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 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.
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.
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.
Powered by a 250-watt Brose Centerdrive system, the Redux is capable of reaching speeds of up to 28 mph, which comes in handy when dodging traffic. The lithium-ion battery provides enough juice to give the bike a range of up to 80 miles between recharges, making it a great option for daily commuters. Raleigh even outfitted the bike with wide tires which provide stability and traction, even when the road gets wet. Other key features include a 10-speed Shimano crankset and shifters and a built-in LCD screen that displays all the usual information.
Your local state may have very definite rules as to what is an e-bike, what is a moped, and what is a motorcycle. While ebikes enthusiast don’t want the motor vehicle label, it is certain that each state will define some power level and speed where that classification will apply. Your best source of information is to go directly to your state motor vehicle department website, and get a copy of the your local state vehicle codes, with NO EDITING. Only recently updated official state vehicle codes will contain all the latest changes to the laws.1 For a link to your state MVA, look here:2 http://eco-wheelz.com/electric-bike-laws.php
There's no question that electric bikes are far better for the environment than petrol-powered car engines. But that doesn't mean they're completely perfect. Making and disposing of batteries can be very polluting. Not only that, but an electric bicycle is still using energy that has to come from somewhere. You may think you're using clean green power, but the electricity you use for getting about might have come from a filthy old, coal-fired power plant or one driven by nuclear energy. (If you're lucky, of course, it might have come from solar panels or a wind turbine!) Electric bikes are nowhere near as environmentally friendly as ordinary push bikes, but nothing is ever perfect—and, as people often say, "the perfect is the enemy of the good." Electric bikes are certainly a step in the right direction. If everyone used them to get about instead of cars, global warming might be less of a problem, and the world would be a far cleaner and healthier place!
Simple, convenient, cheap, and economical—bicycles are one of the world's favorite forms of transportation. But they're not for everyone. They can be hard to pedal up and down hills or with heavy loads, and elderly or disabled people may find them impossible to manage. In the last few years, a new generation of electric bicycles has begun to revolutionize our idea of environmentally friendly transportation. These new cycles have all the convenience of cars with all the simple economy of ordinary cycles. Let's take a closer look at how they work.