By Telpriore G. Tucker, PH.D.
What’s all this commotion about electric bicycles? What are they? And why would you want one? I am an electric bike enthusiast, and when out for a ride on my own e-bike, I’m bombarded with questions like these. I simply reply, “It’s basically a bike with a battery and motor,” along with the most recognizable description I can provide: “It’s like a two-wheeled version of a Prius,” since the hybrid vehicle can be powered by the rider, the electric motor, or be switched between the two. It’s a bike that instantly converts into an environmentally friendly motorbike, minus the rumbling engine or the noxious exhaust spewing from the tailpipe.
All e-bikes can legally travel at a max speed of 20 mph without pedaling, which is twice as fast as an average rider on a regular bicycle. In 2015, California passed a law allowing some e-bikes to reach 28 mph with the condition of added pedaling. Electric bicycle technology has improved specifically in the lithium-ion battery pack, the battery management system, the electric motor, and of course the integration for an overall aesthetically appealing frame.
Electric bikes accommodate people of all ages for a variety of reasons. It’s fun for retirees taking a pleasant afternoon ride to the local park, favorite store, or new restaurant in the neighborhood. It’s quick enough for the business professional commuting daily to work, bypassing gridlocked traffic in the bike lanes. It’s also great for college students and high schoolers as an affordable way to get to class safely and without the sweat.
The City of Phoenix has also passed new legislation to significantly increase public transit, including funding to install up to 1,000 miles of new bike lane infrastructure. Our metro light rail cars are unique, like the city trains of Amsterdam and Copenhagen in Europe, where riders can bring their bikes and e-bikes aboard. Therefore, any rider is connected from the East Valley to the West Valley. The e-bike is a suitable mode of transportation, and, unsurprisingly, Arizona is a leader
for electric bike usage in the U.S. alongside California, Florida and Colorado. Our state has exceptional year-round weather, which is great for e-biking, and beautiful desert scenery to enjoy on the ride. The electric power is also convenient when climbing mountainous areas or when the distance is just a little too long.
Demand for the electric bicycle has traveled quickly from Asia towards Europe and now finally to us in North America. Recently, the 2016 Electric Bike Expo stopped in Tempe, unveiling a variety of electric bike vendors from across the country showcasing their latest models, answering technical questions, and providing free test rides on a controlled track. Right now is an excellent time to become an electric bike rider. No time like the present!
Photography by Shaunté Glover.
Dr. Telpriore G. Tucker attained his Doctor of Chemistry with an emphasis in electrochemistry for fuel cells and batteries systems at Arizona State University in 2014. He was the founding president of The Electric Battery Bike Organization on campus and is recently a new board member for the Arizona Green Chamber of Commerce. Tucker continues to pursue his passion as an entrepreneur for sustainable applications of energy storage in electric bikes by launching Sirius E-Bikes, an electric bike shop located in downtown Tempe just north of the ASU campus off Forest and 6th St. For more, visit siriusebikes.com.
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