Sustainable technologies, those that walk gently on the earth, are gaining acceptance these days, prominent among them being the electric bike, a simple transportation alternative that is now viable, reliable and just plain fun.
An electric bike rider can travel along in whisper quiet serenity cruising with the wind, or against it, even while going uphill. Remember as a kid all the places you could go on a bike, and you were able to go and see places you never saw before even in your own neighborhood?
Since an electric bike can be ridden with or without power, they are also a great way to exercise at your own pace. More than anything, electric bikes are fun. Imagine the feeling of riding along at a respectable sight seeing pace, usually up to 20mph, where hills are no longer a strain and stopping for fuel is a thing of the past.
A built in solar panel on some ebikes aids in the charging process as long as they are out in the sunshine. A good ebike should travel from 20 to 40 miles on a fully charged battery, depending of course, on terrain and the amount of assist. A 4 to 8 hour charge from a regular electrical plugin will fill the tank and have you ready to go again, or you can carry a second battery for double the distance.
An electric bike is an exceptionally convenient form of transportation especially for commutes, errands around town or the neighborhood. Some ebikes can be quite sophisticated, but basically they are simple to maintain with very little to break down or go wrong. Although it won’t carry two kids and the family dog it will, with the added side baskets, carry two big bags of groceries or whatever else you want to load. An electric bike can easily carry a child-seat or tow a child trailer. An electric bike can save you stress and time too by eliminating the aggravation of looking for a parking space or waiting for the bus (and often is faster than the bus) and of course traffic problems can be easily avoided.
And, as for that exercise, you will actually look forward to getting on your ebike. You can do some straight pedaling if you feel the need for heavy breathing, or you can pace yourself with the adjustable motor assist. It will make you feel good without the ache. An electric bike can also be cheaper than a gym membership, car insurance, or car payments. Owning an electric bike can enable the astute individual to use a car significantly less or eliminate it altogether.
Ebikes, if charged from your local friendly utility, still costs only pennies a day, and there is always the optional carry along or stay at home solar chargers that get their energy directly from the sun. Recharging is easy, just plug it in! All chargers with ebikes are smart chargers allowing you to recharge at anytime and the unit will turn off automatically. You can recharge the battery at any discharge level. Built in LED's on many ebikes measures and shows the discharge rate and power availability.
Recently established US law regards electric bicycles with fully functioning pedals, no more than 750 watts motor output and 20 mph top speed as “bicycles", meaning that no operators license or mandatory insurance coverage is required. Ebikes entail a modest initial investment, anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand depending on options, but operating costs are equivalent to getting 500 miles per gallon or more with the fossil fuel machine.
Other than the built in onboard battery, ebikes look and feel like a regular bicycle. The drive mechanism can be located in the front or rear wheel hub, or sometimes as a friction drive on the rear tire (the least desireable configuration). The power, when activated by a switch on the handlebar (called power-on-demand), or in response to your pedaling (ped-elec), gives you an immediate, nearly silent push. When you release the switch (or stop pedaling), the motor coasts or “freewheels" like a regular bike. For most ebikes, standard bicycle hand brakes and gearing round out the controls.
Some interesting power control variations and new transmission designs are beginning to emerge which should increase overall ease and efficiency even more. The battery is something to take into consideration, however, particularly when buying new, by either getting a spare, or investing in the latest battery technology which provides for extended power reserves.
Electric bikes come in many configurations and styles, and maintaining them is usually simple and straightforward, most servicing falling within the purview of a bicycle mechanic.
Every day, more and more electric powered vehicles, from e-skateboards to e-scooters and even e-motorcycles, are finding their way to market. Fuel price increases along with an emerging ecological and health consciousness, is fostering a new look at alternative forms of transportation. Soon, ever growing numbers of people will accept and even embrace ebikes as a necessary and integral part of daily life. Furthermore, as society ages and just going to the store becomes a regular outing, tricycle ebikes will become a great assisted living tool enabling the elderly to travel back and forth with comfort and ease.
An electric bike is high-utility, low-impact transportation. Our choices have an impact on the future. An electric bike is healthy step in the right direction.
Article by: Henry Ramsey
Henry Ramsey is a former national news correspondent who specializes in writing about sustainable communities and appropriate technologies. He is a former classic car colletor who now rides an electric bicycle. To learn more visit: http://www.HappyThoughtLifestyles.com