Way from prototypes to modern e-bikes and how to get yourself one
In modern days, e-bikes are highly popular among various people. Those are ecologically safe, highly autonomous, very maneuverable and thus very useful. You don’t even need a driving license to ride an e-bike – it’s enough to be a sixteen years old to ride one. Thus electric bikes were rising in popularity very, very fast during the last years.
Moreover, it’s an easy deal to get yourself an e-bike for any possible needs – from fast and maneuverable city rides to heavy-duty cargo bicycles with high-power motors. You can look at the actual models, for example, in an article written by Gregory Lemond, while we’ll tell you some useful info on e-bikes in general.
Short story about long history of e-bike creation
Let’s start from the beginning of the invention of the assisted bikes, not the invention of the bicycle itself. In 1886, Frank Julian Sprague developed the first working electric motor. Electrification was popular in the world at the time the same as bicycles were.
Two e-bikes – pedaled and pedalless
The first patent for a full-fledged pedalless electric bicycle was filed in 1895 by Ogden Bolton. The patent included installing an electric motor, powered by a 10-volt battery on the rear wheel hub of a bicycle and no gear system or pedals. Battery supposed to be mounted on the frame, yet making a bicycle heavier.
What’s interesting, a patent for the first electric bike as we know it nowadays, combined with pedals, definitely belongs to the inventor from Boston – Hosea W. Libbey. His invention was 2 years younger than the Bolton’s and was powered by a pair of electric motors, and a pair of batteries. On a flat road, only one battery worked, and when climbing, the second was connected.
Modern e-bikes as we know it
In 1920, Heinzmann, the German company, began mass production of electric motors for bicycles. And during the 1930s, the number of e-bike manufacturers expanded – for example, they were joined by Philips. But WWII temporarily stopped all of the development, yet it got its interest back right after it was ended due to the fuel crisis.
So, in 1946, Benjamin Bowden presented Classic – a prototype of the electrically driven “bicycle of the future” in London. But interest waned shortly after the end of the fuel crisis. Everything changed when Panasonic released its first e-bike in 1970.
But another innovation emerged only in 1989 – the Sanyo Enacle became the first electric bike with a nickel-cadmium battery. And in 1991 e-bikes became the same as we know it nowadays when Sony and Asahi Kasei released the first commercial Li-Ion battery. It was smaller than other power supplies yet giving the same power output.
How to choose an e-bike for yourself?
An electric bike is not a cheap thing, so it is better to take a purchase seriously. First of all, it is important to pay attention to the dimensions of the vehicle and choose the one suitable for your height. You should focus on the convenience when riding a bike and choose a size that is comfortable for yourself. And there are a few specifications you should think about after that.
- Bike weight – the lighter it is, the better it’s for a ride and for a rider, regardless of the terrain. Bicycle weight varies with frame and battery, and the lightest frames are made of aluminum alloys.
- Maximum mileage on a single battery charge without using the pedals is important too. Unlike weight, the more mileage the better. If you help the motor by pedaling, the mileage will be 2-3 times more.
- Wheel diameter of 26-28 inches will allow you to travel long distances at high speeds, the wheels are less sensitive to hilly or uneven terrain, and the bike is more comfortable to handle. A smaller diameter is inferior in performance to a larger diameter wheel, but this bike takes up less space.
How to make an e-bike on your own?
If you’re really low on funds, it’s still possible to have an e-bike. DIY guides will help you – an e-bike can be made by your own hands using a kit of specific accessories and a motor wheel to upgrade it. Set of parts for conversion includes:
- A motor-wheel designed for front or rear installation.
- Control panel and a controller.
- Rotary or lever throttle handle, brake lever; PAS system, sensors and wiring.
- Waterproof bag, case or container for placing the battery and controller.
- Commonly, batteries aren’t included in the electrification kit and must be purchased separately.
An electrification kit will allow you to convert a regular bike into a fast and high-torque electric vehicle that can easily overcome even difficult climbs at little cost.