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.
Check out the video below to see the eneloop in action.
Photo courtesy of Sanyo North America Corp.