History Of Electric Bicycle

The electric bicycle dates back to around 120 years ago. Even before the first appearance of the electric bicycle, in 1867 and 1886, two inventors invited motorized bicycle that used steam engine and internal combustion engine.

Figure1_Ogden Bolton Jr

Figure1_Ogden Bolton Jr

At the end of 1895, one of the first patents for electric bicycle was issued by Ogden Bolton Jr (Figure1). Mr Bolton wrote that his invention includes: “6-pole brush and commutator direct current (DC) hub motor mounted in the rear wheel. It is surprising that the hub motors invented 120 years ago are still vastly used in the electric bicycle industry and it is one of the best ways to propel the electric bicycle.

Two years later, Hosea W. Libbey invented an electric bicycle with two motor, two batteries and two wheels (Figure2). Does this sound crazy? The purpose of this crazy behavior is to realize the electric bicycle controller. One a plain road, only one battery would work and when climbing the second battery will also come into action. In the original design of Mr. Horesa, the motors used crank rods to rotate the wheels. After a short while, he changed these big clumsy rods to more efficient chain drive (Figure3).

Figure2_Hosea W. Libbey

Figure2_Hosea W. Libbey

Figure3_chain drive

Figure3_chain drive

In 1898, Mathew J. Steffens issued a patent of an electric bicycle that was operated by a belt that was placed on the periphery of the back wheel and also around the motor (Figure4). The slots on the wheel can prevent the belt from slipping away. Anyway, this kind of propulsion system is very creative.

Figure4_Mathew J. Steffens

Figure4_Mathew J. Steffens

Following the belt drive system, an idea for a friction drive came in reality. In 1899, John Schnepf introduced a bicycle which used a pulley that rest on the top surface of the rear wheel (Figure5). The pulley rotated with the help of the motor and in turn propelled the rear wheel. In 1969, A. Wood Jr was inspired by the invention of Mr Schnepf and turned it to a more complex friction system consisting of 4 different motors (Figure6). Each one of them was pushed to the front wheel.

Figure5_John Schnepf

Figure5_John Schnepf

Figure6_A. Wood Jr

Figure6_A. Wood Jr

In 1946, Jesse D. Tucker assigned a patent for a motor with internal gearing and with the ability to freewheel. Due to the creative design of Mr Tucker, the cyclist can choose whether to use pedals in combination or without combination of the electric motor.

Nowadays, with the help of other invents, such as torque sensors, power controls, new batteries and better hub motors, and advanced technology, electric bicycle has become a big industry, with the fact that there are roughly 120 million e-bikes on the roads of China, and in USA and Europe, the number of electric bicycles sold are in millions now.


Text:  http://www.electric-bicycle-guide.com/electric-bicycle-history.html


Figure1 http://www.google.com/patents?vid=552271

Figure2 http://www.google.com/patents?vid=596272

Figure3 http://www.gngebike.com/36v350w-48v400w-gen2

Figure4 http://www.google.com/patents?vid=613732

Figure5 http://www.google.com/patents/US627066

Figure6 http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=BFhrAAAAEBAJ

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to History Of Electric Bicycle

  1. Bram V says:

    This is all very interesting but I think you don’t fully understand what the blog should be about. Please check the slides on toledo.

    • Xue Feng says:

      Dear Bram,

      In my opinion, talking about the history and revolution is one of the indispensable aspects for the blog (our thesis is about electric bicycle, hence, it is necessary to provide the readers with the basic knowledge about the past and the future of the electric bicycle). Well, in our coming posts, we will also talk about the social, economic, technological, and philosophical aspects. In addition, there will be some interesting related topics available.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s