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Recent data on conventional bike and/or electric bike (e-bike) sharing systems reveal that more than 2900 systems are operating in cities worldwide, indicating the increased adoption of this alternative mode of transportation. Addressing the existing gap in the literature regarding the deployment of e-bike sharing systems (e-BSSs) in particular, this paper reviews their spatio-temporal characteristics, and attempts to (a) map the worldwide distribution of e-BSSs, (b) identify temporal trends in terms of annual growth/expansion of e-BSS deployment worldwide and (c) explore the spatial characteristics of the recorded growth, in terms of adoption on a country scale, population coverage and type of system/initial fleet sizes. To that end, it examines the patterns identified from the global to the country level, based on data collected from an online source of BSS information worldwide. A comparative analysis is performed with a FOCUS on Europe, North America and Asia, providing insights on the growth rate of the specific bikesharing market segment. Although the dockless e-BSS has been only within three years of competition with station-based implementations, it shows a Rapid integration to the overall technology diffusion trend, while it is more established in Asia and North America in comparison with Europe and launches with larger fleet sizes.

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Introduction

Recent years have witnessed a Rapid growth in the popularity of bikesharing systems (BSSs) globally, in alignment with the urban transformations implied in the context of Smart city planning, where zones dedicated to pedestrian and public transportation access are adopted as a key measure for decongestion, while BSSs provide a sustainable mobility alternative for densely populated city centers [1]. Supported by technological advances over the years, including mobile technology, electronic payment and GPS-enabled devices, BSSs have been overcoming many operational challenges to provide fully automated, secure and cost-effective systems. Even though the BSS concept dates back to the 1960s, and despite the fact that less than 10 cities globally were operating such systems until the late 1990s [2]. sharing systems based on conventional bikes and/or electric bikes (e-bikes), which in the latter case are typically referred to as e-bike sharing systems (e-BSSs), have grown to more than 2900 systems operating in cities worldwide, as of November 2019, according to the bikesharing map developed by DeMaio and Meddin [3]. To a significant extent, the success of BSSs, and later of e-BSSs over the past years, with both dock-based (or station-based) and dockless (or free-floating) implementations, followed the developments in station infrastructure, enabling automated electronic access to bikes/e-bikes, smartphone technologies and fast credit card transactions.

This entry addresses the gap in the literature regarding the deployment of the e-BSS in particular, conducting a review of its spatio-temporal characteristics. To that end, it examines the patterns identified from the global to the country level, based on data collected from an online source of self-service automated, advanced automated and mixed automated/manned public use BSSs worldwide [3]. A comparative analysis is performed with a FOCUS on Europe, North America and Asia. From the processing and visualization of the collected data, insights on the growth rate of the specific bikesharing market segment can be revealed. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, the present study comprises the first attempt to (a) map the worldwide distribution of e-BSSs, (b) identify temporal trends in terms of annual growth/expansion of e-BSS deployment worldwide and (c) explore the spatial characteristics of the recorded growth, in terms of adoption on a country scale, population coverage and type of system/initial fleet sizes.

Results

In this section, a description of the key similarities and differences among the e-BSSs recorded in the database is attempted through exploratory data analysis and accompanying visualizations. It must be mentioned that determining the exact e-BSS adoption trends is hindered by its inherent Rapid growth rate as well as the multiple datsources available. over, the dataset refers to e-BSS launches, therefore capturing a single instance of the systems’ state, while ridership data were unavailable. Analyzing e-BSS launch data can be useful in understanding the strategic viewpoint of actors in the e-BSS market, thereupon explaining their operative decisions and how they tailor their initial fleet size depending on the intended installation.

The structure of the analysis was designed to trace the diffusion characteristics from a worldwide perspective to a breakdown per continent and further on the presentation of adoption leaders at the national level, in terms of cumulative number of deployed systems and respective size, as well as vehicle to population ratios and details on the largest systems reported in the data.

2.1. Global Outlook of E-BSS Deployment

A global outlook on the uptake of e-bikes in bikesharing is explored in the present section. An assessment of the temporal evolution of e-BSS is performed through an initial screening of the primary dataset, containing both conventional and electrified fleet systems. The annual shares of the number of system launches are distinguished upon their bikesharing system type, revealing the gradual penetration of e-BSS compared with the established conventional bikesharing.

Observing the recorded annual worldwide system deployments—note that 2019 is not fully incorporated since entries are updated until November 2019 (Figure 1)—demonstrates the Rapid growth of bikesharing during the past decade, from a total of 20 new systems deployed in 2008 to 337 in 2018, equivalent to an average annual growth rate of 39.6%. In Figure 1, BSSs offering both conventional and electric bikes are classified as e-BSSs, representing a partial or full electrification of the bike fleet. Focusing on the average annual growth rate of e-BSSs during the decade 2008–2018, it is estimated at 79.3%. over, by the comparison of annual growth rates, three major milestones can be identified, reflecting different innovation maturity stages concerning bikesharing technology. An abrupt increase can be traced to the variation in figures from 2012 to 2013, with 59 systems (53 BSSs and 6 e-BSSs) launching in 2012 compared with 135 in 2013 (124 BSSs and 11 e-BSSs), translating to a 129% increase in deployment. Next, a deceleration can be observed from 2014 to 2015, reflecting the failure of third generation bikesharing technology to convince in terms of operability and scalability, equivalent to a 16% decrease. From 2015 till the peak observed in 2018, an increasing growth trend is recorded (139% over three years), with 2018 topping deployment rates with a total of 337 systems (259 BSSs and 78 e-BSSs) starting their operation during that year. specifically, e-BSSs expanded from 17 launches in 2015 to 78 in 2018, corresponding to an almost 4-fold growth. The latter can be accounted to the introduction of massive systems in China and the USA, along with dockless bikesharing gaining acceptance and persuading investors as a reliable solution. Interestingly, figures for 2019 underline the potential of e-BSSs to scale-up and compete with conventional BSSs, since 31.7% of service launches (65 e-BSSs) were e-bike-based.

Figure 1. Number of bikesharing systems (BSSs) launched worldwide from 2008 to 2019 with respect to fleet type (conventional or electrified) along with the corresponding annual percentage shares.

Figure 2 maps the global distribution of the e-BSS locations based on the geographical coordinates mined from the primary dataset. In accordance with the findings in [4]. the majority of e-BSSs are primarily located in Europe (59%) followed by the Americas (27%) and Asia (13.1%), while Egypt and Australia are the only countries from Africa and Oceania featured in the dataset. However, larger fleets are met in Asia (35,963 e-bikes), where the adoption of the technology occurred at a later stage, on which fourth generation bikesharing technologies were developed with geo-tracking integrated on the shared vehicles, allowing the operation and control of extended fleet coverage. Europe trails with 25,564 shared e-bikes, while North America registered 13,894 e-bikes, evidencing that e-BSSs are diffused mainly on the North Hemisphere (95% of worldwide shared e-bike fleet). In total, 231 cities were included in the dataset, with Europe leading in small station-based launches in contrast with North America and Asia, where larger scale launches were realized. The first record in the dataset is a station-based e-BSS located in Monaco, launching in 2008 with 10 e-bikes in four stations as a mixed fleet scheme and operated by the local bus company, and thus can be credited as the longest running e-BSS in Europe.

Figure 2. Visualization of the distribution of electric (e)-BSSs on global scale, data mined from The Bike-sharing Map based on reported entries till November 2019 (Source: [3] ).

2.2. Analysis per Region

Since a global outlook on the uptake of e-BSSs has been provided in the previous section, it is yet essential to detail the spatio-temporal trends per region. It can be noted that the e-BSS is becoming a considerable alternative in bikesharing as proven by the respective shares of launches per system type worldwide, specifically during the past two years. Large-scale deployments infer higher initial capital investment costs when contrasted with conventional BSSs, and when considering the average market purchase value of an e-bike in relation to that of a regular bike.

Investigating the rate of e-BSS diffusion, an initial step is to record the global overall trend in annual system launches. To this end, Figure 3 details the number of new systems per year in Europe, North America and Asia, as well as the overall worldwide trend. All curves resemble a sigmoid curve, in accordance with the key feature of innovation diffusion theory [5]. and thus a delayed adoption during the first years, followed by a Rapid growth. Breaking down the deployment rate per region, it can be observed that Europe held the initiative in adoption for the first five years till the concept was spread to Asia and one year later to North America. In fact, the overall trend coincides with the European market until 2013, although the uptake of electrified shared bike fleets was reluctant. The delayed entry of the two other key regions contributed to the global average annual growth rate of e-BSSs for the period 2014–2017, where the European market presented variations and instability. However, the level of system launches remained relatively low in both regions, characteristic of the delayed adoption of e-BSSs. Impressively, the increase in the cumulative number of system launches in North America traced the European trend in 2018, taking off e-BSSs to 23.1% of new bikesharing systems in that year. The differences in diffusion patterns per region can be summarized in the following statements: Europe led the adoption in the first years when bikesharing technology was still in the third generation and gradually transitioning to the fourth, with a stable diffusion pattern till 2018; Asia since 2015 is establishing the fourth generation bikesharing technology, remaining hesitant in the large-scale integration of e-bikes; meanwhile, North America is presenting a clear diffusion pattern, boosting the e-BSS uptake. Since 2019 is not fully included, all average annual growth rates are calculated till 2018, corresponding to 230% for North America, 58.3% for Asia and 75.8% for Europe.

Figure 3. Diffusion curve of e-bike sharing systems: comparison of number of new systems per year in Europe, North America, Asia and the worldwide trend.

An important contribution to the e-BSS expansion was marked by large actors in vehicle sharing schemes, for instance, Forever-Gonbike in Asia launched seven systems during 2017–2018, representing a high share of the innovation’s diffusion (average 56% of overall deployments in Asia) alongside public investment, while Uber, Jump and Lime in North America were responsible for the launch of 29 systems in the three-year period 2017–2019 (average 52% of overall deployments in North America), signifying the shift from the innovator stage to the early adoption phase of the technology and attempting to gain a pivotal placement in leading the e-BSS landscape. In Europe, the market appears more fragmented with the large multinationals playing a minor part in e-BSS diffusion along with smaller operators.

In terms of the number of e-bikes, large players dominated the annual percentage shares of e-BSS deployment during the past three years with massive roll-outs over the three examined regions. In detail, 72% of shared e-bikes deployed globally in 2017 were attributed to a large operator, mainly Forever-Gonbike with 62%. This is repeated in 2018, where 71% of shared e-bikes globally were rolled-out by a large operator, in this case with respective shares distributed more smoothly among operators, while in 2019, this percentage dropped to 30%.

Aiming to examine in detail the technical characteristics of e-BSS deployments, a disaggregation of the diffusion curves presented above is pursued upon three exploratory variables (Figure 4). Firstly, the total number of e-bikes deployed as an indicator of the system’s size, then a variable capturing whether a specific system is operating a mixed shared fleet and finally a variable indicating the type of vehicle sharing (dockless or station-based). The latter comprises the main technological attribute distinguishing the operating model followed by e-BSS operators, in the meantime providing a quantified comparative basis for the assessment of the innovation diffusion between the third generation bikesharing counterposed with the fourth generation technology.

Figure 4. Diffusion curve of e-BSS: comparison of the number of system deployments per year by type (station-based or dockless) and region, color gradient scale denoting the percentage of roll-outs operating a mixed fleet.

As a general observation, it can be supported that the dockless e-BSS is more established in Asia and North America in comparison with Europe and launches with larger fleet sizes (mean 465) than station-based e-BSSs (mean 166). The first dockless e-BSS launched in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2014 with a fleet size of 102 e-bikes, prior to its wide establishment from 2016 and onwards. Cross-examining the evolution of fleet type annual percentage shares on the global scale, in the last two years, the dockless e-BSS has gained a significant share since its introduction. In particular, 47 out of 78 total e-BSS deployments were dockless in 2018, in contrast to 7 out of 25, in 2017. The pattern proceeds till November 2019, where 34 out of 67 e-BSSs were dockless bikeshares. Elaborating these findings per region and taking into account the respective fleet sizes for the period during which both types coincide (2016–2019), in Europe, dockless e-bikes deployed constituted 13% in 2016 and reached 78% of total e-bikes deployed in 2019, in Asia, e-BSS fleets were mainly composed (98%) of dockless e-bikes till 2019 when the trend reversed and the respective recorded shares were 15% dockless and 85% station-based, meanwhile in North America, a 70% fraction at the end of 2017 dropped to 45% in late 2019. What is notable in the case of the dockless e-BSS is its Rapid integration to the overall technology diffusion trend, only within three years of competition with station-based implementations. Specifically, the recorded average annual growth rate from 2014 to 2019 for dockless e-BSSs was 200%, whereas for station-based e-BSSs, it was 18%. Nevertheless, the overall growth of station-based remains positive since from 2008 to 2019, it corresponded to a 60.7% annual growth rate.

Regarding the inclusion of e-bikes in mixed fleet sharing schemes, the data revealed that in Europe, where e-BSS adoption was engaged earlier than the other regions, e-bikes were initially offered as an additional vehicle option in conventional BSSs until 2012, when the first exclusively electrified e-BSS launched in Predazzo, Italy. The gradient scale in Figure 4 describes the percentage of systems, regardless of docking type, operating under a mixed fleet scheme with their respective launch year. It can be derived from the first years of e-BSS launches in Europe, that the implementations were mainly foreseen as mixed fleet schemes, similar to North America. In addition, station-based schemes supplying a mixed fleet are more favorable than dockless schemes.

Another factor for e-BSS deployment unraveling further details on the temporal characteristics of the diffusion was the monthly seasonality of launches per region. Figure 5 presents the number of e-BSS deployments per region by month of launch. It is evident that summer months are the most preferred for the launch of an e-BSS (40%). This can be accounted to certain aspects, such as the seasonal character of bikesharing due to the dependence of ridership from weather conditions, the fact that the studied regions are located in the Northern Hemisphere and the aim of operators to attract also tourists in order to accelerate their service roll-out plan. In detail, July holds a 17% share, trailed by June at 16% and May at 10%. The distribution for Asia is uniform with a peak from March to June, however, the number of entries is only 24, in Europe, the peak is recorded in June with 32 entries out of 153 resembling a normal distribution, while for North America, an abrupt peak (21 e-BSSs out of 59) appears in July, with the remaining months trailing, therefore concentrating a lower preference for deployment.

Figure 5. Number of e-BSS deployments per region by month of launch, as an indicator for deployment seasonality.

Within the context of discovering the underlying motives for e-BSS diffusion and launch fleet sizing as a function of population, a linear regression model is applied on each region between the logarithms of population size and the logarithm of the number of e-bikes deployed. This log transformation is motivated from assuming a non-linear relationship for the compared variables. Additionally, capturing the correlation between these variables can provide useful arguments for validating the assumption that cities with larger populations will necessarily require larger fleet coverage. In this direction, Figure 6 demonstrates the resulting plots with their respective fitted linear regression curves. Clearly, a low correlation (0.0567) pinpoints the inadequacy of the fitted curve to describe the relationship between the data points from Asia, suggesting that a polynomial relationship could improve the regression model’s accuracy. By comparing the strengths of correlation, attempting to model the relationship between population and fleet size fails to score a reasonable adjusted R squared value for Asia, therefore contradicting the initial hypothesis. Nevertheless, the assumption is confirmed for the remaining two regions with calculated correlations higher than the results presented for the early stages of the bikesharing technology diffusion in [4].

Figure 6. Comparison of the logarithm of total e-BSS fleet size versus the logarithm of population size for cities in Europe, North America and Asia with the corresponding linear regression coefficients.

Specifically, the previous study focusing on the diffusion of public BSSs over a 15-year timespan (1998–2012) presented a 0.1994 R 2 value for 55 BSSs in Europe and 0.1315 for 19 BSSs in North America. The respective values estimated in this study were 0.4679 for 97 e-BSSs in Europe and 0.1484 on 45 e-BSSs in North America. Although these coefficients are relatively low to suggest a strong correlation between the examined variables, it has to be mentioned that cities recording more than one system were aggregated on a common population value.

2.3. Deployment on Country Scale

Deployment trends at the continental level revealed differences in average annual growth rates between the three regions with the highest incorporation in the dataset, nonetheless, an exploration of the magnitude of the trends on a country scale allows the inference of the contribution of specific e-bike markets. It is expected that major drivers in the adoption of e-BSSs will be the largest bikesharing markets with an established cycling tradition. A normalization on population size serves as the weighted comparative standard for the appeal of e-BSS technology, as well as the growth potential in the studied location. Furthermore, this analysis can highlight specific deployment features in finer resolution.

Aiming to explore the characteristics of the innovation diffusion at the national level, Figure 7a illustrates the top 10 countries in the adoption of e-BSS based on the number of entries per countries in the dataset registering at least six launched systems, and Figure 7b depicts the top 10 ranking of countries based on the percentage breakdown of e-bikes deployed during the examined period. Indicatively, Italy which holds the second biggest share of deployed e-BSSs (17% with 46 entries) would have been overrepresented if the analysis was performed solely on the absolute number of systems as in the results presented in [6]. The corresponding share is attributed to an extensive deployment of mostly third generation systems which were small-scale station-based (up to 20 bikes fleet) and operating in small cities, in contrast with the large fourth generation deployments met in Chinese large cities or the US [7]. When the ranking is based on the percentage breakdown of e-bikes deployed during the examined period (Figure 7b), China records the largest share of available e-bikes on e-BSS launches (42%) followed by the USA (16%). Combining the above, an average e-BSS launch fleet size per country can be estimated with the values of 1837 e-bikes per system for China and 218 for the USA. However, this number hinders the extraction of a rigid conclusion on the diffusion of the technology due to the omission of important historical parameters concerning the stages of bikesharing technology’s evolution (more reluctant and small-scale deployments preferred during the first years of the diffusion) and spatio-demographic traits such as tailoring the launch fleet size to the intended location’s metropolitan area and population.

express, electric, bicycle, bike

Figure 7. Top 10 e-bike sharing countries: (a) percentage breakdown and number of e-BSSs deployed by country, and (b) percentage breakdown and number of e-bikes deployed in e-BSSs by country.

A common trend can be attributed to the USA and China regarding adoption patterns, specifically, both enter the e-BSS landscape after fourth generation products reach the market and from 2017 onwards show a tendency in launching large-scale (1000 bikes fleet) dockless systems. This temporal pattern is reflected in almost every facet of Figure 6, where at least one large-scale dockless e-BSS appears on the map after 2017. Italy and Switzerland comprise the main leaders in the early adoption stages since 2012 and 2010, respectively [8]. while China and the USA are the main areas of e-BSS deployment in recent years. The latter reflects the shift in the e-bikesharing technology innovation, from an early period when the Italian company Bicincitta engaged a wide deployment campaign throughout rural areas, offering a demo third generation system for small-scale applications [9]. to the emergence of key innovation leaders (it cannot be considered as an exaggeration to coin the term fifth generation for the ongoing service schemes offered from Chinese bikesharing companies [10] ) in the form of private funded initiatives combined with governmental subsidies enacted later in the implementation phase.

Driven by the roll-out strategy experienced in the Chinese e-bike sharing market and in line with the latest demands of the fourth generation of bikesharing, companies in the USA decided to engage on aggressive roll-outs of dockless e-BSSs with free floating e-bikes accessible at major densely populated cities, with each stakeholder offering his own built-in technology and pricing policy [11]. This transition can be linked with the market placement of large mobility-on-demand providers (i.e., Uber) through the purchase of bike tech companies (Jump Bikes), therefore permitting larger-scale campaigns and higher initial capital investments.

Ranking the top 10 performing cities on the e-BSS fleet size to population ratio was performed solely on city populations cross-validated with the city population dataset. Importantly, the results (Figure 8) were scaled on e-bike availability per 1000 citizens for the purposes of comparability with previous studies. It can be noted that Tengzhou, China ranks in first place with 28.3 e-bikes per 1000 citizens, along with four other Chinese cities (i.e., Liaocheng third, Yangzhou fourth and Dali seventh), followed by Locarno, Italy with 18.7 e-bikes per 1000 citizens. Highly performing European cities are also Tartu, Estonia and Valetta, Malta, with their rate computed from only one system serving small populations in both cities, i.e., 750 e-bikes deployed in Tartu and 50 e-bikes in Valetta, whereas Chinese cities with 15 entries tallying 32,340 e-bikes present a more reliable figure. For example, the US market, which is highly incorporated in the population quota dataset with 43 entries, recorded two top-ranking cities with 5.9 and 5.1 e-bikes per 1000 citizens over an average country level of 1. In contrast, Italy, the second most represented country in terms of the number of systems (i.e., 28 in Figure 7a) in the population quota database, ranked 20th in country averages, at a 0.5 ratio. Hence, in contrast with the rankings in Figure 7, the analysis from the population coverage suggests that leaders in number of deployed systems would not necessarily land a position in the highest ranks of population coverage due to the rate’s sensitivity to low population values.

Figure 8. Top 10 performing cities in terms of total number of e-bikes deployed in e-BSS to population ratio.

Table 1 lists the largest e-BSSs included in the dataset, describing their launch date, number of e-bikes, number of docking stations, operator, population in millions and total BSS fleet size of all systems available within the studied location. Values for the last data field were extracted from an online source with live data on bikesharing from 300 cities [12]. The largest recorded roll-out was 5000 e-bikes in two Chinese cities, namely Yangzhou and Shunyang, while in Europe, the largest roll-outs are recorded for Madrid (BiciMAD around 2000 e-bikes, launched 2014), Amsterdam (Urbee 1150 e-bikes, launched 2016), Brussels (Uber 1200 dockless e-bikes, started in 2019) and Milan (BikeMi, 1000 e-bikes, launched 2016). A dockless e-BSS in San Diego was the largest roll-out for North America, where the most frequent value for initial fleet size was 500. Evidently, larger systems launch in Chinese cities, while flexible access to shared e-bikes (dockless shared fleet) is more favored for large-scale deployments.

Table 1. Top 10 e-BSS included in the analyzed dataset (November 2019 data).

City of Operation Launch Date Number of E-Bikes Number of Stations Operator Population (Millions) Total BSS Fleet Size (All Systems) [12]
Yangzhou, Jiangsu, China 1 November 2017 5000 Dockless Forever GonBike 4.4 20,000
Shuyang, Suqian, Jiangsu, China 8 September 2018 5000 Dockless Forever GonBike 1.9 5000
Liaocheng, China 4 April 2019 4060 370 Public Bicycle Service 5.7 5000
Tengzhou, China 14 May 2019 3000 Dockless Public Bicycle Service 0.8 3000
Madrid, Spain 23 June 2014 2030 165 BiciMAD 3.2 2430
Shanghai, China 1 May 2017 2000 Dockless Forever GonBike 23.7 180,000
Sydney, Australia 7 November 2018 2000 Dockless Lime 4.4 3000
Brussels, Belgium 25 April 2019 1200 Dockless Jump/Uber 1.0 8242
Amsterdam, The Netherlands 23 December 2016 1150 25 Urbee 2.3 3150
Milan, Italy 13 November 2016 1000 280 BikeMi 8.2 15,000
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China 12 January 2018 1000 Dockless Public Bicycle Service 21.1 23,794
San Diego, California, USA 15 February 2018 1000 Dockless Lime 1.4 15,000
Suizhou, Hubei, China 1 May 2018 1000 Dockless Forever GonBike 2.5 24,891
Dali, Yunnan, China 1 June 2018 1000 Dockless Forever GonBike 0.1 n/a
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain 30 June 2018 1000 Dockless Scoot 1.8 5229

In Hangzhou, a Chinese city that alone accounts for almost one million shared bicycles, a new system launched in January 2018 which introduced 1000 e-bikes in the district of Binjiang that run on a large removable battery. The difference is that these batteries are stored and charged in a separate solar-powered vending machine at each station. As an effect, users can still choose between a conventional or e-bike, but without the responsibility of carrying and maintaining the battery [13]. The opposite principle applies in the case of the envisioned e-BSS for Stockholm, where a fleet of “hybrid bikes” will be rolled out with members carrying the responsibility for charging a battery that is compatible with the vehicle and receiving it upon subscription. Aiming to lower the cost of the membership fees, the city authorities reached an agreement with the system operator for allocation of advertising space in privileged locations [14].

Discussion

The results in the previous section revealed the diversity of e-BSS adoption patterns depending on the examined scale. Mainly, the technology has spread to three regions, namely Europe, North America and Asia, being initiated in Europe and with short delays arriving in the other continents. The temporal evolution of e-BSSs compared to conventional BSSs demonstrates the gradual penetration of electrified fleet deployments throughout three stages, firstly as a pure innovation followed by an early adoption period (stabilized on 9% of total bikesharing launches) and lately as an established transportation solution. In fact, in the last two years, e-BSSs comprise almost one quarter on average of all BSS roll-outs worldwide.

In terms of system fleet size, China and USA constitute the key market leaders in e-BSS deployment. Other cases of large-scale systems have been launched also in large cities in Europe and Australia with dockless e-BSSs gaining popularity in contrast to station-based implementations. City population presents a positive correlation with launch fleet size, validating the hypothesis that deployment decisions vary depending on scale. According to the findings presented in Figure 6, Europe demonstrates a statistically significant relationship between initial fleet size and targeted city population, whereas in Asia and North America, large-scale systems are launched in cities with a population over 100,000 citizens.

The dynamics of the deployment trends observed point that the peak in the e-BSS diffusion curve has not yet been reached. Bikesharing remains a considerable micro-mobility solution with e-bikes bearing the potential to extend the technology’s scalability, also confirmed by the Rapid diffusion rate presented in the analysis. The maturity of BSS adoption in a city’s transportation plan facilitates and motivates the transition or the integration of e-BSSs. It becomes clear that fully characterizing the diffusion patterns of the e-BSS technology requires the inclusion of key categorical predictors and quantitative variables, for example, utilization patterns, budget considerations, mobility plans, level of established cycling culture, public or private operator model, selected payment system (impeding or not flexible vehicle acquisition) and trip costs. However, the purpose of implementing a BSS on each of the cities recorded in the database was beyond the scope of this study.

Tracing the deployment characteristics at the country level, multiple aspects were explored, such as top adopters according to percentage breakdown of the number of e-BSSs, total fleet size compared with the global fleet size, system size to population ratio and the largest systems recorded in the database. After a close examination of the results presented in Figure 7 and Figure 8, as well as in Table 1, China undoubtedly drives e-BSS adoption followed by the USA, in alignment with the Rapid diffusion rate of the BSS technology. In addition, e-BSS deployment in these countries is also influenced from the presence of an innovation competition that attracts more operators into planning future implementations or pursuing to introduce the technology to new locations in order to achieve a market advantage. At this point, it is noted that a permit is necessary for an operator to deploy a system in a city, thus deployment trends are subject to local transport policy and regulation.

Importantly, the degree of e-BSS expansion on an urban scale is impacted by the competition with other vehicle sharing technologies apart from conventional BSSs, such as e-scooter rental/sharing systems or ridesharing depending on the service level of micro-mobility demand. Especially, in cities where alternative micro-mobility schemes have established their presence within the transportation landscape, this hinders the appeal of an e-BSS roll-out for a prospective operator. Recent studies comparing ridership patterns between scooter sharing schemes and BSSs in cities where both are offered revealed that shared bikes were mostly used for commuting while shared scooters for recreation in Washington D.C. [15]. and that scooter sharing exhibits an increased utilization rate on a smaller fleet size than BSSs in Singapore, although over a significantly lower total daily usage [16]. Notwithstanding this, the large-scale integration of micro-mobility schemes is beneficial for transport systems, such as alleviating rush-hour congestion, and therefore this competition may lead to a broader positive outcome [17] [18].

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  • Rui Zhu; Xiaohu Zhang; Dániel Kondor; Paolo Santi; Carlo Ratti; Understanding spatio-temporal heterogeneity of bike-sharing and scooter-sharing mobility. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems2020, 81, 101483, 10.1016/j.compenvurbsys.2020.101483.
  • Susan PhD Shaheen; Adam Cohen; Shared Micromoblity Policy Toolkit: Docked and Dockless Bike and Scooter Sharing. UC Berkeley: Transportation Sustainability Research Center2019 10.7922/G2TH8JW7.
  • Stefan Gössling; Integrating e-scooters in urban transportation: Problems, policies, and the prospect of system change. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment2020, 79., 10.1016/j.trd.2020.102230.

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Express Drive Plus Electric Bicycle

Looking to upgrade your bicycle to an ebike to generate more income or maybe an all-rounder electric bicycle? The Eco Drive Plus is an amazing ebike with premium components that emphasises on speed, comfort and safety. Equipped with a step-through frame for easy dismounting, making it highly ideal for delivery riders!

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Express Drive Plus Electric Bicycle Description

Express Drive Plus E-bike review The Express Drive Plus Ebike, also known as Eco Drive Plus, is one of the many e-bikes that are certified by LTA, affixed with the orange seal – EN15194. The e-bike is a popular choice due to the value it brings when compared to cost. Unique features One of the main unique feature about the Express Drive Plus e-bike is the rear seat that comes with it. This is a huge selling point for many buyers looking to ferry others on their e-bike. This also makes the e-bike a popular choice amongst delivery drivers as the rear seat rack can be used to secure a delivery bag. It’s step-through frame also makes it an ideal e-bike for delivery riders due to how often they’re required to dismount their e-bike. Frame The e-bike is also manufactured using high strength aluminium, reinforcing its durability. The parts of the e-bike are also easily available in servicing stores, making it an easy e-bike to maintain. Safety Every Express Drive Plus comes with front rear lights as well as a bicycle bell. There is also a chain guard to prevent any entanglement of fabric or external materials in the e-bike’s chain. The rear and front disc brakes also makes braking more efficient and safe. Battery Running on a 48V 10.5Ah battery that efficiently powers the motor and gives a longer riding distance per charge. Motor The Express Eco Drive Plus runs on a 48V 240W Brushless Geared motor which is sufficient for the e-bike to traverse hills, reach speeds of up to 25km/h and function with a maximum load of 125kg.

Express Drive Plus Electric Bicycle Specifications

What customers are saying about Express Drive Plus Electric Bicycle(55)

55 reviews for Express Drive Plus Electric Bicycle

I never thought an electric bike could be this fun! I love zipping around on it and feel like I’m getting a great workout too.

So happy with my purchase of this electric scooter! Its helped me save so much on gas money plus its super fun to ride:)

I bought an electric bicycle as a last resort after my car broke down since I live in a very hilly area. Best decision ever. Not only do I not have to deal with public transit anymore but I also get a great workout going up all those hills

I absolutely love my new electric bicycle! It’s revolutionized the way I get around and I can’t imagine life without it now.

This bike is exactly what I was looking for. It’s lightweight easy to use and really helped me out when it came to commuting.

This bike has been amazing it has allowed me to keep up with my friends on group rides and getting to work has never been easier.

Incredibly happy with my purchase of this electric bicycle! Riding is now something that I enjoy rather than dread. Cannot recommend enough!

This shop was amazing! They helped me pick out the perfect electric bike for my needs and were so patient when explaining how everything worked. They even gave me a test ride so I could make sure I was comfortable before buying. Definitely recommend if you’re looking for an electric bike.

This is by far my favorite place to buy an electric bicycle! The quality of the products is excellent and the customer service is wonderful. I would highly recommend them to anyone.

Personal Characteristics of e-Bike Riders and Illegal Lane Occupation Behavior

, 2,3 Dong Yang. 1 Fuquan Pan. 4 and Yuanyuan Fan 1

Abstract

This study aimed to reveal the potential relationship between personal characteristics of e-bike riders and illegal occupation of motor vehicle lane. To this end, a questionnaire survey was conducted and 350 valid copies of responses were retrieved from the e-bike riders. Depending on the number of motor vehicle lanes occupied, the risky behavior of illegal occupation was divided into four intervals: intervals A, B, C, and D. The disaggregate theory has high adaptability to the analysis of individual traffic behavior. In this study, the multinomial logit model was used, and eight personal characteristics of e-bike riders were selected. The aforementioned four intervals were the four selection limbs, and a measurement model calculating the influence of personal characteristics on the behavior of illegal occupation was built. The theory of elasticity was employed to analyze the sensitivity degree of each influence factor. The results showed that the absolute values of elasticity of all tested influence factors, including age, educational level, and eye vision, were less than 1.000. However, on the four intervals, the elasticity of riders’ temperament was 1.203, 1.656, 1.554, and 1.355, respectively, and elasticity of riding proficiency was 2.782, 3.883, 3.453, and 2.932, respectively.

Introduction

e-bike is defined as the mass of the whole vehicle shall not exceed 55 kg, the speed shall not exceed 25 km/h, and the motor power shall be 400 W. It strengthens the requirements of riding ability and must have foot riding device, tamper proof, fire-retardant device, waterproof ability, charging protection device, etc. [1].

In recent years, many large- and medium-sized cities of China have witnessed the growing prevalence of e-bikes for daily transport due to their low cost, convenience, and flexibility of riding [1–4]. Unlike North America and Europe, the e-bike has already become one of the most popular modes of transportation, for example, for daily commuting, and not for leisure only. The China Bicycle Association [5], in 2017, reported that e-bike ownership in China amounted to 250 million. The annual production of e-bikes was 30.97 million, and the export volume was 7.301 million with an export value of US 1.44 billion. In some cities, such as Nanning, Haikou, Kunming, and Guilin, the number of e-bikes has far exceeded that of conventional bikes [1, 3–5]. For example, e-bikes in the urban area of Nanning amounted to more than 1.8 million [6]. Nanning is the Chinese city with the greatest number of e-bikes and hence known as the city on an e-bike. Apparently, the e-bike has already become an important commuting tool [7, 8].

In spite of this, the Rapid increase in the number of e-bikes has given rise to a series of safety problems. Besides conventional bike riders and pedestrians, e-bike riders are also a disadvantaged group. Because of their fast traveling speed, e-bikes also have a high risk of serious accidents. According to the 2015 China Statistical Yearbook on Road Traffic Accidents, the number of e-bike accidents was 8.2-fold that of bike accidents and 5.4-fold that of pedestrian accidents [9, 10]. From January to June 2016, the number of e-bike accidents in Jiangsu accounted for 70% of the national total [11]. Further, data on hospital admissions related to e-bike accidents are also bleak. As indicated by hospitalization records of e-bike riders in Hefei from 2009 to 2011, one-third of the e-bike riders were seriously wounded [1, 2, 12]. According to the hospitalization records of Suzhou from October 2010 to April 2011, the number of people injured during e-bike accidents accounted for 57.2% of all hospital admissions due to road traffic accidents [12]. Both the seriousness and the number of e-bike accidents have increased. According to statistics [13, 14], the number of deaths due to e-bikes nationwide was 73 and 1305 in 2011 and 2016, respectively, indicating an increase by 78.02% in 5 years. The number of people injured during e-bike accidents was 8532 and 16,944, respectively, which was an increase by 14.71%. Given such frequency and seriousness, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Wenzhou, and Fuzhou have banned or restricted the use of e-bikes [3, 4, 8, 10, 14–18]. Based on the statistical analysis of accident data and causes, Ren et al. [17] proposed a classification into 12 risky behaviors of riding: illegal occupation of lanes, riding in the opposite direction, riding through a red light, riding overspeed, riding while drunk, turning around the corner at a fast speed, crossing the road abruptly, riding in parallel, riding while making telephone calls, riding with music on, riding while chatting, and riding with someone else on the bike. The results showed that illegal occupation of lanes and riding with someone else on the bike were associated with the highest probability of traffic accident.

The safety problem of e-bike riding has drawn increasing attention, necessitating the need to understand the relationship between personal characteristics of e-bike riders and risky behaviors of riding, especially the relationship between personal characteristics and illegal occupation of lanes. The present study attempted to reduce the occurrence probability of e-bike accidents and raise the safety awareness of e-bike riders. The results shed some light on improving road traffic safety and reducing road traffic accidents.

Literature Review

Questionnaire survey [1–3, 18–28] and video capture [16, 29–32] were the two most commonly used methods in this study to collect data on risky behaviors of e-bike riding. The questionnaires were usually designed based on the previous behavioral studies of light motorcycle and motorcycle riders and car drivers. Most of the research programs use light motorcycle rider behavior questionnaire designed by Yao and Wu [18], motorcycle rider behavior questionnaire designed by Steg and Brussel [22], and Chinese riding behavior questionnaire designed by Elliott et al. [23]: (1) The questionnaire survey approach has been widely used in traffic safety studies for collecting information about the riding behavior, safety attitude, and risk perception [18, 21–28]. For example, Ma et al. [21] examined the relationship between electric bike riders’ individual characteristics and their riding speed using a questionnaire-based method. Yao and Wu [18] studied the risk factors involved in e-bike accidents based on the questionnaire survey and determined the relationship between safety attitude, risk perception, and aberrant riding behavior. Steg and Brussel [22] developed a light motorcycle rider behavior questionnaire and confirmed the distinctions between wrong, faulty, and illegal behaviors of light motorcycle riders in Holland. Elliott et al. [23] developed motorcycle driver behavior questionnaire (DBQ) and identified the differences between Britain’s traffic errors, control errors, speed violation, and stunt and safe use of motorcycle. Similar studies have also been found in [24–27]. Reason et al. [28] proposed the logical framework for assessing aberrant riding behaviors and designed the DBQ, which differentiated between three types of behaviors: wrong behavior (failure of planned action to achieve the desired effect), mistaken behavior (deviation of behavioral intention from intention), and illegal behavior (intentional deviation from normal safe behavior or socially recognized code of conduct). The revised versions of DBQ have also been used to study aberrant behaviors of two-wheeled vehicle riders, for example, motorcycle riders and light motorcycle riders. (2) The video capture approach uses the electronic monitoring devices on road and observes the riding behaviors and features of e-bike riders. This method was featured by the massiveness of data. Zhou et al. [16] employed Global Eyes Network video monitoring technology of China Telecom to acquire real-time video data of e-bikes in Ningbo. The major factors influencing the waiting endurance time of e-bike riders were observed. It was found that weather, with or without a pedestrian crosswalk, and law enforcement by traffic police had the largest influence. Konstantina [29] observed 90,000 e-bike riders at 6 monitoring sites in Iowa and studied the influence of road conditions, geographical position, and weather on the use of helmet among riders. Truong et al. [30] observed 26,000 motorcycle and e-bike users and concluded that the use of cell phone while riding correlated to motorcycle type and age. Huan et al. [31] used video monitoring data at road intersections to establish a model that analyzed the factors influencing the waiting endurance time and red-light running behavior of e-bike riders at the intersections. They found that the smaller the number of e-bike riders or the larger the number of motor vehicles at the intersection, the lower the frequency of red-light running behavior among the riders. Du et al. [32] performed an observation of 18,000 e-bike riders at intersections in Suzhou and summarized the risky riding behavior.

Many risky riding behaviors are seen among e-bike riders. Traffic violation behaviors are prevalent among e-bike riders. Aberrant riding behaviors usually include the illegal occupation of lanes (Figure 1), overspeeding, red-light running, riding in an opposite direction, and riding with someone else on the e-bike. For example, Du et al. [12] focused on the riding behavior of e-bike riders and reported that riding with someone else on the e-bike, illegal occupation of lanes, red-light running, riding in an opposite direction, and making phone calls while riding were risky riding behaviors. Zhao et al. [33] investigated the risky riding behaviors of e-bike riders and conducted a 4-day survey in Jinhua, China. The results showed that overspeeding, riding with someone else on the e-bike, red-light running, and riding in the opposite direction were among the major risky riding behaviors. Wu et al. [34] investigated the relationship between riding behavior, age, and gender based on the survey data. It was found that young and middle-aged adults were more prone to red-light running compared with elderly people and that male had a higher probability of red-light running compared with female. This was especially true among male riders of battery vehicles with higher dynamic performance. Schepers et al. [35] showed that the seriousness of e-bike accidents far exceeded that of ordinary bike accidents.

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US6296072B1. Electric bicycle and methods. Google Patents

Publication number US6296072B1 US6296072B1 US09/234,397 US23439799A US6296072B1 US 6296072 B1 US6296072 B1 US 6296072B1 US 23439799 A US23439799 A US 23439799A US 6296072 B1 US6296072 B1 US 6296072B1 Authority US United States Prior art keywords motor output driver spindle rotor assembly Prior art date 1999-01-20 Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.) Expired. Fee Related Application number US09/234,397 Inventor James R. Turner Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.) Opti Bike LLC Original Assignee Opti Bike LLC Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.) 1999-01-20 Filing date 1999-01-20 Publication date 2001-10-02 1999-01-20 Application filed by Opti Bike LLC filed Critical Opti Bike LLC 1999-01-20 Priority to US09/234,397 priority Critical patent/US6296072B1/en 1999-01-20 Assigned to OPTI-BIKE LLC reassignment OPTI-BIKE LLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: TURNER, JAMES R. 2000-01-19 Priority to EP00904449A priority patent/EP1144242A1/en 2000-01-19 Priority to AU26207/00A priority patent/AU2620700A/en 2000-01-19 Priority to PCT/US2000/001366 priority patent/WO2000043259A1/en 2001-08-17 Priority to US09/932,533 priority patent/US6629574B2/en 2001-10-02 Application granted granted Critical 2001-10-02 Publication of US6296072B1 publication Critical patent/US6296072B1/en 2019-01-20 Anticipated expiration legal-status Critical Status Expired. Fee Related legal-status Critical Current

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Images

Classifications

  • B — PERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
  • B62 — LAND VEHICLES FOR TRAVELLING OTHERWISE THAN ON RAILS
  • B62M — RIDER PROPULSION OF WHEELED VEHICLES OR SLEDGES; POWERED PROPULSION OF SLEDGES OR SINGLE-TRACK CYCLES; TRANSMISSIONS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR SUCH VEHICLES
  • B62M6/00 — Rider propulsion of wheeled vehicles with additional source of power, e.g. combustion engine or electric motor
  • B62M6/40 — Rider propelled cycles with auxiliary electric motor
  • B62M6/55 — Rider propelled cycles with auxiliary electric motor power-driven at crank shafts parts
  • B — PERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
  • B62 — LAND VEHICLES FOR TRAVELLING OTHERWISE THAN ON RAILS
  • B62K — CYCLES; CYCLE FRAMES; CYCLE STEERING DEVICES; RIDER-OPERATED TERMINAL CONTROLS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR CYCLES; CYCLE AXLE SUSPENSIONS; CYCLE SIDE-CARS, FORECARS, OR THE LIKE
  • B62K19/00 — Cycle frames
  • B62K19/30 — Frame parts shaped to receive other cycle parts or accessories
  • B62K19/40 — Frame parts shaped to receive other cycle parts or accessories for attaching accessories, e.g. article carriers, lamps
  • B — PERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
  • B62 — LAND VEHICLES FOR TRAVELLING OTHERWISE THAN ON RAILS
  • B62K — CYCLES; CYCLE FRAMES; CYCLE STEERING DEVICES; RIDER-OPERATED TERMINAL CONTROLS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR CYCLES; CYCLE AXLE SUSPENSIONS; CYCLE SIDE-CARS, FORECARS, OR THE LIKE
  • B62K19/00 — Cycle frames
  • B62K19/48 — Fairings forming part of frame
  • B — PERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
  • B62 — LAND VEHICLES FOR TRAVELLING OTHERWISE THAN ON RAILS
  • B62K — CYCLES; CYCLE FRAMES; CYCLE STEERING DEVICES; RIDER-OPERATED TERMINAL CONTROLS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR CYCLES; CYCLE AXLE SUSPENSIONS; CYCLE SIDE-CARS, FORECARS, OR THE LIKE
  • B62K25/00 — Axle suspensions
  • B62K25/04 — Axle suspensions for mounting axles resiliently on cycle frame or fork
  • B62K25/28 — Axle suspensions for mounting axles resiliently on cycle frame or fork with pivoted chain-stay
  • B — PERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
  • B62 — LAND VEHICLES FOR TRAVELLING OTHERWISE THAN ON RAILS
  • B62M — RIDER PROPULSION OF WHEELED VEHICLES OR SLEDGES; POWERED PROPULSION OF SLEDGES OR SINGLE-TRACK CYCLES; TRANSMISSIONS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR SUCH VEHICLES
  • B62M11/00 — Transmissions characterised by the use of interengaging toothed wheels or frictionally-engaging wheels
  • B62M11/04 — Transmissions characterised by the use of interengaging toothed wheels or frictionally-engaging wheels of changeable ratio
  • B62M11/14 — Transmissions characterised by the use of interengaging toothed wheels or frictionally-engaging wheels of changeable ratio with planetary gears
  • B62M11/145 — Transmissions characterised by the use of interengaging toothed wheels or frictionally-engaging wheels of changeable ratio with planetary gears built in, or adjacent to, the bottom bracket
  • B — PERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
  • B62 — LAND VEHICLES FOR TRAVELLING OTHERWISE THAN ON RAILS
  • B62M — RIDER PROPULSION OF WHEELED VEHICLES OR SLEDGES; POWERED PROPULSION OF SLEDGES OR SINGLE-TRACK CYCLES; TRANSMISSIONS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR SUCH VEHICLES
  • B62M11/00 — Transmissions characterised by the use of interengaging toothed wheels or frictionally-engaging wheels
  • B62M11/04 — Transmissions characterised by the use of interengaging toothed wheels or frictionally-engaging wheels of changeable ratio
  • B62M11/14 — Transmissions characterised by the use of interengaging toothed wheels or frictionally-engaging wheels of changeable ratio with planetary gears
  • B62M11/18 — Transmissions characterised by the use of interengaging toothed wheels or frictionally-engaging wheels of changeable ratio with planetary gears with a plurality of planetary gear units
  • B — PERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
  • B62 — LAND VEHICLES FOR TRAVELLING OTHERWISE THAN ON RAILS
  • B62M — RIDER PROPULSION OF WHEELED VEHICLES OR SLEDGES; POWERED PROPULSION OF SLEDGES OR SINGLE-TRACK CYCLES; TRANSMISSIONS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR SUCH VEHICLES
  • B62M6/00 — Rider propulsion of wheeled vehicles with additional source of power, e.g. combustion engine or electric motor
  • B62M6/40 — Rider propelled cycles with auxiliary electric motor
  • B62M6/45 — Control or actuating devices therefor
  • B — PERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
  • B62 — LAND VEHICLES FOR TRAVELLING OTHERWISE THAN ON RAILS
  • B62M — RIDER PROPULSION OF WHEELED VEHICLES OR SLEDGES; POWERED PROPULSION OF SLEDGES OR SINGLE-TRACK CYCLES; TRANSMISSIONS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR SUCH VEHICLES
  • B62M6/00 — Rider propulsion of wheeled vehicles with additional source of power, e.g. combustion engine or electric motor
  • B62M6/80 — Accessories, e.g. power sources; Arrangements thereof
  • B62M6/90 — Batteries

Abstract

An electric motor assembly comprises a housing and a spindle disposed to rotate in the housing. A motor is provided which comprises a stator coupled to the housing, and a rotor rotatably disposed within the stator such that the rotor is disposed about the spindle. The assembly further includes an output driver, and a gear system operably coupled to the rotor and the output driver to rotate the output driver upon operation of the motor.

Description

The invention relates generally to the field of cycles, and in particular to bicycles. specifically, the invention relates to an electric assist bicycle which is configured to maximize the efficiency of the motor and to prolong the life of the battery which supplies electrical current to the motor.

Over the last 150 years, the bicycle has evolved to become one of the most efficient means of transportation in terms of conversion of energy into distance travelled. For example, most modern bicycles require only about 400 watts (½ horsepower) to propel the bicycle at 15 m.p.h. on level ground. The efficiency of the bicycle has also been optimized to minimize the effort required by the rider. For instance, most modern bicycles include an efficient gear system to minimize rider effort.

To further reduce the amount of human effort required to propel a bicycle, a variety of electric bicycles have been introduced. Presently, about 50 to 100 companies are producing or are planning to produce electric bicycles. In most cases, however, such bicycles do not utilize the efficiency of the bicycle through the use of mechanical gears.

The human muscle and modern battery are similar in their ability to produce power from stored energy. Similarly, both are able to produce more energy by keeping the torque per stroke low and the frequency high.

The human muscle is able to function in two states: anaerobic or aerobic. In anaerobic contraction, the muscle utilizes stored ATP fuel to power the muscle without the need for oxygen. In this case, the muscle can produce large amounts of energy for a short duration. The byproduct of this high energy output is lactic acid. As muscle contraction continues in an anaerobic state, the lactic acid in the muscle builds until it inhibits further muscle contraction. After a period of rest, the lactic acid is removed from the muscle by the blood system and muscle contraction can continue (assuming a sufficient store of ATP fuel). Aerobic muscle contraction allows for extended periods of exertion, but at a lower level of power than anaerobic exercise. In aerobic exercise, sufficient oxygen is supplied to the muscle so that the muscle is able to use the soluble fat in the blood as the primary fuel.

The gears of modern bicycle allow the rider to exercise the muscle in the aerobic range to allow continuous long distance riding. The gears are utilized to keep the rider’s pedal speed at a high rotating speed (usually between about 60 to 100 rpm). At higher pedaling speeds, the force output for muscle contraction is low so that the muscle is able to stay in the aerobic region.

The original bicycle used a single fixed gear ratio (similar to most electric bicycles) and was severely limited in its ability to negotiate steep terrain. The number of gears on a bicycle has evolved so that the present mountain bike has up to 27 gears to allow for riding on a variety of terrains.

Similar to the human muscle, the modern battery has an efficient and an inefficient region. The battery delivers current to the motor, which produces torque in the motor. The motor torque increases linearly with motor current. High currents are inefficient.

At high current discharge rates, the battery experiences problems similar to lactic acid buildup in the human muscle. specifically, in the battery, hydrogen gas is formed on the charge plate. Hydrogen gas acts as a barrier to the transfer of electrons. As the high current discharge continues, the hydrogen continues to build on the plates until the battery is unable to deliver current.

Another important issue to consider at high current discharge rate is that the run time of the battery is reduced exponentially with linear increases in motor current. Further, motor thermal losses are experienced which increase with the square of the motor current. Hence, increased motor current wastes available energy two non-linear ways, i.e., battery losses and motor resistance losses.

As one example, a motor mounted directly to the rear wheel on the bicycle has only a fixed gear ratio. Hence, to obtain a four times increase in torque, the motor current must be increased by four times. However, the four times increase in the motor current increases motor resistive losses by 16 times and thus results in a significant loss in battery run time and reduction in motor efficiency.

The available power from the battery is an exponential function of the rate of current use. Hence, as current discharge increases, the available energy from the battery decreases exponentially. Hence, as more torque is required to move the bicycle (such as during hill climbing or acceleration), more current will be required, thereby exponentially decreasing the available power from the battery.

Hence, it would be desirable to provide improved electrically assisted bicycles and methods for their use which would overcome or greatly reduce these and other problems. The electric bicycles of the invention should be configured to maximize the efficiency of the motor, minimize current use, and thus maximize battery life. It would be desirable if such features could be accomplished by minimizing the required torque while keeping the rotational rate of the motor as high as possible. Preferably, the electric bicycles of the invention will employ the use of a gear system so that torque may be minimized, especially during hill climbing and acceleration. It would further be desirable if the electric bicycles of the invention provided for automatic shifting to keep the motor speed near maximum output while minimizing torque. In another aspect, it would be desirable if such electric bicycles were able to operate using either the motor or the pedals in a parallel manner. At the same time, it would be preferable if such electric bicycles employed the use of a motor which did not turn the crank arms. Such electric bicycles and methods should also be compatible with conventional bicycle equipment, such as derailleurs so that shifting may be accomplished with minimal modification to existing bicycles. Finally, it would be preferable to incorporate the batteries into the bicycle in a manner such that the overall appearance of the bicycle is aesthetically pleasing, such the batteries are protected, and such that the bicycle is provided with a low center of gravity.

The invention provides exemplary electric motor assemblies, electrically assisted bicycles, and methods for their use. In one exemplary embodiment, the invention provides an electric motor assembly which comprises a housing and a spindle that is disposed to rotate in the housing. A motor is disposed within the housing and comprises a stator coupled to the housing and a rotor rotatably disposed within the stator such that the rotor is disposed about the spindle. The motor assembly further includes an output driver, and a gear system operably coupled to the rotor and the output driver to rotate the output driver upon operation of the motor.

The disposition of the motor and output driver within the housing is advantageous in that it facilitates packaging and manufacturing of the motor assembly. Preferably, the spindle is aligned with a central axis of the housing, with the rotor being concentrically disposed about the spindle, and the stator being concentrically disposed about the rotor. Such a configuration allows for a compact design to allow the motor to conveniently fit within the housing.

In another particularly preferable aspect, a front sprocket assembly is operably coupled to the output driver such that the sprocket assembly rotates upon rotation of the output driver. By having the motor turn the sprocket assembly, the motor assembly may be used in connection with mechanical gears of the modern bicycle to minimize the amount of torque required, thereby greatly increasing battery life.

In another particular aspect, the gear system is coupled to a motor driver. The motor assembly further includes a first clutch to engage the motor driver with the output driver when the motor driver is rotated faster than the output driver. In this way, when the rider is pedaling at a rate which causes the output driver to rotate faster than the motor is turning the motor driver, the first clutch will not engage the motor driver with the output driver. Hence, the rider is able to pedal the bicycle and not turn the motor. Conversely, if the motor turns the motor driver at a rate which is faster than the rider is pedalling, the first clutch is engaged so that the motor causes the output driver (and hence the sprockets) to rotate. Optionally, another clutch mechanism may be provided which allows the rider to engage the clutch during pedaling for regenerative charging of the battery.

In yet another aspect, a crank arm is coupled to the spindle, and a pedal is coupled to a crank arm. A second clutch is also provided to engage the crank arm with the output driver when the crank arm is rotated faster than the output driver (thereby releasing the first clutch) so that the rider’s legs cause rotation of the output driver. Use of the second clutch is also advantageous because, when the motor is turning the output driver, the second clutch will ensure that the crank arm is disengaged. In this way, the motor is able to turn the sprocket assembly but not the crank arms. Preferably, the first clutch and the second clutch are coaxially aligned with an axis of the spindle to allow for packaging of the motor in the small space available between the crank arms.

In yet another aspect, the gear system comprises a set of planetary gears to rotate the output driver at a rate of rotation that is less than the motor. Preferably, the gears are configured so that the output speed of the motor is matched to the range of the human leg. For example, the planetary gears are preferably configured so that when the rate of rotation of the motor is in the rate from about 1,800 rpm to about 3,600 rpm, the rate of rotation of the output driver is in the range from about 60 rpm to about 120 rpm. In a specific aspect, the motor speed is approximately 2400 rpm and is employed to turn the crank arms at a rate of about 75 rpm. Such a gear reduction facilitates use of either the motor or pedal power to drive the bicycle. The motor is preferably operated at or near its maximum output level to maximize the efficiency of the motor and minimize current use, thereby prolonging the life of the battery. Operating the motor at or near its maximum output level is also advantageous in that the motor is able to generate more power at higher rates of rotation.

In still yet another aspect, the motor comprises a brushless DC motor. Such a motor is preferable because it provides superior cooling and a high power output. Alternatively, a brushed or SR motor may be used.

In one particular aspect, at least one bearing assembly is coupled to the housing and disposed about the spindle. In this way, the pedals are free to turn when operated by a rider. Use of the bearing assembly is also advantageous in that the crank spindle is used to support the rotor and the planetary gears. Another bearing assembly is preferably disposed between the rotor and the spindle so that rotation of the rotor is generally prevented upon rotation of the spindle by the crank arm. In this way, the rider may pedal the bicycle without turning the motor. Also, this bearing assembly prevents the spindle, and therefore the crank arms, from rotating when the motor is operating.

The invention further provides an exemplary cycle which comprises a frame having a bottom bracket. At least one wheel is operably coupled to the frame. The bicycle further includes a motor assembly that is disposed within the bottom bracket. Preferably, the motor assembly is constructed to be similar to the motor assembly just described. A first sprocket assembly is coupled to the output driver of the motor assembly such that the sprocket assembly rotates upon rotation of the output driver. A second sprocket assembly is coupled to the wheel, and a chain is coupled between the first sprocket assembly and the second sprocket assembly to rotate the wheel upon rotation of the output driver.

The disposition of the motor assembly in the bottom bracket is particularly advantageous in that the motor is housed at a low center of mass of the cycle. Advantageously, the motor is not disposed on the wheel which may otherwise add unsprung mass and cause poor suspension and handling and added rotational dynamics. By packaging the motor in the bottoming bracket, the motor is extremely efficient.

In one particularly preferable aspect, the frame defines a cavity, and at least one battery is housed within the cavity and is electrically coupled to the motor. Preferably, the bicycle frame is constructed of a monocoque design having a hollow center for receiving the battery. In this way, the battery may be mounted in front of the bottom bracket motor and low on the bicycle frame so that the center of mass of the bicycle is low. Further, such a configuration allows the battery to be loaded from the bottom of the bicycle and allows for easy removal. Further, the battery pack and its supports becomes an integral part of the structural strength of the frame when secured within the frame.

In another aspect, the second sprocket assembly includes multiple gears, and a shifting mechanism is provided to move the chain between the gears. In this way, the bicycle may be shifted between gears to minimize the required torque. In turn, less current is required so that the life of the battery may be prolonged. Conveniently, a controller may be provided to control actuation of the shifting mechanism based on the rotational wheel speed and the rotational speed of the first sprocket assembly. In this way, the motor may be kept at a maximum speed by shifting the gears. In this manner, the efficiency of the motor is maximized.

Advantageously, due to the first clutch in the motor, the chain may be shifted between the gears of the second sprocket assembly while the cycle is coasting. This is because the motor is able to turn the front sprocket assembly while the cycle is coasting (and without turning the pedals). Such a feature is advantageous in that the cycle is able to be placed in the appropriate gear which corresponds to the current wheel speed. Further, by the time the rider comes to a stop, the controller has placed the chain in the lowest gear so that starting torque and acceleration may be increased. Similarly, when climbing hills, the controller may be employed to shift down so that more torque may be provided to the rear wheel without using excessive current.

Conveniently, the shifting mechanism may comprise a derailleur and a cable that is coupled to the derailleur. A stepper motor is provided and has a lead screw to tension the cable based on signals received from the controller. In this way, the cycle may include a standard derailleur which in turn is employed to shift the gears when the cable is moved by the stepper motor upon receipt of signals from the controller.

In yet another aspect, the cycle includes a throttle to control the speed of the motor. Conveniently, the throttle may comprise a potentiometer that is mounted within a handlebar. The use of an internal potentiometer is particularly advantageous in that it does not interfere with conventional bicycle shift mechanisms which may optionally be employed to shift the chain between the gears.

express, electric, bicycle, bike

In one particular aspect, a swing arm is pivotally coupled to the frame, and the wheel is attached to the swing arm. A suspension mechanism is also disposed between the swing arm and the frame. Such a configuration is made possible by including the motor in the bottom bracket so that it does not interfere with the rear suspension.

The invention further provides an exemplary method for operating a cycle. According to the method, the cycle has a frame and at least one wheel coupled to the frame. A front sprocket assembly is rotatably coupled to the frame and a rear sprocket assembly is coupled to the wheel. A chain is positioned between the first sprocket assembly and the second sprocket assembly. A motor assembly is provided and has a motor driver to turn the first sprocket assembly and a crank arm to turn the first sprocket assembly. Such a cycle is operated by actuating the motor and optionally turning the crank arm. The motor is engaged to turn the first sprocket assembly if the motor driver is turning faster than the first sprocket assembly. However, if the crank arm is rotated faster than the first sprocket assembly, the crank arm is engaged with the first sprocket assembly. In this way, the rider may choose to have the motor drive the bicycle simply by not turning the crank arm. When the rider wishes to operate the bicycle using human leg power, the rider simply turns the crank arm until the first sprocket assembly is rotating faster than the motor driver. Preferably, when the rider begins to turn the crank arm, such action will not cause the motor to rotate.

In one particular aspect of the method, a second sprocket assembly includes multiple gears. In this way, the gears are shifted to maintain the motor speed at a near maximum output level while the front sprocket assembly rotates at a rate within the range of the human leg. In this way, the user is able to take over propulsion of the cycle by simply pedaling faster than the motor driver as previously described. Preferably, the motor is operated at a rate in the range from about 1,800 rpm to about 3,600 rpm, and the front sprocket assembly is turned at a rate in the range from about 60 rpm to about 120 rpm.

In one particularly preferable aspect, the gears are shifted without turning the crank arm. This is made possible by having the motor turn the front sprocket assembly without turning the crank arm.

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of an exemplary electric motor assembly of the bicycle of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional side view of a throttle assembly of the bicycle of FIG. 1 according to the invention.

The invention provides exemplary electric assisted bicycles as well as motor assemblies for use with such bicycles. Although described primarily in terms of bicycles, it will be appreciated that the principles of the invention may be used with any type of cycle. One important feature of the invention is that it includes a motor/gear reduction assembly that is an integral part of the bicycle bottom bracket and is employed to drive the front sprockets directly by use of a motor driver. By directly driving the front sprockets, the motor may take full advantage of the large range of mechanical gear reductions common to the modern bicycle. Use of such gear reductions allows for the efficiency of the electric motor and battery to be maximized.

The electric motors of the invention are configured to use a minimal amount of current. Because the available energy from the battery decreases exponentially with current discharge, the motors of the invention are able to significantly increase the operating time of the batteries. For example, by utilizing the large range of mechanical gear reductions in the modern bicycle, the required torque to drive the bicycle is kept at a minimum. Since motor torque increases linearly with motor current, the invention is able to utilize the mechanical gear reductions to keep torque, and hence the required current, as low as possible.

Configuration of the bicycles of the invention in this manner provide significant advantages over prior art electric bicycles. For example, bicycles having a motor mounted directly to the rear wheel have only a fixed gear ratio. As such, to obtain a four times increase in torque, the motor current must be increased by four times. The motors of the present invention utilize the 4.5:1 gear ratios of the modern bicycle to produce a four times increase in wheel torque with no increase in current, and no decrease in efficiency.

Conveniently, the bicycles of the invention may employ the use of a controller or microprocessor to accomplish automatic shifting. In this way, the efficiency of the motor is optimized by constantly shifting to the correct gear to reduce the amount of torque required to drive the bicycle. Further, by utilizing the mechanical gear reductions of the modern bicycle, the motor may be operated near its maximum output level. In this way, the motor is able to operate in its most efficient range to further decrease the amount of motor and battery current losses.

Another important feature of the bicycles of the invention is that they are able to operate using either electric power or human power, thereby increasing the overall efficiency of the bicycle. One particular feature of the invention is that the motors include a gear reduction assembly that turns the front sprockets at a rate which is comparable to the rate at which a rider would turn the front sprockets. This configuration provides a way to easily change between electric power control and human power control of the bicycle. Conveniently, the motors of the invention may include a clutch mechanism which allows the rider to use human power simply by pedaling faster than the output of the motor. Conversely, when the rider stops pedaling, the motor will be engaged to drive the front sprockets.

The motors of the invention are preferably configured so that when the rider pedals to turn the front sprockets, such pedaling does not turn the motor. Still another feature of the motors of the invention is that the crank spindles are not rotated by the motor, but only by the rider.

express, electric, bicycle, bike

One particular advantage of utilizing the mechanical gear reductions of the modern bicycle is that such a transmission has been optimized to be extremely efficient. By coupling the motor of the invention with this transmission, great efficiencies are achieved. Further, the motors of the invention are preferably configured so that they are simple in their design to reduce internal frictional losses to further increase the efficiency of the motors. In one exemplary embodiment, both the motor and the gear reduction assembly are concentrically disposed about the crank spindle so that the resulting motor assembly is both simple in its design and efficient. Further, such a design is compact and lightweight to allow it to easily fit within the bottom bracket of the bicycle.

By utilizing the motors of the present invention with the mechanical gear reductions of the modern bicycle, other advantages are also provided. For example, the bicycles of the invention are able to provide adequate hill climbing ability and acceleration, while other electric bicycles which utilize a motor in the hub or a friction device which couples the motor directly to the tire, have a fixed gear ratio and cannot provide adequate hill climbing ability or acceleration. over, as previously described, the bicycles of the invention are able to minimize torque, and thereby minimize current, when climbing hills and rapidly accelerating.

By employing the electric motors of the invention to directly turn the front sprockets, the bicycles of the invention may use conventional derailleurs or shifting mechanisms. This is because the rotating front sprockets drive the chain as with a conventional bicycle. Conveniently, the controllers or microprocessors of the bicycles may be coupled to an actuator which shifts the gears to optimize the performance of the bicycle.

Another feature of the invention is that it may employ the use of a throttle that does not interfere with shifting mechanisms on the handle bar, such as a Shimano type SIS Rapid fire lever. Preferably, the throttles include a potentiometer or other sensing device that is internally disposed within the handlebar so that it does not interfere with a conventional shifting mechanism that is coupled to the handle bar. The potentiometers may be actuated by rotating the handle grip or by applying pressure to the grip. As the rider rotates the potentiometer or increases the pressure on the potentiometer, the speed of the bicycle increases.

Another feature of the bicycles of the invention is that they may be provided with a monocoque frame which includes a cavity which allows the batteries to be held directly in front of the bottom bracket while being disposed as close to the bottom bracket as possible. In this way, the center of gravity in the bicycle is moved to the lowest possible point. In turn, this improves the handling and minimizes the effect of the additional weight of the battery. Further, the battery pack may be secured to the frame to become an integral structural part of the frame. Another advantage of positioning the battery in the frame and including the motor in the bottom bracket is that the motor becomes a part of the swing arm and allows for the use of a rear suspension. The motor may also be attached to the frame (in the bottom bracket) to also allow for the swing arm.

The bicycles of the invention may optionally include a Smart controller to monitor motor current and limit the motor output to provide different levels of efficiency and acceleration in response to rider input. The bicycles may also include a motor controller that allows for high acceleration torque, e.g., up to about 10 times the normal riding torque. Excessive heat generation in the motor may be limited by the Smart controller that tapers off the current during a short programmed time. A thermal sensor may also be mounted in the motor so that the Smart controller may monitor the temperature of the motor and adjust the maximum current to prevent overheating of the motor.

The bicycles of the invention may also employ the use of a torque sensor so that motor torque can be a multiple of the rider torque as required by many national laws governing electric bicycles. Further, the motor controller may be programmed so that the motor does not begin turning until the rider begins turning the pedals at a certain rate of revolution. In this way, the efficiency of the battery may be improved since human power is required to initially accelerate the bicycle.

In still another feature, the bicycles of the invention may be configured to have the motor voltage modulated with a pulse width modulation. In this way, the motor maximum voltage is kept below the minimum battery voltage so that the top speed of the bicycle does not decrease as battery voltage decreases. Preferably, this will be about 20% of the maximum battery voltage.

Referring now to FIG. 1, an exemplary embodiment of an electric assist bicycle 10 will be described. Bicycle 10 comprises a frame 12 to which a front wheel 14 and a rear wheel 16 are coupled. Also coupled to frame 12 is a handlebar assembly 18 and an adjustable seat 20. As shown, bicycle 10 is a mountain-type bicycle and includes a front suspension 22 and a rear suspension 24 as is known in the art. However, it will be appreciated that the electric assist features of the invention may be used with essentially any type of bicycle and is not limited to mountain-type bicycles.

Bicycle 10 further includes a swing arm 26 which is pivotally coupled to frame 12. Use of swing arm 26 is advantageous in that suspension 24 may more effectively be utilized. At the bottom of swing arm 26 is an electric motor assembly 28. Motor assembly 28 includes one or more gears which define a front sprocket assembly 30. Rear wheel 16 includes a plurality of gears defining a second sprocket assembly 31. As is known in the art, a chain is coupled to the first sprocket assembly and the second sprocket assembly so that as the first sprocket assembly is turned, rear wheel 16 will be turned. Further, associated with front sprocket assembly 30 and rear sprocket assembly 31 are front and rear derailleurs, respectively, for moving the chain between the various gears of the front sprocket assembly and the rear sprocket assembly as is known in the art. Although not shown, front and rear brakes are preferably also included as is known in the art to slow or stop the bicycle. Optionally, actuators for actuating the derailleurs and the brakes may be mounted on handlebar assembly 18.

Coupled to front sprocket assembly 30 are a pair of crank arms 32 to which a pair of pedals 34 are coupled as is known in the art. In this way, a rider is able to turn pedals 34 to rotate front sprocket assembly 30. This then moves the chain to turn rear sprocket assembly 31 and thereby turn the rear wheel 16.

As described in greater detail hereinafter, bicycle 10 may be placed in a manual mode where wheel 16 is turned only by operation of pedals 34. Alternatively, bicycle 10 may be placed in an automatic mode where motor assembly 28 serves to turn rear wheel 16. Finally, bicycle 10 may be configured so that the rider may choose to have motor assembly 28 operate the bicycle or the user may choose to manually operate the bicycle simply by turning pedals 34 faster than the motor assembly is able to rotate front sprocket assembly 30.

As shown, frame 12 is of monocoque design and includes a central cavity for holding a battery pack 36. Battery pack 36 is electrically coupled to motor assembly 28 and provides the necessary power to operate the motor assembly. Various electronics 38, including a controller 38 a and a battery charger 38 b, are also disposed within the central cavity of frame 12 and serve to control the various electrical features of the bicycle as described in greater detail hereinafter. Preferably, frame 12 is constructed to have an opening at a bottom end 40 into which battery pack 36 and the electronics 38 are inserted. However, frame 12 may have other openings to provide access to the battery, including the top end and the sides. Wires 47 extend from battery pack 36 to motor assembly 28 so that electrical current may be provided to motor assembly 28. Electronics 38 also includes battery recharger 38 b having a 110 V plug 41 which is held by a power cord retraction mechanism 45. In this way, plug 41 is retractable to allow plug 41 to conveniently be plugged into a conventional power outlet to recharge battery pack 36.

Use of the monocoque design is advantageous in that frame 12 is aesthetically pleasing in appearance. The monocoque design also provides significant structural stability for bicycle 10. Also, mounting bolts 43 are employed to secure battery pack 36 to frame 12 to increase the structural stability of the bicycle. Further, this design allows battery pack 36 to be placed as low as possible on bicycle 10 so that the center of gravity of bicycle 10 is also low to further increase the stability of bicycle 10. As previously mentioned, use of the monocoque design allows for the use of swing arm 26 to be pivotally coupled to frame 12 to improve the suspension of bicycle 10. As still another advantage, the monocoque design provides protection to battery pack 36 from external impact blows and from the environment. Still further, the monocoque design allows more room for the battery pack because there are not frame tubes to interfere with the location of the batteries as with conventional bicycle frames.

Frame 12 is preferably constructed to have an aerodynamic design. As shown in FIG. 1A, battery pack 36 may conveniently be constructed of cylindrical batteries (or cells) 37 to facilitates the aerodynamic design. Use of cylindrical batteries is also advantageous in that cooling spaces are provided around the batteries. It will be appreciated, however, that other battery shapes may be used. For example, as shown in FIG. 1B, frame 12′ may have a rectangular interior to hold a rectangular lead acid battery.

Battery pack 36 is preferably constructed of two or more lead acid type batteries, commercially available from a variety of companies, such as Hawker. Such batteries are typically rated at 12 volts each and are able to deliver 100 amps of current. Such batteries typically weigh about 10.8 lbs. each, and are able to operate about one hour between recharges, assuming the bicycle is operating on level ground. However, it will be appreciated that other battery types may be used. For example, as previously described in connection with FIG. 1A, cylindrical batteries, such as NiMH or NiCAD with 1.2 volts/cell and with 30 cells, may also be used. Such a package of 30 cells weighs about 17 lbs.

Bicycle 10 preferably also includes a display panel that is mounted to handlebar assembly 18. The display panel includes various displays and switches which are coupled to electronics 38 by a control wire 49 to facilitate operation of the bicycle 10 as described in greater detail hereinafter.

Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3, construction motor assembly 28 will be described. Although hidden from view, electric motor assembly 28 is disposed within a bottom bracket of swing arm 26. In this way, the weight of the motor assembly is disposed as low as possible on bicycle 10 to lower its center of gravity. Further, by providing a simple design, the motor assembly is able to fit within the bottom bracket, thereby further enhancing the physical appearance of the bicycle.

Motor assembly 28 includes a number of components which are coaxial with a main spindle 42. Further, main spindle 42 is also coaxial with the bottom bracket of the bicycle frame. Main spindle 42 which passes through the entire motor assembly, and is supported by left and right spindle bearings 44 and 46, respectively. (See FIG. 3.) The outside diameter of left spindle bearing 44 is mounted to a main housing 48. Main housing 48 is employed to house most of the components of the motor assembly and conveniently fits within the bottom bracket of the bicycle as previously described. Right spindle bearing 46 is mounted in an output driver 50. Coupled to main spindle 42 is a left crank arm 52 and a right crank arm 54. Crank arms 52 and 54 are coupled to spindle 42 with a tapered positive engagement and by the use of screws 56 which are screwed into threaded slots 58 in main spindle 42.

Motor assembly 28 further includes a motor rotor assembly 60 which is mounted to the outside diameter of rotor ball bearings 62. (See FIG. 3.) A motor magnet 64 is fixed to motor rotor assembly 60. The inner diameter of rotor ball bearings 62 are mounted on spindle 42. Motor rotor assembly 60 is free to rotate independent of spindle 42 as well as crank arms 52 and 54 which are mounted to spindle 42. A motor stator 66 is fixed to main housing 48. A plurality of motor control wires 68 exit through main housing 48. A circuit board 70 (see FIG. 3) having position sensing devices is mounted to a left side of main housing 48.

A first planet sun gear 72 is mounted directly to the right side of motor rotor assembly 60. The outer diameter of first planet sun gear 72 is meshed with three first planet gears 74. The three first planet gears 74 are mounted on ball bearings 76. The inner diameter of ball bearings 76 are mounted to shafts 78. The ends of shaft 78 are mounted to the flange of a second sun gear 80.

The outside diameter of second sun gear 80 is meshed with three second planet gears 82. Second sun gear 80 is supported on spindle 42 by bearings 84. The outer diameters of first planet gears 74 and second planet gears 82 are meshed with a ring gear 86. Ring gear 86 is machined directly into main housing 48. The inner diameters of the second planet gears 82 are mounted to ball bearings 88. (See FIG. 3.) The inner diameter of ball bearings 88 are mounted to shafts 90. Shafts 90 are attached to a motor output driver ring 92. Motor output driver ring 92 is supported by the inner diameter of bearing 94 as also shown in FIG. 4. The outer diameter of bearing 94 is mounted to a housing end cap 96.

Although motor assembly 28 is shown with bearings 94, it will be appreciated that bearing 94 may be eliminated. In such a case, motor assembly 28 may be modified so that a bearing surface is provided between motor output driver ring 92 and output driver 50 in a manner similar to that described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,570,752, the disclosure of which is herein incorporated by reference.

Output driver 50 is supported by bearings 98. The outer diameter of bearings 98 are mounted in housing end cap 96. Mounted in the right end of output driver 50 is a crank driver ring 100. Mounted in right crank arm 54 are crank ratchet pawls 102, as also shown in FIG. 5. Ratchet pawls 102 are employed to engage crank driver ring 100 as described in greater detail hereinafter.

Mounted in the left outside diameter of output driver 50 are a plurality of driver ratchet pawls 104 which are employed to engage motor output with driver ring 92 as described in greater detail hereinafter. The right outside diameter of output driver 50 is attached to a sprocket support 106. Sprocket support 106 is attached to front drive sprockets 108.

Electric motor assembly 28 is advantageous in that it allows bicycle 10 to be operated in three modes. The first mode is pedal only power. The second mode is motor only power, and the third mode is a variable combination of both pedal and motor power. For pedal only power, pedalling of crank arms 52 and 54 by the rider causes the front sprockets 108 to rotate without rotating motor rotor assembly 60. In this way, significant friction losses to riding the bicycle are eliminated.

When crank arms 52 and 54 are rotated by the rider, spindle 42 rotates freely in bearings 44 and 46. Motor rotor assembly 60 does not rotate due to bearings 62. Further, second sun gears 80 do not rotate because of bearings 84. The rotation of crank arm 54 causes crank ratchet pawls 102 to engage crank driver ring 100. This causes output driver 50 to rotate. Sprocket support 106 and sprockets 108 rotate with output driver 50. The rotational speed of sprockets 108 and crank arms 52 and 54 are the same.

The rotation of output driver 50 does not cause motor output driver ring 92 to rotate because driver ratchet pawls 104 do not engage motor output driver ring 92 in this direction. Because the output driver 50 is not engaged with motor output driver ring 92, there is no drag on crank arms 52 and 54 due to motor friction and the bike pedals rotate freely as on a normal non-motorized bicycle.

For motor only power, the motor drives sprockets 108 but not the crank arms 52 and 54 which may otherwise cause injury to the rider. The rotation speed of sprockets 108 is reduced from the speed of motor rotor assembly 60 by the combined ratio of the two planet gear sets.

When motor power only is used, a magnetic field in motor stator 66 causes motor rotor assembly 60 to rotate. First sun gear 72 rotates with motor rotor assembly 16. The rotation of first sun gear 72 causes the first planet gears 74 to rotate. Due to the fixed nature of ring gear 86 and the relationship of the planetary gears, the speed of the second sun gear 80 is reduced by the design ratio. Preferably, the ratio is approximately 5.6 to 1. However, it will be appreciated that other ratios may also be employed. Rotation of second sun gear 80 causes the three second planet gears 82 to rotate in ring gear 86. This second rotation causes another reduction. Preferably, this reduction is also 5.6 to 1. However, other reductions may also be employed. Due to the multiplication of gear trains, the overall speed reduction of the motor output driver ring 92 is 31.86 to 1. In other words, the speed of motor output driver ring 92 is reduced to 31.86 times from the speed of motor rotor assembly 60.

As motor output driver ring 92 rotates, it engages motor driver ratchet pawls 104 and causes output driver 50 to rotate. As with pedal-only power, the rotation of output driver 50 causes sprockets 108 to rotate. The rotation of output driver 50 does not cause crank arms 52 and 54 or spindle 42 to rotate because crank ratchet pawls 102 do not engage crank driver ring 100 in this direction.

In the mode having a variable combination of pedal and motor power, power is delivered either by the motor or the rider. If the motor speed is higher than the pedal speed, the motor will cause the bicycle to go faster. However, if the rider increases pedaling speed above the motor speed, the rider will make the bicycle move. Hence, the engagement of output driver 50 depends on the relative speed of the motor and pedals. Whichever is rotated faster will drive the sprockets 108.

The invention further provides the ability to recharge the batteries by turning of the pedals. In this option, the motor clutch (motor driver ratchet pawls 104) may be eliminated and direct contact made between motor output driver ring 92 and output driver 50. In this manner, when the pedals rotate, the motor also rotates. To eliminate the drag from the motor in pedal only mode, the motor turns just enough to eliminate the drag.

The electric bicycle of FIG. 1 was theoretically compared to a conventional direct drive electric bike. The electric assist bicycle of the invention was provided with multiple gears. Both bicycles were tested for two situations. First, travel was on level ground at 20 mph. In the second situation, hill climbing was performed at 5 mph. Controller losses are not included in this example and are assumed to be the same for both cases.

TABLE 1Comparison at 20 MPH on Flat Groundwith 66 in-LB Wheel Torque
Direct Drive toWheel 8:1 FixedMotor Reduction
Bottom Bracket Motor
(Multiple Gear Ratios) 4:1
Final Gear Reduction
Motor ResistanceTorque ConstantVoltage ConstantBattery System24 VDCVoltageMotor TerminalVoltage (1)Motor CurrentInput PowerOutput PowerResistive LossesMotor Efficiency94%Motor SpeedWheel SpeedWheel TorqueBattery Rating12 amp- hrBattery Current (1)Battery Run Time (2)Battery Energy(1) Based on PWM control of motor speed.(2) Based on Published Current Vs Run Time Data
0.1 ohm 0.1 ohm
11 in oz/amp 11 in oz/amp
8 volts/KRPM 8 volts/ KRPM
24 VDC
20.4 Volts 20.4 Volts
12 Amps 12 Amps
245 Watts 245 Watts
231 Watts 231 Watts
14 Watts 14 Watts
94%
2400 RPM 2400 RPM
300 RPM (20 MPH) 300 RPM (20 MPH)
66 in- LB 66 in- LB
12 amp-hr
10.2 Amps 10.2 Amps
50 minutes 50 minutes
204 watt-hr 204 watt-hr
TABLE 2Comparison at 5 MPH Hill CLimbingwith 264 in-LB Wheel Torque
Direct Drive toWheel 8:1 FixedMotor Reduction
Bottom Bracket Motor
(Multiple Gear Ratios) 1:1
Final Gear Reduction
Motor ResistanceTorque ConstantVoltage ConstantBattery System24 VDCVoltageMotor Terminal10 VoltsVoltage (1)Motor CurrentInput PowerOutput PowerResistive LossesMotor Efficiency52%Motor SpeedWheel SpeedWheel TorqueBattery Rating12 amp- hrBattery Current (1)Battery Run Time (2)Battery Energy158 watt-hr(1) Based on PWM control of motor speed.(2) Based on Published Current Vs Run Time Data
0.1 ohm 0.1 ohm
11 in oz/amp 11 in oz/amp
8 volts/KRPM 8 volts/ KRPM
24 VDC
10 Volts
48 Amps 12 Amps
480 Watts 245 Watts
250 Watts 231 Watts
230 Watts 14 Watts
94%
600 RPM 2400 RPM
750 RPM (5 MPH) 75 RPM (5 MPH)
264 in-LB 264 in- LB
12 amp-hr
20 Amps 10.2 Amps
20 minutes 50 minutes
204 watt-hr

This example illustrates that on level ground, the motor efficiency of both systems is approximately the same, i.e., about 94%. Battery run time is 50 minutes. However, with hill climbing efficiency changes radically. For the bicycle of FIG. 1, utilization of the 4:1 gear change reduction, maintains the motor efficiency at 94% with a battery run time of 50 minutes. In comparison, the direct drive bicycle motor efficiency dropped by almost one half to 52%. Further, the battery run time was reduced to almost a third and was only about 20 minutes. In both cases, power output to the rear wheel is kept constant at 231 watts.

Acceleration of electric motor assembly 28 is preferably accomplished by use of a throttle assembly 110 as illustrated in FIG. 6. Conveniently, throttle assembly 110 is coupled to handlebar assembly 18. Throttle assembly 110 comprises a rubber grip 112 which is disposed about a throttle sleeve 114. Coupled to throttle sleeve 114 is a planet gear 116 which revolves around a sun gear 118. Throttle assembly 110 further includes a potentiometer 120 which is rotated when grip 112 is rotated. The potentiometer then sends a signal through wires 122 which are coupled to electronics 38 (see FIG. 1) so that electrical current can be supplied to motor assembly 28.

Conveniently, a spring 124 is provided to bias grip 112 in a home position so that when released, grip 112 will return to the home position and no electrical current will be supplied to motor assembly 28. An end cap 126 provides a convenient covering for the internal components. Use of throttle assembly 110 is particularly advantageous in that it has a low profile on handlebar assembly 18 so that other components may be placed on handlebar assembly 18 without interference from throttle assembly 110.

The invention further provides an exemplary shift system that allows for automatic shifting on the bicycles of the invention as well as for any standard bicycle. The shift system of the invention allows for automatic shifting on essentially any type of gear system including those having conventional derailleurs, those having internal hub systems, and the like. The shift system of the invention is particularly useful with the bicycles described herein because such bicycles are able to turn the front sprockets without turning the pedals. In this way, the shift system of the invention is able to take advantage of the turning sprockets to constantly shift to the correct or desired gear, even when coasting to a stop when the rider is not pedaling.

By automatically shifting to the correct gear, the shift system enables the bicycle to be operated at an optimal torque level. With the electric bicycles of the invention, this is advantageous because minimal current is required since torque is optimized. By way of example, one of the problems associated with both regular bicycles and electric bicycles is the need to shift to a lower gear when coasting to a stop sign. Otherwise, the bicycle will be in a high gear when exiting the stop sign, making it difficult to turn the pedals or to operate the motor. A conventional derailleur system requires the chain to be moving for shifting to occur. Because the motor of the invention is able to rotate the front sprockets without rotating the pedals, the bicycle can be shifted while coasting to a stop. Further, the shift system of the invention takes advantage of the moving chain to automatically shift the bicycle to the correct gear depending upon the wheel speed. With the electric bicycle, automatically shifting is further important because the electric bicycle accelerates much faster than a conventional bicycle, requiring the Rapid shifting of the gears.

To optimize efficiency, the electric motors of the invention are preferably kept at maximum speed (which preferably equates to a pedal speed of about 75 rpm). By operating the motor at a maximum rpm, internal heat losses are minimized. Hence, by knowing the gear ratios and the wheel speed, the shift system employs the use of a microprocessor to shift to the correct gear for the current speed. In this way, when the motor is running, the motor speed is kept at a maximum so that motor efficiency is optimized. If the rider adds additional power through the pedals, the microprocessor is configured to shift to a higher gear. Such variables are preferably programmed into the microprocessor to optimize the efficiency for each rider.

Referring to FIG. 7, an exemplary embodiment of a shift system 130 will be described. Shift system 130 includes a linear stepper motor 132 to move a derailleur cable 134. An exemplary stepper motor that may be used is a Haydon Switch and Instrument stepper motor, part no. 46441-12. Cable 134 is coupled to a derailleur shifting mechanism 136 or an internal hub shifting mechanism as is known in the art. Conveniently, a cable adjuster 138 may be provided to adjust the tension in cable 134. Stepper motor 132 is electrically coupled to a controller 140 or microprocessor. The amount of movement of stepper motor 132 is based upon the specific type of shifting mechanism and is programmed into controller 140. The drive for stepper motor 132 is a conventional stepper motor drive as is known in the art. As an alternative to using a stepper or DC motor to move cable 134, it will be appreciated that other designs may be employed including use of a rotating motor with a gear reduction. Stepper motor 132 further includes a limit switch 142 which is used to define a home position on power up of stepper motor 132. Limit switch 142 may be a contact type or non-contact type of switch.

In operation, stepper motor 132 is given a number of pulses by controller 140 to cause the motor to move an exact amount. It will be appreciated that various position sensors may also be employed to determine the position of stepper motor 132.

Also coupled to the controller is a wheel speed sensor 144, a front sprocket speed sensor 146, and a handle bar interface 148. With this configuration, controller 140 determines the correct gear by measuring wheel speed with wheel speed sensor 144 and the front sprocket speed with front sprocket speed sensor 146. Based on the programmed gear ratios, controller 140 selects the correct gear and commands stepper motor 132 to move to the required position. Stepper motor 132 then moves cable 134 causing derailleur shifting mechanism 136 to shift gears. Because motor 132 moves cable 134, a variety of gear shift mechanisms may be employed, including both internal hub or derailleur type shifting mechanisms. Further, it will be appreciated that system 130 may be employed to shift gears on both the front sprockets and the rear sprockets of the bicycle. Still further, because the electric bicycles of the invention are able to move the chain, even when the rider is coasting, the shift system 130 may be employed to place the bicycle in a low gear when the rider coasts to a lower speed or stops altogether so that the required torque is minimized when the rider begins to accelerate.

Shift system 130 may be incorporated into bicycle 10 by including the controller in the electronic circuitry stored within frame 12 and by including the stepper motor and appropriate sensors on the bicycle. In this way, bicycle 10 may be operated by using the automatic shifting features of shift system 130. Conveniently, bicycle 10 may be provided with a standard shifting system, such as a Shimano-type gear shifter, as is known in the art.

Referring now to FIG. 8, the electrical circuitry of bicycle 10 will be described. The circuitry includes a main board controller 150, a handle bar interface board 152 and a battery charger board 154. Main controller board is representative of circuitry 38 of FIG. 1. The voltage of the system is preferably 24 volts DC but may optionally be 36 or 48 volts DC. Main controller board 150 is coupled to a motor 156 which is representative of motor assembly 28 of FIG. 1. Main controller board 150 is also coupled to a throttle controller 158 which is representative of throttle assembly 110 of FIG. 6. A headlight highbeam 160 and a headlight lowbeam 162 are also coupled to main controller board 150 so that the bicycle may be provided with lights. Similarly, a tail light 164 is also coupled to main controller board 150. A rear shift stepper motor 166 is coupled to main controller board 150 and is representative of stepper motor 132 of FIG. 7. Optionally, a front shift stepper motor 168 may also be coupled to main controller board 150 to control shifting of the chain on the front gears.

A battery 170 is further coupled to main controller board 150 and is representative of battery pack 36 of FIG. 1. Charger board 154 is also coupled to battery 170. Charger board 154 is configured so that it may be coupled to a power supply 172, which for convenience of illustration is shown as a 110 VAC, 15 amp power supply. However, it will be appreciated that other power supplies may be used. Charger board 154 preferably includes a retractable cord which will allow it to be coupled to power supply 172. Charger board 154 is configured to sense the voltage of battery 170 and will automatically configure itself for such a voltage. Charger board 154 may alternatively be configured to monitor both the temperature and voltage of battery 170. Further, charger board 154 may charge using either a constant voltage or constant current. Charger board 154 is preferably cooled through a heat sink that is mounted to the frame of the bicycle. A fan may also be used for forced air cooling, if required.

Also coupled to main controller board 150 is a right turn signal 174 and a left turn signal 176. A system enable 178 and a cadence 180 are coupled to main controller board 150. System enable is a safety-type interlock which prevents operation of the bicycle until actuated. Cadence 180 displays the front sprocket speed. A speed sensor 182 and a torque sensor 184 are also coupled to main controller board 150. Speed sensor 182 may be employed to facilitate automatic shifting as previously described. Torque sensor 184 may be employed to monitor the torque of the motor so that shifting may occur using the shift system as previously described to keep torque at a minimum.

Handlebar interface board 152 includes an LCD display 186 and a keypad 188. Keypad 188 may be employed to control various functions, such as control of headlights 160 and 162. LCD display 186 may be configured to display various operating parameters such as bicycle speed, current gear, battery life, and the like. An LED power use array 190 is included on handle interface board 152 and is employed to show the amount of current used. The LED array may also be used to show the amount of energy remaining in the battery pack.

The handlebar interface board 152 may optionally include an auto/manual shift pushbutton interface 192 which is preferably located near the left hand grip of the handlebar. Auto/ manual shift 192 is preferably configured to be placed in one of three modes. The first mode is an auto shift mode where shifting is automatic based on wheel speed as previously described. The second mode is manual shift where the rider is responsible for shifting the gear using a conventional shifting mechanism or keypad 188. The third mode is a manual upshift only, where downshifting is automatic, while the rider has the option to shift up when they desire. In the automatic shift mode, the gear ratios are previously programmed into main controller board 150. The gears are continuously shifted to keep the front sprocket at the preprogrammed RPM. When coasting, the motor 156 turns the front sprocket when shifting so that the derailleur can shift the gears as previously described.

A safety interlock 194 is coupled to handlebar interface board 152 and prevents operation of the bicycle until appropriate password information has been entered. For example, safety interlock 194 may require the entry of a numeric key code to activate the bicycle. If tampered with, a horn may be activated. Safety interlock 194 may also include an on/off switch to allow for the bicycle to automatically be turned to the manual mode. Further, safety interlock 194 may be configured to set to a “sleep” mode when not in use for a specified time period, such as for 5 or more minutes.

A horn, turn signal, high/ low beam switch 196 is also coupled to handlebar interface board 152 and allows for operation of the horn, the turn signals, and the headlights. These switches may also be on a separate board located hear the rider’s left hand for ease of operation.

The invention has now been described in detail for purposes of clarity and understanding. However, it will be appreciated that certain changes and modifications may be practiced within the scope of the appended claims.

Claims ( 18 )

a motor comprising a stator coupled to the housing, and a rotor rotatably disposed within the stator such that the rotor is disposed about the spindle;

a gear system operably coupled to the rotor and the output driver to rotate the output driver upon operation of the motor; and

a sprocket assembly operably coupled to the output driver such that the sprocket assembly rotates upon rotation of the output driver;

wherein the gear system is coupled to a motor driver, and further comprising a first clutch to engage the motor driver with the output driver when the motor driver is rotating faster than the output driver, a crank arm coupled to the spindle, and a second clutch to engage the crank arm with the output driver when the crank arm is rotated faster than the output driver, and wherein the first clutch and the second clutch are coaxially aligned with an axis of the spindle.

A motor assembly as in claim 1, wherein the housing has a central axis, wherein the spindle is aligned with the central axis, wherein the rotor is concentrically disposed about the spindle, and the stator is concentrically disposed about the rotor.

A motor assembly as in claim 1, wherein the gear system comprises a set of planetary gears to rotate the output driver at a rate of rotation that is less than the motor.

A motor assembly as in claim 2, wherein the rate of rotation of the motor is in the range from about 1,800 rpm to about 3,600 rpm, and the rate of rotation of the output driver is in the range from about 60 rpm to about 120 rpm.

A motor assembly as in claim 1, further comprising at least one bearing assembly coupled to the housing and disposed about spindle so as to generally prevent rotation of the spindle by the motor upon operation of the motor.

A motor assembly as in claim 1, further comprising a bearing assembly disposed between the rotor and the spindle to generally prevent rotation of the rotor upon rotation of the spindle by the crank arm.

a motor comprising a stator coupled to the housing, and a rotor rotatably disposed within the stator such that the rotor is disposed about the spindle;

a gear system operably coupled to the rotor and the output driver to rotate the output driver upon operation of the motor;

wherein the gear system is coupled to a motor driver, and further comprising a first clutch to engage the motor driver with the output driver when the motor driver is rotating faster than the output driver, and a second clutch to engage the crank arm with the output driver when the crank arm is rotated faster than the output driver, and wherein the first clutch and the second clutch are coaxially aligned with an axis of the spindle.

A motor assembly as in claim 8, wherein the housing has a central axis, wherein the spindle is aligned with the central axis, wherein the rotor is concentrically disposed about the spindle, and the stator is concentrically disposed about the rotor.

A motor assembly as in claim 8, further comprising a sprocket assembly operably coupled to the output driver such that the sprocket assembly rotates upon rotation of the output driver.

A motor assembly-as in claim 8, wherein the gear system comprises a set of planetary gears to rotate the output driver at a rate of rotation that is less than the motor.

A motor assembly as in claim 11, wherein the rate of rotation of the motor is in the range from about 1,800 rpm to about 3,600 rpm, and the rate of rotation of the output driver is in the range from about 60 rpm to about 120 rpm.

A motor assembly as in claim 8, further comprising at least one bearing assembly coupled to the housing and disposed about spindle so as to generally prevent rotation of the spindle by the motor upon operation of the motor.

A motor assembly as in claim 8, further comprising a bearing assembly disposed between the rotor and the spindle to generally prevent rotation of the rotor upon rotation of the spindle by the crank arm.

a motor comprising a stator coupled to the housing, and a rotor rotatably disposed within the stator such that the rotor is disposed about the spindle;

a gear system operably coupled to the rotor and the output driver to rotate the output driver upon operation of the motor;

a clutch disposed in the crank arm to engage the crank arm with output driver when the crank arm is rotated faster than the output driver.

a motor comprising a stator coupled to the housing, and a rotor rotatably disposed within the stator such that the rotor is disposed about the spindle;

a set of bearings disposed between the rotor and the spindle to permit the rotor to roll over the bearings when rotating about the spindle;

a gear system operably coupled to the rotor and the output driver to rotate the output driver upon operation of the motor.

a motor comprising a stator coupled to the housing, and a rotor rotatably disposed within the stator such that the rotor is disposed about the spindle;

a second clutch to permit the crank arm to rotate the output driver when the second clutch is engaged;

US09/234,397 1999-01-20 1999-01-20 Electric bicycle and methods Expired. Fee Related US6296072B1 ( en )

Priority Applications (5)

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US09/234,397 US6296072B1 ( en ) 1999-01-20 1999-01-20 Electric bicycle and methods
EP00904449A EP1144242A1 ( en ) 1999-01-20 2000-01-19 Electric bicycle and methods
AU26207/00A AU2620700A ( en ) 1999-01-20 2000-01-19 Electric bicycle and methods
PCT/US2000/001366 WO2000043259A1 ( en ) 1999-01-20 2000-01-19 Electric bicycle and methods
US09/932,533 US6629574B2 ( en ) 1999-01-20 2001-08-17 Electric bicycle and methods

Applications Claiming Priority (1)

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US09/234,397 US6296072B1 ( en ) 1999-01-20 1999-01-20 Electric bicycle and methods

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US09/932,533 Division US6629574B2 ( en ) 1999-01-20 2001-08-17 Electric bicycle and methods

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US09/234,397 Expired. Fee Related US6296072B1 ( en ) 1999-01-20 1999-01-20 Electric bicycle and methods
US09/932,533 Expired. Fee Related US6629574B2 ( en ) 1999-01-20 2001-08-17 Electric bicycle and methods

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US09/932,533 Expired. Fee Related US6629574B2 ( en ) 1999-01-20 2001-08-17 Electric bicycle and methods

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