First and foremost, what is an ebike? An ebike is a bicycle with an electric motor used to power the vehicle. They use rechargeable batteries and can run up to 15 to 20 mph (24 to 32 km/h), depending on the laws of the country in which they are sold. They are now rapidly replacing traditional bikes. Traditional bikes are considered as bicycles rather than motor vehicles which makes them immune in motor vehicles law.
So how do you control ebikes? They can be controlled by a simple on-off switch but the most popular controller of today is the power-on-demand type, wherein motor is activated by a handlebar mounted throttle, and/or a pedelec (from pedal electric), also known as electric assist, where the electric motor is regulated by pedalling. These have a sensor to detect the pedalling speed, the pedalling force, or both. Brake activation is sometimes sensed to disable the motor as well.
There are two types of controller designed to match either a brush or brushless motor. Brushless motors are becoming more popular because of its efficiency than brush motors.
Ebikes have various designs to choose from, the Electric Pusher Trailer (design which incorporates a motor and battery into a trailer that pushes any bicycle), Chopper (designed as more of a ‘fun’ or ‘novelty’ electric bicycle), Folding electric bicycles, and Electric cargo bikes (it allows riders to carry heavy carriage which is difficult with only human power input).
Most ebikes are zero-emissions vehicles, as they emit no combustion by-products. They are considered to have lower environmental impact than conventional automobiles, and are generally seen as environmentally desirable in an urban environment.
Recent studies show the comparison of ebikes between other forms of transportation in terms of efficiency. They found out that:
- 18 times more energy efficient than an SUV
- 13 times more energy efficient than a sedan
- 6 times more energy efficient than rail transit
- and, of about equal impact to the environment as a conventional bicycle.
The only issue here is the disposal of used lead batteries which can of course, result in an environment problem.
PikeResearch, a for-profit market research firm, concluded that “The worldwide electric two-wheel vehicle market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 9% through 2016″. They also forecasted that worldwide sales of e-bikes, e-motorcycles, and e-scooters will reach more than 466 million between 2010 to 2016, and China will continue to dominate the world market, with more than 95% of sales during this period.