History, Development and Classes of Electric Bikes

History, Development and Classes of Electric Bikes

Development of Electric Bikes

Over the past few years, electric bikes have gained popularity in North America, Europe and Asia, with useage experiencing tremendous growth since 1998. You might therefore be thinking the development of electric bikes started in the 21st century. Research and patents have, however, been documented in the United States since the 19th century.

Ogden Bolton Jr., in 1885, designed a bicycle powered by batteries. This bike had no gears, and with a battery rating of 10V, the motor was able to pull as much as 100A in electric current.

After two years, Hosea W. Libbey, in 1897, developed a bike that was driven by a double electric motor. The motor for this design was inside the hub of the crankset axle.

The development of rear-wheel drive electric bicycles gained popularity just before 1900. In 1898, Mathew J. Steffens designed a driving belt by the outside edge of the wheel, while in 1899, John Schnepf illustrated a back-wheel friction drive electric bicycle with a roller wheel. In 1969, this illustration was reviewed and further developed by G.A Wood Jr, and four fractional motors coupled with a series of gears were included in his design.

In 1992, a bicycle was created named “Zike”, which comprised of a nickel-cadmium battery installed into a frame assembly, in addition to a permanent magnet motor weighing 850 grams (two pounds). Notwithstanding the “Zike”, which was manufactured by Vector Services Limited, there was still a shortage of electric bikes available for sale.

The late 1990s brought about the development of torque sensors and power controls, with Takada Yutky filing for a patent in 1997.

In 1989, the Japanese automotive giant Yamaha assembled an initial model of an electric bike, and further modifications in 1993 with the invention of the pedal assist system.

Classes of Electric Bikes

Today, there are multiple classes of electric bikes. They are generally classified according to the control system and the power that can be delivered from their electric motor. Due to legal problems, there might be different classifications across various countries, cities, towns or provinces, however, electric bikes are generally classified as follows:

  • Pedal Assist System – this is a system where power is supplied by the electric motor to the pedals. Depending on the circumstances, it can be regulated by the bike or user. During pedaling, this system helps to supplement the efforts of the rider

Basic plan of a pedal assist system bicycle, where power is supplied to the pedals by an electric motor

  • Power-on-demand – this is a system where the power supplied to the motor is activated by a throttle. This is installed on all bikes manufactured by DJ Bikes on the handlebar for your convenience, and controlled by the use of your right thumb

Basic plan of a power-on-demand bicycle, where power can be supplied to the motor by a throttle on the handlebar

Electric bikes could have only one characteristic of the above stated classification, or a combination of both. The various sub-categories are listed below:

  • Electric bikes with pedal assist system only – these are either named as “pedelecs”, i.e. bicycles, with a maximum speed and motor power of 25km/hr and 250Watts respectively; or “S-pedelecs”, i.e. mopeds, with a maximum speed and motor power of 45km/hr and 250 Watts respectively
  • Electric bikes with pedal assist system and power-on-demand option – these are the latest models of electric bikes. All the bikes manufactured by DJ Bikes have both of these features. There is the pedal assist that regulates the output power of the motor by turning the pedals; and a thumb throttle which allows you to regulate the power of the motor by the action of your thumb

DJ Mountain Bike Handlebar – the King Meter Display shows you the level of the Pedal Assist System, which can be adjusted by the user, while the throttle helps you regulate the motor power. Other accessories like the display button, bell and shift are shown as well

  • Electric bikes with power-on-demand only – these are bikes where the electric motor is manually activated and engaged by the use of a throttle only, typically on a handlebar. For this bike, the user can use the pedal alone (like a regular bicycle) without the use of the power-on-demand option; or use the throttle to manually supply power to the electric motor to ride the bike; or the rider uses both the throttle, but also supplies energy by physically pedaling the bicycle.