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Electric bicycle History
In the 1890s, electric bicycles were documented within various U.S. patents. For example, on 31 December 1895, Ogden Bolton Jr. was granted U.S. Patent 552,271 for a battery-powered bicycle with “6-pole brush-and-commutator direct current (DC) hub motor mounted in the rear wheel.” There were no gears and the motor could draw up to 100 amperes (A) from a 10-volt battery.
Two years later, in 1897, Hosea W. Libbey of Boston invented an electric bicycle (U.S. Patent 596,272) that was propelled by a “double electric motor”. The motor was designed within the hub of the crankset axle.This model was later re-invented and imitated in the late 1990s by Giant Lafree e-bikes.
By 1898 a rear-wheel drive electric bicycle, which used a driving belt along the outside edge of the wheel, was patented by Mathew J. Steffens. Also, the 1899 U.S. Patent 627,066 by John Schnepf depicted a rear-wheel friction “roller-wheel” style drive electric bicycle. Schnepf's invention was later re-examined and expanded in 1969 by G.A. Wood Jr. with his U.S. Patent 3,431,994. Wood’s device used 4 fractional horsepower motors; connected through a series of gears.
Torque sensors and power controls were developed in the late 1990s. For example, Takada Yutky of Japan filed a patent in 1997 for such a device. In 1992 Vector Services Limited offered and sold an e-bike dubbed Zike.The bicycle included NiCd batteries that were built into a frame member and included an 850 g permanent-magnet motor. Despite the Zike, in 1992 hardly any commercial e-bikes were available.
Production grew from 1993 to 2004 by an estimated 35%. By contrast, according to Gardner, in 1995 regular bicycle production decreased from its peak 107 million units.
Some of the less expensive e-bikes used bulky lead acid batteries, whereas newer models generally used NiMH, NiCd, and/or Li-ion batteries, which offered lighter, denser capacity batteries. Performance varies; however, in general there is an increase in range and speed with the latter battery types.
By 2001 the terms e-bike, power bike, "pedelec", pedal-assisted, and power-assisted bicycle were commonly used to refer to e-bikes. The terms "electric motorbike" or "e-motorbike" refer to more powerful models that attain up to 80 km/h (50 mph).
In a parallel hybrid motorized bicycle, such as the aforementioned 1897 invention by Hosea W. Libbey, human and motor inputs are mechanically coupled either in the bottom bracket, the rear wheel, or the front wheel, whereas in a (mechanical) series hybrid cycle, the human and motor inputs are coupled through differential gearing. In an (electronic) series hybrid cycle, human power is converted into electricity and is fed directly into the motor and mostly additional electricity is supplied from a battery.
By 2007 e-bikes were thought to make up 10 to 20 percent of all two-wheeled vehicles on the streets of many major Chinese cities. A typical unit requires 8 hours to charge the battery, which provides the range of 25 to 30 miles (40 to 48 km),[9] at the speed of around 20 km/h.