A Cheap & Easy Commuter

X-Treme X-360 eScooter

Most trips throughout the day are just a few miles. So why start up a car for a ride to down the street. It is a waste of fuel and money using a car on these short trips when you have the option of using an electric vehicle that costs pennies to charge. The X-360 Electric Scooter is unique, as it is designed for a commute with a comfortable seat, storage trunk, and larger wheels and tires. The X-360 allows the rider to cut down on the use of their car significantly, and instead of wearing out an expensive car, they are riding an inexpensive scooter that costs next to nothing to charge.

If the X-Treme Scooters X-360 electric scooter is used for trips under 10 miles instead of your car it can pay off the $399 price of the scooter in 6 months in gas savings alone. Not to mention there is no need for a license, registration or insurance. This electric scooter can take the sidewalk and be free of automotive congestion. Its a fun way to save money and enjoy the ride.

The X-Treme X-360 is our premium selling electric scooter and it features a 3 battery system equaling 36 Volts (most all other scooters that look similar have only 2 batteries & 24 volts) and the X-360 comes standard with a 350 watt powerful motor that is chain driven direct to the rear wheel. Check it out the X-Treme X-360 at FarBike.com.

X-Treme X-360 Electric Ride On Scooter

No License Required with the X-Treme XB-502

The XB-502 Pedal Assisted Electric Moped is an answer to many commuters dilemma of high cost commutes. This electric moped is actually classified an electric bike which means the rider needs no license, registration or insurance saving a ton of time and money compared to traditional automobiles.  This ebike can cut commuting costs down to pennies a day, and at a price of $899 it is the lowest cost commuting option, while still being comfortable and capable. Check out the XB-502 at FarBike.com.

The XB-502 Electric Bike is the ultimate alternative for commuters that need a quick way to travel but do not want the expense of operating a vehicle or motorcycle. The XB-502 is classified as an electric bicycle (since pedals can be used) but the pedals do not need to be installed and this allows it to operate like an electric moped motorcycle but you do not need to register it or carry a drivers license to operate it.

The XB-502 is loaded with nearly all of the same features you will find on our electric motorcycles, yet the XB-502 costs 75% less.

The power of the XB-502 electric bike comes standard with a large 500 watt brushless rear hub motor (installed in the center of the rear wheel) that is powered by 4 large high power batteries that will last up to 5 years & can be re-charged more than 500 times. The electric bicycle will travel 20 – 25 miles on a single charge.

The XB-502 is a great tool for commuters, or those working on large campuses.

X-Treme XB-502 Electric Pedal Assist Moped Bicycle

X-treme Scooters XB-310LI Electric Folding Mountain Bike

The X-Treme XB-310Li – Folding Electric Mountain Bicycle

XB-310LI

New at FarBike is the X-Treme Scooters answer to the Electric Powered Folding Mountain Bike. This bike is made to allow riders to throw their ebike in the trunk of their car and drive out to their favorite trails.  The bike comes with a high capacity hinge in the center of the frame that allows this eBike to fold to about half the size it is originally, allowing for easy storage.  Once out on the trails or powering through the city, this electric Bike has the power to get up hills easily and ride unassisted over flat terrain.  Mountain biking with the 300 watt motor powered by a 24 volt 8 ah LiFePO4 Litium Ion Battery, makes running over difficult to ride surfaces very easy. The LiFePO4 battery is the best electric bike battery on the market because it is light weight and lasts up to 2000 charges at full capacity.
It is important an electric bike stands out, and the XB-310li does that well with its unique rugged design, and striking aluminum alloy frame.  This bike is just as capable on the morning commute as it is on the trails.  It comes standard with a cargo rack to carry anything you need, and has the ride comfort to be able to go comfortably for hours.
Features of the XB-310Li is a Lithium Battery powered Electric Bicycle capable of folding in half for easy transportation and it runs on a 300 Watt rear hub motor. Made with all top of the line components this model includes a 7 Speed Shimano Tourney® Gears & Shifter System, 7 Lightweight Lithium Ion Batteries, a 100% Aluminum Alloy Frame, front & rear suspension, fully Adjustable Seat, and an RST Capa® T7 front fork. The folding electric mountain bike is great for RV’ers, campers, college students and anyone who wants a lightweight foldable mode of reliable transportation.

X-Treme XB-305li Electric Folding Mountain BikeX-Treme XB-310 Electric Folding Bike

Check Out the XB-310LI at Farbike.com

Product Specifications:

Power:
Electric
Watts:
300 Watt
Motor Type:
Brushless Hub Motor – Motor is in center of rear wheel
Gears & Speed’s:
7 Speed Shimano Tourney® Gears & Shifter
Amps:
8 AMP Circuit (7 Batteries at 10 AMP’s each)
Volts:
24 Volts (Each Battery Is 3.6 Volts)
Batteries:
7 – Lightweight Lithium Batteries In A Sealed Removable Pack
Tire Size:
26″ x 1.95″ on Aluminum Wheels
Charger:
Smart Charger Included
Tool Kit:
Included
Speed:
20 MPH
Distance:
Up to 20 – 25 miles per charge – can still pedal if charge is lost
Throttle Type:
Variable Speed Control – Twist Throttle – or – Pedal & Power Assisted
Collapsable:
Yes – Easily unlock and fold the bike in half for transporting
Frame Type/Size:
100% Aluminum – Very Light Weight / 18″
Forks:
RST Capa® T7 Front Hydraulic Forks Made (Top Name Brand)
Suspension: Both front & rear suspension included on this bike
Braking System:
Front and Rear Disk Brakes
Drive System:
Rear Hub Motor (Motor is in rear rim) + Pedal Power
Head Light
Yes – Battery operated Snap On LED (Not covered under warranty)
Measurements:
Wheel to Wheel 72″ – Width 25″ – To Bars 37″
Adjustable Seat Height 37 3/4″ to 45 3/4″
Carton Size (LxWxH):
58 x 11 x 30 inches
Shipping Weight:
104 Lbs (63 Lbs Bike & Carton + 41 Lbs Pallet Weight)
Bicycle Weight:
52 Lbs (Including the light weight battery pack)
Maximum Rider Weight:
350 Lbs
Horn/Bell Included:
No
Battery Indicator:
Yes – Located on battery pack
Cargo Rack:
Included
Warranty:
90 Day X-Treme Warranty – 1 Year Battery Warranty
*depends on rider weight & terrain

Will e-bikes be the new ‘commuter cool’?

Baby Friendly Electric Bike

Keith Felch calls his electric bike a "hill eraser" because he can ride it to work without breaking a sweat.

By Steve Almasy CNN

Keith Felch is admittedly a big guy, but more than a few super-fit cyclists in Southern California have been left wondering how that dude just went flying by.

And then his wife, Mary, comes motoring past.

“They stare, like how can a girl go past me,” she says, laughing. It takes the other riders a few seconds but then they figure it out.

They have electric motors.

The Felches, who live in Aliso Viejo, California, used to drive everywhere, except when they used their bikes for recreation.

 

That changed when they got their new e-bikes, made by a company called Optibike. Now, they ride to go shopping and to go to breakfast — but mostly they ride to work.

Keith Felch says the couple has cut 50 percent of their car-use since they started electric biking.

And there are other benefits. Keith Felch dropped 30 pounds and his blood pressure fell 10 points in the first six months he owned the bike, he says.

The Felches don’t exactly classify themselves as “environmentalists,” although Mary said it is important to have a positive effect on the planet.

“I learned that the worst amount of smog that you put out [in an automobile] is in the first mile, so if we can make even some of those shorter trips on our bicycles, it makes a big difference,” she says.

Electric Bikes now

Who wants one?

Brent Meyers, director of sales for Ultra Motor US, says electric bikes attract different types of buyers.

Many are looking to make a green imprint.

Some are “active adults” who have ridden bicycles for years who — as they get older — are unable to do the same kind of riding they did when they were young.

Other buyers want to ride their bikes to work quickly — and avoid a sweaty entrance into the office.

Oddly — or perhaps not — Ultra Motor US sees its strongest sales when the price of oil skyrockets, says Meyers.

Two wheels, a motor and 100 million riders

Electric bikes are still somewhat of a novelty in the United States, but in China they’re everywhere.

In fact, Chinese electric bikes number more than 100 million — which is about four times the number of Chinese private cars, according to Electric Bikes Worldwide Reports. The bikes are popular in Europe as well.

Sales figures for the United States are hard to pinpoint.

In the United States, about 200,000 electric bicycles were sold last year, said Ed Benjamin of the Light Electric Vehicle Association — about twice the number sold in 2005.

But the industry has hit a bump in the road from the recession, as sales were down about 10 percent in 2009, he said.

 

E-bikes are mostly made by specialty companies, but the growing sales trend has been noticed by the big boys.

Trek, a worldwide leader in bike sales, has been making electric bikes for three years, but only introduced them in the United States in the past year.

Other well-known companies like Schwinn and Giant are increasing their presence in the e-bike field.

At Interbike, the biggest bicycle industry convention in the United States, there were more than 20 companies displaying e-bikes this year. Meyers said only a few years ago, it was about five.

Womans Electric Bike

Prices range from a few hundred dollars — the E-Zip Trailz Hybrid costs $398 at Wal-Mart — to more than $13,000 for OptiBike’s top-end model.

Prices increase as battery technology and components get better.

Steve Roseman of The Electric Bike Network in San Francisco, California, said most buyers he sees don’t balk at the price, which can be as much as a good road or mountain bike. They are mostly concerned with how far they can go on a battery charge and how fast.

What’s an ‘e-bike’?

By law, electric bikes must have no more than 1 horsepower and go no faster than 20 mph (on motor power alone).

Basically they are much like traditional bicycles with small motors that power the bike or assist a rider with pedaling. Many have gears like a regular bike.

“It’s just adding the throttle aspect, other than that it handles like a regular bicycle,” Keith Felch said. He says he uses the throttle all the time, choosing one of two modes — eco [half power] or fast [full power].

He says he once tried a regular bike for his 4 ½-mile ride to one of his music studios where he teaches jazz improvisation.

But the hills nearly got him.

He calls his electric bike a “hill eraser.”

It also makes the ride to his farthest studio — 22 miles away — seem much closer. He says he gets about 35 miles on his primary battery and has an additional one for long rides.

Shifting views

But as they tout the virtues of electric bikes, advocates also realize that there will have to be a shift in the way Americans view them before they become as popular as they are in Europe or China.

“There are two possible sides to the equation,” Roseman said. “One would be a change in the way people view transportation. There are still a lot of SUVs out there. … People still have a hard time thinking about riding a bicycle unless they are 10 years old, it seems. So there needs to be a little shift in mentality.”

 

“But having said that, I think there is a growing awareness about health and transportation and environmental issues so it could be that we are just reaching a juncture where things will change [for e-bikes].”

Meyers says people also have a preconceived notion about electric bikes.

Some view them as expensive or poor quality or uncomfortable. And Meyers admits, e-bikes are not for everybody.

As Roseman says, people who live in Spandex will probably always prefer a really good road bike and hard-core city cyclists may well stick to their fixed-gear bikes.

 

Meyers says Ultra, which sells its bike for $2,700, isn’t for those kinds of people.

“That’s not our customer,” he says. “Our customer is someone who wants some form of electric transportation, green transportation, that can get them from Point A to Point B comfortably.”

The Felches say taking a test drive will change a skeptic’s attitude.

“If you ride one, it will blow your mind,” Keith Felch says. “When you get on one it’s like being in a flying dream you’ve had. It’s like everything you’ve dreamed your bicycle should do in your wildest dreams — it’s doing it.”

See source article at Cnn.com

Visit FarBike.com to find a high quality electric bike available in the US

The Case for Electric Bicycles

Save on the expense of a second car and curb your emissions with the latest generation of “human-electric hybrid” bikes.

E-bike Andrew Gondzur of St. Louis, Missouri, used to ride his bike about four times a year—until last month, when he found himself choosing his bike instead of his car to run errands at least three times a week. What changed? Andrew installed a kit that added a rechargeable electric motor to his old bike. He still usually pedals his bike, but with a twist of the handlebar, he can get a bit of motorized help.

“I can go farther and faster than I would if I were just pedaling,” he says, which is why Andrew now takes his bike, not his car, to the post office, the library, his children’s schools, and the grocery store. “Why take 5,000 pounds of car and burn expensive gas to get one thing you forgot at the supermarket? Now I leave my car at home.”

If, like most Americans, you find yourself hopping in your car to drive down the street and around the corner, consider one alternative: “zooming” your way there instead on a quiet and speedy pedal assisted electric bike. Though you may balk at regularly biking more than a mile or two, summer is the perfect time to consider a bike with a little electric “oomph”—a green alternative to driving that doesn’t require you to travel entirely on your own foot or pedal power.

Consumers looking to leave the car at home—or forgo a second car—can now find a new generation of “person-assisted” electrified conventional bikes and recumbent bikes (where the rider reclines while pedaling). These vehicles offer a transportation solution that’s far preferable to going by car: they save gas money, run quietly, reduce pollution and global warming emissions—and riding them is fun.

Is it Right for You?

Curious if an electric bike might be a good solution for you? Try taking a transportation audit, noting over a single week how many times you jump into your car to go only a few miles round trip. If you’re like most Americans, 40 percent of all car trips are less than two miles away, according to the League of American Bicyclists, and many of these trips may be bikeable.

Hopping into the car for these short trips to work, the playground, and the supermarket may not seem like a decision with a big impact, but all of those car miles add up. Cars emit the heat-trapping greenhouse gases that cause climate change, as well as pollutants such as nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxide, and ground-level ozone, which contribute to acid rain, smog, and health problems. In fact, short trips by car can actually be more polluting per mile than long trips, because pollution is highest in the first few minutes of driving, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Cutting a four mile trip out of your schedule each weekday can reduce your global warming pollution by more than 1,200 pounds a year, estimates Environmental Defense.

And as gas prices continue to rise, the cost of short trips by car is steep—just fueling a round-trip commute to a job five miles away every weekday for a year can cost $300 or more just for fuel, not including parking fees and any additional fuel used for after-work errands and weekend driving.

How They Work

Motorized bikes, sometimes called “power- assisted vehicles,” “human-electric hybrids,” or “pedelecs” (for “pedal electric” cycles) combine the driver’s pedaling with a motorized assist from a rechargeable electric battery, which can be plugged into any standard outlet. This is in contrast to mopeds or motorcycles, which run on gas and have combustion engines like those in cars, and also in contrast to other types of electric bikes and scooters that run entirely on electricity without any pedal power from the rider.

These vehicles often look just like conventional bikes, and some are even converted from conventional bikes. The motor is sometimes attached to the frame, or in some cases hidden away discretely within the frame.

With some pedaled e-bikes, the rider turns the electric assistance on or off using a toggle or a twist of the handlebar, and can choose an entirely electric ride, an entirely pedaled ride, or a ride combining electric with pedal power.

With a “pedelec,” on the other hand, the rider just gets on, pedals, and switches gears when needed, as if riding a standard non-electric bike. A computerized sensor combines force from the battery seamlessly with the rider’s own pedal power, and gives the biggest “push” when the rider needs it most: usually in kicking off initially and in surmounting hills. At higher speeds, when the rider’s own pedaling has the bike cruising at a fast and steady pace, the battery-powered motor’s contribution can drop out almost to zero. With most human-electric hybrid cycles, you can also choose to ride the bicycles as a regular non-electric bike for extra exercise.

For all types, the motor and battery itself can add a little bit of weight to the bike, around 20 pounds—roughly comparable to adding a couple of textbooks to your backpack.

Electric bikes can go anywhere from 20–50 miles between charges. They are generally classified by law as “low-speed electric bicycles,” because they tend to go about 20–25 miles an hour. They don’t require a license plate or vehicle insurance in most states, but check the rules for where you live. And because they’re electric rather than combustion-powered, a trip on these motorized bikes is quiet—quiet enough to hear the birds singing on the way to wherever you’re going.

Drivers of these vehicles value the motorized boost that helps them more easily pedal up daunting hills, get home with groceries or other heavy loads, pedal a small child to school in a child seat or wheeled trailer, and commute to work in dress clothes without breaking a sweat. And for short trips, riding an electric bike can be faster than driving a car, especially because you won’t get stuck in traffic or can head for the bike rack by the door rather than driving around seeking parking. And drivers of motorized bikes still get exercise from pedaling, albeit with a little electric help—so these bikes offer more exercise than driving that’s a little less strenuous than pedaling a conventional bike.

Greener Than a Second Car

Compared to taking a car or some other gas-powered vehicle, these human-powered vehicles with electric assist travel completely clean, with no carbon dioxide emissions or other pollutants.

Even when you factor in the pollution that might have been used to generate the energy to charge your vehicle, electric bikes are only one-tenth as polluting as driving a car the same distance, according to Electric-Bikes.com.

Many users of motorized bikes also find that they save a bundle on gas and parking—offsetting the cost of the vehicle over time. And in some families, an electric bike can make it unnecessary to purchase a second car and the associated insurance, easily a $10-20,000 savings.

Hauling Stuff on Your Bike

Sometimes the “luggage problem” of getting heavy things home by bike can be so daunting that would-be riders choose cars instead. Having the capacity for an electric assist from a motorized bicycle can help to address that problem. In addition to side baskets or saddle bags, you can also find bike attachments designed to haul the extra-heavy weight of furniture, instruments, and even construction supplies.

For the Future

Electric bikes hold out the prospect of helping get cars off the road and reducing emissions, pollution, and gas use. In addition to the financial and environmental benefits, electric bike owners are quick to add that riding these vehicles is fun—and they get “thumbs up” and other encouragement from neighbors as they go by.

Andrew Gondzur says his children don’t miss carpool—they’re thrilled to be taken to school in a rolling trailer on the back of his motorized bike. “They love it,” he says. “They sit back there and yell, ‘faster! faster!’”

Joelle Novey

Article from Green America.org: http://www.greenamerica.org/livinggreen/ElectricBikes.cfm

Visit FarBike.com Electric Bike Shop for the best prices and support on electric bikes on the web.

On the Streets of China, Electric Bikes Are Swarming

Womans Electric Bicycle

A woman rides her electric bicycle past a residential block in Beijing, China Andrew Wong / Getty Images

From: Time Magazine

By Austin Ramzy / Beijing Sunday, June 14, 2009

Of all the things that have changed in China over the past 30 years, transportation has undergone one of the most obvious of transformations. Where city streets once swarmed with bicycles, they are now full of automobiles. Cars clog intersection and expressways. Their exhaust clouds the sky and the air is full of the sound of horns. But zipping through the congestion is the vanguard of another transportation revolution: vehicles that use no gas, emit no exhaust and are so quiet they can surprise the unwary pedestrian.

In China, electric bicycles are leaving cars in the dust. Last year, Chinese bought 21 million e-bikes, compared with 9.4 million autos. While China now has about 25 million cars on the road, it has four times as many e-bikes. Thanks to government encouragement and a population well versed in riding two wheels to work, the country has become the world’s leading market for the cheap, green vehicles, helping to offset some of the harmful effects of the country’s automobile boom. Indeed, as engineers around the world scramble to create eco-friendly, plug-in electric cars, China is already ahead of the game. Says Frank Jamerson, a former GM engineer turned electric-vehicle analyst: “What’s happening in China is sort of a clue to what the future will be.” (See the top 10 green stories of 2008.)

Right now the future buzzes along at a sedate pace. Government regulations limit the top speed of e-bikes to about 12 mph. But manufacturers are building bigger and bigger machines with speed regulators that are easily removed. E-bikes that are basically pedal-powered machines with an electric boost are common in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, but e-scooters with heavier motors and top speeds of around 30 mph, fast enough to rival mopeds, are growing in popularity.

The e-bike boom owes much to Chinese policy. The government made developing e-bikes an official technology goal in 1991. Major Chinese cities have extensive bicycle lanes, which means riders can avoid the worst of rush-hour congestion. In cities such as Shanghai, local governments have drastically raised licensing fees on gas-powered scooters in recent years, effectively driving hoards of consumers to e-bike manufacturers.

The relative simplicity of the machines and their components has encouraged a huge number of e-bike companies to open in China. In 2006 there were 2,700 licensed manufacturers, and countless additional smaller shops. Rising to the top of the heap is not easy. Leading manufacturer Xinri (the name means “new day”) was founded in 1999 by Zhang Chongshun, an auto parts factory executive who recognized the potential of the field. In its first year Xinri built less than 1,000 bikes; last year it churned out 1.6 million. (See pictures of bicycles.)

Xinri’s Zhang puts in thousands of miles on the road a year, visiting as many as six cities a day to investigate local market conditions. But ultimately what makes Xinri successful is that electric bikes have hit a sweet spot in the Chinese economy. As Chinese grow richer, they want more convenient means of transportation. But not everyone can afford a car. “Motorcycles are too dangerous, cars are too expensive, public transportation is too crowded and pedal bikes leave you too tired,” says Hu Guang, Xinri’s deputy general manager. “So people buy e-bikes.”

The company’s ads show Jackie Chan riding an e-bike alongside a model in a glamorous European capital. Reality is much more mundane. E-bikes are commonly used by migrant laborers who schlep across town from their quarters in the suburbs to work sites across town, with their drills and saws strapped to their bike racks. Police stations are often fronted by a row of blue and white patrol e-bikes. Delivery workers from McDonald’s and KFC haul plastic cases stuffed with Big Macs and fried chicken to office parks. “At first, I picked an e-bike because I couldn’t stand the sickening smell of gas from my scooter,” says Zhang Dengming, 50, a construction supervisor in Shanghai. “But after a while, I realized that e-bikes are actually much safer than motorcycles, and better for the environment. Although e-bikes are generally slower than gas scooters, I find them fast enough for my daily commutes. Their price, which is typically just over 2,000 renminbi ($290) is also more acceptable, so I don’t feel as bad when they get stolen.”

Last year Chinese bought about 90% of the 23 million e-bikes sold worldwide. Experts say that next regions to likely embrace e-bikes are Southeast Asia, where gas-powered scooters are popular, and India, where rising incomes mean personal transportation is starting to be in reach of hundreds of millions. Japan has seen steady annual sales of about 300,000 for several years, and in the cycle-crazy Netherlands e-bikes are beginning to take off. In the U.S., where bikes are still overwhelmingly used for recreation rather than transportation, e-bike sales are expected to break 200,000 this year, or about 1% of China’s sales. (See 10 things to do in Shanghai.)

E-bikes weren’t always so popular on the mainland. Early models were even slower than today’s; range was limited and batteries died in less than a year. Now they can travel as far as 100 km on a full charge, more than enough for a day’s riding. But batteries remain the weak point. Most e-bikes rely on lead-acid batteries, cheap century-old technology unsuitable for the growing demands of daily commuting. “The battery is the key limiting factor,” says Jonathan Weinert, a transportation expert who wrote his doctoral dissertation on electric bikes in China.

While lead-acid batteries are improving, Weinart says that electric bikes will create a larger market for lithium-ion batteries — a newer, lighter technology whose development is key for the future of electric vehicles. Already Giant, the world’s largest manufacturer of pedal bicycles but a small player in the Chinese e-bike market, has made headway in northern Europe selling high-end e-bikes that use lith-ion batteries. “To the extent that the electric bike industry can help get battery costs down, test the technology and get it in the market, that may lead” the development of electric vehicles with more than two wheels, Weinert says.

Chinese market leaders like Xinri and Yadea have partnered with top schools like Tsinghua and Peking universities to improve battery technology. And like a slew of other Chinese companies, some e-bike makers are already working on electric cars. Yadea plans to create electric cars for special uses such as shuttling sightseers at tourist destinations. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Xinri provided e-bikes and an electric car for use by police at the Bird’s Nest stadium.

Electric cars will require more powerful recharging stations than the standard wall outlets used to juice up bikes. But when four-wheeled technology becomes road-ready, it will find a willing customer base in China. “The Chinese have a hundred million people on electric bikes,” says Jamerson. “That means a hundred million potential customers” for electric cars. When he worked at GM, which filed for bankruptcy on June 1, Jamerson said he once suggested the company give away an electric bike with every new car, just to get customers used to the idea of a means of transportation you plug in every night. His bosses thought he was joking. When the electric revolution final comes, China’s e-bike makers could have the last laugh.

—with reporting by Jessie Jiang/Beijing and Natalie Tso/Taipei

See Electric Bikes available in the US by visiting FarBike.com shipped anywhere in the US and at easy to afford prices.

Pedal power: how ‘e-bikes’ are changing the way the UK commutes

Greener than cars and healthier than the tube, the ‘e-bike’ looks set to become one of 2012’s top travel trends

By: Ben Martin at theecologist.org

As concerns about congestion, carbon and cost continue to grow, more and more people in the UK are ditching their cars and turning to cycling as an efficient, cheap and enjoyable way to get about. According to the Department of Transport, one in six of us are regular bike users, and with the Times’ popular CycleSafe campaign currently in the headlines, awareness of two-wheeled transport is at an all-time high.

But according to some, the world of cycling is about to change up a gear, as a new form of cycle hits the streets. Electric bikes – or ‘e-bikes’, as they’re known – look like any other bicycle at first glance. Look again, however, and you’ll spot a diminutive but powerful electric motor, powered by a lithium battery and hooked up to a control on the handlebars.

Although e-bikes have been around for a while, their true potential is only now becoming apparent, as Scott Snaith, owner of e-bike retailer 50cycles, explains. ‘The technology has come on leaps and bounds in the last two years or so. Now we’ve got batteries that can run for about 80 miles per charge, last four years and take over 1100 charges. And they’re only about four to five kilogrammes heavier than a normal bike.’ The motor doesn’t replace pedal power, but augments it – reducing toil for the rider and providing a welcome boost for steep hills, headwinds and long journeys, Snaith explains. ‘Basically, the e-bike is designed to flatten hills. It takes the hard part out of cycling, and reduces the fear of those steep climbs that can put people off making journeys by bike.’

But e-bikes aren’t just for lazy people who can’t be bothered to pedal. ‘In fact, the exercise you get on an e-bike is steady, constant, and doesn’t strain the heart too much on hills – it’s ideal,’ adds Snaith.

Tim Blackman, owner of e-bike manufacturer aXcess, agrees. ‘The extra power from the motor really opens up cycling to everyone – young, middling and older – at whatever fitness level. The biggest market for us has been people of perhaps 50 years or more, who aren’t really as fit as they used to be, and they really love how our e-bikes let them cycle like they’re 13 again.’

What’s more, journeys that would seem Odyssean on a push bike become a breeze with the help of an electric motor. ‘The average car journey is about six miles long,’ Snaith points out. ‘E-bikes now make it possible and realistic to cycle those kinds of distances, more often and more consistently. It’s a feasible form of transport even for longer journeys.’ In fact, according to Blackman, while regular bike users travel about 15 miles a week on average, e-bike owners clock up five times that amount. ‘We’ve found that people in rural locations like to use them too, often because they have very little public transport. If it’s 24 miles to the nearest shop, that’s a lot easier to do on an e-bike, and saves money and emissions compared to using your car.’

Environmentally, the e-bike’s credentials are hard to fault. After factoring in CO2 emissions produced during electricity generation, an e-bike’s carbon footprint is just 2.6 grams of CO2 per mile, compared to 150 grams for most electric cars and 136 grams for scooters. As well as saving on carbon, switching to an e-bike has indirect benefits as well, as Blackman explains. ‘The biggest environmental contribution that the e-bike makes is as a replacement for your car. Of the millions of car journeys people do, 50 per cent are under three miles. So if we could eradicate people using their cars for short journeys, then we’d have fewer emissions, less congestion, and fewer cars on the road.’

They might also save you time. The average speed of a car journey in London is below 10mph, and less than 3mph in the city centre, but e-bikes can zip around clogged traffic with ease, and with a top speed of around 15mph, they’re a surprisingly speedy way to get around. And, because the bike’s doing most of the work for you, you’ll arrive at your destination looking fresh rather than hot and sweaty.

E-bikes are, of course, more expensive than a traditional cycle, but they need not break the bank. Mark Loveridge, Secretary of the British Electric Bike Association, explains. ‘A quality e-bike will cost you about £1000 but they’re covered by the Cycle-to-Work scheme, so if you’re commuting you can get a discount of up to 42 per cent. And, in terms of running costs, it’s by far the cheapest form of motorised transport out there.’

In fact, says e-bike pioneer Hamant Chayya, in the long run, they might just save you money. ‘First of all, e-bikes are far, far cheaper to run than a car. Petrol prices are going up and up but with an e-bike you don’t need to worry about that – recharging the battery costs about the same as boiling your kettle. You don’t need to worry about parking charges, you don’t need an MOT, there’s no tax, no congestion charge, and you don’t need to pay for a license. Nothing in life is free, but if you look at the savings in time, money and health from having an e-bike, you really can’t put a price on that.

To find some great Electric Bicycles in the United States visit FarBike.com