As more and more cities around the world seek to reduce emissions, electric bikes are emerging as the ideal green solution. Electric bikes are a highly green form of transportation that requires no gas whatsoever. E-bikes are highly popular in Western Europe and green-friendly states like California. Curiously enough they are also emerging as a popular form of transportation in countries like China, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
Some have hailed e-bikes as the greenest mode of transportation created ever. The popularity of e-bikes has seen production soar in recent years. In China, the number of e-bikes manufactured in 2002 was roughly 2 million. By 2013, this number has swelled to over 30 million units. E-bike businesses are seeing astonishing annual growth rates in European countries. The potential is also great for the U.S. as well, but in some states, legislative hurdles prevent growth.
Considering that e-bikes seem like a trend that is intent on staying, let’s look at exactly why these quirky gadgets / personal vehicles are gaining enormous popularity:
E-Bikes are Just like Regular Bikes, but Better
Some people are still confused about what exactly e-bikes are. Are they bicycles that run on electricity? Well, in a way, yes. E-bikes are powered by a battery, much like a battery in a smartphone, which has to be recharged. There’s no need for gasoline use as in a motorbike or a car. What makes e-bikes really desirable is the ease of pedaling.
Most commuters are put off by biking to work because they don’t want to arrive at the office sweaty after riding through the city. Of course, pedaling through rush hour traffic is no easy task. E-bikes, for the most part, solve this problem. There are two types of e-bikes: ones that do not require any pedaling, and pedelecs, where pedaling is assisted by a battery-powered motor.
The E-Bike Does Most of the Heavy Lifting
Pedelecs are a result of Japanese and European Union regulations. It used to be that these governments wanted the riders of e-bikes to operate the pedals on some level due to safety reasons. E-bike riders prefer electric assist because it makes pedaling less strenuous and physically exhausting. The power of pedelecs can vary depending on the motor. The more powerful the motor, the less pedaling the rider will have to do. Pedelec motor power can vary between 250 watts to 750 watts.
Non-assist e-bikes have no pedals. These are more common in the U.S. Instead of pedals, the riders of these e-bikes pace their feet on the battery box. The battery moves the machine according to a certain preset speed limit. The distance one of these bikes can go is also limited at this point. An e-bike with a 24-volt battery can cover about 15 miles on a single charge. These bikes are not yet suited for long-distance travel, but they are more than suitable for urban commuting.
E-Bikes Can be as Speedy as Cars
Speeds on non-assist e-bikes can be around 24 mph or more. Compare this number to the average car in traffic, which travels at about 18mph. During rush hour, e-bikes can be far more desirable than cars. There’s less time and money spent burning gas waiting in traffic. The speed of e-bikes can vary depending on the size and power of the motor. Pedelecs, of course, can be as speedy as how hard the rider pedals. Plus, e-bikes can maintain speeds for weights up to 400 pounds (rider plus gear).
E-Bikes are Affordable
One of the main reasons e-bikes are gaining popularity is because these machines are affordable. E-bikes are far more affordable to buy than cars. A car would cost tens of thousands of dollars that would take years to pay off on a lease. An e-bike can be purchased for less than $1,000. Higher-end model prices do not exceed $5,000. Therefore, e-bikes are particularly attractive to millennials. The generation that graduated during the recession does not like to invest in cars mainly due to economic reasons. Most millennials are not forgoing buying cars or houses. Therefore, affordable yet convenient products like e-bikes highly appeal to this younger generation.
No Need for Expensive Insurance or Gas
Unlike with cars, e-bikers do not have to pay insurance premiums either. Riders can obtain a warranty for the motor, but do not require other forms of insurance if such a policy is not desired. Also importantly, e-bikes do not cost gas money. The battery only needs to be recharged, which can be done at home. E-bikes are affordable to buy and maintain. Thanks to this fact, green conscious millennials are driving the e-bike buying trend.
Freedom to Ride
Most of the annoying road rules that apply to cars and motorbikes do not apply to e-bikes. Of course, e-bikes do have to stick to traffic rules, but these machines are categorized as bicycles. In states like California, e-bikes can use cyclist lanes and thus avoid traffic. There’s less stress taking the bike path than the highway, which makes e-bikes even more appealing to urban commuters.
Easy to Learn
E-bikes can offer similar perks to cars in terms of speed of commuting. But they do not require going through driving lessions and acquiring a license. Anyone who can ride a bicycle can ride an e-bike as well. Even riding a motorbike requires a license that e-bikers don’t need. States, however, do impose age limits on who can ride an e-bike, but basically anyone over 18 can learn to ride one quite easily.
It’s clear that green modes of transportation like e-bikes are the future of urban commuting. E-bikes are now entering bikeshare programs, and investors are seeding companies that aim to make e-bikes perform better. These machines are not a fad like the hoverboard or the electric scooter. E-bikes are emerging as a legitimate and highly desirable mode of transportation that causes zero emissions. They are also highly consumer friendly thanks to budget prices. It can be expected that in the future e-bikes will become a more prominent mode of transportation. Currently, legislative hurdles keep the e-bike market from growing. But as more and more people become interested in e-bikes, it can be expected that the law will favor the emission-free method of transportation.