Electric bikes: mobility, practicality, health

by Kevin Stard

Marketed since 1995, the electric bicycle (or electrically assisted bicycle) is setting out to become a mode of transportation for the future. In many countries, sales increased by 17% in 2013. More than a trend or an eco-friendly gadget, it brings solutions for a society on the way to a sustainable future in many areas!

Limited Pollution

No exhaust gas, no noise, and CO2 emissions, the electrically assisted bike displays more than promising ecological potential. It is the major argument of its users, who favor this kind of vehicle for its green passport. Also, these new-generation cyclists are moving towards the electric alternative to replace the purchase of transport deemed too polluting. Because the electric bike consumes only 1 kWh per 62 miles (excluding development, construction, and assembly), the carbon equivalent of one deciliter of gasoline. It consumes less energy than any individual or collective motorized mode of transportation. Example: if used for a 20-mile journey, an electric bicycle will use up as much as a small electric heater for four minutes. Perfect for pedaling in the great outdoors!

Another ecological asset to count on is the progress in energy, which is gaining speed. Soon we will be able to use completely clean electricity, stemming from renewable energies to power bicycles and replace nuclear energy. In the meantime, the batteries are fully recyclable, which is not the case with other types of fuel. No wonder the densest and most polluted cities include this vehicle in their air preservation policy. You only have to look to Asia or Northern Europe, where the movement is underway. Beijing, Copenhagen, and Paris use this ecological bike to unclog cities and reduce the level of pollution.

Urban Mobility

The electric bike has an effective radius of action in the city. In urban areas, it becomes a real ally in the fight against city centers often suffocated by dirty air but also engorged by the avalanche of cars. Not everyone has a car, but those who do are tired of hunting for the parking space. Certain cities have adopted the right approach and are proposing to subsidize the purchase of electric bicycles through acquisition aids. They are developing alternative travel solutions for cars and are building an intelligent strategy for the city. And is boosts local economies! If there were campaigns for making nearby parking spaces, cyclists would be perfect customers for local businesses, because they buy in small quantities but more regularly.

Also, its autonomy and ergonomics make it a privileged ally in urban areas. As a general rule, the range of bikes is between 15 and 40 miles, which is more than enough to cover the daily journeys of an average person. Some models are foldable or can even be worn over the shoulder to adapt to the rhythm of city life. It is the way to put an end to misconceptions about the batteries being too heavy. Admittedly, an e-bike weighs more than a classic one, but it is largely offset by technological progress allowing ergonomics and increased lightness. The weight is thus well distributed, not to mention that the electric assistance makes it possible to compensate for it while reaching a cruising speed of 15 miles per hour and more going down or thanks to an additional pedal stroke.

So for trips that are too much for our feet, the electric bike is a fast and efficient option. Depending on the technology, a sensor detects your effort to assist it as well as possible. With this intelligent system, the more effort you put in, the more the assistance is increased. Forget the idea that this transport is only for the lazy or the elderly. The audience who buy electric bicycles is between 25 and 45 years old.

Saving While Pedaling

The investment is worth it. If an electric bike costs between 800 and 2,500 dollars to buy, pedaling can pay you big compared to a vehicle with another type of engine. You also don’t need a monthly parking pass. Thanks to the electrically assisted transport, parking costs evaporate, and make room for flexibility. Less than 3 cents per 100 miles, that’s what you will have to pay with a high-end e-bike, an annual cost of a few dollars. A negligible sum if we compare it to the heavy gasoline budget or even to the prices of public transport.

Additionally, its maintenance budget is also very low, especially when compared to the often high costs of car repairs. The battery is light and mobile and allows everyone (even novices) to maintain their own pace.

The Bike of Tomorrow?

The electric bike allows a skillful mix of ingenuity, technology, and design. The Dutch can attest to this: 200,000 models were sold in the Netherlands in 2012. Other countries are also fond of it since the e-bike market represents 5% of all the bicycles purchased. Batteries guarantee a bright future for pedaling thanks to the dazzling progress in terms of autonomy. From lifespan or charge, batteries are always becoming more efficient and can be recharged everywhere, at home or in the office. The industry has greatly evolved to offer reliable and efficient technology that can reach up to 100 or even 120 miles.

The electrically assisted vehicle also poses as a formidable prototype to perfect other stuff according to technological trends and lifestyles. Already some classic bicycle models offer smart wheels that collect information on the level of air pollution, for example. Recently, the ultra-smart electric bike has appeared on the market, and it offers a digital platform permanently connected to an on-board computer. This system allows interaction with a smartphone or other Bluetooth, GPS, or GPRS terminal at any time. It also makes it possible to store the energy produced during pedaling to use it at the appropriate time.

That is a new way to reinvent this mode of transportation to take advantage of without daily city struggle!

Kevin Stard - professional sportsman in category MTB. Participant of the Downhill World Cup #1