From: Ben Martin, The Ecologist, More from this Affiliate
Published March 1, 2012 06:46 AM

Get Ready for E-Bikes!

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

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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 (in the UK), 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."

E-Bike photo via Shutterstock

Article continues: http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/out_and_about/1264815/pedal_power_how_ebikes_are_changing_the_way_we_commute.html

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