Photo: Could solar power be the future of electric bicycles? The large solar panel mounted over the back wheel of this experimental bike powers an electric motor connected by a chain drive to the back wheel, helping the rider when he doesn't feel like pedaling. Using clean, green solar power would remove the problem of having to charge electric bikes with electricity generated from fossil fuels—and help to extend their range significantly. Photo by Warren Gretz courtesy of US DOE/NREL.
Torque sensors and power controls were developed in the late 1990s. For example, Takada Yutky of Japan filed a patent in 1997 for such a device. In 1992 Vector Services Limited offered and sold an electric bicycle dubbed Zike.[7] The bicycle included Nickel-cadmium batteries that were built into a frame member and included an 850 g permanent-magnet motor. Despite the Zike, in 1992 hardly any commercial electric bicycles were available. It wasn’t until 1998 when there were at least 49 different bikes. Production grew from 1993 to 2004 by an estimated 35%. By Contrast, according to Gardner, in 1995 regular bicycle production decreased from its peak 107 million units. Some of the less expensive electric bicycles used bulky lead acid batteries, whereas newer models generally used NiMH, NiCd and/or Li-ion batteries which offered lighter, denser capacity batteries. The end benefits usually varied from manufacturer; however, in general there was an increase in range and speed. By 2004 electric bicycles where manufactured by Currie Technologies, EV Global, Optibike, Giante Lite, Merida, ZAP.
However, laws and terminology are diverse. Some countries have national regulations but leave the legality of road use for states and provinces to decide. Municipal laws and restrictions add further complications. Systems of classification and nomenclature also vary. Jurisdictions may address "power-assisted bicycle" (Canada) or "power-assisted cycle" (United Kingdom) or "electric pedal-assisted cycles" (European Union) or simply "electric bicycles". Some classify pedelecs as distinct from other bikes using electric power. Thus, the same hardware may be subject to many different classifications and regulations.
Some argue, that an ebike should have some kind of front suspension, i.e. be able to cope with potholes at higher speed or off-road conditions. However, in countries with flat roads (e.g. Switzerland, Germany or Holland) you don't need that extra weight for extra price if you stay on roads and/or drive slowly in difficult terrain. Some makes (like the Stromer) let you choose.
And let’s not forget the economic advantages of owning an e-bike. The annual cost of running a new family car is, on average, about $9,000 per year. Running an electric bike costs around $400 per year. And while filling a gas tank costs around $30, recharging an electric bike battery costs only about 50 cents. A tank of gas may get you further, but not 60 times further!
We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. With rechargeable, battery-powered pedaling assistance, electric bicycles offer an increasingly viable alternative to fossil-fueled commuting, and e-bikes enable riders of various abilities to extend their cycling range. But the street legality of these hybrid machines remains a contentious issue, so be sure to check current state and local laws governing their operation before you hit the road. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best electric bike on Amazon.
In built up cities around the world, urban planning uses cycling infrastructure like bikeways to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.[59] A number of cities around the world have implemented schemes known as bicycle sharing systems or community bicycle programs.[60][61] The first of these was the White Bicycle plan in Amsterdam in 1965. It was followed by yellow bicycles in La Rochelle and green bicycles in Cambridge. These initiatives complement public transport systems and offer an alternative to motorized traffic to help reduce congestion and pollution.[62] In Europe, especially in the Netherlands and parts of Germany and Denmark, bicycle commuting is common. In Copenhagen, a cyclists' organization runs a Cycling Embassy that promotes biking for commuting and sightseeing. The United Kingdom has a tax break scheme (IR 176) that allows employees to buy a new bicycle tax free to use for commuting.[63]
As electric bike options continue to expand, more brands are integrating the battery more seamlessly. That makes them look sleeker (and more like a real bike). Batteries are expensive, so make sure there’s a good way to lock the battery to your bike if you’ll be keeping it outside. Overall weight is important. Some battery and motors can add 15 pounds or more to the bike. With assist, you won’t feel that much when you’re riding, but you will if you have to carry your bike up stairs or lift it onto a bike rack.
An affordable GPS enabled bike security alarm device with text and email updates, runs on the 2G Verizon network to send notifications about location and status, includes iPhone, Android and web apps to control the device, track, and download ride data. Mounts to any standard bottle cage bosses if there is enough horizontal room, the device is 10" long and 3/4" thick with rubberized contacts to reduce vibration, rear rack and quick clamp mounting accessories available to work with just about any bike...

Some argue, that an ebike should have some kind of front suspension, i.e. be able to cope with potholes at higher speed or off-road conditions. However, in countries with flat roads (e.g. Switzerland, Germany or Holland) you don't need that extra weight for extra price if you stay on roads and/or drive slowly in difficult terrain. Some makes (like the Stromer) let you choose.
By 1898 a rear wheel drive electric bicycle, which used a driving belt along the outside edge of the wheel was patented by Mathew J. Steffens. Also, the 1899 Template:US Patent by John Schnepf depicted a rear wheel friction “roller-wheel” style drive electric bicycle.[5] Schnepf's invention was later re-examined and expanded in 1969 by G.A. Wood Jr. with his Template:US Patent. Wood’s device used 4 fractional horsepower motors; each rated less than ½ horsepower and connected through a series of gears.[6]
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.
The definition was clearly written with gasoline-powered pedalcycles in mind. The requirement of an automatic transmission is troublesome for those who just want to add an electric-assist motor to a bicycle, for almost all bicycles have transmissions consisting of chains and manually shifted sprockets. The registration form asks for a VIN, making it difficult to register some foreign-made ebikes. The fine for riding an unregistered electric bike is approximately $160.00 per event as of 2007.

The Bosch Performance CX is still one of the most popular motors on the market. It’s synonymous with reliability, but it’s getting on in years. The newly presented Active Line looks like a glimpse into Bosch’s future: it is more compact, lighter, has less internal resistance, and uses a large chainring. It can only be a matter of time before Bosch releases a new performance motor.
In a parallel hybrid motorized bicycle, such as the aforementioned 1897 invention by Hosea W. Libbey, human and motor inputs are mechanically coupled either in the bottom bracket, the rear wheel, or the front wheel, whereas in a (mechanical) series hybrid cycle, the human and motor inputs are coupled through differential gearing. In an (electronic) series hybrid cycle, human power is converted into electricity and is fed directly into the motor and mostly additional electricity is supplied from a battery.
As of 2008 a standard class C license, proof of insurance, and registration (annual fee: $9.00) are required for operation of any motorized pedalcycle in Pennsylvania. Additionally, there are strict equipment standards that must be met for operation, including: handlebars, brakes, tires/wheels, electrical systems/lighting, mirrors, speedometer, and horns/warning devices.[127]
Rear-Mounted Hub Motor, installed on the rear wheel, are more common on pre-built bikes because they’re easily installed at the factory. For a conversion, it’s a little harder to install than a front hub motor because of the chain, gearing and derailleur. Plus, you may be limited to a 6 or 7-speed freewheel. However, rear wheel drive will provide more torque and is less noticeable than a front hub.
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.