The Netherlands has a fleet of 18 million bicycles. E-bikes have reached a market share of 10% by 2009, as e-bikes sales quadrupled from 40,000 units to 153,000 between 2006 and 2009, and the electric-powered models represented 25% of the total bicycle sales revenue in that year. By early 2010 one in every eight bicycles sold in the country is electric-powered despite the fact that on average an e-bike is three times more expensive than a regular bicycle.
There remains an element of myth around them, however. For some, it's cheating; for others, it's like riding a motorbike. Neither is true. Electric bikes offer battery-powered assistance, which means the engine gives you a power boost when you pedal. While this jacks up the price, they're a simple, quick and fun way of commuting, exploring the countryside, or even going off-road.
Sometimes space comes at the most premium of commodities and the Tern Vektron offers a space-saving folding option. At about $3,400, the sturdy folding joints include a magnet and rubber strap to keep the bike folded. The quick-release pedals (wheels release too) help with storage of a bike that doesn’t give up power with a 20-mph speed that can range over 60 miles. But the best part is placing two in the trunk of a car.
E-bikes mostly use motors and battery options from a few major suppliers: Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano, and Brose. A few other brands exist, but are less reliable or powerful. Some, like the Yamaha system, have more torque and others are quieter. But generally all four make good options. Look for motor output (in watts) which will give you an idea of total power. But watt hours (Wh) is perhaps a better figure to use—it takes into account battery output and life to give a truer reflection of power.