Throttle-powered electric assist bicycles are unlikely to be approved by the US legal system, making it hard for manufacturers to bring the technology to US shores. One company is adapting to meet demand.
Online PR News – 23-November-2012 – Deerfield Beach, Florida – In Europe and Asia, the electric assist bicycle has been around for a long time. Not all cyclists are young and strong, and in countries where electric assist bicycles are available, people of all ages go to the grocery store, visit their friends, and commute to work by bicycle. In the United States, bicycle commuting has so far been a more fringe option, although over the past five years we’ve seen a boom in the popularity of bicycling in major cities across the country. It’s only natural to assume that more people will be curious about electric assist bicycles.
But unfortunately, the throttle-powered electric assist bicycles that are used widely in the rest of the world seem to post a risk on the U.S. roadways. The throttle allows the cyclist to stop pedaling, and as a result they are an uncertain element on roads that tend to favor cars. Cyclists occupy a small space on the road, and accidents due to throttle powered electric assist bicycles have not gone unnoticed. Lawmakers are quick to react with legislation in circumstances where people have been in accidents, and it looks like the throttle powered electric bicycle will not have a place on the streets of the United States.
In reaction to the recent actions of Congress, and the potential for laws against throttle powered electric bicycles, German electric bicycle company ST-Bicycles has responded with an innovative solution. Their Karma 38 and Karma 42 electric assist bicycles require that you pedal when you want to increase your speed, making them more like traditional bicycles. The electric assist simply makes the pedaling easier.
“It’s like having a a really easy gear to pedal in, like you’re riding on flat ground, but you’re actually climbing a big hill,” said a rep from ST-Bicycle, “We know how popular electric assist bicycles are in Europe and we want them to be available to the U.S. market without the chance that a legal intervention will keep them from using the bike they’ve invested in.”
ST-Bicycle sells their electric assist bicycles for about $3500-$3900 a pop, which is not a cheap bike. However, they say that compared to a car, you save so much on insurance, gasoline, and repairs that it’s really a great investment, as long as it’s not something that might end up being outlawed or highly regulated by Congress.
Whether or not the U.S. market will take to electric assist bicycles is yet to be seen. Cycling in the country has undergone a pretty exciting transformation during these times of extremely high gas prices and tightening of belts. Perhaps with an electric assist option we’ll see a broader range of cyclists on the road and the corresponding increase in safety that greater numbers bring.
For more information about electric assist bicycles, visit www.st-bicycle.com.