New Electric Bicycle: 40-mile Range, Reasonable Price Tag

| 1/12/2010 2:04:17 PM

Eneloop bike3 

Electric bicycles have long been popular in other areas of the world (most notably in Asia), though they have yet to really catch on in the United States. But with consumers becoming more concerned about the financial and environmental costs of gasoline-fueled vehicles, the electric bike could soon see a surge in sales. One bike in particular has been generating a buzz lately, the Sanyo eneloop (see photo, left).

The Japanese electronics company Sanyo introduced its entry to the U.S. pedal-assisted electric bicycle market in September. The eneloop has a lot of good things going for it: It has a 1:2 pedal-to-motor ratio, it partially recharges itself during use and, refreshingly, it actually looks like a normal bicycle. But best of all, the eneloop can get as much as 40 miles out of a single three-and-a-half-hour charge, enough to cover the average daily commute. Depending on your situation, the eneloop could easily replace your car as a daily vehicle, getting you to work without using a drop of gasoline.

The bike operates in three modes. In auto mode, the eneloop adjusts the level of electric assistance based on riding conditions. Power-up mode increases the output of the motor, and is ideal for the uphill trek. In two-wheel-drive mode, the motor powers the front wheel while the rider powers the back wheel, resulting in superior stability.

When engaged, the eneloop’s “loop charging” system allows the bike to regenerate power while braking and coasting downhill. Depressing the rear brake turns the motor into a generator that charges the bike’s battery, prolonging battery life.

The eneloop is available at independent bicycle dealers and at some west-coast Best Buy locations. Sanyo sells the eneloop directly from its website for $2,499, though it can be found at other retailers for $2,299.

Jason Hinton
1/23/2010 5:28:16 PM

Obviously an electric bicycle is not the best commuting choice for all people. However, they are a good choice for many. My wife would be a good example. She has a 7 mile commute that is a perfect bike commute except for one small problem. She is required to dress in business attire. She can't show up to work in old clothes covered in sweat. Add electric assist the to picture and bicycle commuting becomes viable on days with good weather. $2500 is reasonable if the bicycle is well made and uses good components. An entry level road bike starts in the $800 to $1200 range and they quickly reach $2500. That is for a completely human powered bicycle. A quick look at Trek's website shows their bikes range from $350 to $7500 with the vast majority over $1000. Speaking of Trek, while they are a USA owned company, the manufacturing of bicycles has been outsourced to companies in Taiwan and mainland China. Only their top-of-the-line carbon fiber framed bikes are made in the US. Giant is a Taiwanese company and the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world. They sell bikes under they own name as well as manufacturing bicycles for other companies. Specialized and Schwinn bicycles are made by Giant, in Asia, for US owned companies.

1/22/2010 9:27:01 PM

WOW, there's so much here - $2,500 for a BICYCLE? Replacing my CAR? Reasonable? 40 miles? Japanese? Let's start with Japan. WE are in a horrible economy, yet we're proposing to buy Japanese? HHHMMMM... Next up, I have a tiny bicycle shop in Indianapolis... where I am able to convert bikes if desired, to either gas-powered OR electric-powered. I'm working on a propane engine, too... I can convert your bike to gas (80+ mpg) for <$300, electric (w/at LEAST 40mile range) for around $500 depending on battery choices & size of motor. Heck, even with a brand new Giant or Trek, I can keep costs under $1,ooo!!! Now, as far as replacing my car... I'm 6'4, 250# with spinal arthritis. I haul kids and usually several parts bikes and other stuff, so I don't think my van can be replaced soon. Now, I DO have a 4-wheeler that I pedal as much as I can, 7 use it as much as I can handle... If you want reasonable - stick with the American ingenuity & creative spirit! If you want good deals AND helping out your neighbor to make a living - stick with American... Any interest, contact me at

Susan _2
1/22/2010 4:46:36 PM

I had one of these in 1975, it was a moped (not electric but gas), but you could pedal it if you wanted to save the gas, like a bicycle. Amazed that it took 35 yrs to develop this, considering it was basically already done, except the conversion, which I would think much easier than a car!

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