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.
Since 30 May 2012, Australia has an additional new e-bike category using the European Union model of a pedelec as per the CE EN15194 standard. This means the e-bike can have a motor of 250W of continuous rated power which can only be activated by pedalling (if above 6 km/h) and must cut out over 25 km/h – if so it is classed as a normal bicycle. The state of Victoria is the first to amend their local road rules, see below.
Class 1 makes great inroads to establish set boundaries for off road/natural surface trail access for eMountain bikes. There is fierce resistance from some mountain biking purists to allow ebikes on trails. BPSA and IMBA have done good work to justify the impact of class 1 ebikes on natural surface trails, and eliminate the wear-n-tear argument, though IMBA members are not 100% on board.
Torque sensors and power controls were developed in the late 1990s. For example, Takada Yutky of Japan filed a patent in 1997 for such a device. In 1992 Vector Services Limited offered and sold an electric bicycle dubbed Zike. The bicycle included Nickel-cadmium batteries that were built into a frame member and included an 850 g permanent-magnet motor. Despite the Zike, in 1992 hardly any commercial electric bicycles were available. It wasn’t until 1998 when there were at least 49 different bikes. Production grew from 1993 to 2004 by an estimated 35%. By Contrast, according to Gardner, in 1995 regular bicycle production decreased from its peak 107 million units. Some of the less expensive electric bicycles used bulky lead acid batteries, whereas newer models generally used NiMH, NiCd and/or Li-ion batteries which offered lighter, denser capacity batteries. The end benefits usually varied from manufacturer; however, in general there was an increase in range and speed. By 2004 electric bicycles where manufactured by Currie Technologies, EV Global, Optibike, Giante Lite, Merida, ZAP.
The frame of an electric bike also has to be slightly different. The main part of the frame (the bit that supports your weight) is usually made from lightweight aluminum alloy: the lighter the frame, the lighter the weight of the bike overall, and the further it can travel before you need to recharge the batteries. The spokes on the wheel also have to be stronger than the thin spokes on a traditional bicycle. That's because the electric motor in the hub spins the wheel with a lot of turning force (known as torque) and, if the spokes were ordinary lightweight ones, they could bend or buckle.
If you are an experienced rider this is actually annoying as hell. Personally, I tend to leave whatever I'm riding in a high gear all the time, because my body is like a powerful machine, and I found the way it slowed my escape from the lights quite disconcerting. For beginners, it could be useful, but it's worth remembering that the whole point of e-bikes is that the motor helps you along anyway, so I do really question the usefulness of this.
Bicycle brakes may be rim brakes, in which friction pads are compressed against the wheel rims; hub brakes, where the mechanism is contained within the wheel hub, or disc brakes, where pads act on a rotor attached to the hub. Most road bicycles use rim brakes, but some use disk brakes. Disc brakes are more common for mountain bikes, tandems and recumbent bicycles than on other types of bicycles, due to their increased power, coupled with an increased weight and complexity.
In China, e-bikes currently come under the same classification as bicycles and hence don't require a driver's license to operate. Previously it was required that users registered their bike in order to be recovered if stolen, although this has recently been abolished. Due to a recent rise in electric-bicycle-related accidents, caused mostly by inexperienced riders who ride on the wrong side of the road, run red lights, don't use headlights at night etc., the Chinese government plans to change the legal status of illegal bicycles so that vehicles with an unladen weight of 20 kg (44 lb) or more and a top speed of 30 km/h (19 mph) or more will require a motorcycle license to operate, while vehicles lighter than 20 kg (44 lb) and slower than 30 km/h can be ridden unlicensed. In the southern Chinese cities of Guangzhou, Dongguan and Shenzhen, e-bikes, like all motorcycles, are banned from certain downtown districts. There are also bans in place in small areas of Shanghai, Hangzhou and Beijing. Bans of "Scooter-Style Electric Bikes" (SSEB) were however cancelled and in Shenzhen e-bikes may be seen on the streets nowadays (2010–11).
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.
The batteries are the most important parts of the bike, because (if you don't do any pedaling) they contain all the power that will drive you along. Typical electric bike batteries make about 350–500 W of power (that's about 35–50 volts and 10 amps), which is about a quarter as much as you need to drive an electric toaster. In theory, you could use any kind of battery on a bicycle. In practice, however, you want to use something that stores lots of power without being too heavy—or you'll be using half your power just moving the battery along! That tends to rule out heavy lead-acid batteries like the ones that start cars, though some electric bikes do use them. Lightweight lithium-ion batteries, similar to those used in laptop computers, mobile (cellular) phones, and MP3 players, are now the most popular choice, though they're more expensive than older rechargeable battery technologies such as nickel-cadmium ("nicad"). Typical batteries will give your bicycle a range of 10–40 miles between charges (depending on the terrain) and a top speed of 10–20 mph (which is about the maximum most countries allow for these vehicles by law). You can extend the range by pedaling or free-wheeling some of the time.
Perhaps the cleverest thing of all about the Electric Brompton is that despite all the extra stuff, it folds up exactly the same as the non-powered variety. It's so simple, and unlike certain folding bikes we could mention, what you're left with is a genuinely small thing, rather than something that's about the size of a bike with the front wheel taken off.