Photo: This typical electric bicycle, a Sanyo Eneloop (now discontinued), had a range of about 30–55 km (17–35 miles) and a top speed of around 24 km/h (15 mph). Note the 250-watt hub motor on the front wheel and the 5.7Ah lithium-ion battery pack (black, marked “Sanyo,” just in front of the back wheel). Picture by kind permission and courtesy of Richard Masoner, published on Flickr under a Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0) licence.

E-bikes are great alternatives to traditional bicycles. Many people even prefer these bikes to cars. They can move at very high speeds, and cyclists don’t have to struggle a lot to accelerate; the bicycle can speed up with minimal effort.

While some companies are emphasizing the practical benefits of electric bikes — they’re good for your health, good for the planet and a low-cost way to get from here to there — others focus on fun and style. They are targeting urban buyers in their 20s and 30s, without a lot of money to spend, for whom the allure of owning a car has diminished.

This all-black e-bike looks futuristic in design, from the handlebars to the Shimano Alfine drivetrain, and its tech is pretty far ahead, too. This Contro-E has Cannondale’s classic Lefty fork (a rigid one) and 2.35-inch Schwalbe tires hefty enough to do urban battle with potholes and the occasional shards of glass. Full front and rear fenders make it a rainy day machine, and a Bosch engine gives you a bit of boost when your morning coffee hasn’t yet kicked in during your commute. 

“The U.S. electric bicycle market is growing, and we see an opportunity for Yamaha to enter with our long history of power assist bicycle innovation,” said Rob Trester, a business development executive with the company. “Yamaha has been studying the market closely, and we see a strong growth trend.”

Electric bikes offer the chance for those with low lung capacity (asthma sufferers, for example), or a reduced fitness level to get out and enjoy the countryside. Even those who are moderately fit can appreciate some assistance when going up hills.

There’s wisdom in the article though. If you look like a bicycle rider on a bicycle doing bicycle type things, you’ll be treated like a bicyclist. So if it’s legal for bicycles nobody in the law will care. Frat boys in SUVs will still throw beer cans at you. Joggers and horse riders will still swear at you. Everybody will hate you if you’re stupid, but at least you won’t get a ticket.

A moped is a two-wheeled or three-wheeled vehicle with an automatic transmission and a motor having a piston displacement of less than 50 cubic centimeters, that is capable of propelling the vehicle at a maximum speed of not more than 30 miles an hour on level ground, at sea level.

Power assist bikes typically use an electric motor and on-board electric battery to add propulsion to the traditional pedal-and-chain system. The power can be turned on or off, and dialed low to high, depending on how much energy the rider desires to use.

Not only do our Kids’ bikes look just as awesome as our adult-sized bikes, but they ride great, too. Electra’s patented Flat Technology® is available on most 16″ and 20″ models, which ensures proper leg extension and no tippy-toe stops, and allows kids to focus on the enjoyment of the ride.

Build Your Own Electric Bicycle by Matthew Slinn. TAB Green Guru Guides/McGraw-Hill, 2010. Introduces electric bikes and their benefits, discusses safety and legal issues, then goes on to explain how to build a bike with a hub motor kit. Also covers repair, maintenance, and more advanced projects.

Powerful 750W 36V brushless hub motor that allows up to 25 KM/H top speed. Motor Specifications: 36V / 750W. 1x Powerful 750W 36V brushless hub motor. 36V 14AH Li-polymer Battery Rear Rack. The kit includes motorized wheel(not inculdes the tire), motor controller, speed throttle, power break lever, wire harness.

With clear rules on how and where to ride an e-bike, everyone stands to benefit. Local bicycle shops and manufacturers will see increased business and their customers will no longer be confused; people who already ride e-bikes can more easily understand where to ride; and new bicyclists who may be discouraged from riding a traditional bicycle due to limited physical fitness, age, disability or convenience will have new transportation alternatives.

Does a decades-long rise in suicide among white Americans signal an emerging crisis for U.S. capitalism and democracy? Nobel Prize-winning economist Angus Deaton and his wife, fellow Princeton Prof. Anne Case, share their provocative theory with WSJ’s Jason Bellini in this episode of Moving Upstream. Photo: Getty