By Scott Kennon

In the closing scene of the 2004 film 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘈𝘷𝘪𝘢𝘵𝘰𝘳, Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) is seen obsessively repeating the phrase "the way of the future" after engaging in a discussion on jet engines. Decades ago many forward thinkers believed that electric cars would be commonplace by the turn of the 21st century. Countless obstacles have prevented this from becoming a reality, and less than one percent of all cars and trucks in America are electrically powered. For a time hybrid vehicles seemed to be getting a foothold, but the vast majority of vehicles being sold around the world are still gas-engined. While history shows that speculation on the "way of the future" in regards to scientific development of new energy sources is often left to be remembered as nothing more than wishful thinking, current markets and trends are showing that electric-powered mobility has at least one major success—electric bicycles are increasing in popularity all over the world.

As subtle improvements to the technology of battery-powered bicycles accumulate, "e-bikes" as they're commonly called, are gaining traction not only amongst avid cyclists, but also with the community at large. As an eco-friendly alternative to anything that burns fossil fuel, e-bikes are desirable to modern consumers for a variety of reasons. Most e-bikes require four-to-six hours of charge time and that equates to only pennies worth of electrical expenses per day. Lithium-ion batteries produce many miles of riding time on a single charge, and range ability can be doubled simply by purchasing a second battery.

In New Mexico e-bike riders are subject only to laws applicable to non-motorized bicycle riders unless stated otherwise for a specific area. E-bikes allow people to explore areas and to travel distances that are too extreme for non-motorized vehicles, and they make paths which would be difficult to cover on non-motorized bicycles seem moderate or even easy. Quality e-bikes can go about twenty miles at speeds of 15 - 25 miles per hour after being fully charged and offer the rider both a pedal-assisted mode of operation and a throttle-only option. Buyers should do a good amount of research on e-bikes to understand what will best suit their needs before committing to a purchase.

E-bikes are very quiet. The versatility and practicality of these machines are becoming apparent as militaries, police departments, and other government agencies have begun using them in place of non-motorized bicycles. The U.S. military even began a project in 2014 to test electric bikes for use in "stealth" combat. Harley Davidson motorcycle company released their first electric motorcycle a few years ago. It was praised for its amazing power and rideability. High tech manufacturers are coming out with e-bikes that can reach speeds higher than 60 miles per hour and achieve distances greater than one hundred miles on a single charge. Of course those bikes are rather pricey. Perhaps the way of the future is shaping up in an unexpected way.

Politics aside, when technologies arise that make daily life easier and do so without straining the environment, humankind can pat itself on the back for achieving that elusive goal.

Local bike shops as well as online stores offer a wide selection of e-bikes to suit almost any rider. Customizations of e-bikes to improve comfort or performance are mostly quite easy for consumers to perform as well. A comfortable seat and some luggage bags are common accessories.

Author's note:

I am not affiliated with any e-bike company. After researching for several months I got my first e-bike about six weeks ago and since then I have put well over 300 miles on it. Riding it is great fun, not to mention convenient, and when I return home after a five-mile trek I'm not the least bit fatigued.


E-bike and general bicycling laws:

U. S. military tested e-bikes for use in combat:

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