History of ebikes

History of ebikes


The history of the ebike was made by brilliant and passionate (maybe even loony) inventors that have willfully chased their dream. Sadly they have seen it fail many times, sometimes even tragically.
In recent years, those failures have been turning into an amazing reality at a great rate.

Only a few people know that ebike’s history surprisingly goes back many years. 150 years to be more precise. Since the introduction of the first velocipedes, inventors and engineers have been trying to turn them into steam-engine powered bicycles. The history of electric bikes and motorcycles are intertwined: like humans and apes, they have evolved from a common ancestor but have become different.

The first bicycles with electric motors appear at the end of 19th century. The biggest issue for that time (even now in a way) were batteries: they were huge and very heavy compared to the ones we use today.

For the most part of 20th century, there was a low interest towards bikes (whether electric bikes or regular bikes). Oil was cheap and ecological conscience was very weak: the era of mass motorization begun and the diffusion of cars and motorbikes grew exponentially. Only people who couldn’t afford even the cheapest car still used bikes.

The 1973 oil crisis and the first environmental movements caused a renewed interest in electric vehicles. It was too late though because people already got used to speed and cars’ and motorbikes’ capacious tanks. Only a few people actually switched to bikes.

Today we are witnessing a huge improvement in this sense. Tech innovations have brought light and capacious batteries; ebikes  can now optimally replace cars on medium distance trips.
Over the last 20 years ebikes models on the market have grown exponentially. Many producers have experimented new innovative solutions to achieve a better integration of pedaling and motor assistance.

In these pages, we will go deep into the history of the electric bike of the last 150 years, including some interesting articles about the oddest inventions.

S.H Roper and his steam-engine powered velocipedes

Ogden Bolton: his 1895 engine and the debate on electric bikes

The 1897 Humber electric tandem bike

Wall Auto-Wheel: the first conversion kit ever (1909)

1918-1927: from Howard Hughes to the Electrocyclette

A DIY project from the Thirties: the electric GoBike

Electric bikes during the Thirties

Ben Bowden and his “Bicycle of the Future”, 1946

The Seventies: Solo Electra

Sinclair C5: Electric assisted pedal cycle of the Eighties

History of ebikes last modified: 2015-02-03T13:09:08+00:00 by Paolo

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