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Quick History Lesson: The Origins of the Electric Bicycle

Quick History Lesson: The Origins of the Electric Bicycle

While the electric bike has certainly had a resurgence of popularity in recent years, the idea behind the e-bike is actually quite a bit older than many might think. E-bikes are what we love here at Ebike Essentials, and learning the history of these incredible machines helps us remember where it all got its start. We’ll give you a quick history lesson on the origins of the electric bicycle so you can see how far we’ve come in terms of technology.

First Documented E-Bikes

The first electric bicycles put in for patents were done in both France and the United States in the late 19th century. The French model was very different from modern e-bikes, using a lever system to power the bike rather than any kind of pedal. The original e-bike models were surprisingly similar to modern versions, although many of them were much heavier and used much less efficient batteries compared to the ones we use today.

The Automobile’s Domination

You can’t talk about the origins of the electric bicycle without mentioning how they stacked up against the automobile. From the beginning of the 20th century, automobile production ramped up immensely and gained huge popularity, which put electric bicycles on the backburner for quite a while. While the production of e-bikes didn’t stop, the next big innovations didn’t start until much later in the century.

20th Century Expansion

Although e-bikes began to gain more traction in the latter parts of the 20th century, they still required heavy and inefficient batteries to run properly. These batteries were usually either lead-acid batteries or NiCad batteries, neither of which presented a good tradeoff of weight to power output. As the 20th century started to come to an end, more and more competitors entered the e-bike market, which allowed for faster innovation in e-bike technology.

Pedal-Assist Takeover

In 1989, Michael Kutter developed a “pedelec” system that he used on his personal bikes. He quickly moved on to help the Velocity Company develop the first real line of pedal-assist electric bicycles for commercial use. The pedal-assist style of e-bike would quickly spread to other companies as well. Nowadays, some companies even offer combinations of pedal-assist and throttle-style e-bikes.

Ebike Essentials is so happy to see the e-bike become a normal part of society because of how much they can help people. Recent years have seen a large amount of support for e-bike travel because of its efficiency and eco-friendliness. If you’d like to get a mid-drive e-bike kit for your own use, check out our options at Ebike Essentials to find the perfect kit for you.

by Ebike Essentials