Electric bicycles, like EVs, may be eligible for tax credits to help defray costs

Nov 07, 2021 4 minutes read

E-bike is a term that encompasses more than just "electric bicycle."

Last month, the U.S. Senate sponsored the "Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment" — or E-BIKE — Act. In February, a companion bill, also known as the E-BIKE Act, was introduced in the United States House of Representatives.

They all have the same goal in mind: to get more people to ride electric bikes instead of driving vehicles.

Does this ring a bell?

Federal tax credits of up to $7,500 are available for electric vehicles, including plug-in batteries and hybrid automobiles. Tesla and General Motors have already sold 200,000 electric cars and are no longer offering a federal rebate. However, President Biden is under pressure to raise the cap, especially since he wants 50% of new car sales to be zero-emission vehicles by 2030.

The purpose of the E-BIKE incentive is identical to that of the gas-powered car incentive: to entice people away from gas-powered vehicles.

The move could help e-bike manufacturers gain access to their expensive two-wheelers, which are anxious to get more battery-powered vehicles on the streets. Ridepanda, an e-bike purchasing site, connects customers with e-bikes that cost up to $6,000. The company, which claims that its typical e-bike costs under $1,100, has 27 e-bikes under $2,000 on its website. (This is down from 34 when higher-end choices

However, there is a snag in the E-BIKE Act. If it passes, qualifying bikes will only be able to use 750 watts of power, significantly less than the power available in most of the most expensive alternatives. Different manufactures list power ranging from 250 to 500 watts at the lower price level.

The main reason for Serial 1, a Harley-Davidson e-bike manufacturer, to support the law is so that more people can purchase their bikes. Its e-bikes cost up to $5,600 due to its rapid brand recognition and lightweight, high-speed range options. Its most affordable commuter bike costs around $3,800. Those bikes are now more affordable thanks to the discounts.

"EVs, like [e-bikes], are a significant tool for giving Americans access to vital, sustainable mobility options," Jason Huntsman, president of Serial 1, wrote in an email. We support tax credits for all-electric vehicles, including [e-bikes], which will make electric cars more accessible to all Americans."

The Serial 1 climbs a hill in San Francisco.

The Serial 1 climbs a hill in San Francisco. Mashable's Sasha Lekach contributed to this article.

The RadRover 6 Plus, the company's newest bike, starts at just under $2,000 and goes up from there. "People who are used to cars will be comfortable making that migration to e-bikes," Redwood Stephens, Rad Power Bikes' chief product officer, told me before a demo ride in a San Francisco park. With its fat tires for stability, 75 kWh battery, and custom motor for faster hill climbs, "people who are used to cars will be comfortable making that migration to e-bikes."

Zachary Schieffelin, the founder of Civilized Cycles, is thinking the same thing. The Model 1, the company's first auto-adjusting, 30-mile range e-bike, will be available for $5,499 later this year. He aims to get people off their vehicles and onto bikes for short excursions. He expects that an e-bike with rear storage, a comfy seat, and capacity for a passenger, as well as a robust suspension system, will make the transition simple.

In an email, he stated, "Anything we can do to shift those short excursions to clean, quiet, efficient options like e-bikes is a good thing." "This legislation will benefit our industry, but it would be nice to see equal cuts in the massive subsidies that oil and gas firms have been receiving for years," says the author.

An e-bike with all the bells and whistles

An e-bike with all the bells and whistles Civilized Cycles is to thank for this.

Specialized, which recently debuted the lightweight Turbo Como SL, an electric pedal assist e-bike with a starting price of $3,300, has been advocating for an e-bike version of the EV tax credit.

"Whichever e-bike users select, we feel that encouraging more bike journeys is a key component of combating the climate issue," Specialized CEO Mike Sinyard said in a statement when the House version of the E-BIKE Act in February.

These businesses believe that it's not only about money but also the environment.

Adjusted e-bike costs have already been for next year's budget in California. A total of $10 million aside to launch different programs to lower the cost of purchasing one of the state's bicycles. Peninsula Clean Energy rebates in San Mateo County already offer up to $800 in savings. Other counties provide discounts of up to $1,000 on e-bike purchases, as well as lower savings. Some incentive programs consider your income level when determining whether you are eligible for discounts or credits.

In recent months, I've had the opportunity to test various e-bikes in a congested, hilly, pothole-filled San Francisco neighborhood (on the Serial 1, Rad Power Bike's RadRover 6 Plus, and Civilized Cycles' auto-adjusting suspension bike). You don't get the impression that you're in a subpar vehicle.

SEE ALSO: Summer cycling: 7 things to consider before jumping into the world of e-bikes

They can get you up (and down) slopes, keep you from breaking a sweat and encourage you to use them instead of a car for short excursions.

Even if riders, the upfront cost — all of these bikes start at over $2,000 — must be considered. It's similar to when Tesla's Model 3 was about $40,000 before the end of 2019, but electric tax incentives lowered the price to the more affordable $30,000 area. E-bikes are in a similar situation: a $3,000 bike can be reduced to $2,000 using E-BIKE Act credits. That makes e-bikes marginally cheaper for those with extra cash, but it still won't make them available to everyone.