By Silvio Marcacci, energyNow!
Bicycles are the most popular form of transportation across much of the globe. In fact, some estimates say about twice as many bikes as cars are on the world’s roads and a growing number of these bikes, around 120 million, are electric. Bicycles may be the most popular form of transportation in countries like China or Denmark, but that’s not yet the case in America – we love our cars.
Two kinds of e-bikes are on the road today, pedal-assisted power and full-electric power. Pedal-assisted models won’t run without the rider pedaling it, and will give the rider around 250 watts of assistance getting up hills. Full-electric power e-bikes are more like conventional motorcycles, in that they will accelerate without any pedaling at all. The full-power models are almost twice the weight of a pedal-assisted model, and can reach 20 miles per hour, but may cost four times as much.
E-bikes can save money at the pump, but the most promising aspect of their emergence may be the business prospects for e-bike manufacturers and retailers. Nearly 29 million e-bikes were sold worldwide in 2010, with Americans buying about 80,000, Europeans purchasing about a million, and the Chinese riding away with about 27 million. Currently, all electric bikes are made in China, but that could change as the market grows – as many as half of all bicycles on the road could be e-bikes by 2025.
energyNOW! correspondent Josh Zepps met one of the world’s top e-bike experts, an e-bike retailer, and a family of commuters who think e-bikes are the future of two-wheeled transportation in the U.S.