They’ve been doing it in China for over 20 years. Europe followed suit shortly after. Now America is joining the party, and could be on a trajectory to once again be one of the world leaders. We’re talking about electric bikes and their growing popularity.
In 2012, the USA bought about 70,000 e-bikes (motorized bicycles). In 2013, that number more than doubled to 159,000. If the present trend holds, America will buy 276,000 during the similar period in 2014.
According to a Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA) report, about 2/3 of current sales are for low-priced bikes. Anecdotally however, consumers seem to now be interested in the better quality bikes, batteries and motors that are presently available.
Baby boomers seem to be leading this group with the disposable income needed to purchase them, and the desire to be able to ride farther and faster than possible with just human power.
It’s those better quality manufacturers that brought their bikes to a media event in Hamburg, New Jersey where journalists were given the opportunity to try out a number of different brand e-bikes on a hilly mountainside resort. ChargedUp brought media and manufactures together for a day of hands-on testing of e-bikes, wearable technology and portable outdoor gear.
Many bikes are stock, off-the-shelf hybrids or mountain bikes that have been fitted with the e-bike battery and motor. Others are built from the ground up as an e-bike and can be had in various sizes and power ratings. Most e-bikes come with pedal assist power but some come with “throttle” mode that propels you along with no pedaling required. The pedal assist feature works extremely well as I was climbing hills all afternoon at 12 to 14 MPH without even breaking a sweat.
Following are a number of great bikes seen and ridden at the show. Stay tuned for more in-depth reports for a number of them.