I swapped my car for an eBike to get to work — here’s what happened

A man riding a Trek FX+ 2 eBike.
(Image credit: Future)

Electric bikes have definitely grown in popularity over the past few years, and it's easy to see why. Using an eBike can have environmental benefits and gives you the opportunity to get active without strenuous activity. 

So when Trek gave me the opportunity to review its new Trek FX+ 2 eBike to see if it would make our list of the best electric bikes, I thought, “What if I bike to work for a week?” After all, working in a city, it’s not exactly cheap to park a car. Parking a bike is free, provided nobody steals your bike. Add that to the environmental and health benefits, and it could be a game-changer to my daily commute. 

So have I been converted? Or am I going straight back to the car or bus? Here’s what I found after swapping my car for an eBike to commute to work for a week.

eBiking to work: The positives 

A Trek FX+ 2 ebike

(Image credit: Future)

Despite being pedal assist, using an eBike still gives you a decent workout to start your day as long as you're willing to push it a bit. I used my Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic to track my commute and the workout data had some interesting insights. 

Cycling data from a Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic from using the Trek FX+ 2 eBike.

(Image credit: Future)

The data from October 13 showed that I biked for 11 to 12 and a half minutes over the course of a 15 to 17-minute trip. On average, I went 2.67 miles, burned 184 to 185 calories and had an average speed of 13.15 miles per hour. I personally question the calorie count, given the watch thinks I’m biking with a traditional bicycle rather than using an eBike so I’m putting out less effort per MPH. However, the smartwatch will track my heart rate, and my average heart rate during the two trips was 130.5 BPM, which does indicate aerobic activity. So while I don’t think the eBike is a workout replacement, it definitely gets you working out.

Aside from the workout aspect of it, I also just liked starting the day with a bit of physical activity. It genuinely made me feel better in the morning and at the end of the day, and is a big reason I may continue biking to work in the future.

But another big positive was the money it save me. I typically pay for parking the three days a week I go into the office, which costs me $12 per day. That means I saved $36 a week just by biking to work, and it only took about 10 minutes longer to get to my desk than when I drive. Granted, the bike itself cost $2,399, so it would take you a bit over a year to make up the difference in what you pay for parking. But luckily, there are some great budget eBikes available that can have you breaking even in about nine months.

eBiking to work: The downsides

A male cyclist in heavy rain.

(Image credit: Canetti/Shutterstock)

First thing, you’re still going to sweat on an eBike. The pedal assist really makes hills easier to manage and your speed faster overall but it is still pedal assist — though there are electric bikes that will do all the work for you. I managed to not get too sweaty by the time I got to work, so luckily I didn’t need to bring a change of clothes.

However, I did still have to bring all my work stuff and a bike lock. This meant carrying around 20 pounds on my back between laptops, peripherals, lunch and my  lock. Also, if I crash or fall, all that stuff is much more susceptible to damage on my back than in my car. So there are certainly some risks involved.

One of those risks is that you may get rained on. Unfortunately, one Wednesday I was unable to avoid that risk and had to bike home in the rain. It was unpleasant. I definitely wish I had not been wearing jeans for that trip, given that cotton absorbs so much water. I was soaked to the bone by the time I got home. If you have the option to bring your bike onto the bus or subway to avoid the elements, I definitely would recommend it over biking in the rain. 

Finally, you need to invest in a good bike lock and be comfortable riding your bike in city traffic. I hesitate to call these downsides, as they are more like necessary evils but they merit mentioning. I was lucky enough that I had an office where I could secure store my bike, but had I needed to lock it up there was no shortage of locations. I also felt very comfortable riding on the busy streets of Atlanta due to the 20MPH top speed of the eBike, but use a bike lane wherever possible and obey the rules of the road.

Outlook: I think I need an eBike 

A Trek FX+ 2 eBike.

(Image credit: Trek)

Despite having my parade literally rained on, I enjoyed my time taking the eBike to work and would highly recommend it to anyone who has the option. Are there some caveats? Sure. You need to have an accessible path (no highways) from your home to your office and somewhere to safely lock the eBike. Plus, you may find yourself upgrading to a slightly sportier (and water-resistant) office wardrobe.

But overall, it's a great way to get a bit of exercise in, not use gas and save a bit of money. That’s a tough combination to beat, so make sure to check out our best eBikes list to pick out your new way to get to work. 

Malcolm McMillan
News Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a News Writer for Tom's Guide. Before writing for Tom's Guide, he worked many retail jobs and many Black Fridays, including a stint for Microsoft. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. In his spare time, Malcolm is a fantasy football analyst. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.

  • Domt
    Hi, I live in the UK so not bothered by the Rain, but did you account for the gas in your 12 bucks?
    Reply
  • pcampbell804
    Good article, and it's nice the bike was equipped with a rack and a rear fender. I would have added a front fender myself, and it's rather odd that it's missing on this model. In terms of exercise and being sweaty, with the right e-bike, you can arrive at work with zero sweat, but also get a better workout than a pedal bike... if you choose. I'm a former marathon cyclist, and all you have to do is drop that pedal assist level down, and it's like riding with weights! This makes a standard road bike feel light as a feather in comparison, and I've gotten some leg-burning workouts that I just can't achieve on my regular bikes! Turn up the pedal assist and the opposite is true, and you can glide along effortlessly. My e-bike also has a throttle, and at the end of the day when I'm sometimes completely spent, it's my best friend. I've never bought into the whole "earn your ride" concept. Is riding a bike supposed be punishment, and the only ones allowed to relax after a hard day are those in 4,000 pound vehicles? I think not! 😉

    I rode to work for a few months last year, and weather was the biggest obstacle. I live in Michigan, and when the snow arrives, most bike paths are completely abandoned. You can dress for the cold, and I even have a heated helmet, but when they use bike paths as a place to dump snow from the roads, it's game over. Thanks again for the article!
    Reply