Recent boom in cycling, which covers almost all developed and developing countries, fully confirms the assumption that the coming century will be the age of electric bicycles. According to some American experts, in the first quarter of XXI century bicycles will start to force out cars and gradually become the main form of transportation.
This forecast is confirmed by facts. In US and Germany – the undisputed world leaders in the number of cars per person – more bikes are sold annually than cars. An endless line of cyclists can be seen on the roads of Denmark, Holland, Sweden and other European countries. In Japan, almost 50% residents regularly ride a bicycle, and Tokyo is literally packed with cyclists in rush hours. Every day, 500 million people ride bicycles to work in China.
Many European cities have imposed a ban on cars in city centers, and started to open free bicycle rentals. Because of this electric bikes are starting to replace their two wheeled siblings. The electric bike is becoming a more popular means of transportation.
The unprecedented popularity of the electric bike is not accidental, in many ways it is associated with the negative consequences of motorization. Fact is that the car, having conquered almost the entire planet, has become the main user of irreplaceable natural resources, it pollutes land, air and water, and a make a lot of noise. More people die each year in car accidents than fighting wars. But the main danger of cars, according to doctors, is that it has made us (ironically) more inactive. Electric bikes will help humanity to get rid of hypodynamia (decrease in strength or power caused by inactive life style).
Today, electric bikes are being produced by all major bicycle manufacturing companies in Asia, USA and Europe. Chinese authorities believe that electric bicycles can replace tens of thousands of scooters and motorcycles and thereby significantly improve the transport situation.
In Shanghai alone there are more than 150 charging stations for e-bike batteries and more than 300 replacement and service centers that are already working. In addition, it is planned to build a network of emergency charging stations, where any cyclist for a small fee will be able to quickly charge his battery.
A modern electric bike is a comfortable, environmentally friendly vehicle that requires minimal maintenance. It doesn’t cost a lot and takes up very little space (compared to a car) in a garage or on a parking lot.
Electric bicycles are a low-power type of light transport wich uses an electric motor for propulsion. Most often, electric bicycles are equipped with electric motors up to 1 kW of power. There are also bicycles with lower powered motors, they only assist the cyclist while riding, but they are not the main driving force.
Electric bikes are used around the world for different purposes: commuting to work, recreational and extreme riding. Some American states even have police departments patrolling the city streets on electric bicycles. Such transport allows you to ride in places where you can not drive on a motorcycle or car.
Electric bikes are divided according to characteristic that are specific to this type of transport.
- By placement of motor
- By type of control
- By type of wheel drive
- By manufacturing process
1. Motor placement
- Electric motor is placed on the frame with a clutch on front chainring. With this configuration, the engine is installed at the bottom of the frame, near the front chainrings. It is considered to be a simple configuration. The center of gravity of the bike moves down and center. This has a positive effect on the handling of the bike, achieving better engine thrust on the climbs, and high speed on flat roads
- Electric motor is installed into the wheel hub. The engine rotates the wheel directly. The advantage of this design is its simplicity and compact size of the motor.
- Via belt drive on drive wheel. In this case, the motor is most often installed on the frame or rear cargo rack. Power is transmitted through a belt or a chain on to the drive wheel hub.
- Exclusive models. Such designs are made with a non-standard approach of transmitting power to the drive wheel. There are many options here. Industrial production of electric bicycles adheres to the first two types of designs, in contrast to homemade models, whose designs are limited only by imagination.
2. Type of control
- Automatic – motor turns on automatically when rider starts applying force on the pedals and turns off when he stops pedaling
- Manual – turns on and of with a button. Usually has several modes.
3. Type of wheel drive
- Front wheel drive
- Rear wheel drive
- All wheel drive
4. Manufacturing process
- Factory made
- Homemade (simple bicycle + special kit)
Today most popular model of electric bike is a hybrid model. Some of them can not be attributed to the budget models, as they are equipped with expensive components. However, the principle of operation of most electric bikes is almost the same.
Electric motor provides movement of bicycle in full or partially. It is possible to quickly overcome steep climbs and obstacles. Electric bicycles are designed to drive long distances using an electric motor without drivers effort. You can also ride them like a regular bike by pedaling.
In addition to wheels, frame, handlebars, seat and other parts of an ordinary bicycle, electric bikes include:
- Electric motor
- Twist throttle accelerator
- auxiliary equipment
You can cover a distance of up to 50 km (30 miles) without using pedals on electric bike. Speed of an electric bicycle can reach up to 60 km per hour (35mph) if speed limit is not fixed (usually it is fixed on 25-30 kph (15-20 mph) . The distance and speed of a single battery charge depends on the capacity and voltage of the battery, tire pressure, environmental conditions, road quality and driver weight.
Electric bikes may vary in wheel size:
- Compact size wheels – 16 inches are the lightest and smallest. They take up little storage space and are easy to transport. But they are not suitable for off-road.
- 20 inch – common wheel size for city e-bikes. Most often such wheels are equipped on folding bikes. They can be placed in the trunk of the car without difficulty.
- Wheels from 24 to 26 inches are full-size. This is a classic wheel size installed on a large range of bikes. These wheels are suitable for off-road, and for city riding. Usually installed on mountain bikes.
- 27 inches and higher are suitable for long distance rides at high speed. Installed on E- Mountain bikes and Road bikes.
E-bikes usually weigh more than regular bicycles, in the range of 20-40 kg. Folding models allow you to put them in the trunk of a car, as well as taking them on public transport. At home, they take up very little space.
Driver assist function
This mode helps the cyclist with pedaling. When this mode is active you get the feeling like you are riding down the hill. Such systems are not installed on all bike models. This assistance feature is convenient for elderly people, for riding off-road and climbing.
The main element of this system is the sensor, which activates electric motor when pedaling, and transmits data to the micro controller. When the rider stops pedaling the motor switches off. If the rider wants to turn the motor back on without pedaling he uses a twist throttle accelerator which is present almost on all e-bike models.
Driver assistance function significantly reduces the load on the motor, decreases the battery discharge rate and increases its lifespan. Some electric bikes have a setting, which sets the number of revolutions of the pedals before the driver assistance function turns on.
E-bikes slowly but surely are taking over the world. Soon it will be as usual to charge up your bicycle as charging your phone. E-bikes are becoming more powerful and more power efficient every year. All major bicycle manufacturers such as Trek, Specialized, Cannondale and others are producing e-bike models. E-bikes are great for commuting and recreational riding, they are a lot of fun, good for your health and environment.