We spent the better part of 2016 hearing about the rapid growth of the electric bike market. Investment from trusted household names and respected brands like Brompton and Bosch has changed the public’s perception of e-bikes, but it’s not just brands that are changing the image of these vehicles.
Innovations from the likes of GoCycle and Shimano which have hit the market are paving the way for the next generation of electrical assist bikes, which, judging from the current trend of smaller, more powerful batteries and intuitive engines, will not just grab the attention of the commuter market, but also of the country’s long- distance cyclists.
The standardisation of lithium-ion technology is a central factor in the current influx of e-bike sales.The compact batteries, which are similar to those used in conventional mobile phone designs, are able to retain an enormous quantity of charge compared to traditional lead acid batteries (similar to those found in cars). Lithium-ion batteries are capable of running from 500 to 1,000 charge cycles, compared to the 200 to 300 of a traditional battery.
Modern designs are becoming increasingly standardised on the latest generation of e-bikes, with li-ion batteries featuring on 96.5 per cent of European e-bikes sold in the past year. The move to more reliable and longer-lasting battery technologies has assisted in dispelling the damaging image of unstable and frequently inoperable e-bikes, which has tainted the market in previous years.
In fact, the technology is moving away from the traditional bulky lead acid designs so quickly that a new kind of battery is already in the works. It was recently revealed that American scientists working for the University of Central Florida have made a breakthrough in the development of a new high- performing battery that has the potential to last over 20 times longer than a traditional lithium ion battery. The new technology utilises materials called TMDs to create supercapacitor devices, which take very little time to recharge and last up to 30,000 cycles.
Although the technology is far from ready for sale to the general public, the ramifications for the electric bike market are huge. With a supercapacitor battery installed, bikes could take as little as seconds to charge, and last for over a week of significant use, making them ideal for e-mountain and touring bikes. The batteries also have the potential to be far more stable than current li-ion batteries, which will drastically reduce the chances of combustion or any other potential imperfections.