Reuters top ten news stories delivered to your inbox each day.
You are here:
Business & Finance
The Great Debate
Do More With Reuters
Make Reuters My Homepage
Support (Customer Zone)
About Thomson Reuters
Electric bikes start to gain traction
Thu Sep 17, 2009 3:40pm EDT
Email | Print |
| Reprints | Single Page
By Bill Rigby
SEATTLE (Reuters) - Ever wondered what it would be like to have Lance Armstrong pedal your bike for you? Well now you can find out, sort of.
About 15 companies are now offering bicycles with an electric power option -- as opposed to a purely engine-powered moped -- for around $1,000 to $4,000 -- and they are catching on with some green-thinking commuters.
The latest electric bikes from Giant, EcoBike, Currie Technologies and Ultra Motor, among others, can deliver around 500 watts of power at the flick of a wrist or a turn of the pedals. That is roughly what Armstrong could generate over shorter races in his prime.
The result is that you zip up hills or hustle along the street, silently passing all, but the most competitive two- wheelers.
One of the top sellers in the emerging market is the A2B, made by London-based Ultra Motor.
"Some people buy the bike to commute, other people purchase the bike to use as a replacement for short automobile trips," said Paul Vlahos, vice-president of sales for the U.S. arm of Ultra Motor.
Privately held Ultra Motor has sold "north of 1,000" of its electric bikes in the United States since launching the A2B model in September last year, said Vlahos. The Green Car Company in Bellevue, Washington -- close to Microsoft Corp's campus and cycling mecca Seattle -- said they have sold about 40 of the bikes this summer and are awaiting a new batch.
Priced at $2,699, the A2B is not cheap, but it is comparable to a high-end racing bike and less expensive than a standard motor scooter. It is sold at some independent bike shops, scooter dealers, specialist electric vehicle outlets and, for a short test period, about 20 Best Buy Co Inc stores in the western United States.
The machine, technically known as a "light electric vehicle," qualifies as a bicycle under U.S. transport regulations, so you do not need a license to operate it and you can ride wherever cyclists are allowed. It is not the same as a moped, which generally has a gas engine and pedals fitted for emergency use only.
The A2B is meant to be pedaled, but the electric motor can be switched on at any time, with the use of a motorcycle-style throttle on the right handgrip, which generates speeds up to 20 miles per hour (32 kilometers per hour) on the flat. You can augment your pedaling efforts with the motor at any time, or switch entirely to electric power.
The aluminum frame with full suspension and disc brakes looks more like a sporty motorbike than a bicycle (see pictures here). Baskets and racks for bags can be fitted to the frame to make commuting or shopping easier.
At 73 pounds (33 kg), the bike is two or three times the weight of an ordinary commuter cycle. Pedaling downhill or on the flat is reasonably comfortable, but as soon as the road pitches up, it is hard not to rev it up.
The built-in lithium ion battery will carry you around 20 miles and there is an option to put another detachable battery on the rear rack, doubling that range.
The bike has seven gears for normal pedaling, using a standard Shimano derailleur system. The Taiwan-manufactured motor, sealed into the hub of the back wheel, is brushless, like those used in PC hard drives and the Segway scooter. Continued...
View article on single page
Twitter funding would value it at $1 billion: report
Also On Reuters
China's "cancer villages" bear witness to economic boom
Blog: Do-over on missile plan — reading between the lines
Sold! Madoff NY beach home fetches over $8.75 million
More Technology News
Google CEO questions Murdoch's online pay plan
Phone exclusivity limits may make sense: Sprint CEO
Skype founders sue eBay, investors
Scientists create digital models of World Heritage sites
Nokia Siemens says makes first LTE call
More Technology News...
A selection of our best photos from the past 24 hours. Slideshow
Most Popular on Reuters
Police arrest lab technician in Yale student murder
U.S. replaces Bush plan for Europe missile shield | Video
UPDATE 4-Skype founders sue eBay, investors
Japan scientists create 3-D images you can touch
Leno show loses 7 million viewers on second night | Video
With missile move, Obama hands Russia a gift
China's "cancer villages" bear witness to economic boom
Flu experts gear up for pandemic of vaccine worry
Dan Brown novel breaks one-day sales records
To bomb, or to bunker? Israel's Iran choices narrow
Most Popular Articles RSS Feed
No public option in Senate bill
Abuse charges shock Australia
Bomb in Afghan capital
Karzai defends election "integrity"
Talk of the Town
India puzzled by missing tourists
Indonesia police:Top may be dead
Obama: No pending Afghan decision
Greenpeace ends oil sands protest
Most Popular Videos RSS Feed
Help and Contact Us |
Advertise With Us |
Journalism Handbook |
Site Index |
Thomson Reuters Corporate:
Professional Products |
Professional Products Support |
About Thomson Reuters |
Latin America |
United Kingdom |
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.