Electric Bike vs Regular Bike [Advantages and Disadvantages]

Last Updated on May 17, 2023 by Matt

electric bike vs regular bike

Say you wanted to buy a new bike today and you’re deciding between an electric bike and a regular bike. What criteria could you use to decide? Are electric bikes better than regular bikes for all use cases?

As a biking enthusiast, I’ve spent many hours riding both regular and electric bikes over the years. In this post, I will compare electric bikes against regular bikes with a focus on their differences, advantages, and disadvantages for the regular owner. This post will help you choose whether to buy an electric, regular bike, or both.

Similarities between electric bikes and regular bikes

regular bike in natural setting

Electric bikes have most regular bike features and more or less the same shape and design. They also come with handlebars, wheels, and pedals, but they have an integrated electric motor as well. Most electric bikes, especially basic models, are improved versions of regular bikes. 

Differences between electric bikes and regular bikes

The biggest difference between a regular bike and an electric bike is that electric bikes are equipped with a motor and a battery. The electric bike’s motor uses electrical energy from a rechargeable battery to provide pedal assistance. For this reason, electric bikes are easier to ride, and capable of faster acceleration and higher top speeds.

Regular bikes use the pedaling power of the rider to spin the wheels for propulsion. They use a manual chainset or crankset consisting of pedals, chains, cogs, and wheels. The crankset or chainset mechanism in a regular bike converts pedaling power to rotation motion via a chain or belt system which rotates the back wheel. The more pedaling effort you exert, the faster the bike will move.

People generally buy regular bikes with a specific use in mind, with the majority using them for leisurely activities like trail riding and exercise.

Electric bikes are becoming the most preferred type of bike for urban riders who use them as a means of transport.

Electric bike advantages

Electric bikes have several advantages over regular bikes.

Pedal assist

From my experience with both regular and electric bikes, I think pedal assist is the most important feature of electric bikes. Riding an electric bike with pedal assist is effortless, as the motor does most of the work. Depending on the pedal assist level set or riding, one or two strokes of the pedals are enough to propel the e-bike over a large distance.


I prefer class 2 electric bikes mainly because of the throttle. The throttle turns your electric bike into a true motorized form of transport. In advanced e-bikes, you can even combine the power of the throttle with pedal assistance for faster acceleration.

Additional gadgetry

gadgets on an electric bike

One thing I love about electric bikes is the additional toys they come with and the tech in general. Even the most basic class 1 electric bike is usually equipped with a display screen that shows the range, speed, level of charge, and other bits of information. Mid-tier and advanced e-bikes have more gadgets that put them a class above most regular bikes.

Regular bike advantages

Let’s see some of the main advantages of regular bikes over electric bikes.


Most regular bikes have a simple design and mode of operation.  All you need to know is how to balance and pedal and you can ride a regular bike. At the same time, you don’t have to worry about charging a regular bike or replacing the battery pack. However, some advanced bikes are more complicated to ride than electric bikes.


As I mentioned earlier, regular bikes are generally less expensive than their electric alternatives. You can get a regular bike for a fraction of the price of a basic electric bike. However, I know many specialized regular bikes that are more expensive than most e-bikes. Examples include the Yeti SB115 Turq AXS XX1Eagle, Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29-0, and Santa Cruz Bronson/Rubion 4 CC XX1 AXS RSV, just to name a few.

Low maintenance

While electric bikes are generally easy to maintain, they still have a few more moving parts than regular bikes. That means regular bikes will be lower maintenance in general.


Even though electric bikes are generally very environmentally friendly (in fact, they are one of the greenest forms of transport), they still involve the usage of batteries, which require electricity to be charged, and can also result in waste that’s difficult to recycle. That makes regular bikes a bit better for the environment.

Lighter weight

Because of the additional components (battery, motor, controller, and gadgetry), electric bikes are a bit heavier than regular bikes. It’s generally not too much of an issue, but it can be if you have to carry your bike for longer distances (which doesn’t really happen that often, in my experience).

The typical regular bike will be a bit lighter than the typical electric bike, usually by around 2-4 lbs / 1-2 kg.

Electric bike classes

One of the main differences between electric and regular bikes is their classifications.

Unlike regular bikes, which only have one default class, electric bikes have three main classes of electric bikes differentiated by the way they operate.

Class 1 – pedal assist electric bikes

The basic electric bike uses the motor to provide pedal assistance so you don’t have to put too much effort into pedaling to propel the bike. Pedal assist-only e-bikes are normally the least expensive. They are limited to a top speed of 20 mph / 32 kmh by law, and are allowed on bike lanes and other areas where regular bikes are used.

Class 2 – throttle and pedal assist bikes

According to e-bike laws in most US states, Class 2 electric bikes are those that provide pedal assistance and also include a throttle to propel the bike with electrical power. As with class 1 e-bikes, these too are limited to 20 mph / 32 kmh and are allowed on bike paths and multi-purpose trails or walkways.

Class 2 electric bikes are the most popular based on the number of units on US roads. I have owned several class 2 bikes over the years including the Aventon Pace 350, Rad Rover 6 Plus, and the QuietKat Ranger series. They are my favorite type because they have all the things I expect in modern e-bikes.

Class 3 – limited throttle and pedal assist

Class three bikes have the same characteristics as class 2 e-bikes but are capable of hitting a 28 mph / 45 kmh top speed with pedal assist only. In most states, Class 3 electric bikes are not allowed on multipurpose lanes and bike trails where there is foot traffic but you can ride them on road lanes or road shoulders. Still, other states (like California) only allow class 3 electric bikes without a throttle.

Should you get an electric bike or a regular bike?

I would probably recommend buying both for most people. I’ve had the two of them myself, in fact a few models of each, and I believe it’s the best option overall.

If I had to choose one, it would be an electric bike. Electric bikes have the features and capabilities of a regular bike, but also other additional features like pedal assistance. I would buy both because I use regular bikes for exercise and extreme trail riding, and e-bikes as road bikes for work and leisure.

Both electric bikes and regular bikes are fun and useful, especially if your location has bike lanes and other open areas where you can enjoy riding them.

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Matt standing next to his Xiaomi M365 Pro electric scooter and holding an electric scooter helmet
My name is Matt Trajkovski. I love electric scooters, and electric vehicles in general. I like doing a lot of testing, reviewing, and research on various electric scooter models and brands, looking for great value and performance, both through data and experience. All of the content published on this blog goes through a rigorous review and editorial process, and our product reviews not only include the hands-on experience of our own team members, but the experience of our audience members as well. My goal is to provide you with the best information about electric scooters possible. You can see all of my posts in my articles archive.

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