Updated on March 14, 2023
Electric bikes have become common in the 21st century but they have been used by people since the 1800s. Although new technologies and improvements are being made to date, the older models were liked by the people of that time. If you are someone who has no idea about electric bikes, you can go through my detailed article to know when electric bikes were invented. All the history including the registration of the first patent is mentioned below.
The article has all the information that you would like to know about electric bikes. These had the same structure but the designs have evolved over the years. You will be amazed to know how people used to ride these bikes back in the day. Read the article till the end to know all the details including the launch date of the first commercial electric bike.
When Were Electric Bikes Invented?
Electric bikes have been around since the late 1800s but people have started to use them now. The first electric bike was invented in the United States of America in the 1890s by Odgen Bolton. Although the bike he made had three wheels, it was powered by a battery.
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The electric bike had a 10-volt battery that had no gears. As the means of transportation were very limited back in the time so people had to walk for hours or ride bicycles to reach faraway places. This was the main reason to invent a battery-powered electric bike so that transportation consumes less time and effort.
First Patent Of Electric Bike
The first patent by Odgen Bolton was registered in the 19th century. Later on, Hosea W. Libbey introduced an electric bike with a dual motor with more power in 1897. This bike had no pedals and was operated by a lever. A man from France also got his patent registered in the 1890s. This electric bike had three wheels and the motor was fixed between the empty space present between the wheels.
After the first patent was registered many people came forward with their designs and models but they never reached the production phase. A few patents that were registered by the people in the 1900s were very huge and heavy. Although the structure is quite similar to the modern electric bikes, some older electric bikes were very long and extremely heavy.
Both the wheels were present at a distance of 2 to 3 feet at least which means that it was impossible for one person to ride them. Two people had to sit and push the pedals while holding the handles that were present in front of them. The design had many flaws but it was liked and used by the people back then.
Bol d’Or Bike Race
After getting recognition, the electric bikes made their way to the Bol d’Or bike race in Paris. The huge vintage bikes having 750 volts batteries were a part of the race. People liked using electric bikes but gradually their popularity faded. Meanwhile, other means of transportation were also being used as they had more capacity for people. The efficiency of electric bikes was not much as today but people still liked using them.
Mass Production Of Electric Bikes
In the mid-20th century, the production of electric bikes was on the rise because they were in demand and widely used. In 1932, Philips Simplex Electric Bike was released after a collaborative effort by Simplex and Philips. The batteries of these bikes were made with lead. These electric bikes ruled over the market for over 20 years and then some new models were launched by Sanyo and Panasonic. They were almost the same as the Philips Simplex Electric Bike but were lighter in weight.
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The main reason behind the gap in the production of innovative models was that the companies were trying to make major improvements in performance and efficiency. Models with torque sensors and power control were launched by the Japanese in 1997. One of the great improvements was made in 1989 when an electric bike without pedals was launched by Michael Kutter.
He kept on experimenting on his own bike and then decided to work with Velocity Company after he became successful. Both of them collaborated and launched Dolphin Electric Bike in 1992. Hence the basic design of electric bikes is still the same even after hundreds of years. The first electric bike was commercially launched in the 1900s and it had the same type of design.
Electric bikes became common in the 2000s and are widely being used by people because they have new and improved technology. The Japanese companies began the production of electric bikes in the 21st century. Panasonic and Yamaha were the big producers of electric bikes worldwide in the beginning.
Benefits of Using Electric Bikes
When compared with other means of transportation, electric bikes are way more efficient and cost-effective too. They use a battery that can be charged overnight and works for a good 5 to 6 hours, depending on the power and the speed. As mentioned above, the basic structure is still the same but the bikes are not heavy and long as they used to be almost 130 years back. Most people living in a developed country prefer using electric bikes over any other means of transportation.
They help you save money, are lightweight, and are eco-friendly too. These do not contribute to the carbon print as much as other big vehicles. They do not emit smoke as the battery is used for producing the power. When compared with cars, these are environmentally friendly and efficient. People are using electric bikes in their daily lives when going to work or running errands. These are widely being used because of the improved technology used in production.
Key Features and Design
Over time, the design and the structure of electric bikes evolved. The structure is almost the same but the bikes produced nowadays are more efficient and lightweight. People had limited options in the 1900s but in the 21st century, the production of electric bikes was raised by 35%. The electric bikes were termed e-bikes and fat-tire bikes by the companies. People had options to choose between a pedal assist electric bike and a power-on-demand electric bike.
They had all the features that you might need while riding them. These are used by people for different purposes including sports. Fat tire electric bikes help you ride in the city and keep you safe. They provide ultimate comfort and save a lot of your time and energy. These will help you cover short distances and have a good speed too. Over the years, different models of electric bikes were launched and all of them were liked by the people for their convenience and efficiency.
Classes of Electric Bikes
Modern electric bikes have two major classes that help people choose the one they want to ride. Let me discuss the classes separately so you can have an idea about each one of them.
Pedal Assist Electric Bike
The pedal-assist electric bike comes with a motor and a battery. This type of electric bike will only work if you keep on pushing the pedals as the motor is powered through them. The companies claim that a sensor is fixed within the electric bike that automatically tells the motor to start working when you pedal the electric bike. The speed of the pedal-assist electric bike will depend upon your pedaling speed.
This type of electric bike is ideal for people who want to use the electric bike because of its convenience but want to pedal just like in old times. The pedal assists electric bike is also called “pedelecs” and is best for your everyday rides in the park. People who ride this bike will have to manage the speed from lower to higher or vice versa by themselves. This comes with a 750-watt motor and requires a great amount of human power.
Power On Demand Electric Bike
The power-on-demand electric bike is the opposite of the pedal-assist electric bike. You have three different options that can help you choose. The first option is to use the motor and the pedals together like the pedal assist electric bike. Secondly, you can just use the motor without using the pedals just by controlling the bike with a trigger and a button. The third option is to ride the electric bike by using the pedals without the motor.
You will have to use all your power to use this third option in a power-on-demand electric bike. This bike is preferred by most cyclists because it gives you full control when you want to use your power only. The motor is not used when you like to pedal the bike with the help of the pedals. Although the speed of the power-on-demand electric bike and pedal assist electric bike is the same, you have more control and riding options in a power-on-demand electric bike.
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Who made the first e-bike?
The first patent of the electric bike was registered by Ogden Bolton in 1895 in the United States of America. This e-bike had two wheels and the battery was fixed between the wheels near the seat. It used a 10-volt battery to generate the power so that the electric bike could move. Later on, many innovations were made, as a result of which you can see the modern electric bikes.
What is the difference between an e-bike and an electric bike?
The main difference between an e-bike and an electric bike is that an e-bike only uses the battery so you can ride the bike. You do not have to pedal and can use the gears to control. Whereas, an electric bike comes with a pedaling system like normal bicycles. You will have the battery but pedals will be present which will help you in riding the electric bike. Hence this is a major difference that most people do not know.
When did electric bikes become popular?
Electric bikes became popular when people needed an efficient means of transportation. Initially, an electric bike with three wheels was launched. Later on, Hosea W. Libbey made an electric bike with dual motors having a battery of 750 volts. People really appreciated the electric bikes as they saved a lot of time and energy as they had no efficient means of transportation back in the time.
How long do electric bike batteries last?
The batteries of the latest electric bikes can work for almost 10 to 12 hours. If you maintain your electric bike well, the batteries will also stay in good condition and last for 3 years or more easily. This all depends upon your usage and maintenance.
A detailed article on when electric bikes were invented is given above so you can know where it all started. The history of electric bikes including the registration of the first patent is also mentioned. Electric bikes had the same structure over the years but innovations were made in the models that were released recently. They are lightweight, efficient, and have better performance overall. Some older electric bikes were huge, and long which made it impossible for one person to ride. I hope this article has all the history of electric bikes that you wanted to know about for the longest time.
Austin Jacobs is a passionate cycling enthusiast who has over five years of experience in bike repair and maintenance. He is an avid mountain biker and loves tinkering with bikes for hours on end to make sure they are running at their optimum performance level. Leland’s blog, which focuses on bike repairs and tips to keep them in good running order, was created out of a desire to share his knowledge and help fellow cyclists stay safe while enjoying the outdoors. He covers topics such as preventive maintenance, troubleshooting common issues, basic tools and supplies needed for repairs, and more.