Bicycles were introduced in the late 19th century in Europe, and by the early 21st century, more than 1 billion were in existence at a given time. These numbers far exceed the number of cars, both in total and ranked by the number of individual models produced. They are the principal means of transportation in many regions. They also provide a popular form of recreation, and have been adapted for use as children's toys, general fitness, military and police applications, courier services, bicycle racing and bicycle stunts.
E-bikes are zero-emissions vehicles, as they emit no combustion by-products. However, the environmental effects of electricity generation and power distribution and of manufacturing and disposing of (limited life) high storage density batteries must be taken into account. Even with these issues considered, e-bikes are claimed to have a significantly lower environmental impact than conventional automobiles, and are generally seen as environmentally desirable in an urban environment.
Photo: Zap Electric's power-assist kit turns a conventional bike into an electric one. There's a bolt-on DC electric motor (weighing just over 3kg or 7lb) just above the back wheel, behind the police officer's foot, pressing against the tire and driving it by simple friction. The motor's powered by a compact lead-acid battery (weighing about 5.5 kg or 12 lb) inside a protective nylon bag. This kit adds quite bit of weight to the bike, but gives extra range and speed when needed. Photo taken in Santa Rosa, California by Rick Tang courtesy of US DOE/NREL.
E-bikes use rechargeable batteries and the lighter ones can travel up to 25 to 32 km/h (16 to 20 mph), depending on local laws, while the more high-powered varieties can often do in excess of 45 km/h (28 mph). In some markets, such as Germany as of 2013, they are gaining in popularity and taking some market share away from conventional bicycles, while in others, such as China as of 2010, they are replacing fossil fuel-powered mopeds and small motorcycles.
This is the bold claim of Oxford-based Zap&Go, a battery technology startup developing Nano-Carbon-ion batteries for electric vehicles. In a partnership with Chinese battery manufacturer Li-Fun technology, one of the major Lithium-ion battery producers for the electric bike industry, they will launch an electric scooter which will charge in just 5 minutes. This exciting new technology could help to further develop the electric bike industry, reducing weight and extending battery range.
A new electric cyclist will likely experience two conflicts of thought: 1). Will the general public accept my use of this power assist technology, or Will they ridicule and reject me as being lazy? 2). Will I stand out to law enforcement by the look of my bike or riding a bit faster than other cyclist on hills and roads? Grappling with these two thoughts will tempt most folks to try and remain unnoticed and ride more responsibly. After I became an advocate of e-transportation on two wheels, enjoying the benefits of power assist commuting, I eventually was a bit put off by this federal law, especially the 20mph limitation. Is 20 mph really practical and justified? Is it not true that many active young people on typical road bicycles are able to actively ride in the 20-25mph range? I discovered that ebikes, with larger tires and disk brakes, can comfortably and safety cruise in that range of speed. The standard 2001 Federal law of 20mph, eventually became a practical limitation for an ebike commuter of over 20 miles a day, and caused me to get a bike beyond the federal limits, making me more alert and sensitive when riding in the presence of the police.
It should be noted that the definition as written does not define the power of the motor in Watts as is conventionally done for electric bicycles but rather in brake horsepower. Thus for an electric bicycle, motor kit, or electric bicycle motor that is not rated by the manufacture in brake horsepower but rather in Watts a conversion must be made in the units a conversion which is not given in the code of the law and thus the court will have to consider a factor of conversion that is not directly encoded in the law. Industry standard conversion for Watts to horsepower for electric motors is 1 horsepower = 746 watts. Acceptance of that conversion factor from industry, however, as interpretation of the law is subject to the process of the courts since it is not defined specifically in the law.
Bicycle shall mean (1) every device propelled solely by human power, upon which any person may ride, and having two tandem wheels either of which is more than fourteen inches in diameter or (2) a device with two or three wheels, fully operative pedals for propulsion by human power, and an electric motor with a capacity not exceeding seven hundred fifty watts which produces no more than one brake horsepower and is capable of propelling the bicycle at a maximum design speed of no more than twenty miles per hour on level ground.
We've also released our first native 72V battery pack in a conventional downtube battery casing, assembled using the high power Samsung 27100 40T cells so that even with the small 8Ah capacity it is able to deliver 40-50A continuous currents. This is an ideal battery for fast and sporty offroad ebike builds, allowing powerful performance without the weight or complexity of most 72V setups (either two 36V packs in series or a large triangle frame battery).
The BC Bike Show is the premier cycling and outdoors event in Western Canada and is happening in just 2 weeks on March 2nd and 3rd. We'll be there of course, and in addition to our exhibitor booth we'll also be hosting Cycle Stage to give more public presentations. On Saturday at 11:45 am we'll talk on how to navigate the various motor and battery options available for ebike retrofits, and on Sunday at 2pm we'll be doing a live demonstration of a regular bicycle being converted over to electric assist.
If you are a person who enjoys riding a bike casually at a typical bike path speed (10-15mph), and you like the idea of an ebike push up a hill, against the wind or to relieving a sore knee, then your market for a fully legally defined ebike is very broad and your practical use only has a few limitations. Most ebikes will meet your needs and expectation. I would estimate that 85% of the electric bikes on the market are 100% compliant meeting the federal definition. I encourage you to take the plunge and get a good quality ebike and ride more with assist. Do so with the confidence that electric bikes are here to stay. Coexisting with pedestrians and other cyclist will become a normal part of cycling life.
Electric-assist and other "motorized bicycles" do not need to be inspected, do not require a license, and do not require registration. The vehicle must meet all of the following criteria: a post mounted seat for each person it is designed to carry, two or three wheels which contact the ground, fully operative pedals, wheels at least 16 inches in diameter and a motor not capable of propelling the device at more than 20 mph on level ground. The driver does not need a license, but must be at least 16 years old. DC law prohibits motorized bicycles from traveling anywhere on the sidewalk or in the bike lanes. DC Regulation 18-1201.18 provides: "Except as otherwise permitted for a motor vehicle, no person shall operate a motorized bicycle on any sidewalk or any off-street bikepath or bicycle route within the District. This prohibition shall apply even though the motorized bicycle is being operated solely by human power." So, if cars are prohibited in a particular place, motor-assisted bikes are also prohibited.
That aside, the Axis is a fantastic e-bike. At 'only' 16kg, it's almost lively by e-bike standards, but it also feels rock solid. It's geared too low in my opinion – I think it's fair to say I am not the target market – but in 8th, you can breeze on past the legally mandated, electrically-assisted 15.5mph. The hydraulic disk brakes will then bring you to a pleasingly rapid dead stop. The range and charging time are good, too. Cheap it is not, mind you.
Electric bikes vary widely in price, anywhere from $999 to $2000+, so you’ll have to determine how important certain features are to the overall cost. (However, we made a list of electric bikes under $1.000 here.)The battery used to power an electric bike motor is a key factor in how expensive a particular bike is. In general, the more miles a battery can provide, the more expensive it will be, so it’s important to consider the type of riding you plan on doing. If you know you’ll be using predominantly motor-generated power, then paying a bit more for a battery with a longer range is probably a good idea. Alongside with a good quality battery, motor is the most expensive part of an electric bike. Most standard electric bike motors come with a power rating of 250W, and the industry standard in the US is 500W. Maximum power of the motor you can legally use in the US is 750W. The non-electric components used on an electric bike are almost the same with those used on the conventional bicycles. The quality of the components used will affect the maintenance costs of your electric bike down the road, and more quality components mean higher upfront cost. Lastly, there is the frame. Since the frame is basically the skeleton of your electric bike, it’s wise to select a good material that will be the optimum combination of weight and durability.
What exactly is an electric bike? How can they be used for transportation and why do they make financial sense? These are some of the questions my site http://electricbikereview.com and this channel aim to help you answer. This particular video provides an overview of the Easy Motion Neo Jumper ebike and then follows me on an actual commute to work in Austin Texas.
E-bikes use rechargeable batteries, electric motors and some form of control. Battery systems in use include sealed lead-acid (SLA), nickel-cadmium (NiCad), nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) or lithium-ion polymer (Li-ion). Batteries vary according to the voltage, total charge capacity (amp hours), weight, the number of charging cycles before performance degrades, and ability to handle over-voltage charging conditions. The energy costs of operating e-bikes are small, but there can be considerable battery replacement costs. The lifespan of a battery pack varies depending on the type of usage. Shallow discharge/recharge cycles will help extend the overall battery life.
In the early 1860s, Frenchmen Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallement took bicycle design in a new direction by adding a mechanical crank drive with pedals on an enlarged front wheel (the velocipede). This was the first in mass production. Another French inventor named Douglas Grasso had a failed prototype of Pierre Lallement's bicycle several years earlier. Several inventions followed using rear-wheel drive, the best known being the rod-driven velocipede by Scotsman Thomas McCall in 1869. In that same year, bicycle wheels with wire spokes were patented by Eugène Meyer of Paris. The French vélocipède, made of iron and wood, developed into the "penny-farthing" (historically known as an "ordinary bicycle", a retronym, since there was then no other kind). It featured a tubular steel frame on which were mounted wire-spoked wheels with solid rubber tires. These bicycles were difficult to ride due to their high seat and poor weight distribution. In 1868 Rowley Turner, a sales agent of the Coventry Sewing Machine Company (which soon became the Coventry Machinists Company), brought a Michaux cycle to Coventry, England. His uncle, Josiah Turner, and business partner James Starley, used this as a basis for the 'Coventry Model' in what became Britain's first cycle factory.
Even with cheaper or heavier bikes, once you accept that you are really meant to pedal gently and let the motor do the work, non-speed freaks will get into it. E-bikes are great for commuting and for places that aren't pancake flat. They'll pull you away from the lights quickly, iron out hills and stop you getting sweaty, so you can bin the Lycra and ride in jeans, a suit, or a winter coat.
Louisiana Revised Statute R.S. 32:1(41) defines a motorized bicycle as a pedal bicycle which may be propelled by human power or helper motor, or by both, with a motor rated no more than one and one-half brake horsepower, a cylinder capacity not exceeding fifty cubic centimeters, an automatic transmission, and which produces a maximum design speed of no more than twenty-five miles per hour on a flat surface. Motorized bicycles falling within this definition must be registered and titled under Louisiana law. Additionally, a motorized bicycle operated upon Louisiana roadways or highways by a person fifteen years of age or older and producing more than five horsepower must possess a valid driver's license with a motorcycle endorsement and adhere to laws governing the operation of a motorcycle, including the wearing of approved eye protectors or a windshield and the wearing of a helmet. The statute also states that "Motorized bicycles such as pocket bikes and scooters that do not meet the requirements of this policy shall not be registered."
In the theoretical electric bike we considered up above, we had the dynamo/motor driving the back wheel directly, simply by pressing on the tire. Most electric bikes work a different way. They have compact electric motors built into the hub of the back or front wheel (or mounted in the center of the bike and connected to the pedal sprocket). Take a look at the hub of an electric bike and probably you'll see it's much fatter and bulkier than on a normal bike. You can read more about how these motors work in our main article about hub motors.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Act states that electric bicycles and tricycles meeting the definition of low-speed electric bicycles will be considered consumer products. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has regulatory authority to assure, through guidelines and standards, that the public will be protected from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of electric bicycles.
"Electric-assisted bicycle" means a bicycle with two or three wheels, a saddle, fully operative pedals for human propulsion, and an electric motor. The electric-assisted bicycle's electric motor must have a power output of no more than one thousand watts, be incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than twenty miles per hour on level ground, and be incapable of further increasing the speed of the device when human power alone is used to propel the device beyond twenty miles per hour.
Both the Stromer and the Stoeckli are very nice looking designs and easy to handle. Reliability for both does not seem to be up to Swiss standards, e.g. some of the 2012 Stöcklis seem to have bad contacts. However, as of 2013, most of these problems should be fixed. The Cube got criticized for its battery/saddle system, but this has probably been fixed in more recent edition and it has less "punch" then the other's since the motor is smaller (324W?). I don't know about the BH Neo Nitro. Given the relatively low price of the BH Nitro, it may be the best buy in this category if you plan to cover smaller distances (the battery is limited to 9Ah, and Spain's industry does need some help ;) Anyhow, all of these models come with a variety of motors and country-specific modifications. E.g. in France, the BH Nitro comes with a 350W motor and is electronically limited to 25km/h, whereas in Switzerland you either can get a 500W - 45 km/h version or a 250W? - 25km/h version.
Speaking of which, if you're used to non-electric cycles, be aware that e-bikes are heavy and capped at 25kph or 15.5mph. In many cases, that means the bike starts to feel like its actively fighting against you, if you try to push the speed higher than that by pedalling. That's especially true with heavier bikes, for obvious reasons, and can take a while to get used to.
Electric bicycles use batteries as a source of power and a quiet DC motor as a driving mechanism. On most e-bikes the motor is built directly into the wheel (known as a hub motor) and the batteries are discreetly hidden in the rear rack or frame. Electric bikes can be operated just like normal bicycles, but they can also be power-driven by a throttle or pedaled with the help of pedal-assist (PAS or pedelec).
But electric bicycles—e-bikes—are new territory for me. Broadly speaking, there are two basic options in e-bike land: power-on-demand and pedal-assist. With the former, the rider can control the speed with a throttle instead of just pedaling. Think moped but with an electric motor instead of internal combustion. Pedal-assist, by contrast, requires the rider to do some of the work. The electric motor won't engage unless the rider is pedaling.