As gas prices soar and concerns grow over global warming, alternative fuel vehicles are gaining traction. When it comes to cars, trucks, and SUVs, a hybrid is currently the most popular alternative to a gas powered engine. But when it comes to short-range commutes, say 20 miles or less, an electric bike is a fun, economical, and environmentally friendly option. For only pennies, your powered bicycle can get you from place to place without breaking a sweat and without the hassles of traffic congestion.
An electric bike has pedals like an ordinary bicycle, and you can use those pedals to propel yourself under your own power. But it also has an electric motor, which you can use to augment your pedaling. The supplemental power is useful when starting from a stop or when riding against the wind. Alternatively, you can let the electric motor provide all the power while you sit back and enjoy the ride. This makes a motor powered bicycle one of the most versatile vehicles around. There are even models that fold up for easy storage or travel, as well as recumbent versions, which will take bicycling to a new level of relaxation (just don’t fall asleep at the wheel!).
A battery powered bike can be purchased as an off-the-shelf item, or you can purchase a conversion kit to convert most any bicycle to an electric bicycle. The important factors to consider when selecting an electric bike are battery life (which determines how far you can travel on a charge), speed, and durability. Today’s electric bicycles take advantage of recent advances in battery technology. Many models are powered by nickel-metal-hydride or lithium ion batteries, which can give a travel range of one two hours. Most models are capable of reaching speeds of 10 to 20 miles per hour. Durability is an important consideration, and like anything, you get what you pay for. You can spend under $500 for an economy model, but the quality may disappoint you. The better quality bikes can be purchased for around $500 to $1000. Check your local laws, but generally there is no registration required for a battery powered bicycle.