Peddle Power, Battery Power … or Both?
I run across a lot of different bicycles in my ever continuing quest to conquer the internerd. I’ve seen it all.
3-wheeled motorcycles (http://spyder.brp.com/en-CA/About-Us/), one wheeled motorcycles (http://www.popsci.com/node/21644), functional personal hovercrafts (http://www.arbortech.com.au/view/airboard-information), bamboo bikes (http://www.calfeedesign.com/bamboo.htm) and a plethora of electric bikes.
And while all these innovations are fantastic, it is the last one there that I want to focus on today. This week I saw a very interesting e-bike. The Globe and Mail reports that:
the global sales of e-bikes, which are powered by batteries and can be recharged using a standard electric outlet, reached 23 million in 2008, with 90 per cent of them sold in China – Data derived from Electric Bikes Worldwide Reports). That same source predicts the global market will more than double by 2012. Granted, only 730,000 of those 2008 bikes were sold in North America, but sales could quadruple by 2011.
Now, e-bikes in general have been on my radar for a while, but this week I saw something downright crazy. Or at least I thought it was crazy.
The Emcycle was posted on http://www.ideaconnection.com/new-inventions/and it’s the first fully contained electric bike that this imaginary blogger has ever seen. It’s got doors. A roof. A trunk. Seatbelts. Brake lights. And … a cup holder!
It really got me ruminating about the electric bike phenomena.
The advantages of the electric bike are obvious:
- Less exertion;
- Consistent speed (in Ontario, most top out at 32kph);
- User friendly (no gear shifting necessary);
- Appealing to the novice rider;
- And lastly, no need for a shower when you get to work!
The disadvantages are a little more complex, and are the real reason I wouldn’t get one (as opposed to just hating the e-bikes because they aren’t cool with the kids)
- Battery pack is both finite, and contains some hazardous chemicals;
- Extra plastic (for the fairings, body etc.) prove to be less than environmentally friendly;
- Maintenance becomes problematic with the higher level of mechanization;
- The costs can be prohibitive (if you are cheap like me that is. I mean, a new e-bike can cost you less than a hybrid bike does these days. But nothing is cheaper than Herschel, the single speed Skoda Rapido my friend Kevin gave me); and
- Lastly, some lady almost ran me over on one this summer. And while I understand that she is not characteristic of all e-bikers, I still habour some resentment …
So, what’s your take? You digging the e-bike vibe? Or are you a purist (Fixie riders, please – no need to respond)?