Transportation of the Future May Lay With E-Bikes

Whether heading to the park for a refreshing bike-ride over the open trails or broken down on the side of the road; convenience, portability and security are coming with some of the newer E-bike designs that are not only electric, but have some being foldable; allowing the bike to fit snuggly inside your trunk. These new E-bikes that are becoming available will provide more advanced and in-expensive ways to get around. Whether you are site seeing, running errands or simply going back and forth to work, these bikes could become a favorite new form of transportation. We are seeing many different models, options and designs going from blueprints and prototypes to production lines and into the marketplace.

Many companies; including some major car manufacturers, are all coming out with their own Eco-friendly designed versions of E-bikes. Many have geared their designs towards finding the most practical options that will have consumers biking more and driving less. Newly advanced electric, foldable and rechargeable E-bikes are sure to create a new wave of cyclers; saving consumers money with a fuel and cost efficient way of traveling. As car-makers are trying to find their way into the environmentally friendly market, their new E-bikes may very well soon become the newest standard option included with the purchase of one of their new vehicles.

Even the MIT experts have joined in the new E-bike trend by creating their prototype of a wheel hub-cap that attaches to your bike and is planned on being marketed towards the end of this year. Their smart-hub is designed to store up energy in a rechargeable onboard battery. The battery is designed to recharge itself whenever you use your brakes and then releases that stored up energy; kicking on the electric motor whenever the hub-cap senses you are traveling uphill or struggling with your pedaling. The smart hub will also have an advanced on board communication system installed.

Volkswagen’s new electric E-bike is designed to easily fold up and fit neatly into that spare tire or luggage compartment area of your car. Having one of VW’s new E-bikes next to your spare is sure to offer you more flexibility, freedom and fun with your daily transportation options. Their version of the E-bike is a lightweight pedal-less electric bicycle that is expected to get 12.5 miles out of a single charge. This bike is reported to weigh less than 45 pounds (20 kilograms), has a set of 20″ wheels and could have you effortlessly traveling as fast as 12.5 miles per hour. Further convenience comes with the bike being able to charge directly from your car; eliminating the hassles of worrying that it may not be ready for its next journey. These new electric bikes are ready for marketing, but there has been no mention yet of price or the actual date it will available to the public.

Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Volkswagen’s Research and Development Chief, said this about the new E-bike: “We have a special company within our organization that sells all kinds of products, supplementing our cars… This team is currently looking at this vehicle and is establishing a viable business case.”

Style and comfort is being offered with BMW’s version of its Eco-friendly mountain bike. BMW has been producing some great options and styles on motorcycles and cars for a while now and will soon enter its new M-bike into the public arena. Although this is not an electric version; nor does it offer a fold-up option; it does come with all the bells n’ whistles that one expects from BMW. The M-bike offers the famous M logo, comfortable grip handles, disc brakes, a comfortable leather seat and more. The bike has been retrofitted with a total gear ratio transmission; which allows for traveling at higher speeds. BMW has not released the pricing details as of yet; but their M-bike is said to be available in June 2010.

Lexus has developed their own Eco-friendly bike version or better known as their hybrid. The Hybrid offers both a sleek and stylish design and uses pedal power to boost the 240w onboard electric motor via the 25.9 Lithium-ion battery and brake regenerating system. The Lexus hybrid E-bike was built to give the rider the choice of using regular or power modes. The Hybrid has an eight speed automatic transmission for easy transitions. All the Lexus finesse was built into this prototype and works with the same drive system in Lexus’s hybrid cars. Even though this E-bike hybrid has all the makings of offering consumers a great fuel and cost efficient alternative; it has been reported that Lexus is not intending to put this hybrid design into production as of yet.

The UK Yike-Bike maker Grant Ryan has designed a unique and interesting option for consumers. The Yike-Bike was developed to be a light-weight, foldable and motorized bike alternative that would provide a realistic and easy to use option for transportation. This bike is so light-weight (just over 22 pounds or just under 10 kilos) and portable (folds up in about 15 seconds with practice) that it comes with its own over the shoulder carrying bag. This carry bag option provides the ease of not having to worry about where you are going to leave or lock-up the bike in-between stops.

This Yike-bike is nowhere near the deisgn of traditional bicycles; as it has the steering and anti-skid braking controls behind you and the pedals would be best described as foot rests. The onboard 1.2kw electric motor does all the work; generating a top speed of 13 mph. The company has estimated that a full 30 minute charge of its battery would sustain about a 5 mile (7-8 kilometers) ride. The Yike-bike has gotten street use approval in the UK, Germany, New Zealand and others; but it has not been approved for street use in the U.S. yet.

There is no question that the Yike-bike is an interesting and fuel efficient alternative form of transportation. The question is what’s the price? The new Yike-bike comes with a price tag of about $4,800. The Yike-bike’s design calls for an ideal height of 5 feet 3 inches; with a safe weight limit being about 220 pounds. (100 total kilos)

Which company will be the one to produce an E-bike that will prove to be the most efficient, convenient and cost effective is yet to be determined. The exciting news is that everyone is on board with trying to find the best design to move us from expensive and pollutant fuels to a cleaner, less expensive and a more sustainable alternative for transportation. Volkswagen seems to be ready to market a sure-hit with their foldable electric E-bike and it’s only a matter of time, before the population can truly begin shifting over to these more advanced, consumer ready and eco-friendly technologies; which can effectively lead to reducing carbon emissions and reducing carbon based fuel dependency.