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]

Built around a heavy-duty alloy frame, the GSD eschews many of the traits of other cargo bikes: long wheelbases, bigger wheels, and especially, an unwieldy ride. Yet it boasts an extensive capacity, nimble handling—even fully loaded, thanks to a short wheelbase and 20-inch wheels—and enduring range in a package not much bigger than most non-cargo e-bikes. The stout frame holds a 250-watt Bosch motor that gives up to 275 percent of your power back to the pedals and reaches 20 mph. The GSD has room for two battery packs, extending the batteries’ combined range to a claimed 150 miles and making the Tern one of the longest-lasting e-bikes on the market. A laundry list of accessories and a (claimed) 396-pound carrying capacity round out the GSD’s status as an epic day-tripper.

Most electric bicycles can be classified as zero-emissions vehicles, as they emit no combustion byproducts. 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, electric bicycles will have significantly lower environmental impact than conventional automobiles, and are generally seen as environmentally desirable in an urban environment. The small size of the battery pack on an electric bicycle, relative to the larger pack used in an electric car, makes ebikes very good candidates for charging via solar power or other renewable energy resources. Sanyo capitalized on this benefit when it set up "solar parking lots," in which ebike riders can charge their vehicles while parked under photovoltaic panels.[16]
The federal Consumer Product Safety Act defines a "low speed electric bicycle" as a two or three wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals, a top speed when powered solely by the motor under 20 mph (32 km/h) and an electric motor that produces less than 750 W (1.01 hp). The Act authorizes the Consumer Product Safety Commission to protect people who ride low-speed electric vehicles by issuing necessary safety regulations.[63] The rules for e-bikes on public roads, sidewalks, and pathways are under state jurisdiction, and vary.
Simple, convenient, cheap, and economical—bicycles are one of the world's favorite forms of transportation. But they're not for everyone. They can be hard to pedal up and down hills or with heavy loads, and elderly or disabled people may find them impossible to manage. In the last few years, a new generation of electric bicycles has begun to revolutionize our idea of environmentally friendly transportation. These new cycles have all the convenience of cars with all the simple economy of ordinary cycles. Let's take a closer look at how they work.