Electric Bike History

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Over the last 20 years, the electric bike has taken a significant chunk of the bicycle market share. It is the only transportation device that has managed to do so, with many electric bike companies coming up. With its simplistic design that mimics the traditional bicycle, efficient yet small electric motor and easy control methods, the electric bicycle has experienced accelerated growth in sales.  

Today, over 120 million electric bicycles are being used in China alone, with a reported yearly sale of 2 million units. The market is also growing fast in Europe and North America. One feature that has contributed to the increasing popularity of the electric bike is that it has no combustion engine and therefore has zero harmful emissions.  

While most people would point out that frequently charging an pedal assist bike battery takes a toll on the planet, it is negligible and environmentally friendly compared to other road transportation devices. Its numerous health benefits are another reason for its popularity. 

This article shall discuss the history of electric bikes and how we got to today’s modern e-bikes and e-bike motors. From the 18th century, when the traditional bicycle was hailed as a revolutionary device, to 2021, the more functional electric model is slowly replacing it. Let’s get started. 

Bicycles, the first personal transport device 

The bicycle changed the transportation game. It opened the world of transportation devices, allowing speeds of more than five times the speed of walking, and letting riders go faster and further than horses. Early bicycles could exceed ten mph while horses could only walk at four mph, and they required stables and provision stations during long rides. 

It isn’t hard to see why the bicycle was regarded as a revolutionary advancement in the 1890s. They were the internet and smartphones of the era, and everyone who was mechanically savvy was having a go at them. Orville and Wilbur Wright (the brothers who built the first aeroplane) were unsurprisingly bicycle mechanics and were already working at the front edge of pioneering 20th-century technology. Pneumatic tires, ball bearings, chain drive, and several other technologies first created by the early bicycle industry provided the framework for the automobile industry that came next. 

From the first motorized bicycle to today’s electric bikes 

The very first motorized bicycle was developed in 1870 by two inventors who used an internal combustion engine for it. 

The first documented electric bicycles were patented in the 1880s and 1890s in patent offices in the United States and France. The earliest patent for the electric bike in France was a three-wheeled electrical contraption; without any pedals, the motor power was controlled with a hand-held lever system. 

First United States Patent 

Ogden Bolton was awarded the first patent in the United States for a battery-powered bicycle in 1895. This wasn’t much different from the concept of modernized e-bikes. It had its battery in the triangle of the frame and the motor positioned inside the back wheel. However, his patent was regarding making improvements on the early bicycles and did not consist of any fresh invention.  

As the years passed, more motorized bikes were designed, and various variants of the electric bikes were introduced, all of which served as the foundational concepts behind the present-day electric bicycles.  

Hosea W. Libbey 

Hosea W. Libbey invented an e-bike propelled by a double electric motor in 1897. Its engine was designed inside the hub of the crankset axle; many modern electric bike motors are developed following the principle of this model. 


The electric bicycle Zike was designed and sold in 1992 by Vector Services Limited; it included an 850g permanent-magnet motor and Nickel-cadmium batteries built into a frame. Apart from Zike, there were barely any commercial electric bicycles available to buyers. Production grew from 1992 to 2004 after power controls, and torque sensors were developed, making the electric bike even more efficient.  

It grew by an estimated 35% and peaked at 107 million pieces years; however, this dropped in 1995 but picked up almost immediately with newer and better models being produced. Some cheap electric bicycles used bulky acid batteries, whereas the more recent models generally opted for Li-ion batteries, which were lighter.  


Performance of the electric bicycle varied greatly; however, there generally was an improvement in range and speed offered. The production of electric bikes saw an astonishing hike of 40% between 1996 to 2004, while the output of the traditional bicycle fell drastically. These new e-bikes made use of light and long-lasting batteries and were mainly referred to as pedelec. 

Modern electric bikes 

From 2004 to date, the electric bike market has only grown with innovations being introduced almost every year and new e-bike companies springing up. Market analysis shows that electric bicycles are on their way to capturing the largest share in economics worldwide, owning an astonishing 65% of the market. This is a remarkable growth compared to when the first electric bike patent was submitted in the United States by Ogden Bolton Jr.  

There are various factors behind the growth of the electric bicycle, with its health benefits being a prime factor. Its zero-emission and the growing awareness amongst people concerning global warming and keeping the planet safe are also reasons people are attracted to investing in an electric bicycle.  

It is also an excellent commuting option, making it easy to see why the electronic bike has grown in leaps and bounds from its early beginnings. 

Find your perfect electric bike at KBO Bike 

At KBO electric bike, they sell the best commuter bikes. You can choose from a range of various electric bike designs and classes that would be perfect for you. If you want an electric bike for commuting, the KBO commuter electric bike is the best on the market today. All electric bikes have a free two-year warranty, and offer test rides for free! So visit KBO and buy electric bike online now. Be a part of this commuting revolution. 

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