Choosing Your Electric Bike

Covid-19 left us all feeling discombobulated!
Public transport can leave us feeling vulnerable, walking is great but limited for longer distances, ordinary bikes are fab for the fit who don’t mind a hill or two… but for the rest of us, the ups and downs of this fabulous region can be a little challenging!

E-bikes are economical, ecological and accessible to all fitness levels, allowing you to put in as much, or as little, effort as you wish – and such fun on the many safe and dedicated bike tracks around the P-O!


Autumn in the P-O is the perfect season to explore the region by bike or on foot. 

With 353 kilometres of cycle track, parts of it purpose-built for safe cycling and walking, the transborder Pirinexus route takes you through 53 towns and two different countries, combining  stretches of ‘voie verte’ with rural, low traffic level roads. 

Along the way,  restaurants, wine-tasting, ancient roads, castles and abbeys, fascinating architecture and ruins, art, craft, local produce – a cocktail of  fresh air and exercise combined with culture, gastronomy and fun. 


Your questions about electric bikes to the experts

Q. Whats the difference between ‘electric assistance bikes’ and ‘electric bikes’ 

A. There are several different kinds of electric bikes, but the ones we are discussing today are the most popular ‘Vélos à Assistance Électrique'(VAE), which have a motor that kicks in when you turn the pedals.

They assist the rider, a lot or a little, depending on the setting, and always in proportion with the pedalling effort. Safe and easy to handle, (especially for beginners), the less power used, the longer the battery lasts.

Cheaper electric bikes, unlike VAE, provide a set amount of power regardless of the terrain or your pedalling effort, use the battery up more quickly and can be unnerving, shooting forward on a small pedal stroke. Try both, you will be amazed at the difference!

Q. What’s the price range and what do you get for spending more?

A. Expect to pay 1,600 € to 4,200 € for a good quality VAE. Of course, as with most things, the sky’s the limit but higher end bikes will generally feature improved suspension, frame materials and brakes.

Q. Are they speed limited? 

A. Yes. Motor power limited to 250 watts and top speed to 25 kph in order to still be classed as a bicycle. Most times when you exceed 25 kph, you’re going downhill do you don’t need the motor anyway as you pedal normally.


Q. Town bike or a mountain bike?  

A. It depends if you want to ride off road. Mountain bikes will cost more for an equal model than a town bike as they generally have front (and maybe rear) suspension.

If you’re only riding roads and cycle tracks,  wider, stickier mountain bike tyres will slow you down. This makes pedalling harder and will tend to use up more battery. 

Q. What about folding bikes? 

A. There are plenty of these around and they are useful if you need to put your bike in the boot or store in a small space but be prepared to accept a compromise. Small wheels don’t handle the bumps as well and can be less stable to ride. Constant folding/unfolding can cause problems with the framework and motor. 


Q. How heavy are they? 

A. Average normal bike: 13 to 17kg

Average electric bike: 18 to 30 kg 

If you expect to be carrying your bike up steps or longer distances, it’s worth paying more for a lighter frame. 

Q. How far can you ride? 

A. Most batteries will be between 400Wh and 600Wh and allow for 60-100km of easy road riding. Remember that the ebike is a combination of  your effort (which can be as much or as little as you chooseand the motor assistance. The more you pedal, the less you use the electricity, the longer it lastsLearn to use the settings efficiently (for example save the motor for hills and big climbs). 

Bonne route!


Did you know?

Regularly wobble home on your bike after a wine tasting or an apéro too many?

Did you know that cycling under the influence of alcohol can lead to a fine, and even the impounding of the cycle? 


  1. By contrast, I AM a slim(-ish) Lycra-clad mountain biker who pedals everywhere.
    However, I reckon that ebikes are brilliant, even for keen cyclists. I’m just moving to Fuilla, near Prades and intend to get an ebike soon just for their superior exploring potential. They’re great for hopping on and seeing where this or that trail goes…

  2. I live in St Laurent de Cerdans which is in the foothills so pretty much everywhere you cycle is on an incline.
    I bought an electric bike 4 or 5 years ago and it was the best purchase I have ever made. I bought it in Decathlon Figueres for €1600 ish, at the time €200 less than the exact same model in France.
    I go everywhere on it. I am NOT a slim, lycra-clad man but an overweight, 63 year old woman who likes to cycle looking at the view with panniers on the back and a basket on the front for shopping. A plus with the panniers on the back is that they hide the battery. It’s not that I want folk to think I’m a super fit Olympian, but electric bikes are expensive and hence nickable. I always chain up when I leave the bike.
    I regularly pop over the border down to Maçanet for a beer in the sunshine then back up the hill to Tapis for lunch and still manage the steep incline up to Coustouges to get home, all on one battery. An option is though to put the portable charger in the pannier and recharge when having lunch. I always ask and have never been refused.
    I have hired electric bikes on holiday in the Canaries and converted my brother to the cause of electric bikes as we cycled across the mountains in Lanzarote.
    I always wear a high viz helmet and high viz clothing.

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