Electric Vehicles like the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf are steadily moving towards wider adoption in the U.S.

But how do carless urbanites get in on the EV action? – electric bikes:

“A Sense of Lightness”

E-bikes come in different varieties but share common characteristics: unlike a motor scooter, they can be powered by pedals alone. A mounted battery pack, with a power output starting at 250 watts – about one-third of 1 horsepower – can also provide power to a motor in the rear wheel.

The motor can either assist pedaling, or, in some models, provide enough power to move the bike without any effort from the rider. A simple throttle switch on the handlebars controls the power. To qualify as e-bikes under federal law, they must not have more than 1,000 watts of power or be able to exceed 20 miles per hour with motor power.

“There’s a sense, when you’re riding down the road, of lightness,” said Bert Cebular, the owner of NYCeWheels in Manhattan, and a pioneer in the U.S. e-bike market, as he steered a model through his narrow storefront on the Upper East Side where he’s been spreading the e-bike gospel since 2001.

On the road to acceptance

E-bike sales in the U.S. have been growing at a 21 percent annual clip – albeit from a modest base – and could reach 785,000 a year by 2016, according to Pike Research, a clean energy market research firm.

“In the U.S., bicycles, in general, are not considered a viable form of transportation,” said Dave Hurst, a senior analyst with Pike Research who has studied the e-bike market. The same is true of their electric counterparts, he added. Still, Hurst said, the e-bike is winning an increasing number of converts among people who wouldn’t otherwise be on a bike, particularly in cities that have added bike lanes.

Deborah Fortier, a 60-year-old piano teacher who lives on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, is one such convert. She had been riding a traditional two-wheeler to her lessons but she was arriving “tired and sweaty.” After she got her e-bike three years ago, Fortier started scheduling her lessons 15 minutes apart and arriving fresh. Now she is an e-bike evangelist and wants more Baby Boomers to abandon their cars for e-bikes.

“That would get more people thinking about going out and putting a basket on their bikes and doing shopping,” she said. “You get a whole wonderful new sense of yourself and the city.”

Source: Build Your Own Electic Bike by McGraw-Hill Professional and Txnologist

More on Electric Vehicles From The Green Living Guy

Build Your Own Electric Vehicle

Planet Green Post I wrote: Five Reasons Why The Nissan Leaf’s Price will make it work!

Why the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is More EV Than Hybrid?

More from The Green Living Guy:

 1. Build Your Own Electric Vehicle by Seth Leitman and Bob Brandt

2. Build Your Own Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle by Seth Leitman

3. Build Your Own Electric Motorcycle by Carl Vogel

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