Further innovations increased comfort and ushered in a second bicycle craze, the 1890s Golden Age of Bicycles. In 1888, Scotsman John Boyd Dunlop introduced the first practical pneumatic tire, which soon became universal. Willie Hume demonstrated the supremacy of Dunlop's tyres in 1889, winning the tyre's first-ever races in Ireland and then England. Soon after, the rear freewheel was developed, enabling the rider to coast. This refinement led to the 1890s invention of coaster brakes. Dérailleur gears and hand-operated Bowden cable-pull brakes were also developed during these years, but were only slowly adopted by casual riders.
E-bikes can boost bike usage, offer health benefits and use “an order of magnitude less carbon dioxide than a car traveling the same distance,” according to a 2016 research review published in the journal Transport Reviews. In fact, access to an e-bike increased cycling trips and distances traveled – and nearly doubled the bike as a mode of transportation, observed one Norwegian study.
Historically, materials used in bicycles have followed a similar pattern as in aircraft, the goal being high strength and low weight. Since the late 1930s alloy steels have been used for frame and fork tubes in higher quality machines. By the 1980s aluminum welding techniques had improved to the point that aluminum tube could safely be used in place of steel. Since then aluminum alloy frames and other components have become popular due to their light weight, and most mid-range bikes are now principally aluminum alloy of some kind.[where?] More expensive bikes use carbon fibre due to its significantly lighter weight and profiling ability, allowing designers to make a bike both stiff and compliant by manipulating the lay-up. Virtually all professional racing bicycles now use carbon fibre frames, as they have the best strength to weight ratio. A typical modern carbon fiber frame can weighs less than 1 kilogram (2.2 lb).
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Act states that electric bicycles and tricycles meeting the definition of low-speed electric bicycles will be considered consumer products. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has regulatory authority to assure, through guidelines and standards, that the public will be protected from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of electric bicycles.
There are two main categories when choosing an e-bike: a pre-built electric bike or a custom e-bike conversion. Prefab electric bikes come in a wide variety of setups and styles and are designed specifically as electric bicycles. With unique characteristics and design qualities, most meet the law requirements which limit power and speed. There is also a variety of options to choose from equipped with different design and different motor and battery configurations to suit different riding styles and preferences: cruisers, commuters, mountain bikes and more. Pre-built e-bikes are clean and sleek in design with all of the wiring and electrical components built directly into the bike. For most people, production e-bikes work great and there’s no need for a custom conversion.
What I found most interesting is how my cycling habits changed over my two weeks with the eBike, mostly for the better. In most states, cyclists need to come to a complete stop at stop signs... and as anyone who has ever ridden a bike or shared a road with a cyclist knows, most cyclists generally do an Idaho Stop if they believe it's safe. I do it, too. Knowing that I could quickly get back up to speed with the aid of the electric motor, I found myself more willing to sacrifice my forward momentum and come to a complete stop when there was a car approaching an intersection.
UPDATE (2019-03-15): I've now got more than 110 miles on the bike and still loving it. The longest ride I did was 28.5 miles and the display was still showing about two bars left on the battery. But the battery gauge is not accurate. Even when it went down to two bars it would also jump back up to 4 bars and stay that way for awhile. So it's really hard to tell how much power you have left. On one ride, after 14 miles the pedal assist stopped working all of a sudden. I stopped and re-seated the cadence sensor and it started working again. Even when PAS didn't work the throttle was still working. It hasn't happened since. There was also a lot of rattling noises which I found was the battery rattling around in the mounting bracket.
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.
On the other hand, the battery doesn’t lock into the bike, which means you can’t just leave it on your bike when you park at the bike rack. Anyone could walk by and simply remove your battery. That seems like an oversight to me, though perhaps the designers assumed that such a small battery would just be easy to take with you. And it is. My wife could probably lose this battery in her purse.