Electric Bike History: How it All Started

Electric Bike History: How it All Started

An electric bike is similar to a bicycle, except for the added electrical components. These electrical components prove the innovations ongoing in the automotive industry. E-bikes' popularity started emerging about 20 years ago, but the machine has existed for a long time. It is safe to say the popularity resulted from advanced innovative e-bike components, such as a lithium-ion batteries. Meanwhile, scholars have excerpted a 120-year history of this electrically powered mode of transportation.

The Invention of Electric Bikes

E-bikes were first introduced in the 80s and presented as patent machines in 1880 and 1890 in France and United States, respectively. Contrary to the popular version of e-bikes today, they lacked pedals and were built in three-wheeled transport mode. Also, the electric bike built by Hosea W. Libbey in Christ 1897 had a double electric motor. The purpose was to enable riders to push forward while climbing a hill. Meanwhile, this is similar to the pedal feature in modern e-bikes today.

Matthew J. Steffens launched a rear-wheel and belt drive type of e-bike in 1898. This also led to mass production in European countries, and manufacturers kept introducing new models and designs. A popularly known brand in the mid-twentieth century is the Philips Simplex electric bike. It was formed from the collaboration between two e-bike enthusiasts.


The pedal-assist feature was introduced in 1989 — a big wave of innovation in the e-bike industry. It eases the rider's movement while the electric motor assists. Thus, riders will require little effort to propel on a seemingly difficult road or route. However, the pedal-assist innovation does not end there. In 1992, Michael Kutter worked in Velocity Company, where more pedal-assist e-bikes were created to meet larger consumers' needs.

These days, users can control the pedal-assist feature on their electric bikes. They can determine the level of assistance they want from e-bikes and the most preferred speed. Also, some e-bike products, like Honbike models, allow users to choose between throttle and pedal-assist features. This implies that a rider can get both features in a single e-bike.

The Adoption of Electric Bike

European counties were the first adoption of electrically powered bikes, among other countries. There was mass production and supply across the continent. Followed by European countries is the United States, with a significant record of manufacturers, including Ogden Bolton Jr. Ogden Bolton is a scientist with vast knowledge of e-bike production. Some of his old designs are still implemented in today's e-bike production. For instance, the back-wheel hub motor and integrated batteries are still found in some modern e-bike models. Meanwhile, other manufacturers keep improving on existing e-bike designs.

The Japanese automotive industry also expanded in 1975 and 1989, resulting from Panasonic and Sanyo Enacle innovations. However, the primary batteries used in Japanese e-bikes are NiCad and lead acid. They are heavier and less environmentally friendly than lithium-ion batteries.

Fast forward to recent years, the adoption of e-bikes has become rampant in Europe, especially since the lockdown period ended. European Union states were recorded to sell about 3.7 million e-bikes in 2020. According to the European Cyclists' Foundation, the EU may hit up to 17 million sales before the next decade. This is mainly due to the adaptability of most modern designs to diverse weather conditions and terrains. Commuting has been made more accessible, with guaranteed safety. Thus, people are encouraged to ride more with e-bikes since there is a reduced risk of accidents.

Top Countries with Many E-bike Users

Despite e-bike existence for a while, it has not been accepted globally. Some countries have a large number of users than others. Also, developing countries, especially in Africa, are restricted by a lack of access to affordable e-bikes. As much as Honbike has relatively inexpensive products, states' regulations limit its supply to these countries. Meanwhile, some other top European countries are maximizing the benefits of e-bikes.

A study has shown that about 1.5 million annual users of e-bikes are from North America and Europe. According to the World Health Organization report, about 37% of health conditions are from inhaling poor air quality. To eradicate these problems, ebike adoption is encouraged.

Germany and Netherland also record huge sales of e-bikes, which significantly reduce the traffic rate on busy roads. A study has revealed that a 10% increase in e-bike usage can lead to a 40% reduction in congestion rate. Netherland records a €9.5 billion increase in the market growth in 2021. Thus, it is safe to say exponential growth will occur in these countries in the coming years.

Factors Responsible for E-bikes Growth


Although there are several transportation modes, electric bike occupies a considerable market share. Experts predict that e-bikes will be global knowledge before the next decade. However, the popularity of e-bikes over the years has been influenced by certain factors. Firstly, technological advancement keeps pushing its growth, meeting the modern era's needs. For instance, the electric motor and control units got easier, attracting more consumers into the market.

E-bikes operate on batteries, which do not contaminate the environment while in operation. Since its introduction in the 80s, e-bikes have gained more support from the government and top environmental agencies. This is mainly due to the environmental impact of reducing carbon footprint in the atmosphere.

E-bike contribution to a healthy lifestyle is also an attraction to many people now. As much as technology is evolving, human health is exposed to many threats. However, e-bikes are recommended to patients or victims of death threats as one of the recovery measures. For instance, e-bikes are recommended for patients with cardiovascular issues. It helps to enhance mobility and strengthen the body's muscles.

Advancement of Electric Bike: Honbike Innovative Models

The history of e-bikes is incomplete without highlighting the impact of reputable manufacturing companies in their development over the years. Among other companies, the Honbike brand stands out in manufacturing top-quality and advanced products. Some of the growth experienced in the e-bike manufacturing industry from the Honbike brand are highlighted below.

  • Honbike launches the U4 model with a capacity to cover the 100km range. This is an advancement compared to the short-range capability of older models of e-bikes.
  • A sealed drive system that is not prone to damage by harsh weather conditions.
  • E-bikes are now built with a lesser number of components and minimalist designs.
  • The Honbike app is available on Android and iOS, allowing riders to track their speed.
  • A chain-free belt is an upgraded alternative to the old chain e-bikes. It is easier to maintain, and riders can reach 50,000+ km with the HF01 model without applying grease or any form of lubrication.
  • A smaller hub motor of 250W also lacks a suspension system. This contributes to the foldability and portability of most modern e-bikes.
  • Removable batteries are easy to move around and can be protected with a security lock.
  • Two-wheeled bicycles are made with unibody magnesium to improve bike strength and durability.
  • A 7,000 series aluminum in building Honbike U4 handlebar. This gives a more rounded design compared to the old sharp edges.


The history of e-bikes is enticing content because it explains the world's development in transportation. The ideas from electric bicycle enthusiasts and brilliant engineers birthed comfortable transportation modes. Thus, more engineers were encouraged to participate in the development, leading to enlarged production. As years passed, more electric bicycles were circulated, and demand kept increasing. However, there is an emphasis on e-bike importance and why it should be adopted globally. Some of the benefits have been mentioned earlier, so choosing a more efficient mode of transportation is advisable. By doing so, you contribute to the present and future impact of e-bikes on the green environment.




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