Electric bicycle sales are growing exponentially in the U.S. They’re already huge in Europe and Asia. The U.S. market is on track to sell 400,000 electric bicycles annually in 2016, and that number will keep climbing. Imagine a bike that flattens hills, that allows people who have trouble riding due to injury or just being out of shape to still be able to ride, that makes it fun and easy to leave your car at home for errands or to ride to work. That sounds like a good thing, but you can’t imagine the experience of being on one of these.
Modern electric bicycles are so intuitive that they provide seemless power assistance to make pedaling easier and faster. I can describe these things ad infinitum, but nobody gets it until they get onto one of these bikes and actually rides it. My cycling purist friends often poo-poo electric assist, but these bikes are perfect for commuters and people getting back into biking.
I’ve been photographing electric bikes since I worked with Lee Iacocca on his company, eBike, in the early 2000s.
Lee Iacocca with his folding eBike and a PT Cruiser
I also shot the launch of the first electric Zero motorcycle in 2008. These things were scary fun. 140 lb mountain bike with a battery and a motor that can rocket you from 0-60 MPH faster than a Ferrari. And were they ever fun to ride!
They’ve come a long way since then, and shifted to bigger, more powerful street bikes capable of getting you to 100+ MPH about as fast. Journalist Mark Vaughn compares the acceleration to that of a slingshot.
Now there is the first American magazine for electric bikes, Electric Bike Action, published by Hi-Torque publications here in sunny SoCal. They cover bicycles and motorcycles. I’ve started contributing to the magazine, the first two articles were on the aforementioned eBike and Zero Motorcycles. I’ve been riding several different kinds, from commuter bikes to mountain bikes, and they are a BLAST. If you get a chance to take a test ride on one, don’t pass it up!