An electric bicycle is similar to a standard bicycle. The main difference is that the e-bike has an electric motor which aids in propulsion and assists the rider in pedaling the bike.
Electric bicycles are also known as e-bikes, powerbikes, or booster bikes. The electric motor is integrated into the pedaling system, allowing it to kick in when the rider gets tired of pedaling or just needs an extra boost to get going.
An e-bike has a re-chargeable battery and can go to speeds from 25-32 km/h (16-20 mph). Depending on local laws, a high-powered e-bike can go over 45 km/h (28 mph). E-bikes are becoming popular in certain markets like in Germany, and they are reducing the market share of the standard pedal-only bicycle. In places like China, the e-bike is taking the place of fossil-fueled mopeds and certain motorcycles.
The History of the E-Bike
E-bikes have been recognized with numerous U.S. Patents. One of those patents was granted to Ogden Bolton Jr., on December 31, 1895, for a battery powered bike that had a “6-pole-brush-and-commutator direct current (DC) hub motor mounted in the rear wheel.” This bike had no gears and the motor could pull up to 100 amperes (A) from a 10-volt battery.
Another e-bike was invented two years later by a Hosea W. Libbey of Boston. This e-bike was propelled by a “double-electric motor”. The motor was created within the center of the crankset axel. This model was re-created and replicated during the 1990s by Giant Lafree e-bikes.
Classes of E-Bikes
E-bikes are classified by the power of the motor and the control system. However, it is difficult to legally distinguish an e-bike from a moped or electric motorcycle.
Regardless of the legalities of classifying an e-bike, the main classifications are based on whether the e-bike’s motor aids the rider in a “pedal-assisted” or “power-on-demand” manner. The definitions of the two classifications are below.
- A “pedal-assisted” e-bike uses the motor to regulate the pedaling. The pedal-assisted motor enhances the rider’s pedaling efforts. These e-bikes are called pedelecs and use a sensor device to sense the speed or force of the pedals, or both. There is also a brake activation that senses if there is a need to disable the motor.
- The “power-on-demand” e-bike has a motor that is operated by the use of a throttle. This is usually mounted on the handlebars as with a motorcycle or scooter.
Electric bicycles are an eco-friendly and healthy way for a person to get around town. One doesn’t have to worry about running out of battery power as with a straight electric powered motor, because they have the option of using the pedal option to give the battery a break. E-bikes seem to be the way of the future and a way to get around the high costs of traditional gas-powered automobiles. E-bikes are also a way to avoid the heavy flow of traffic on the streets and highways. Take the bicycle lane and ride right past it all.