Where did the idea of e-bikes come from, inventor, and history?

December 22, 2020 0 Comments

What is the first thing that comes into your mind when you hear about an electric bicycle? Let me guess! It might be an image of a scooter or an electric motorcycle, that looks different.

E-bike is the modern version of traditional bicycles, that offers more benefits with fewer efforts. With added electrical components like a motor, a battery, a controller, and improved designs, e-bikes are the new trend.

Electric bikes are revolutionary in many aspects. Some people consider it as a tool with which the rider makes a living or just a model of transportation with roots in cleaner technology. For others, it is simply used for a recreational or leisurely purpose or as a way to experience the world around them. Some even consider them as a less exhausting form of exercise to stay fit.

The concept of e-bikes initially started in France and the United States, in the 1880s. In France, the earliest E-bike was a three-wheeled electric contraption, the motor power controlled with a hand-held lever system without any pedals.

One of the patents was awarded to Ogden Bolton Jr. in 1895, in the United States. The patent had the design for a battery-powered bicycle with its hub motor mounted inside the rear wheel and a battery sitting inside the main triangle of the frame. This design was not much different from modern electric bikes. As time passed, more bikes entered the world with new designs representing the foundational ideas behind many of the present-day machines.

 Later In 1987, an electric bicycle propelled by a double electric motor was invented by Hosea W. Libbey of Boston. The bike was designed with the hub of the crankset axle. The present-day mid-drive motors we see on some bikes are based on the similar design and principles of this electric bicycle.

The creativity and industrious working of engineers for the electric bikes were drafted but many of them never reached production, often sitting in patent offices and on the drawing board until they expired or were discarded. For most of the time, the development of electric bicycles was left on the paper. The reason behind it was the inclined interest in the growth and popularity of the automobile and combustion engines.

Through the middle of the 20th century, electric bikes began to experience their earliest occurrences of mass production. One of the first places to embrace the concept of electric bicycles was Europe, with higher production levels and greater usage. In 1932, Philips Simplex Electric Bike was created in collaboration with Philips and Simplex. As time moved on, Japanese technology and manufacturing entered the field of electric bikes with the 1975 Panasonic and the 1989 Sanyo Enacle.

These bikes were still using the lead-acid and NiCad batteries, respectively, which were heavier than the newer, lower weight battery compositions. With new players in the world of e-bikes, the benefits of this greater innovation were acknowledged, eventually leading to the creation of more electric bikes.

In 1989, one of the most important innovations was created in the form of the first ‘Pedelec’ or Pedal Electric Cycle (also known as pedal-assist). Unlike the previous models, Pedelec uses a motor power, which is triggered as assistance when any pedaling action is registered by the bike rather than using a throttle mechanism. This allowed riders to utilize an electric bike not to dissimilar to how one would ride a regular bike.

Micheal Kutter developed the Pedelec systems on a few of his bikes but then went on to assist the Velocity company in creating the 1992 Dolphin Electric Bike for consumers. Following the lead of Kutter’s pedelec, pedal-assist became mainstream in the modern electric bicycles. Further improvements have been made into modern electric bikes as well in the form of Lithium-Ion batteries to increase the capacity while keeping the overall battery weight significantly lower than some of its competitors and predecessors.

As time paved on, further technologies were introduced ranging from different styles of sensors to power controls in the late 1990s. With regular bikes in full control of the market, there were fewer electric bikes available to purchase. It was only in the late 21st century that the production of electric bikes began to actually grow with increased demand in a market dominated by traditional bicycles.  Usage of terms like ‘e-bike’, ‘power bike’, ‘pedelec’, ‘pedal-assisted’, and ‘power-assisted bicycle’ was mainstream to refer to an electric bicycle.

With the latest technology transforming the lives of people in present times, there is a great surge in the production and usage of electric bicycles, worldwide. Mountain biking is growing in popularity due to the addition of e-bikes, making it possible for many people to participate in the sport. The benefits, comfort, and efficiency of e-bikes, combined with the componentry and infrastructure is designed to get people from places to place, many riders have also adopted an electric bike for day-to-day city riding.

With a history and a legacy of trial and error, countless designs have come a long way in a hundred and twenty years. What is more even more exciting than history, is the future of e-bikes and where they will be able to take us. From helping you cover the miles of distance, to keeping you fit, electric bicycles do it all, that too with minimal effort.

Moreover, with the electric motor assisting as you pedal, you’ll soon get up to cruising speed. You can rack up good speeds without pedaling viscously with minimum effort. The electric assistance in the e-bike is also perfect for getting back to speed after a stop. E-bikes will generally make everything quicker without exherting more effort.

In addition to the physical health benefits of a person, e-bikes can also be a worthwhile investment as it is way less expensive than other forms of transportation. An e-bike doesn’t use gas and can be charged by peddling. Unlike an electric motorcycle or car, an e-bike doesn’t cost money or resources to charge/operate.

Thus, an e-bike is a very affordable form of transportation when compared to any other transportation. Furthermore, e-bikes also have an impact on alleviating parking issues in urban areas particularly because they take much less space than cars. A study of the environmental impact of e-bikes shows that they are 18 times more energy-efficient than an SUV, 13 times more energy-efficient than a sedan, 6 times more efficient than rail transit, and nearly equal to the environmental impact of a traditional bike.’

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