Gas vs. Electric: Pros and Cons List

Discussion in 'Electric Bicycles' started by Wayneburg, Jun 15, 2008.

  1. Wayneburg

    Wayneburg New Member

    I'm trying to decide between an electric bicycle and a gas powered bicycle. I've started up a list of pros and cons the two types of bicycles have. Can you add to this list?

    Gas Powered
    -Less expensive initial purchase price than electric bicycles.
    -Can go faster than electric bicycles.
    -Has a farther range than electric bicycles.
    -Weighs less than electric bicycles.
    -Can be refueled quickly.
    -As fuel is used, the weight of the bicycle decreases.
    -A gas motor kit can be removed from one bike and installed on another.

    -Fuel is more expensive than electricity. This makes gas powered bicycles more expensive over the life of the bicycle when compared to an electric bicycle.
    -There are less places to find gas than electricity.
    -Cannot be taken on trains or in some buildings
    -Uses fuel any time the motor is on, even when the bicycle is stopped.
    -Heat from the motor can be dangerous.
    -Gas is environmentally unsafe, presents a health hazard and is smelly.
    -Oil is environmentally unsafe, presents a health hazard and is smelly.
    -Exhaust is environmentally unsafe, presents a health hazard and is smelly.
    -Cannot be ridden in some places. (some parks, some beaches, some pedestrian areas)

    Electric Powered
    -Electricity is less expensive than gas. This will make an electric bicycle less expensive over the life of the bicycle when compared to a gas powered bicycle.
    -Can be recharged at any electrical outlet. Electricity does not have to come from the owner's residence. This also makes an electric bicycle less expensive over the life of the bicycle when compared to a gas powered bicycle.
    -There are more electrical outlets than gas stations.
    -Can be taken on trains and all buildings.
    -An electric motor kit can be removed from one bicycle and installed on another.
    -Does not use fuel at all times like gas powered bicycles do.
    -No heat issues.
    -No exhaust issues.
    -Can be ridden in all areas a non-motorized bicycle can be ridden.

    -More expensive initial purchase price than a gas powered bicycle.
    -Has less range than gas powered bicycles.
    -Slower than gas powered bicycles.
    -Long recharge time.
    -Weighs more than gas powered bicycles. This will be an issue when pedaling without electric assist.
    -Batteries pose a hazardous waste issue.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2008

  2. Electric bikes are not necessarily slower,yo.
    There's one here I seen a while back that can hit 50 mph.
    I like Gas because at the pumps when I fill up my 4 stroke people are amazed that I only need one dollar.
    My 2 stroke is loud but my 4 stroke is pretty darn quiet.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 15, 2008
  3. Weedylot

    Weedylot Member

    One thing my folding stowable electric can do is ride on city park paths and trails with pedal assist. My Whizzer wouldn't be so welcome.
  4. Alaskavan

    Alaskavan Guest

    Electric Con: Disposal of batteries - Hazardous waste.
  5. dbigkahunna

    dbigkahunna Guest

    The cost and expense of the battery(s) is the #1 issue with any electric. Over time the batteries will cost more than any gas engine. And the TOTAL polution an electric puts out will not be that much less than a gas engine. Remember, you have the energy it takes to manufacture and dispose of the battery.
    I believe a combination/hybrid set up would be the most effective. The gas engine would negate the weight issue of the batteries. Use the pedals to get started, the electric motor to get up to speed or when in traffic and yoiu need the power burst you can get with the electric, then use the electric to get the bike up to speed and use the gas motor for longer distance. A gasoline motor at speed, while not as efficient as a electric, can go much further than electric.
  6. Wayneburg

    Wayneburg New Member

    I don't understand. How will the batteries cost more than a gas engine? If you fill up a 1 gallon gas tank 100 times at $4.00 a gallon that will be $400.00. But, a battery costs around $300.00. Plus the price of gas will only go up from $4.00, increasing the total after 100 fill-ups.
  7. Weedylot

    Weedylot Member

    I bought a pair of new batteries at The Battery Factory, a battery dealer and re-cycler here in Tucson. They cost around $60 each if my memory works right...
  8. I get 160 miles per gallon.
    100 gallons of gas at 400 dollars is 16,000 miles.
    Even at 300 dollars that's 75 gallons.
    75 gallons equal 12,000 miles.
    Could your 300 dollar battery last you 12,000 miles?
    And this is not including the price of electricity to charge your battery,mind you.
  9. DougC

    DougC Guest

    Electrics aren't all slow--with a lot of high-performance batteries they can be very fast, and they usually accelerate and pull up hills very well also. The problems electrics have are the cost of high-performance batteries, and that of limited ride-time endurance.

    The cost of regularly replacing batteries drives the cost-per-mile of an electric vehicle WAY up. This page shows a comparison I did between the costs of a BionX system and a typical gas-engine system:
    The electricity required to charge the batteries costs very little--but the batteries have a limited lifespan, and if you average the replacement cost of the batteries over the total miles, the cost of an electric vehicle is still considerably higher than for a gasoline vehicle. In my figures and even using $4/gal gas, an electric is still 3 to 5 times more expensive, per-mile.

    Also to an extent the battery life can depend on how the electric vehicle is used. If you only discharge the batteries lightly (by not going very far between recharges) the number of cycles you can get can be a lot more than the typical rated lifespan. Some people who had the BionX said that they only normally rode it for a few minutes a day over level ground, said they got as much as 50% more recharge cycles out of the batteries.

    I don't have an electric, but I wanted something that could go longer ranges so I didn't consider them useful.

    If you are only planning on shorter-range use, the practical advantages of an electric can make it attractive and the costs can approach that of a gas engine--but for long-range use, the cost of an electric is still much higher than a 4-stroke gas engine. (I didn't do a comparison of 2-stroke engines specifically, so I don't know about them)
  10. Accender

    Accender Member

    The duty life of batteries is not refined, although thy are getting better.
    Replacing them after X amount of miles is $$$$

  11. SirJakesus

    SirJakesus Guest

    Just for the record certain battery chemistries are non toxic and easy to recycle, Nimh and lithium specifically. Even if you did go with a lead acid battery you can always dump your old ones off at a place that installs car batteries and they'll be recycled.
    For low cost gas is definitely the way to go, however they do require much more maintenance than an electric system.
  12. loquin

    loquin Active Member


    A few other points regarding your comparative cost analysis;

    • electric motors produce ozone, especially brushed motors.
    • As gasoline rise, electricity costs rise also. A sizable percentage of electricity is produced using oil, and all fuels' transportation costs will increase dramatically.
    • Moving fuel burning to a power plant has a beneficial effect, as large fixed installations have MUCH lower pollutants per gallon of fuel than do auto emissions. (with the exception of CO2. That is about equal.)
    • I saw estimates that the hidden costs of internal combustion engines are about 25% of fuel costs. At $4 a gallon, the total cost of an I/C engine would add up top about a dollar a gallon more. Unfortunately, I have no information on the hidden costs of electric motors. Their prices tend to fluctuate with the cost of copper, and the cost of energy to produce the motor. As fuel costs increase, the costs to produce EVERY good or service tends to rise.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2008
  13. eljefino

    eljefino Member

    Doug is right. It's part of the human condition to push an electric bike until its batteries are completely exhausted. This is bad for 'em. Even if you get something with nicad or niMH that theoretically can (should?) be 100% discharged you'll have a dozen cells in series, which backwards charges the weak ones, which you'll never figure out which ones are the duds, which shortens the life of the whole back.

    Pro for gas: You can drain the tank or add sta-bil and store it the whole winter and she'll be good to go next year. Electric will need a trickle charge ($$$) or spring prep or worst a new battery. Storing a discharged battery well below freezing can freeze it (lead acid) or otherwise screw it up. If you ride in the cold a gas motor will be slightly harder to start but once warmed up you'll have the same range and speed as summer. Cold slows down batteries substantially.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2008
  14. HoughMade

    HoughMade Guest

    Recharge time:

    gas- 5 minutes.... if you go into the station for a candy bar, 2 or 3 minutes otherwise.

    electric- no expert here, but longer- top off, under an hour- full charge- hours.

    However, if your commute is the right length and you have charging at both ends....
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 16, 2008
  15. eljefino

    eljefino Member

    A fast charger would be cool, you could find an outside vending machine and borrow its outlet...

    Some cities even have christmas lights on their downtown mainstreets... tap in to free juice...
  16. Alaskavan

    Alaskavan Guest

    Elj. There is no free lunch. They'll raise your taxes to cover the electricity, and to hire extra police to try to catch you at it.
  17. metalzombievi

    metalzombievi Member

    with both you do not need the motor running while you ride the bicycle, it is still a bicycle. so you can ride then anywhere a bicycle can be ridden, just not alwayse with the motor on. i think gas is better because where are you going to plug in for a charge? not every building will allow you to use their electricity, yet gas stations are easy to find and way faster. electric is quieter, but gas will take you a lot farther with out a refuel. again you do not need the motor running to use the bicycle. to think other wise is just lazy.
  18. Slogger

    Slogger Member

    Apples to oranges, IMO.
    The customer base for the electrics are different than the typical gas engine guys.
    I'm from the motorcycling world, so I am familiar with all the foibles of jetting, ignitions, chains, pipes, gas leaks and everything you have to deal with on gas bikes. I have a garage full of tools and gas cans, I am more comfortable with the gas engine mab's. I like the racket, the smoke and that smell. I'm low budget, too.
    The people that gravitate to electric are a wide selection of IT workers, accountants and clerks, live in apartments, clean, professional types.
    You need zero mechanical experience to ride an electric. They'll be able to keep it in the apartment or the lobby at the office.
    Whirring quietly down those manicured streets, little white tennis shorts on, $300 sunglasses, the whole schmear.
    This is an exageration, but there is a difference in the two groups.
    Yachtsmen on a trawler forum where I lurk like electric bikes, for instance. They won't drip black goo on the deck.

    Anyone that wants to just ride, keep clean and have virtually no tools needs an electric.
    The kid without much income is going to bolt on a CG and have a low budget ball.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
  19. KCvale

    KCvale Motorized Bicycle Vendor

    Things have sure changed since 2008 which was the last post in this topic until the last 2 posts above this one.

    The prices are pretty close between a good 4-stroke shifter and a good electric shifter these days, in the $800-$1200 range for parts, and my baseline for what I will personally choice to take for a spin from all my options over any type of 2-stroke, even the kick butt fast ones.
    In short I am sick of bump start and manual clutch.

    I do like a 4-stroke but you simply can't guess about what the actual real riding experience is on an electric, you have to actually experience it.
    The 18ish kid that his mother bought this build for found that out in a hurry.


    After repeatedly telling him to 'go easy' on the throttle and don't throttle up until you are like in 2nd or 3rd gear, he left in first and opened the throttle.
    That machine gave it all it had and he wheelied back on his butt on the road instantly.
    Again, you just can't appreciate how an electric motor is different than a gas engine until you ride one.

    1,860W BLDC motor with planetary reduction and 54V 960W 20AH LI Battery.
    It was the last of the ones I ordered when I was doing electric shifting trikes.

    I used a sickbikes HD freewheel crank system to tie the freewheel electric motor to the 7-speed derailleur on that absurdly light bike.
    The result was nothing short of a kick-butt responsive well balanced machine regardless of how plain it looks.
  20. crassius

    crassius Well-Known Member

    I'm curious as to the total weight of the bike in the pic (had to put a ramp on my build bench because I'm just too old to lift a 35# 2-stroke very often during the day).