The Electric Powered Bicycle is defined a electric motor powered bicycle which can be powered manually via pedals alone if chosen to. An electric powered motorcycle would differ in that it is only powered by the motor and has no pedals. Terms to describe electric bicycles include E-Bikes, Elebike, Eped, Power bike, Pedelec, Assisted Bicycle and Power Assist System (PAS) bicycles.
Power can be applied in a number of ways:
* the front or rear wheel may be powered via a motor built into the hub
* a motor mounted in the frame or behind the rider may drive the rear wheel with a chain or rubber belt
* power may be transferred to one or other wheel from a motor mounted directly above, by bringing a powered roller or rubber belt into contact with the tire
* the bicycle's chain may be driven by a sprocket which may force the rider to pedal or incorporate a ratchet allowing either pedaling or powering or both.
The history of the EV bicycle started in the 1890's with patents in the United States. On October 8, 1895 Hosea W. Libbey, of Boston patented an Electric Bicycle (#547,441). On December 31,1895 Ogden Bolton, Jr. of Canton, Ohio designed and patented (#552,271) an electric bicycle with the motor very similar to the hub motor type used today.
China has been the leader in EV Bike use since the 1970's when the government central planning began promoting the E bikes. By the 1980's these dual powered bicycles began selling at 10,000 to 20,000 a year. Popularity did not increase beyond that point because of the high costs compared to a standard bicycle and poor performance of the available heavy batteries. In the late 1990's Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shijiazhuang, and Suzhou began creating laws to limit petroleum powered motorcycles and to ease restrictions on E bikes.
Improvements in battery and motor technology (with brush-less motors, hub motors, new neodymium motor magnets) and an increase in personal income since the 1990s helped expand the market for e-bikes.
These bikes compete in performance with the gasoline-powered scooter by reaching ranges of 50-60 km (30 to 37 miles) and 250-350 Watt (power).
The two e-bike components that experienced substantial technology improvement, are the lead(Pb)-acid batteries and in-hub wheel e-bike motors. Over 90% of e-bikes sold in China use Pb-acid batteries. While Pb-acid batteries have been in use for nearly a century in automobiles and other applications, there have been important advances in the past decade rendering them more suitable for e-bikes. Instead of liquid acid electrolyte these batteries use a matte or fixed electrolyte and if the
battery or bike falls over, electrolyte usually will not leak out and cause property damage. Energy density of e-bike batteries have increased 33% from 1997 to 2005 at 40Wh/kg, while battery life also increased 35% to over 300 cycles. NiCd, NiMH, Lithium ion polymer and Lithium iron phosphate are newer battery chemistry that pack more watts per kilogram and last for more charge cycles.
The industry grew from under 10 electric bike companies in 1998 to 481 manufacturers (according to the official estimate) by 2005.
Sales went up from 10,000 in the late 1980's to 1,500,000 in 2002. From there sales increased to 4 million in 2003 and 10 million in 2005. By late 2009 120 million electric bicycles are ridden daily in China.
Some claims by the electric bicycle world:
*The total cost per mile (including energy cost, purchase price and the cost of running the vehicle) is less than 5 cents for an e-bike versus 71 cents for a car.
*For every 500 miles an electric bike is used in place of a car, an average of 25 gallons of fuel is saved.
*In terms of fuel economy, the e-bike’s energy consumption translates into about 1000 miles per gallon.