Photo: Monocasco Electric Bike Concept
Positioned as an alternative, more eco friendly answer to gasoline powered automobiles, there’s been lots of development and coverage on electric/hybrid vehicles. It wasn’t that long ago that the press proclaimed that the Tesla Model S was automotive perfection. (Or, as I would like to say in tribute to Ben Franklin… the tightest kite string in a bad storm with lightning.)
All of that led me to wonder, what’s happening in the world of electric bikes or eBikes? After all, May is officially National Bike Month. Anyway, probably the most brilliant scientific and engineering mind ever, Albert Einstein, loved riding bikes. It even laid the groundwork to one of his greatest discoveries.
eBikes isn’t a new concept. They first appeared in a much clunkier incarnation in the 1970s following the energy crisis. eBikes started gaining more attention in the mid-90s. These versions incorporated pedal-activated power, followed by hub motors. Today, the vast majority of eBikes are battery assisted.
So, how big is this movement? According to Statista, projected worldwide sales of eBikes in 2018 are anticipated to reach 47.6 million. In that year, an estimated 42.4 million eBikes are forecasted to go to China, followed by 1.5 million in Western Europe, 0.34 million in North America, and the rest of the world representing 3.36 million. Moreover, one can’t ignore the fact that riders in China and Europe use bikes more for transportation than here in North America. eBikes are replacing traditional bikes and motorcycles at a rapid clip, and in many cases, allowing people to put off the purchase of cars.
What’s propelling much of this growing movement is the green factor. eBikes are an excellent alternative for the environment as people battle congested city streets and poor air quality. In fact, today’s on-road vehicles produce over a third of the carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides in our atmosphere and over twenty percent of the global warming pollution. eBikes don’t require gasoline, and therefore don’t produce emissions. This makes using an eBike to replace vehicle transit an excellent choice for reducing personal carbon footprints. If an eBike happens to pull its power from solar energy, the green factor and sustainability can be even more impressive.
But enough about all that: Let’s focus on what’s really interesting – the development of eBikes. Here are some things that I’ve seen here and there that have caught my attention.
Who says there’s nothing new under the sun? Here’s a sun-powered tricycle that’s a real head turner.
A closer look at various eBike motor systems.
Two electrifying solutions that can turn any bike into an electric.
Proof that innovation doesn’t always take the road most traveled.
Eureka, a new electric bike concept takes flight.
Finally, for all you cycling purist, a new shift in the peloton that’s coming to a group ride near you.
Have others? Feel free to share or comment.
David Fambrough is a technical writer for Mouser Electronics. He’s adamant that Lost in Space, Star Trek and James Bond have had a strong role in inspiring innovation and new design.
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