Although the history of e-bikes began way back in the 1890s, the last 10 years have seen a major transformation for e-bikes.  From the clunky front hub motors of yesterday to today’s energy-efficient mid drive motors, the progression of e-bikes is only continuing to grow.  We’ll go over the history of e-bikes in the last 10 years and how they’ve evolved to become the incredible machines they are today.

From Front Hub To Mid Drive

The oldest e-bike motors were the basic geared front hub motors that you could control with the throttle.  Although these old motors were flexible enough to add to most bicycles, they usually resulted in slow speeds and didn’t allow you to get much of a workout out of them if you wanted to.

Next came direct-drive motors, which were located on the rear wheel and introduced the concept of pedal activation.  Pedal activation allowed you to choose how much power you wanted, although the motor’s heavy weight negatively impacted the efficiency of your ride.  The latest electric bike motors are mid-drive motors, which harness advanced technological sensors to identify your speed, cadence, and torque to provide you with a perfectly smooth ride.

Evolution Of E-Bike Batteries

E-bike batteries have also undergone a major transformation in the last ten years, providing you with longer rides and better efficiency.  Lead-acid and NiCd batteries were quite heavy and had poor energy density, although these later led to 1st Gen lithium-ion batteries that had a much higher energy density.

The best batteries that are currently on the market are the lithium-ion cobalt cathode cells, which provide great amounts of energy and are quickly rechargeable.  These batteries have twice the life expectancy of lead-acid batteries and are both safer and more environmentally friendly.  As the progression of e-bikes and their batteries continues, battery life may even exceed the life of the e-bike itself.

Improved Longevity Of The E-Bike

In the history of e-bikes, the overall longevity of the bike has seen a major improvement.  Older e-bikes with front hub motors would usually have a limited range of about 20 miles, and the poor quality of the batteries would require a replacement well before the e-bike itself would need to be replaced.

Today’s e-bikes have a much higher range closer to 35-100 miles, as well as more efficient motors that prevent the battery from draining too quickly.  Most e-bikes today will have batteries that last for 1,000 full charge-discharge cycles, which can easily translate into a lifespan of up to 5 years.

New developments in e-bike technology prove that the progression of e-bikes we’ve seen in the last 10 years is only the beginning.  As technology continues to advance, e-bikes are becoming lighter, more adaptable, and more energy-efficient.  One thing that looks to be changing the quickest is e-bike battery technology, as they continue to become lighter and more powerful.  When it comes to the history of e-bikes, we are only at the beginning.


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