Sales of electric bicycles, or e-bikes, are expected to grow by more than 50% in North America during 2013, as the hot item in consumer green tech is set to breakaway in sales from previous years. Actor William Shatner, who is no stranger to futuristic tech, recently purchased two Pedego Interceptor e-bikes for him and his wife in LA.
The e-bike market is ready to go mainstream in the U.S. The price for e-bikes has come down significantly in recent months. At one time, most e-bikes with decent components and weight were in the $3,000 range. Now you can find reasonable quality e-bikes in the $1,000 range. With gas prices at all-time highs, e-bikes are an attractive, low-cost option to gas efficient vehicles.
E-bike owners are finding that they are great for commuting to work, as traditional bikes can be a problem with office dress and sweat.
People who use e-bikes range from commuters to casual cyclers who like a little help with hills and wind, to those who decided to save money on buying a scooter. These are not for the serious road cycler or hardcore mountain biker.
I’ve been shopping for an e-bike now for a few weeks, and I’ve had my eye on the Prodeco Phantom X folding electric bike (pictured). I’ve had folding bikes in the past and love the convenience of being able to throw my bike in almost any car trunk or hatchback. Because the Phantom X folds up it can ship from the manufacturer fully assembled.
If you’re considering an e-bike, it pays to do some research first. Cheaper e-bikes are going to be heavier and have less battery capacity and power. Higher priced bikes will be made from lighter materials and have better batteries.
Another consideration is local motor vehicle laws. E-bikes could be considered motor vehicles depending on where you live (or where the one you’re buying the bike for lives). For example, according to US federal law, as long as your electric bike is under 750 watts and does not go over 20 MPH (without pedal assist) then it is a bicycle and not a motor vehicle. Most consumer e-bikes in the $1,000 range don’t fit the motorized vehicle description.
These are just the basics of e-bike considerations. You’ll want to browse through bike websites and shops to find out more. Also, read the reviews on the top e-bikes at Amazon.com.