When you get to a certain age (it differs from person to person) pedalling uphill is no longer easy. You can still do the downhill bit no problem, but a little help on the uphill section of the journey is more than welcome. Thank goodness then for electric bikes, or to be precise, battery powered bikes. And a big thanks to the person who came up with the idea.
A potted history of the electric bike
It should be noted that an electric bike should be referred to as a battery powered bike, but let’s not quibble over the odd word here and there. Believe it or not, the original idea of the El Cykel in a form which would be easily recognisable today emerged over one hundred and twenty years ago.
The first recorded patent for an electric bike as we would recognise today was at the end of 1895 by a Mr. Ogden Bolton. There may have been a patent prior to this as his submitted patent refers to an improvement on a previous design. However, there appears to be no record of an earlier patent held on file anywhere, therefore unless anyone has any other information to hand, we’ll have to ride with this (sorry, no pun intended).
In the intervening period since their inception through to the present day, electric bikes have had somewhat of a chequered history. It is only in the past couple of decades that they have increased in popularity. This may be on the back of an increasing awareness of the need for cleaner, more efficient forms of transport. The electric bike is just an extension of a regular bike, and we all know how popular bikes are.
Perhaps the fact that the cost has come down dramatically in recent years is behind their surge in popularity. This is probably as a result of a combination of consumer demand driving prices down as more manufacturers enter the market. In addition it may be due to a combination of the following:
· Improved battery technology
· Torsion/torque sensors
· Variable power control
· Efficient hub motors
· Lightweight frames
For me the appeal of an electric bike is because I am now essentially a fair weather cyclist. Another reason is the legs are no longer as robust as they once were. Years ago I could easily travel 20 miles in an hour, and felt nothing doing 20 to 30 miles a day.
Nowadays, on a regular bike, if I can mange 6 miles in an hour I consider I have done quite well. And for a non car owner, a bike is essential for mobility, for shopping and getting around. I doubt very much I will be competing in the Tour de France any time soon.
Thank goodness for the electric bike which I store in my shed; it has pride of place among my possessions. It has given back to me a freedom which was slowly disappearing.
It is not often I look back in time, preferring to face the future and take each day as a challenge. However, I do think back to that very clever Mr. Bolton. I wonder if he realised, when he filed that patent, how popular his little invention would eventually become.