Older Americans, especially those 65+ are the real drivers of electric bike adoption in the United States. Betty and Grady Smith of Beaumont Texas may not know it but they are the driving demographic for electric bicycles and tricycles. Both in thier eighties, the couple enjoys riding thier Worksman electric side-by-side tricycle around town. As a business offering electric bike and trike conversion systems since 2008, we've gotten to know...
“Even if you deal with the tubing supply chain and consumer retail price tolerance, there is no supply chain here for the cables, shifters, crank sets, chains, saddles, and every other part. It would take decades to set all of this up, but you would first have to get consumers to the point where they will pay $1,800 for the bike that they could get for $400.”
While the first electric bicycle was invented way back in the 1890s, historically e-bikes have struggled to gain momentum, only breaking into the market in mainland Europe at the turn of the 21st century. E-bikes now account for 38.5pc of all bicycles sales in Germany (Holland and France and also big players); belatedly, the trend is starting to register in the UK. Battery assisted bikes now make up around a third of bike sales at Evans Cycles West End.
But it is not complicated to see the detrimental effects that these policies very likely could cause. Simple high school AP Economics taught me that this won’t be good for either China or the US in the long-term. Even if a country can produce multiple items better or cheaper than another country can produce them, it is always in both countries’ best interest to focus their resources on their most skilled areas, and trade with other countries for the products they can’t produce as well domestically.
The eZeeBike has been a successful and sought-after line of e-bikes in Europe that are now available in the United States. Range of 30 miles and top assisted speed of 20 mph is possible with the three standard (non-folding) models. With well-crafted aluminum alloy frames and lithium batteries, these bikes are lighter than other electric bikes. Equipped with 250- and 350-watt silent (gearless) hub motors, eZee bikes come with many accessories as standard equipment. Different models may include: fenders, front shocks, suspension seat tube, Velo cycle computer , integrated front and rear lights, rear luggage rack with spring-loaded bar and integrated bungy chords, chain guard, and foldability.
The National Institute for Transportation and Communities believes ebikes remove barriers to cycling, such as physical limitations and challenging topography. The results of a recent survey “indicate that, by reducing the physical demands on the rider, e-bikes are encouraging more people to replace car trips with bike trips,” it says. The survey found that 37 percent of frequent cyclists and 27 percent of non- or seldom-cyclists who bought an ebike now primarily use their ebike to commute to work, an encouraging sign for transportation officials who want to increase bicycle commuting. (May 18 is National Bike to Work Day.)
Instead, ebikes offer a “gateway” to exercise, says Thomas Whitaker, director of marketing for Faraday Bikes, a San Francisco-based ebike manufacturer. He notes than in their market research, 10 percent of customers use ebikes to recover from an illness or injury. “I think it’s a familiar and fun way to exercise without being hard on the body. People recover and then continue to do more and bike more.”
James LaLonde, senior brand manager for Cannondale, agrees. He says their entry-level (read: good for beginners and more affordable) e-bike—the Quick Neo—has a battery life that lasts up to 70 miles. “If you ride for a full day, you may want to recharge it before you go to bed. But if you’re just commuting [a few miles], you could use it for a full week before you need to plug in. Then it’s a four-hour recharge when it’s completely dead.” (Of course, you don’t have to wait for it to get to zero if you want a shorter charge time.)
Those buyers aren’t likely to get a major workout. Researchers from the University of Tennessee found in a study of walkers, ebike riders and traditional bike riders that those who completed a 4.43-kilometer hilly route on an ebike used 22 percent less energy than traditional bikers and 64 percent less than walkers, most likely because the ebikers got to the finish line faster than the others. But perks included higher levels of enjoyment and no need for a shower when they were done.
While the first functional battery was developed in the year 1800 by Italian physicist Alessandro Volta, a practical battery would not be seen for several decades yet. By the end of the 19th century, practical and portable batteries were more widely available, this finally freeing the electric motor to be used in a wide new array of applications. It might come as a surprise, but the electric motor, battery, and a bicycle were first paired as far back as the 1890s. It would be approximately 100 years later that electric bicycle development finally entered the mainstream, but the technology and concept behind the electric bike were all in place generations ago.
A representative for another large international bicycle company informed me that his company is now shifting its production of their 2019 electric bicycle models to two other Southeast Asian countries to avoid the import tariffs on Chinese e-bikes. The source spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The Dew-E packs functionality and fun into a rather traditional and conservative package. Front and rear fenders, integrated Busch & Müller front and rear lights, and a built-in Abus wheel lock make this a very practical commuter bike. An 11-34t 9-speed cassette and 1.75-inch tires provide versatility: You’ll stay smooth over rough city streets and zip down gravel bike paths with confidence. Front and rear rack mounts also give you the chance to outfit this bike for carrying more cargo or supplies for a longer day on the bike. Whichever way you think you’ll be riding an e-bike, this bike deserves a second look.
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To be honest, this bike is really designed for city commuters or kids riding around the suburbs. The fact that it’s foldable will let you carry it on the bus, on the train or even on the plane. It’s just not designed for heavy riding, long distances or tough terrains. If you want something sleek and fabulous at a fraction of the cost of most other e-bikes, this baby’s for you.
If the bike is in fact similar to the EB-5, then it is probably a great around-the-city or campus electric bike, but perhaps not the best long distance commuter for rough roads. Though considering the bike won’t ship for at least another 4 months and the US shipping cost will bring the total price of the Spark Drive Mini to $499, impatient riders might be better off with the equally priced and Amazon-shipped EB-5 anyways.
Should an e-bike actually look like an e-bike? Vanmoof think so. With a design and engineering sensibility that’s more Silicon Valley startup than heritage bike brand, Vanmoof is probably the most WIRED of the bikes on test. And the Electrified S has a host of features to prove it. The Bluetooth/proximity activated e-lock (with tamper sensor) that’s built into the frame is a clever innovation, although we're not sure this would be enough theft protection for inner city areas, (where the Vanmoof’s striking design stands out like a jewel on the bike rack). However, for €7 a month, if your bike is stolen, Vanmoof will track down your bike – or replace your bike with a model of the same age if they can’t retrieve it.
Propel is a Brooklyn based electric bike shop serving NYC and beyond. We work with many electric bicycle brands including Felt, Specialized, Easy Motion, Cannondale, Riese & Müller, Stromer, Bulls, Haibike, Focus, Kalkoff, Moustache, Xtracycle and more. We carry many types of including fast electric bikes, electric cargo bikes, electric folding bikes and electric mountain bikes. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about ebikes we’re excited to help this movement grow.