Let’s Get One Thing Straight – Riding An E-Bike is NOT Cheating!October 17, 2022
In Psychology Today, Michael Formica, a psychotherapist, teacher and writer, talks about the need to empower ourselves to change a core belief. He talks about remaining stuck in old patterns because the perceived benefits don’t outweigh the negative consequences we put up with when we don’t change a belief, like refusing to ride an e-bike. We may think that riding an e-bike is cheating for a variety of reasons.
It may defy our puritanical roots that say that we have to work hard to achieve a goal, without even once questioning what that goal is and if it is better served riding an e-bike. The reason for that is that once a belief is held, there is a certain amount of resistance to changing it. However, Michael believes once we start to examine beliefs based on the goals we are trying to achieve, we can start to see the assumptions we have made and put the belief in a different light.
In the case of using an e-bike to change how we ride a bike, the goal may be to commute to work, to sightsee, to exercise, to save money, to save the environment, or as another means of transportation. None of these really require a regular bike, we just assume they do and never question that belief. In fact, using an e-bicycle kit to help achieve any one of those goals can help make them easier, more enjoyable, and faster. Let’s break it down to understand the belief and learn how to change it for the better, by examining each goal in question.
False Belief #1: Using an E-Bike for Commuting Is Cheating
Why would using an e-bike for commuting be cheating? Who is making that judgment? People who are riding in their cars to work? Are they cheating because they’re not using a regular bicycle without electronic assistance? Do they have to be walking for it to not count as cheating? Who makes these rules? Obviously, the goal of getting to work is more quickly accomplished with an e-bike and is certainly faster than walking, and at times even faster than commuting in traffic that is at a standstill on congested roads.
False Belief #2: Using an E-Bike to Sightsee Is Cheating
This one clearly makes no sense, since the object of sightseeing is to enjoy yourself and view as much of the natural world around you as possible. There are parks built with bike paths that make this type of sightseeing enjoyable, and quite inaccessible to cars. Riding an e-bike for sightseeing is a more immersive experience than riding a car too. Even if you want to go off the beaten path, a bike is a better option than a car. It can make hilly terrain easier to navigate, than on foot or a regular bike, and leave plenty of energy to go further on these sightseeing trips.
False Belief #3: Using an E-Bike to Exercise Is Cheating
Here is where plenty of people who have never ridden an e-bike think they’re on solid ground, but it’s not true. It assumes that an electric bike kit somehow transforms the bike into something like a motorcycle, instead of a bike with pedals that revolve. Those muscles are still being worked! Studies show that the amount of energy required to ride an e-bike is almost the same as a regular bike, the only difference is psychological. People perceive that they aren’t exerting themselves as much so they may end up working out more.
In fact, for some demographics, an e-bike can even encourage them to exercise more than if they only had a regular bike. For the elderly and people with injuries or physical handicaps, the bike with an electric bicycle kit can mean that they can exercise instead of sitting at home or using a car. If someone has lost their license or has vision problems that keep them from getting a license, then the electric bicycle can keep them moving regardless. It can give these people a certain degree of independence, instead of having to rely on rides from friends and family.
False Belief #4: Using an E-Bike to Save Money Is Cheating
Here a person may believe that you have to be rich in order to afford an e-bike and the solution is not really saving money, but rather spending it. They may believe more in lack, than in abundance, so they never go out to see how much an electric bicycle kit actually costs to convert their regular bike into an electric one. They just assume they have to buy a brand-new e-bike and any savings in gas will not offset the cost of the purchase.
In actuality, an e-bike conversion kit costs far less than buying a brand-new e-bike, in comparison to a brand new e-bike which can cost several thousand. Thus, there is a budget-friendly option for purchasing a kit to convert a bike, if a person doesn’t want to spend thousands on a new e-bike.
False Belief #5: Saving the Environment By Using an E-Bike Is Cheating
There are always convoluted reasons people use to justify their resistance to change. When hybrid cars came along, some people said that they weren’t really green or sustainable because they required more energy in the manufacturing process to create them and their batteries were made with nickel that had to be mined. An electric bicycle uses a lithium battery, but these do need copper and aluminium to work properly.
A car battery is far larger and requires more material than a bike conversion kit, so using an e-bike is more sustainable than a hybrid car or even a regular car. Plus, you save in emissions too. Only walking would be a greener option, and that isn’t going to get you far. As far as vehicles for transportation that can travel great distances, a bike is a very green option. Including a small battery in e-bikes is still a very good solution to the growing problem of large battery manufacturing and disposal for vehicles.
False Belief #6: Using an E-Bike As An Alternative Form of Transportation Is Cheating
These people maybe think others should either ride a regular bike or walk, as if there is some virtue in over-exerting one’s self. They don’t take into account the different demographics discussed earlier. They may not realize someone is using an e-bike because they are recovering from an injury and rehabilitating themselves. They may not understand that the person needs a bike because they don’t have a car or license and need something to help them travel long distances in a shorter time than a regular bike, with less effort. Whatever the reason, they make the assumption that everyone who is on a bike is doing it for exercise alone and should be exerting themselves as much as possible, which frankly, is ridiculous.
No one tells the granny at the gym to stop being lazy and get out of the water aerobics class and join the Zumba class instead. They realize that aged joints need some sort of cushion when exercising and applaud her efforts to keep exercising. They don’t call the muscle man a wimp either if he chooses to have a spotter when he’s lifting weights either.
It’s acknowledged that some types of activities and people need different ways to work out and it is considered safer. It’s also seen as a sign of achievement if an out-of-shape, disabled, or elderly person is still going to the gym at all or a challenging lift needs a spotter for safety. That’s the way people should view people riding bikes to work or to the store. They’re still in the game and making an effort, unlike those riding their cars to work. It doesn’t matter what type of bike you ride, electric or not. It’s an achievement, not a shame, and certainly not cheating.
What Is The One Way to Overcome False Beliefs?
Start by challenging the belief through action. Take a step towards overcoming the limiting belief. In the case of believing that using an e-bike is “cheating” the simple solution is to try one. Take it out for a spin and see if doesn’t feel like exercise or get you to where you’re going efficiently. People who don’t make an effort to adopt new habits often stay stuck in old habits reinforced by beliefs that don’t really serve them anymore.
Get Others Involved Too
If you don’t want to try it alone, you can always go on a tour that rents e-bikes to try them out. Countries like Switzerland and other European nations are so committed to e-bikes that they offer battery swapping out stations around major tour routes. The Swiss government has put in 600 swapping stations in their country alone. This makes it easy to tour the countryside on an e-bike without needing to stop to charge the battery.
Being part of an e-bike tour offers several advantages. They can show you the ins and outs of operating your e-bike. You will be going with a group on a pre-determined route that has been picked for its sightseeing qualities. You can go with the entire family or alone. If alone, you will feel like a part of a group. If in a family, the e-bike makes it easier for the slower people to keep up with the faster bicyclists. Everyone can end up going at a good clip without feeling like they’re struggling behind.
If you should end up with a flat tire or a bad battery, there are others around to help in a group. You won’t be subject to the misperception that you’re “cheating” as much when you are in a group devoted to touring on electric bicycles. If that were so, then people using Segways in a group would also be viewed as lazy too, instead of trying out something new and cool and utterly chic.
At any rate, riding an e-bike can be more enjoyable in a group than alone, and it helps one to change a belief that may be hard to shake at first, due to peer pressure. It may take peer pressure in the form of an e-bike tour group to understand that there are plenty of enthusiasts around who see it as an excellent way to run around the countryside.
So, When Is Riding an E-Bike Really Cheating?
Let’s make it clear, the only time anyone can call riding an e-bike cheating is when the person using it is in a serious competition that doesn’t allow e-bikes. For instance, no one would argue that the use of an e-bike in the cyclocross world championship is definitely cheating. That’s why Van den Driessche, a competitor in that event, is in hot water for an incident that ended up revealing wires hanging out of her bike (suggesting she had illegally modified the bike into an electric one for the competition).
Cyclist Van de Driessche caught cheating with an e-bike
There were calls for a lifetime ban, but the cyclist maintains it was not her bike and that her’s was switched with a similar looking one. Whatever the investigation eventually determines, everyone is clearly on board with the assumption that when you join a bicycling competition that is for regular bikes, then using an e-bike is certainly cheating. There are no two ways about that. Other than that, all other assumptions that the use of an electric bike is cheating are purely in the mind of the beholder and can easily be shifted by taking a trip on an e-bike on their own.