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 U.S. Patent 627,066 by John Schnepf depicted a rear-wheel friction “roller-wheel” style drive electric bicycle. Schnepf's invention was later re-examined and expanded in 1969 by G.A. Wood Jr. with his U.S. Patent 3,431,994. Wood’s device used 4 fractional horsepower motors; connected through a series of gears.
E-bikes use rechargeable batteries, electric motors and some form of control. Battery systems in use include sealed lead-acid (SLA), nickel-cadmium (NiCad), nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) or lithium-ion polymer (Li-ion). Batteries vary according to the voltage, total charge capacity (amp hours), weight, the number of charging cycles before performance degrades, and ability to handle over-voltage charging conditions. The energy costs of operating e-bikes are small, but there can be considerable battery replacement costs. The lifespan of a battery pack varies depending on the type of usage. Shallow discharge/recharge cycles will help extend the overall battery life.
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!
"Bicycle" means either of the following: (1) A device having two wheels and having at least one saddle or seat for the use of a rider which is propelled by human power. (2) A device having two or three wheels with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (one horsepower), whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden, is less than 20 miles per hour.,
Thanks for your excellent article. I’ve been riding ebike for about 16 years. My first electric bike was a Meridian pedal assist bike. I just up graded to a new bike. I’m 73, so I wanted a pedal assist bike that had a throttle. I researched for several months and bought what I think is the best bike for the money. It’s a Rad Rover 2017 fat bike. It has a 750 watt mother with a 48 volt 11.6 amp battery. It’s a fantastic bike, that is a lot of fun to ride. You might want to check it out and add it to your list of bikes. Rad Rover also make a city commuter bike, a cargo bike and a folding bike. You can’t beat their price for a quality bike. Thanks again for both of your articles. They were very informative.
Despite the illegal status in the state of New York, enforcement of this law varies at the local level. New York City enforces the bike ban with fines and vehicle confiscation for throttle activated electric bikes. However, Mayor Bill de Blasio has recently changed the city's official policy to legalize pedal-assist electric bikes that have a maximum speed limited to 20 mph.  Contrarily, Tompkins County supports electric bike usage, even providing grant money to fund electric bike share/rental projects.
This is list of the best performing, best value electric bikes for 2018 / 2019. For each category I list two models, the first recommendation is based on performance and the second is based on affordability. As you explore the list and get to know EBR, check out the ebike community forum for more personalized feedback. Share your height, weight, budget and intended use (along with bikes you like) to get advice from actual owners and moderators.
Operators are subject to driving rules and equipment requirements (if applicable) when operated on the public streets or highways (which includes the main traveled portion of the road, shoulder and sidewalk). This means that an operator could be cited for speeding, failure to signal, unsafe change of course, driving on the sidewalk, DWI (this would apply to anywhere in the state and not just the streets/highways), and all other driving rules contained within state law that would apply. They may also not ride more than two abreast and may not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic. On a laned roadway, they must operate within a single lane.
The 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic of the United Nations considers a bicycle to be a vehicle, and a person controlling a bicycle (whether actually riding or not) is considered an operator. The traffic codes of many countries reflect these definitions and demand that a bicycle satisfy certain legal requirements before it can be used on public roads. In many jurisdictions, it is an offense to use a bicycle that is not in a roadworthy condition.
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.
One of the items we demonstrated at the show is the new GMAC motor series. This is a powerful clutchless geared hub motor developed over the past 2 years in partnership with MAC motors, using a custom axle with an integrated splined torque arm. Imagine a MAC motor with perfect frame fit for modern bicycles, zero torque transmission on the dropouts, and phenomenal regenerative braking control.
The Shift S1 isn’t going to blow anyone away with amazing performance, but it is peppy enough to have a lot of fun on. And if you mostly travel by rideshares like Uber or scootershares like Bird, you can probably pay for the S1 after just a few months of cutting out app-based transportation. It’s hard to ask for too much more from such an inexpensive e-bike.
More powerful pedelecs which are not legally classed as bicycles are dubbed S-Pedelecs (short for Schnell-Pedelecs, i.e. Speedy-Pedelecs) in Germany. These have a motor more powerful than 250 watts and less limited, or unlimited, pedal-assist, i.e. the motor does not stop assisting the rider once 25 km/h has been reached. S-Pedelec class e-bikes are therefore usually classified as mopeds or motorcycles rather than as bicycles and therefore may (depending on the jurisdiction) need to be registered and insured, the rider may need some sort of driver's license (either car or motorcycle) and motorcycle helmets may have to be worn. In the United States, many states have adopted S-Pedelecs into the Class 3 category. Class 3 ebikes are limited to <=750 watts of power and 28 mph.
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.