The first functioning electric motor was displayed in the early 19th century, though the device constructed by British scientist Michael Faraday did little more than swirl a wire around a magnet when an electric charge was introduced. Still, the concept proved that electricity could do work. Functional electric motors would follow in many forms after that achievement in 1821. Soon scientists and tinkerers around the world, including visionaries such as Nikola Tesla, were experimenting with all manner of electric motors -- some worked with DC power, others with AC. By the end of the century, myriad electric motors had been produced, capable of exerting enough force with enough reliable control that they were practical for use in myriad applications.
Alberta identifies e-bikes as "power bicycles" and is consistent with the federal definition of "power-assisted bicycle" in MVSR CRC, c 1038 s 2.[19] Motor output must not exceed 500 W (0.671 hp) and e-bikes cannot travel faster than 32 km/h (20 mph). Fully operable pedals are required. No driver's license, vehicle insurance, or vehicle registration is required. Operators must be 12 years of age or older. All operators are required to wear a motorcycle helmet meeting the standards set in AR 122/2009 s 112(2).[20] A passenger is permitted only if the e-bike is equipped with a seat designated for that passenger.[21]

E-bikes can also provide a source of exercise for individuals who have trouble exercising for an extended time (due to injury or excessive weight, for example) as the bike can allow the rider to take short breaks from pedaling and also provide confidence to the rider that they'll be able to complete the selected path without becoming too fatigued[58] or without having forced their knee joints too hard (people who need to use their knee joints without wearing them out unnecessarily may in some electric bikes adjust the level of motor assistance according to the terrain). A University of Tennessee study provides evidence that energy expenditure (EE) and oxygen consumption (VO2) for e-bikes are 24% lower than that for conventional bicycles, and 64% lower than for walking. Further, the study notes that the difference between e-bikes and bicycles are most pronounced on the uphill segments.[59] Reaching VO2 Max, can really help your body as a whole[60]. Professor Janet Lord of Birmingham University in the UK published a study that looked at older cyclists, ““The study looked at muscle mass, blood cholesterol, their VO2 Max, lung function, and in many of those measures we found they didn’t age! No loss of muscle, their bones were a little thin (but nothing like the general population), their blood pressure didn’t go up.[61]
Many countries have enacted electric vehicle laws to regulate the use of electric bicycles. Countries such as the United States and Canada have federal regulations governing the safety requirements and standards of manufacture. Other countries like the signatories of the European Union have agreed to wider-ranging legislation covering use and safety of their term EPAC (electric vehicles)
For many bikes, battery range is more important than total power (because they’re all pretty powerful). You want a bike that delivers a range long enough for your rides at the power levels you want. Most e-bikes will have three to five levels of assist that kick in anywhere from 25 percent of your pedal power to 200 percent. Consider how fast the battery takes to recharge, especially if you’ll be using your bike for long commutes.
Several bills have been sponsored to legalize electric bicycles for use on NYS roads, and several have overwhelmingly passed at the committee level, but none of these initiatives has been able to be heard and then passed in the New York State Senate, until 2015. The latest bill S3997, "An act to amend the vehicle and traffic law, in relation to the definition of electric assisted bicycle. Clarifying the vehicle and traffic law to define electric assisted bicycles; establish that electric assisted bicycles, as defined, are bicycles, not motor vehicles; and establish safety and operational criteria for their use." has passed in the Senate for the first time ever in 2015.[116] The related Assembly bill A233 was not brought to a vote in the assembly even though it had passed with little issue in prior years.[117]
Metro is a brand that has been around since 2010, and it is one of the top sellers. That is mostly because their products are solid, good value, with good power and good features. Metro Hybrid is a part of urban electric bikes family, and it is really well set up for the urban and light trail riding. Metro has a diamond frame and 700c (28-inch) wheels with sporty 38mm Schwalbe Marathon tires, so you get real quality tires. A big capacity battery of 624Wh will carry you 20–40 miles, with the top speed of 28 mph with assist,  or 20mph using throttle only. The comfort is decent with adjustable handle bar, as well as suspension seat post and a suspension fork. Overall, this bike offers good value for the price, with outstanding range and power for its class.
However, laws and terminology are diverse. Some countries have national regulations but leave the legality of road use for states and provinces to decide. Municipal laws and restrictions add further complications. Systems of classification and nomenclature also vary. Jurisdictions may address "power-assisted bicycle" (Canada) or "power-assisted cycle" (United Kingdom) or "electric pedal-assisted cycles" (European Union) or simply "electric bicycles". Some classify pedelecs as distinct from other bikes using electric power. Thus, the same hardware may be subject to many different classifications and regulations.

The oldest patent for an electric bike I've been able to find at the US Patent and Trademark Office is this one, by Ogden Bolton, Jr. of Canton Ohio, which was filed in September 1895 and granted three months later. You can see from these original diagrams that it bears an amazingly close resemblance to modern electric bikes. In the general picture on the left, you can see there's a hub motor on the rear wheel (blue), a battery suspended from the frame (red), and a simple handlebar control to make the thing stop and go. In the more detailed cutaway of the hub motor on the right, you can see there's a six-pole magnet in the center (orange) bolted to the frame and an armature (made from coiled wire, yellow) that rotates around it when the current is switched on. It's quite a hefty motor even by modern standards; Ogdon mentions "a heavy current at low voltage—for instance, to carry one hundred amperes at ten volts." So that's 1000 watts, which is about twice the power of a typical modern bike hub motor.

The environmental effects involved in recharging the batteries can of course be reduced. The small size of the battery pack on an e-bike, relative to the larger pack used in an electric car, makes them 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 e-bike riders can charge their vehicles while parked under photovoltaic panels.[66]
Since fat tire electric bikes are suitable for a wider variety of situations than a standard cruiser or commuter e-bike, they have the potential to appeal to more people. For example, hunters and campers are ideal candidates for fat tire e-bikes, as they’ll benefit greatly from the heavy-duty tires and powerful motor when they’re navigating difficult wooded trails with lots of gear.
During nighttime operation, the bicycle must be equipped with a front headlamp, a rear-facing red reflector, and reflectors on the front and rear of pedals, and the bicycle or rider must have reflective surfaces on each side. Minn. Stat. §169.222, subd. 6. An electric-assisted bicycle can be equipped with a front-facing headlamp that emits a flashing white light, a rear-facing lamp that has a flashing red light, or both. The bicycle can carry studded tires designed for traction (such as in snowy or icy conditions).
The rest of the bike is equally impressive. Integrated lights in the front and the rear run directly off the main battery, so you’re never replacing coin cells or AAA batteries. And the disc brakes give you plenty of stopping power. The 36-volt battery attaches to the down tube and is designed to be easily removed for recharging. A key-lock at the top of the mount ensures that no one can steal your battery if your bike is left in a public place. And a built-in alarm system, activated with a car-like key fob, is ear-splitting enough to keep thieves away altogether. (Miller promises the alarm’s sensitivity is tuned so it shouldn’t go off if the bike is jostled at a public bike rack, but I didn’t have the bike long enough to test this out.)
The Domane+ e-road bike is the electric version of Trek’s popular Domane. It’s designed for riders who appreciate that bike’s reliable comfort and IsoSpeed technology but want the added fun and function of e-assist. It’s also the ideal companion for anyone coming back from injury, slower riders who want to mix it up with a speedy group, and couples with different fitness levels. A Bosch Performance Line Speed motor provides a very welcome 28 mph of pedal assist, and the 500Wh Powertube battery sleekly integrates into the down tube. Also integrated: front and rear lights, which are powered by the battery—no charging required.
Range is a key consideration with e-bikes, and is affected by factors such as motor efficiency, battery capacity, efficiency of the driving electronics, aerodynamics, hills and weight of the bike and rider.[36][37] Some manufacturers, such as the Canadian BionX or American Vintage Electric Bikes,[38] have the option of using regenerative braking, the motor acts as a generator to slow the bike down prior to the brake pads engaging.[39] This is useful for extending the range and the life of brake pads and wheel rims. There are also experiments using fuel cells. e.g. the PHB. Some experiments have also been undertaken with super capacitors to supplement or replace batteries for cars and some SUVS. E-bikes developed in Switzerland in the late 1980s for the Tour de Sol solar vehicle race came with solar charging stations but these were later fixed on roofs and connected so as to feed into the electric mains.[40] The bicycles were then charged from the mains, as is common today. While ebike batteries were produced mainly by bigger companies in past, many small to medium companies have started using innovative new methods for creating more durable batteries. State of the art, custom built automated precision CNC spot welding machines[41] created 18650 battery packs[42] are commonly used among Do-it-yourself ebike makers.

In 2012, two e-bike advocates completed the first 4,000-mile (6,400 km) transcontinental e-bike tour from New York to San Francisco to advocate for e-bikes in major cities across the U.S.[81] Pedego Electric Bikes is the best selling brand in the U.S. Many e-bikes in the United States are standard bicycles converted using a kit. In general, the kits include the motor (the majority of which are hub motors built into the front or rear wheel), a speed controller, throttle (usually twist-grip or thumb throttle), necessary wiring and connectors, and a battery. Several U.S. companies offer conversion kits which also offer advanced lithium battery packs. Major manufacturers also offer complete e-bikes. Trek offers a line of e-bikes using the Bionx system in which the rider programs the controller to determine how much effort the motor will give in response to rider effort, from 25% up to 200% of the rider's power. This system ensures a minimum level of rider participation and is also used to comply with many European laws mandating partial human effort before the motor engages.
Front-Mounted Hub Motor can be found on pre-built bikes or on custom conversions. Mounted to the front wheel, this is the easiest configuration to setup if you’re converting a standard bicycle since there’s no derailleur or chain to worry about. And since most e-bike conversions include batteries mounted to the rear rack, using a front hub motor helps equalize the weight of the bike and makes it easier to handle. But there’s a small risk the motor could cause the front forks to brake. That’s why it’s vital you only use a front hub motor on a steel fork. For pre-built bikes, this shouldn’t be an issue since the motors are usually lower-powered on steel forks.

The Class 3 Aventon Pace 500 urban e-bike has five levels of pedal assist and tops out at 28 mph. But the Pace has something not found on a lot of modern e-bikes. In addition to pedal power, it also has a throttle—in the case of the Pace, a small thumb paddle on the left side of the handlebar next to the control unit that holds at a steady 20 mph, no pedaling required. The bike itself has an aluminum frame, a swept-back handlebar, ergo grips, a sturdy kickstand, hydraulic disc brakes, 8-speed Shimano Altus shifting and gearing, 27.5x2.2-inch Kenda e-bike-rated tires, a saddle the size of Texas, and good ol’ classic city/commuter-bike geometry. It doesn’t come equipped with fenders or a rear rack, but you can add them. Power comes in the form of a 500-watt rear-hub motor, a semi-integrated battery on the down tube (with a range of up to 50 miles), and a backlit display unit mounted on the stem.
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]

Under the statute, mopeds must be registered. To be registered under Hawaii law a moped must bear a certification label from the manufacturer stating that it complies with federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS). A moped must also possess the following equipment approved by the D.O.T. under Chapter 91: approved braking, fuel, and exhaust system components; approved steering system and handlebars; wheel rims; fenders; a guard or protective covering for drive belts, chains and rotating components; seat or saddle; lamps and reflectors; equipment controls; speedometer; retracting support stand; horn; and identification markings.


Across Europe, where e-bikes were embraced by the public long before the rest of the world, e-bike growth has averaged in excess of 20 percent each year between 2014 and 2017, with a whopping 25.3 percent growth to a total of two million e-bike sales in 2017. Analysts predict that strong growth will continue, with worldwide e-bike sales expected to hit $23.83 billion by 2025. A lot of that growth will be right here in the US.
The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) also has a specific Technical Committee, TC333, that defines European standards for cycles. Their mandate states that EN cycle standards shall harmonize with ISO standards. Some CEN cycle standards were developed before ISO published their standards, leading to strong European influences in this area. European cycle standards tend to describe minimum safety requirements, while ISO standards have historically harmonized parts geometry.[55]

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.


On the road, it takes only a few turns of the pedals to activate the Vado’s motor and get it up to speed. In Turbo mode — the bike’s highest level of pedal-assist — the Vado reaches speeds of up to 28 miles per hour, after which the electric drive system automatically shuts off to conserve power (and abide by local law). A built-in LED readout on the handlebars allows riders to monitor battery life, check current speed, and track calories burned while also being able to glance at distance traveled. The Turbo Vado Mission Control app (iOS/Android) also connects to the bike via Bluetooth and allows riders to further tune their ride and adjust the bike’s settings.
A lot has happened since we founded the very first eMTB specific magazine in 2013. In the beginning, manufacturers simply mounted electric motors on regular mountain bikes, more or more often than not, rather less successfully. Last year a lot of brands focused on the topic of battery integration. There are some exciting new trends and developments headed our way next season, which we take a closer look at below.

Electric bikes (also known as e bikes) are perfect for long-distance riding, or when you just don’t feel like giving your full effort. What differentiates them from electric motorcycles is the ability for the rider to pedal the bike at any time, so if you’re riding along and your battery dies, you’re not going to stranded. These are often very valuable bikes, but some models can be more affordable than you might expect, especially when you treat them as a form of transportation as opposed to thinking of the price in terms of regular bicycles.


E-bikes are classed according to the power that their electric motor can deliver and the control system, i.e., when and how the power from the motor is applied. Also the classification of e-bikes is complicated as much of the definition is due to legal reasons of what constitutes a bicycle and what constitutes a moped or motorcycle. As such, the classification of these e-bikes varies greatly across countries and local jurisdictions.
Whether squeezing onto the 4 train or pedaling through Lower Manhattan, I notice a few curious glances at the bike with the big battery in the center of the frame. This is not surprising; e-bikes are huge practically everywhere but the US. According to the latest figures from the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry, e-bike growth in the UK is up from 40,000 units in 2016 to 63,000 in 2017.
If you are a person who enjoys riding a bike casually at a typical bike path speed (10-15mph), and you like the idea of an ebike push up a hill, against the wind or to relieving a sore knee, then your market for a fully legally defined ebike is very broad and your practical use only has a few limitations. Most ebikes will meet your needs and expectation. I would estimate that 85% of the electric bikes on the market are 100% compliant meeting the federal definition. I encourage you to take the plunge and get a good quality ebike and ride more with assist. Do so with the confidence that electric bikes are here to stay. Coexisting with pedestrians and other cyclist will become a normal part of cycling life.
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