Artwork: Hub motors aren't the only way to power electric bicycle wheels. If you've ever watched a mouse scampering around inside an exercise wheel, you might have wondered if you could drive a wheel electrically, in a similar way, with something that pushes against the inside of the rim. A company called GeoOrbital has been developing an ingenious mechanical equivalent that can be used to power conventional bikes—and here's a simplified illustration of how it works. It has a motorized drive roller (red) that presses against the inner rim, powered by a battery pack (orange) that sits snugly inside the wheel. Two guide rollers (blue) mounted on a tensioned framework (green) take the place of the conventional arrangement of spokes. According to GeoOrbital, you can fit one of its wheels to a normal bike in just 60 seconds.
Since 2000, Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (MVSR) have defined Power Assisted bicycles (PABs) as a separate category, and which require no license to operate. PABs are currently defined as a two- or three-wheeled bicycle equipped with handlebars and operable pedals, an attached electric motor of 500W or less, and a maximum speed capability of 32 km/h from the motor over level ground. Other requirements include a permanently affixed label from the manufacturer in a conspicuous location stating the vehicle is a power-assisted bicycle under the statutory requirements in force at the time of manufacture.[14][15] All power-assisted bicycles must utilize an electric motor for assisted propulsion.

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.
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.
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 e-bike dubbed Zike.[9] The bicycle included NiCd batteries that were built into a frame member and included an 850 g permanent-magnet motor. Despite the Zike, in 1992 hardly any commercial e-bikes were available.

The federal law will not prohibit a motor vehicle label and additional restrictions given by the state. States will typically define e-mopeds in the 1000W range (1.5 hp) and speeds attainable to 30mph, and include a few requirements such as a helmet, eye protection, and a driver’s license. States may also require title, registration, and insurance for mopeds.


Under New Jersey law a motorized bicycle is "a pedal bicycle having a helper motor characterized in that either the maximum piston displacement is less than 50 cc, the motor is rated at no more than 1.5 brake horsepower, or it is powered by an electric drive motor and the bicycle is capable of a maximum speed of no more than 25 miles per hour on a flat surface."[107] This would include E-bikes, meaning they must be titled and registered. However, only Mopeds approved by Motor Vehicle Services can be titled and registered.
Many newer or smaller companies only design and market their products; the actual production is done by Asian companies. For example, some 60% of the world's bicycles are now being made in China. Despite this shift in production, as nations such as China and India become more wealthy, their own use of bicycles has declined due to the increasing affordability of cars and motorcycles.[102] One of the major reasons for the proliferation of Chinese-made bicycles in foreign markets is the lower cost of labor in China.[103]
In summary, federal law trumps all States’ laws. That is true with bicycle law, too. States cannot constitutionally pass legislation that reduces or eliminates Federal laws, they can only pass legislation that enacts additional (tighter) restrictions on its people. States can’t define an ebike a bicycle if greater than 750W/20mph, nor can they define an ebike a motor vehicle if less than the Federal Government’s limit of 750 Watts and a top electric-powered speed of 20 MPH.3This is the Federal definition of a low speed electric bike, which equates it to a bicycle.

The days when eMTBs were defined solely by the power of their motors and the size of their batteries are over. Riding performance has become the most important metric. In that pursuit, manufacturers are increasingly developing eMTBs with less power and battery capacity, which in turn handle more like regular mountain bikes. FOCUS started this movement some time ago with its Project-Y concept and later presented the FOCUS RAVEN² PRO, the first production model in a new category of bikes. However this sporty ride only convinced a handful of riders. Meanwhile, Lapierre and BULLS have both announced full-suspension trail bikes featuring the lightweight FAZUA motor for next year. It remains to be seen how many other brands will jump on board this bandwagon – but the rumour mill has already started rumbling. Moreover, it is only a matter of time before the next motor manufacturer will release its own small, lightweight motor.
Because I am in an area with quite a lot of hills and steep inclines, some very steep, and the motor on the bike handles these hills effortlessly along with pedal assist. I will say I am not fit in anyway and there is no way I would have got up half of the hills I got up if it were not for the 250 watt motor on this bike, the low , medium and high pedal assist options are great and it is easy to assess which option you'll need depending on the hill.The battery was a lot heavier than I expected when holding it, feels like holiding a 3 LTR bottle of coca cola but I can forgive that
We rode the Vado through the gauntlet, including some of the steepest hills in Palo Alto, and it easily handled everything we threw at it, maintaining a steady 20 miles per hour even on the most daunting of ascents. The bike also handles well on downhills and is both nimble and quick on city streets and paved trails. It’s even comfortable to ride for extended distances, which is vitally important for any bike built for urban settings.
"Electric power-assisted bicycle" means a vehicle that travels on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground and is equipped with (i) pedals that allow propulsion by human power and (ii) an electric motor with an input of no more than 1,000 watts that reduces the pedal effort required of the rider. For the purposes of Chapter 8 of this title, an electric power-assisted bicycle shall be a vehicle when operated on a highway.[65]
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.
Rad Power’s lineup of 2019 bikes start at $1,699 (there’s also a Cyber Monday special on their 2018 models), proving that electric bikes don’t have to be over $2,000 to have the amenities and quality you need for daily commuting. Of course, that’s still a steep price for some. But as prices keep dropping in the e-bike industry, affordability breeds better access, and this might be the key that our cities—and their traffic—so desperately need.

The federal law will not prohibit a motor vehicle label and additional restrictions given by the state. States will typically define e-mopeds in the 1000W range (1.5 hp) and speeds attainable to 30mph, and include a few requirements such as a helmet, eye protection, and a driver’s license. States may also require title, registration, and insurance for mopeds.
Electric motorized bicycles can be power-on-demand, where the motor is activated by a handlebar mounted throttle, and/or a pedelec (from pedal electric), also known as electric assist, where the electric motor is regulated by pedaling. These have a sensor to detect the pedaling speed, the pedaling force, or both. An electronic controller provides assistance as a function of the sensor inputs, the vehicle speed and the required force. Most controllers also provide for manual adjustment.
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.
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...

I got this bike last week. I loved it! This bicycle is a very good value, since it can be used in either manual or electric mode. Both the handlebar and seat height and inclination are adjustable. The assembly and use instructions are clear. In the manual mode the bike acts like any other six speed, there is a little red button that switches between manual and electric with each push. The electric mode is used either with the handlebar twist throttle or by peddling which activates it. The pedal brings the bike up to full speed while peddling slightly and with the throttle the speed is adjustable. I am very happy with my purchase.
The Surly Big Easy is the Cadillac of the bike lane. The company’s new longtail e-cargo bike exudes a “they don’t make ’em like this anymore” stature, thanks to a beefed-up chromoly steel frame rolling on tough 26x2.5-inch tires. And because it’s a class 1 e-bike, you can actually ride it in the bike lane, too. The 7-foot-long, 67-pound bike won’t play well with your third-floor walk-up, so it’s best to think of it as a car supplement or replacement—that’s what Surly intended, anyway, as evidenced by the $5,000 price tag. However, if you’re ready to commit to the cargo bike life, you’ll struggle to find a stronger platform for achieving bike commuter nirvana.

Oregon Law (ORS 801.258) defines an electric assisted bicycle as an electric motor-driven vehicle equipped with operable pedals, a seat or saddle for the rider, no more than three wheels in contact during travel. In addition, the vehicle must be equipped with an electric motor that is capable of applying a power output of no greater than 1,000 watts, and that is incapable of propelling the vehicle at a speed no greater than 20 miles per hour on level ground.[54]


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.
By 1898 a rear-wheel drive electric bicycle, which used a driving belt along the outside edge of the wheel, was patented by Mathew J. Steffens. Also, the 1899 U.S. Patent 627,066 by John Schnepf depicted a rear-wheel friction “roller-wheel” style drive electric bicycle.[7] Schnepf's invention was later re-examined and expanded in 1969 by G.A. Wood Jr. with his U.S. Patent 3,431,994. Wood’s device used 4 fractional horsepower motors; connected through a series of gears.[8]

Government regulation is written and administered with a broad, dull, painful axe. Regulations do not mix well with independent, maverick, DIY programs either. Vehicle regulations get started when there is either a visible tragedy, or a rising conflict with the status quo (like the SFO scooters program). The ebike community cannot afford a deadly accident especially if it involves others and the ebike or ebike rider are at fault. The Ebike community is up against a tough status quo that consists of pedestrians, motor vehicle traffic, the large well-funded and battle tested regular bicycle community, and the environment (especially for MTB riding and off-road use).
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.
A new electric cyclist will likely experience two conflicts of thought: 1). Will the general public accept my use of this power assist technology, or Will they ridicule and reject me as being lazy? 2). Will I stand out to law enforcement by the look of my bike or riding a bit faster than other cyclist on hills and roads? Grappling with these two thoughts will tempt most folks to try and remain unnoticed and ride more responsibly. After I became an advocate of e-transportation on two wheels, enjoying the benefits of power assist commuting, I eventually was a bit put off by this federal law, especially the 20mph limitation. Is 20 mph really practical and justified? Is it not true that many active young people on typical road bicycles are able to actively ride in the 20-25mph range? I discovered that ebikes, with larger tires and disk brakes, can comfortably and safety cruise in that range of speed. The standard 2001 Federal law of 20mph, eventually became a practical limitation for an ebike commuter of over 20 miles a day, and caused me to get a bike beyond the federal limits, making me more alert and sensitive when riding in the presence of the police.
The motor isn’t insanely powerful, but it gets you up to full speed quickly enough. I never felt like the bike was underpowered. The motor does make more noise than a lot of other hub motor bikes I’ve ridden though. There’s a definite whirrr to the motor caused by the internal plastic gears. While all geared motors will have some level of gear noise, this one stuck out more to me than others.

There are generally two types of e-bike: throttle and pedal-assist. Throttle e-bikes, common among food delivery workers, don’t require any pedaling, just a twist of the handlebar to get moving. Wing’s e-bike is pedal-assist. The bike’s battery provides a boost while you pedal — up to 20 mph — but if you stop pedaling, the bike slows just like a regular bike.


The bicycle is extraordinarily efficient in both biological and mechanical terms. The bicycle is the most efficient human-powered means of transportation in terms of energy a person must expend to travel a given distance.[38] From a mechanical viewpoint, up to 99% of the energy delivered by the rider into the pedals is transmitted to the wheels, although the use of gearing mechanisms may reduce this by 10–15%.[39][40] In terms of the ratio of cargo weight a bicycle can carry to total weight, it is also an efficient means of cargo transportation.

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.


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.
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).
An e-bike is identified as a "motor assisted cycle" (MAC) in British Columbia, which differs from electric mopeds and scooters, which are "limited-speed motorcycles." Motor assisted cycles must: have an electric motor of no more than 500 W; have fully operable pedals; not be capable of propelling the device at a speed greater than 32 km/hr [19.9 mph]. The engine must disengage when (a) the operator stops pedaling, (b) an accelerator controller is released, OR (c) a brake is applied. A driver's license, vehicle registration, and insurance are all not required. A bike helmet must be worn.[22]

Federal law in the United States states that an electric bicycle must have a top speed under 20 mph and a motor which produces less than 750 watts/1 hp. They are not considered motor vehicles by the federal government and are subject to the same consumer safety laws as unassisted bicycles.[11] Their legality on public roads is under state jurisdiction, and varies. See the main Electric bicycle laws article for details on the law in individual states.
Photo: Could solar power be the future of electric bicycles? The large solar panel mounted over the back wheel of this experimental bike powers an electric motor connected by a chain drive to the back wheel, helping the rider when he doesn't feel like pedaling. Using clean, green solar power would remove the problem of having to charge electric bikes with electricity generated from fossil fuels—and help to extend their range significantly. Photo by Warren Gretz courtesy of US DOE/NREL.

"Motor-driven cycle" means any vehicle equipped with two or three wheels, a power source providing up to a maximum of two brake horsepower and having a maximum piston or rotor displacement of 50 cubic centimeters if a combustion engine is used, which will propel the vehicle, unassisted, at a speed not to exceed 30 miles per hour on a level road surface, which does not require clutching or shifting by the operator.[138] The designation is a replacement for "scooter" and "moped;"[139] Vermont doesn't seem to have laws specifically for e-bikes.[140]
It’s a topic that many eMTBers are interested in: fast charging. What has long been a reality with electric cars is now also being partly improved for ebikes with high amperage chargers. Bosch has presented a 6A charger this year that can charge a 500 Wh battery in 3 hours, more than a third faster than the standard charger. The new benchmark next year, however, will probably be the 10A charger presented by Haibike and BMZ. It is claimed to be capable of charging a 630 Wh battery in just 1.5 hours.

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.
×