E-bikes gaining popularity in the US

3 years 6 months 3 weeks ago Monday, March 21 2016 Mar 21, 2016 Monday, March 21, 2016 5:04:00 AM CDT March 21, 2016 in News
By: Nick Yahl, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA - Electric bikes, or "e-bikes," are becoming a more popular mode of transportation for people in the United States. 

The bikes are different than the average bicycle because they have a battery-powered motor that assists the rider when pedaling the bike. 

Benedict Nagy said the models in Walt's Bicycle and Wilderness shop in Columbia are different from motor bikes because they don't have a throttle to power the motor. 

"These are the type of electric bikes that a lot of folks refer to as pedal x," Nagy said. "So there is no throttle or anything to turn, you have to be pedaling for the electric motor to kick in. As you start pedaling the electric motor engages and most of these will do 20-30 mph without breaking a sweat."

Nagy said most of the e-bikes right now are for street use only, but they do make bikes for use in the back country. 

"As of now, the off-road models haven't taken off as well in the United States," Nagy said. "There are a lot of issues with trails in the western states that are designated for non-motorized vehicles. They have actually banned electrified bikes from those trails, which is a bit of a controversy."

E-bikes run a bit steep in price for the extra additions. The average cost of an e-bike is around $3,000, according to Nagy. In comparison, a similar model to the e-bike, without the extra motor and attachments, costs roughly $700. 

According to Navigant Research, global annual sales of e-bicycles are expected to grow from nearly 32 million e-bikes in 2014 to more than 40 million in 2023.

Nagy encourages those who may have tried an e-bike in the past to also take a look at the newer models. 

"The bikes before used lead batteries, which are the same type of batteries that are in your car, very heavy. Now bikes use lithium-ion batteries like the ones in a cell phone or laptop and are much lighter," Nagy said. 

An exhibition for people to learn more about e-bikes was set to take place at the ARC, 1701 W. Ash, from 7 until 8:30 p.m. Monday. A Q&A session was scheduled to happen after the presentation for people wanting to know more about the bikes.

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