If you have dynamo-powered bicycle lights, you already own an electric-powered bicycle! Consider: as you pump your legs up and down on the pedals, you make the wheels rotate. A small dynamo (generator) mounted on the rear wheel produces a tiny current of electricity that keeps your back safety lamp lit in the dark. Now suppose you could run this process backward. What if you removed the lamp and replaced it with a large battery. The battery would kick out a steady electric current, driving the dynamo in reverse so that it spun around like an electric motor. As the dynamo/motor turned, it would rotate the tire and make the bike go along without any help from your pedaling. Hey presto: an electric bike! It may sound a bit far-fetched, but this is more or less exactly how electric bikes work.
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!
Every person riding a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, moped, or an animal or driving an animal on a highway shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter and shall have all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle, unless the context of the provision clearly indicates otherwise.
The bicycle was recognized by 19th-century feminists and suffragists as a "freedom machine" for women. American Susan B. Anthony said in a New York World interview on February 2, 1896: "I think it has done more to emancipate woman than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood.":859 In 1895 Frances Willard, the tightly laced president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, wrote A Wheel Within a Wheel: How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle, with Some Reflections by the Way, a 75-page illustrated memoir praising "Gladys", her bicycle, for its "gladdening effect" on her health and political optimism. Willard used a cycling metaphor to urge other suffragists to action.
There is a lot of information on the internet about electric bikes. Hopefully you have found lots of useful information right here, on this website. Based on this information, you may already have a preference for a specific electric bicycle and / or (technical) components. Your friends that ride e-bikes can also advise you based on their own experiences. But there is only one way you will know if you really make the right choice: take a test drive. During a test drive you will discover how close the riding experience is to your expectations.
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.
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.
To help the rider find the perfect fit, the stem is adjustable. The bike also boasts dynamo powered lights alongside hydraulic disc brakes. The bike will suit riders from 4 ft 10 to 6 ft 5, and also integrates with a child seat. The total weight is 22.5kg, making it admittedly a fairly hefty folder – but that’s fairly uniform across electric versions.
In Australia the e-bike is defined by the Australian Vehicle Standards as a bicycle that has an auxiliary motor with a maximum power output not exceeding 200 W without consideration for speed limits or pedal sensors. Each state is responsible for deciding how to treat such a vehicle and currently all states agree that such a vehicle does not require licensing or registration. Various groups are lobbying for an increase in this low limit to encourage more widespread use of e-bikes to assist in mobility, health benefits and to reduce congestion, pollution and road danger. Some states have their own rules such as no riding under electric power on bike paths and through built up areas so riders should view the state laws regarding their use. There is no licence and no registration required for e-bike usage.
E-bikes are zero-emissions vehicles, as they emit no combustion by-products. However, 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, e-bikes are claimed to have a significantly lower environmental impact than conventional automobiles, and are generally seen as environmentally desirable in an urban environment.
The second type of electric bike is a much smaller, often foldable unit designed for convenient urban (or suburban) commuting and for easy storage in minimal space. These compact electric bikes are perfect for trips of a few miles, and many are small and lightweight enough to be carried onto trains or buses, allowing their rider to make use of multiple types of transportation in a single trip, and to store their bike in a closet or even under a desk at work, at school, or at home.
An affordable GPS enabled bike security alarm device with text and email updates, runs on the 2G Verizon network to send notifications about location and status, includes iPhone, Android and web apps to control the device, track, and download ride data. Mounts to any standard bottle cage bosses if there is enough horizontal room, the device is 10" long and 3/4" thick with rubberized contacts to reduce vibration, rear rack and quick clamp mounting accessories available to work with just about any bike...
The Footloose has no chain, however -- it's entirely electrically driven. It takes very little effort to get to your destination, meaning you arrive at work without having broken a sweat. The downside is that when you run out of power, you're not going anywhere. And pedalling from a standstill, waiting for the motor to kick in, is an odd sensation that takes some getting used to.
Toe-clips and toestraps and clipless pedals help keep the foot locked in the proper pedal position and enable cyclists to pull and push the pedals. Technical accessories include cyclocomputers for measuring speed, distance, heart rate, GPS data etc. Other accessories include lights, reflectors, mirrors, racks, trailers, bags, water bottles and cages, and bell. Bicycle lights, reflectors, and helmets are required by law in some geographic regions depending on the legal code. It is more common to see bicycles with bottle generators, dynamos, lights, fenders, racks and bells in Europe. Bicyclists also have specialized form fitting and high visibility clothing.
Stöckli E.T. Urban Confort, made in Switzerland. It has SwissGoDrive motors and Samsung batteries. There is a 500W/17.6Ah combo that seems to be ideal for commuters, i.e. it has a 50km range using full assistance. In the USA, a similar product is available as Currie eFlow e3 Nitro (different motor and electronics). This model doesn't have a front wheel suspension, but comes with "balloon" tires that somewhat absorb shocks. Options are available through types: "simple"/Urban/CROSS and man/confort models. E.g. the Cross model has a front suspension, a 500W motor and no equipment like lights, fenders, etc. However, paying extra, you can compose your own configuration. If you commute using bumpy roads, then get a front suspension.
Because the power is applied through the chain and sprocket, power is typically limited to around 250–500 watts to protect against fast wear on the drivetrain. An electric mid-drive combined with an internal gear hub at the back hub may require care due to the lack of a clutch mechanism to soften the shock to the gears at the moment of re-engagement. A continuously variable transmission or a fully automatic internal gear hub may reduce the shocks due to the viscosity of oils used for liquid coupling instead of the mechanical couplings of the conventional internal gear hubs.
Some e-bikes operate in pedal-assist only, others have a throttle, and some have both. Generally, pedal-assist only bikes will provide multiple power settings to choose from to help customize your ride, while bikes with both throttle and pedal-assist will have limited pedal-assist options. With these bikes, the throttle provides full control (when needed) while pedal assist is just a secondary option, great on straightaways or open road.
The federal Consumer Product Safety Act defines a "low speed electric bicycle" as a two or three wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals, a top speed when powered solely by the motor under 20 mph (32 km/h) and an electric motor that produces less than 750 W (1.01 hp). The Act authorizes the Consumer Product Safety Commission to protect people who ride low-speed electric vehicles by issuing necessary safety regulations. The rules for e-bikes on public roads, sidewalks, and pathways are under state jurisdiction, and vary.
While the first functional battery was developed in the year 1800 by Italian physicist Alessandro Volta, a practical battery would not be seen for several decades yet. By the end of the 19th century, practical and portable batteries were more widely available, this finally freeing the electric motor to be used in a wide new array of applications. It might come as a surprise, but the electric motor, battery, and a bicycle were first paired as far back as the 1890s. It would be approximately 100 years later that electric bicycle development finally entered the mainstream, but the technology and concept behind the electric bike were all in place generations ago.
Most electric bicycles can be locked using keys supplied by the manufacturer. The key is usually inserted into a switch, which is commonly found on the bicycle's handlebars or on one side of the motor compartment. When switched to the "Off" position, the electrical drive system cannot be turned on. In areas of high risk for bicycle theft, these locking mechanisms are used in conjunction with coil or U locks.
I would add that the point of the article seems to encourage ebikers to “know the state laws” and be confident within those boundaries. To D McCarthy’s question, if your state has a definition for ebikes and classifies them as bicycles and affords access as bicycles, AND, your particular ebike is built within those specifications, then you should be able to ride that section of road with confidence. Just my 2C.
The headlight/horn is completely frail, and prevents folding the bike. However, the wires broke off within two days (60 miles) of riding, so it wasn't an issue after I removed the light completely. Other than that, it's a great electric bike. I put about 24-40 miles per day on it, and it does the job well. I have steep hills during my ride and it really helps with the effort required to go uphill. The gears only go up to 7, which means that when on flat ground, and pedaling for all that I'm worth, I can only get up to 19 mph before the pedals just spin madly. I pass other cyclists when going uphill at nearly twice their speed, but not so much on flat ground or downhill. The rear has no suspension at all, so I bought a $50
Besides voltage, batteries are rated by amp hours (AH). Although voltage seems to get the most attention, the amp hour rating of the battery is just as important. It is the measure of a battery’s capacity and provides a good indication of the range you can expect from an electric bike. Although lots of factors come into play in determining range (ie: rider weight, terrain, input, efficiency, etc.), a good rule of thumb is range is equal to AH. So under normal conditions, an average rider can expect 10 miles out of a 10AH battery (with no pedaling). With rider input, this number can be dramatically increased, so most 10AH batteries are rated “up to 20 miles” by the manufacturer which assumes pedaling. On pedal-assist bikes (which require pedaling), the range ratings are much higher because the rider is constantly assisting the motor and reducing the current draw.
Photo: Zap Electric's power-assist kit turns a conventional bike into an electric one. There's a bolt-on DC electric motor (weighing just over 3kg or 7lb) just above the back wheel, behind the police officer's foot, pressing against the tire and driving it by simple friction. The motor's powered by a compact lead-acid battery (weighing about 5.5 kg or 12 lb) inside a protective nylon bag. This kit adds quite bit of weight to the bike, but gives extra range and speed when needed. Photo taken in Santa Rosa, California by Rick Tang courtesy of US DOE/NREL.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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!
As of May 19, 2009, Nevada amended its state transportation laws to explicitly permit electric bicycles to use any "trail or pedestrian walkway" intended for use with bicycles and constructed with federal funding, and otherwise generally permits electric bicycles to be operated in cases where a regular bicycle could be. An electric bicycle is defined as a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals with an electric motor producing up to 1 gross brake horsepower and up to 750 watts final output, and with a maximum speed of up to 20 miles per hour on flat ground with a 170 pound rider when powered only by that engine. (AB441, amending NRS 480, 482 and other sections)
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.