Transport & Parking

Try before you Buy success

In October 2017, the Transport Office launched its ‘Try before you Buy’ eCycle hire scheme. A year later, user experiences have highlighted the success of the scheme.

In 2015, the University of Edinburgh acquired eight e-bikes through the eCycles project, a partnership of colleges and universities in and around Edinburgh with funding from SEStran. Four of these eCycles were set aside for use in the ‘Try before you Buy’ scheme.

The purpose of the “Try before you Buy” scheme is to provide University staff with the opportunity to try out an e-bike for one month to help them decide if buying their own is the right decision.

Each staff member must participate in a short induction on the safe use and maintenance of the eCycle prior to the hire period. In addition to the bike, battery and charger, the hirer is also supplied with cycling gear, which includes a Kryptonite D-lock and cable, a helmet, waterproof panniers and a high-viz jacket.

Over the last year 34 University staff members have taken advantage of the scheme and upon returning their bike each were asked a series of questions about their experience.

Results found that hiring an eCycle for a month did have an impact on the level of interest in buying a bike among participants of the scheme. 85% of participants said they were more interested in buying an eCycle than before participating in the scheme.

23 hirers said that having an eCycle increased the amount they cycled by a bit or by a lot.  75% of participants also indicated that they intended to cycle to work more often following this experience.

In November 2018 a survey was sent out to all TBYB participants who had returned their bike at least three months before to ascertain the long-term effects that participation in the scheme had on participants’ commuting behaviour.

It showed that 27% of respondents had already bought an e-bike and 54% were planning or considering to buy an e-bike in the future.

One advocate of the scheme is Vanessa McCorquodale, Projects Officer in the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability. She has written a blog about her experience using an e-bike for her 13 mile commute to work. You can read her full blog on the Visions Blog.

Find out more about our eCycle scheme:

If you are interested in finding out more about this scheme, please email