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    Why You Should E-bike on Orkney

    By Helen Tatlow
    More by Helen

    Cycling Orkney by E-bike is Fabulous

    If exploring pristine machair beaches, quiet roads by a glittering Atlantic panorama, ancient neolithic stones aligned with the midwinter sun, and spotting puffins, guillemots, and minke whales sounds like a treasure trove to you, read on. E-bikes enable you to travel faster and further, meaning you can see more of Orkney in a day without fatigue. With some of the best road surfaces in the UK and quiet country lanes, it truly is a cyclists’ paradise and one best explored on two wheels.

    If you’re thinking of joining an E-bike trip on Orkney, we’ve put together some of our thoughts on why we think it’s a fantastic place to explore. Keep reading to check out our reasons why you need to E-bike across the Orkney Islands on your next trip.

    Reasons to E-bike on Orkney:

    Extra Content

    Be Part of Orkney’s Renewables Revolution

    Photo copyright: Kenny Lam

    On Orkney, something amazing is happening in the world of energy. Almost unbelievably,  renewable energy powers 100% of the island, largely generated by wind and tidal energy farms.

    The islands are renowned worldwide for their commitment to a low-carbon, renewable source of ‘green and clean’ energy for their population. That means that when you plug your bike in to charge, you’ll be charging your E-bike from the power generated by the wild Atlantic winds and tides, spinning the wind turbines.

    Not only that, but you’ll be joining other electric vehicle users on Orkney’s quiet roads, with Orkney boasting the most electric vehicles per person in any part of the UK.

    Bring Your Bike on the Ferry for Free

    Carrying an E-bike on the ferry to Orkney is free – you only need to pay the cost of being a foot passenger. The ferry crew are used to bringing bicycles on the boats, and they even have dedicated outdoor waiting areas for cyclists, ensuring a smooth crossing for you and your E-bike. While you’re travelling, why not enjoy a shower on board, a freshly prepared dinner, or a relaxing drink at the bar?

    Once you’re on Orkney, if you fancy taking your E-bike for a spin up some of the more hilly spots, such as the Island of Hoy, home to Orkney’s highest peak, Ward Hill (standing at a towering 481 metres), you can take it on the inter-island ferry for free as a foot passenger. Other options include the beautiful Rackwick beach, and of course, the iconic Old Man of Hoy.

    Enjoy a Welcoming Local Bike Culture

    There’s no need to worry about mechanicals or needing spares, with well-stocked bicycle repair shops on Orkney to help you out and get you back on two wheels. Check out:

    While you’re there, you can join a local ride with the Orkney Cycling Club, which is happy to welcome visitors to Orkney and show them the sights. What better way to meet community members and learn what being an Orcadian on the Northern Isles is like?

    And what better way to refuel after your ride than at a cafe stop with locally baked cakes and Orkney ground coffee (that’s the real reason we all ride bikes, right?). Orkney’s cafes are well set up for cyclists. Check out 59 Degrees North Cafe and Pizzeria on the island of Sanday, set in a wildflower meadow with panoramic ocean views. They have homemade bike stands made from upcycled car tyres ready to prop your bikes up for a relaxing outdoor cake stop.

    Pack More for Your Holiday

    One of the challenges of travelling by bike is deciding what to bring and what to leave at home (do you really need that extra pair of socks?). E-bikes make that decision easier by taking off the load.

    On a group E-bike trip, you lose the worry of hauling a heavy load all day. Knowing that all that power comes from renewables, packing a few extra kilos is a weight off your mind, leaving room for a few luxurious items. With a bit of extra space, we’d recommend taking a pair of binoculars to spot some of Orkney’s incredible wildlife (in summer, this can include puffins, guillemots, white-tailed eagles, orca, minke, and sometimes humpback whales).

    For those keen photographers among you, the weight difference might be the difference between packing your DSLR camera or a smartphone camera. Leave room in your bag for souvenirs too – make the most of Orkney’s local craft and gift stores with a hand-knitted traditional Fair Isle knit or a bottle of Highland Park whisky to keep you warm on the journey home.

    See More of Orkney Each Day

    Orkney Isles Skara Brae

    Skara Brae

    With so much to see and do on Orkney, travelling by E-bike means you can see more and travel the islands more quickly – all without breaking a sweat. Nearly all the sites on Orkney are accessible by bike, and there is so much to see.

    Some of our favourite spots include the unique small island of Shapinsay, home to one of the best preserved Brochs in Orkney, and some of the best birdlife at Mill Dam RSPB reserve- where you might expect to see curlew, redshank, shovelers, and wigeons.

    Those interested in ancient history cannot pass up visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Skara Brae. This is Europe’s best preserved Stone Age village, which gives an idea of life 5,000 years ago for those who lived there. It was only uncovered due to a wild winter storm in 1850 when the high tides tore away the grass from what is now known as Skara Brae. New sections are still being uncovered.

    The mystery of Orkney’s ancient people can’t be summed up better than the magical Maesowe Chambered Cairn. At the Winter Solstice, the shortest day in the year, the sun’s rays line up perfectly with the entrance to the cairn. No one knows for sure why this was, though they have their theories. After a walk around the site, perhaps you will come up with your own.

    Orkney E-bike FAQs

    Are there bike shops on Orkney? Read More

    Yes, there are well-equipped bike shops on Orkney.

    What are the roads like? Read More

    The roads are quiet and generally of very good quality. Orkney isn’t known for being too hilly, so expect gently undulating days in the saddle.

    Can I access everything by bike? Read More

    Most sites on Orkney are accessible by bike, but not all by public transport, so if you want a clean and healthy way to explore, the bike is the best way to do it.

    How do I get there? Read More

    Most people travel to Orkney by ferry, where it’s free to bring your bike as a foot passenger and much cheaper than taking a vehicle, too.

    Are there any areas that are particularly challenging? Read More

    The islands of Hoy and Rousay are the most hilly and have some steep climbs. Make the most of the extra power to enjoy all they have to offer.

    What safety equipment do I legally need? Read More

    The UK Government’s Highway code states that ‘You should wear a cycle helmet that conforms to current regulations, is the correct size and securely fastened. At night, your bicycle must have white front and red rear lights lit. It must also be fitted with a red rear reflector and amber pedal reflectors. You must cycle on the left of the road, and you must not cycle on a pavement. You must also follow the same drinking regulations as vehicle drivers, so you cannot ride under the influence of alcohol beyond legal limits.’

    Do you have any tips for navigating Scottish singletrack? (And what is singletrack?) Read More

    First off, ‘singletrack’ in Scotland means a road where vehicles are allowed to pass in opposite directions. Often, however, there isn’t enough room for them to pass side by side, so one car has to pull into a designated layby to let the other pass. The short answer is that singletrack is a very narrow road.

    The perks of these roads are that they’re often very quiet stretches, but they can get congested with larger vehicles or agricultural or farm vehicles. It’s unlikely that vehicles will be able to overtake you on these roads. We’d recommend keeping an ear out for traffic behind you and regularly glancing over your shoulder to check for traffic. Be sure to pull into the nearest layby as soon as you can to let the traffic pass you to prevent queues of impatient drivers waiting.

    What should I wear? Read More

    Scotland is notorious for having all the seasons in one day, so regardless of the time of year, you’ll need full waterproofs (jacket and trousers), warm gloves, and a warm layer like a fleece or insulated jacket as a minimum. Check out our blog post on what to wear for cycling in Scotland for more information.

    How do E-bikes compare to road bikes? Read More

    The main differences between E-bikes and road bikes are that E-bike batteries need charging regularly, they’re heavier due to their batteries, and their components are different when you come to fix them. Their larger size means that E-bikes don’t fit on all bike trailers.

    The upside of these slight differences is that you can travel where you want to faster and with less effort, meaning you can have longer days without getting tired. At the same time, you can carry as much as you like without worrying about hauling it up hills.

    You can choose the resistance to make the ride as challenging or easy as possible. For those looking to take the strain off joints, preserve their energy, recover from injury, or just make hills that little bit more enjoyable, they’re the perfect choice. Read more about the pros and cons of E-bikes here.

    E-biking on Orkney Video

    E-bike on Orkney

    Trip & Departure DatesAvailabilityStatusPriceBook
    E-bike – The Cotswolds

    8th Jun - 14th Jun 2024

    9 place(s) leftGuaranteed 2,895Book Now
    E-bike – The Outer Hebrides

    20th Jul - 26th Jul 2024

    5 place(s) leftGuaranteed 2,595Book Now
    E-bike – The Cotswolds

    27th Jul - 2nd Aug 2024

    12 place(s) leftAvailable 2,895Book Now
    E-bike – The Outer Hebrides

    17th Aug - 23rd Aug 2024

    3 place(s) leftGuaranteed 2,675Book Now
    E-bike – The Orkney Isles

    25th Aug - 30th Aug 2024

    6 place(s) leftGuaranteed 2,395Book Now
    E-bike – The Outer Hebrides

    14th Sep - 20th Sep 2024

    3 place(s) leftGuaranteed 2,675Book Now
    E-bike – The Orkney Isles

    22nd Sep - 27th Sep 2024

    12 place(s) leftAvailable 2,395Book Now

    Meet the Author: Helen Tatlow

    “Originally from the Cotswolds, I moved to the Scottish Highlands in 2020. I spend my time running in the forests and mountains near home, sea and whitewater kayaking, and planning impromptu multi-day bike trips. I firmly believe that the outdoors is a space for everyone and that most importantly, it should be fun!”

    View profileMore by Helen

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