Electric Bikes: Better Transportation for a Better World
Due to their eco-friendliness, low price points and minimal operating costs, electric bikes are an increasingly popular way to travel. All around the world, we are seeing an increase in two wheeled electric transport and increasingly, this phenomenon is taking root in the U.S.
Some studies have shown that a family can save as much as $2,500 per year by using bikes as a primary source of transportation. According to Pike Research, sales of electric bikes grew to 158,000 units in 2013 and they are expected to keep growing. A wide range of electronic bikes are providing consumers with a wide selection to choose from. Here are 10 options:
One of the more interesting electric bikes is what is known as the INgSOC hybrid bike. This aerodynamic carbon fiber-reinforced polymer bike runs in three modes: battery-powered, battery assist, and battery charge mode, where the user powers up the battery by pedaling. The battery powers the motor as well as a headlight and rear tail lights. The bike even includes an iPhone charging dock.
The carbon fiber reinforced Audi e-bike prototype known as the Wörthersee is powered by a lithium-ion battery. This high-performance e-bike has an electronic control system that helps the bike perform tricks. Weighing only 24 pounds, the compact frame has a low center of gravity to make it very agile. The innovative wheels known as the “Audi ultra blade” have broad flat spokes for an optimized transmission of pedal power. Cyclists have access to five cycling modes and a touchscreen. The bike can reach speeds of up to 50 mph and have a range of 31-44 miles.
Ford has also produced electric bike prototypes. One is called the MoDe:Me, which is designed for commuters and the other is the MoDe:Pro, which is designed for those who need carrying capacity. A 9-hour battery allows for extended travel time between charging sessions and it can attain a maximum speed of 25 mph. Both of these e-bikes are foldable and designed to work with the Apple iPhone6.
Another highly functional bike from designer Antoine Fritsch, known as the T2O Trotinette Bambou, features a sturdy yet flexible bamboo frame and electric motor. The bike has a cruising speed of 21 mph and a range of 24 miles.
A unique electric hybrid bicycle from M55 Bikes called the Beast can help riders scale steep hills. This bike's hefty price tag is justified by the detailed design and the materials used. It is made from CNC, titanium and carbon fiber. The top speed of the bike is 40 mph and the range is 75 miles on a single charge.
A far more cost effective and utilitarian electric bike is the Wave, dubbed the "world's most affordable electric bike." The Wave ebike has a top speed of 28 MPH and a range of 50 miles. This is a bike that does it all and is designed to last without need for maintenance. There are a number of available options including solar panel charging, bigger batteries, more seat options, LCD, and cruise control.
Another electric bicycle prototype has been produced by Faradion. It is powered by a sodium-ion battery pack which stands out from the largely lithium ion batteries currently in use. The sodium-ion battery ostensibly has more electricity storage capacity, decreased charging times and lower costs. It also does not require lithium which, is an increasingly scarce resource. The sodium ion battery is also safer and more environmentally benign.
Another option enables cyclists to add an electric motor to their existing bikes. The MIT designed Copenhagen Wheel turns any bike into a hybrid electric vehicle. Designed in 2009, this simple design went on sale in 2013. It got its name from being sponsored by the Mayor of Copenhagen at the 2009 COP15 climate change conference. The small motor is charged through a regenerative braking system that then uses the power to provide an electric boost while you ride. It can easily help riders achieve speeds of 20 mph. It can also be linked to a smartphone app that collects stats and enables users to configure how it works. The wheel also serves as a locking device preventing the bike from being used without the owners permission.
Richard Matthews is a consultant, eco-entrepreneur, green investor and author of numerous articles on sustainable positioning, eco-economics and enviro-politics. He is the owner of The Green Market Oracle, a leading sustainable business site and one of the Web’s most comprehensive resources on the business of the environment. Find The Green Market on Facebook and follow The Green Market’s twitter feed.
Image credit: GriinBlog, courtesy flickr