Their continuous evolution has inexorably increased demand for researching ways to make electric propulsion more capable, dependable and affordable.
By Danillo Almeida
When people talk about electric propulsion, thoughts tend to go to cars right away. The reason for such importance is that this change means a lot to them: we are talking about abandoning standards established over decades and considered eternal until not so long ago. However, the truth is that they are not the only ones being affected.
Their continuous evolution has inexorably increased demand for researching ways to make electric propulsion more capable, dependable and affordable. As a result, now that the available technology is becoming effectively suitable to cars and commercial automobiles, it is pretty much perfect for simpler uses such as motorcycles and bicycles.
In fact, those two have observed the growth of a market niche between them: electric bicycles, informally referred to as “ebikes”, have become quite popular in Europe for several reasons, but none of them could exist without the rise of electrification. This article is going to show you what we can expect from this type of vehicle from now on.
What exactly are ebikes?
In short, regular bicycles assisted by electric propulsion. The motor makes leg work easier primarily by reducing the physical effort demanded from the user, which is helpful to gain speed faster and to keep it steady especially in difficult situations such as climbing hills. They should not be mistaken for motorcycles because they still have pedals.
The practical effect of that assistance is making cycling easier. New cyclists or anyone who is not so confident about their physical condition becomes able to move around with less effort and a lower risk of eventually getting excessively tired in a dangerous situation like crossing a crowded avenue or, once again, climbing any type of hill.
Although electric bicycles are not new, they used to be frowned upon. Most of them were heavy and not quite beautiful, so the whole product category had a primarily utilitarian purpose; they were the kind of product reserved to assist the elderly with their daily tasks, for example. However, modern technologies brought them a complete change.
How have ebikes changed?
First of all, modern technologies gave companies more flexibility to adapt the electric motor to the bicycle’s design: most models only differ from traditional ones at some bars, which are thicker so as to accommodate motor and wiring. Some models employ high-strength material to enable innovative see-through designs like the Cowboy 4 ST’s.
Over time, companies began to integrate them with the user’s phone via apps. Since the bicycle now has energy of its own, it can exchange information with the phone and offer functions like smart mapping and theft protection. Some models offer a specific place to set the phone as a navigation screen, but that may be risky in some regions.
More recently, companies are also using those apps to encourage a healthy life style. They indicate alternative routes with better air quality, provide weather updates, estimate the remaining battery range and even calculate information like calories burned and moving time. You can even connect with fellow riders to boast about your activity.
What can we expect from them?
Artistic design, efficient motors and sophisticated user interface make pretty much any vehicle desirable nowadays and electric bicycles are definitely not an exception. The models shown here are only some that have taken this new approach; in 2019, Wallpaper magazine anticipated this trend by identifying a sales increase in the United Kingdom.
Nowadays, emission regulations are getting tougher by the year and new cars are getting more expensive especially in emergent countries. Both issues make the current scenario perfect for electric bicycles to increase their market share in more countries — most of those models are currently offered only in China, Europe and the USA.
Over the next years, the tendency is that these vehicles will become more and more popular around the world. By creating another source of demand, they are going to contribute to the development of electric propulsion just like cars have been doing, which will make it more dependable and accessible to users of all types and budgets.
Electric bicycles have made use of the latest technologies to go from utilitarian products to desirable and even fashionable means of transportation — some of them have even won worldwide design awards.
Originally published at Medium