bikes so expensive. Before your departure, let’s take a quick look at the key points for this topic:

  1. The battery is the most expensive segment of all e-bikes, usually costing from 30% to 40% of the total price of the e-bike.

  2. Without the motor, we wouldn’t be able to harness electrical power into mechanical power, which is necessary for riding e-bikes with the throttle.

  3. Aluminum frames are expensive, as they must be durable and lightweight simultaneously.

  4. The LCD serves as the vehicle's brain - without it, we wouldn’t be capable of correctly controlling the e-bike.

Don’t forget - if you are interested in a topic similar to this, visit our other articles! Stay tuned for more!


Ruaan is an electrical engineer born in South Africa and currently working in Oslo, Norway. He loves tech and gadgets and owns an electric car (Tesla) as well a front-wheel-drive electric bike. He rides his bike all year, even through snow and ice covered roads in the cold winter.

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