Because of the energy crisis, hybrid is the buzzword of the day. With respect to cars, hybrid usually refers to engines that uses electricity and gasoline. The combination of both gets you more gas mileage. For example the 2008 Toyota Prius, a well-known hybrid car, gets 48 miles per gallon as oppose to a comparable 4-cylinder non-hybrid car, say a Honda Civic, that gets 36 miles per gallon. By the way, Honda also has a hybrid version of the Civic and it gets 45 miles per gallon. The point is hybrid technology allows you to cover more grounds for a given set of resources, gasoline in this case.
In the cycling world, the term hybrid refers to bicycles with electric motors . Yep, that’s traditional push pedaling made easy with electricity . Instead of more gas mileage, you get more miles pedaling and best yet, you don’t have to buy gas (because it’s a bicycle).
THE FRUGAL AND HEALTHY CONSUMER
But you’re asking why mention gas with bicycles? In the past, at least in the United States, gas prices were never a concern. Up until 2006 or so, Americans were able to buy gas for under $2.00 per gallon. That’s practically nothing! Two years later, it’s a different story.
In other parts of the world, however, they haven’t been so lucky. Europeans have been experiencing gas prices between $5-$8 per gallon for years. But they still get around. Common among their usual transport is a bicycle. You’ve seen many pictures of common folks getting around town bicycling. Kinda like what we did when we were kids. To get more “mileage”, a lot of Asians and Europeans use hybrid electric motor bikes.
Many smart and frugal folks are discovering electric bicycles for short distance commuting to save money. You don’t have to pay for gas!
There is another advantage. Since you’re pedaling, you’re exercising. Makes you healthy. Of course, not everyone is in superb physical shape to be pedaling from one side of the city to the other. But remember, it’s a hybrid bike. The electric motor helps you pedal . Therefore you can get in shape slowly, but at the same time do so enjoying the outside.
The price of a hybrid bike may set you back from $500 to $1000 USD. But that should pay for itself within a year if you can save on $50-$70 a month on gas and/or $20-$30 on gym membership.
THE ECO-FRIENDLY CONSUMER
Just as important as saving money, there is a global trend, or at least in the US, to be more eco-friendly. Among others, gasoline is a concern. As you know, burning gasoline emits pollutants that are harmful to both the environment and our health. Transportation that uses less gas (hybrid cars) and no gas (electric car, hybrid bikes, electric scooters) are getting a lot of attention among consumers.
THE CHOICES OF HYBRID ELECTRIC BICYCLES
Though there are quite a few manufacturers of electric bicycles in existence, none of them are quite household names yet. But below are just a handful electric bikes readily found from Amazon, eBay, Shop.com and other online retailers:
iZIP Enlightened Hybrid Electric Street Bicycles
From Currie Technologies, the iZIP is one of the more popular electric hybrid bikes. In one battery charge, it can travel up to 23-30 miles depending on the cycler’s weight. Top speed on this 8-gear street bike can be up to 18 mph. As you can see from the pictures, the motor and battery pack are cleverly integrated within the bike’s frame. So unlike most electric bicycles, these components are not visually obtusive. The geared hub motor is a brushless DC type encased in an alloy shell. The battery pack is made of NiMH EV Rated Batteries Down Tube Concealed 24V / 9AH Pack (20) 1.2V Rechargeable Cells. There are men’s and women’s versions of the iZIP bike.
The Euro Electric Bicycle
Designed for urban commuting, the Euro gives you the impression you’re gliding to your destination. The rear storage rack makes it easy to run errands such as groceries. The Euro is powered by a 24V 10Ah Li-ion battery with 6 speed Shimano derailleur and a high speed 350W motor. Since the battery is Lithium-ion, it can be recharged over 1,000 times, making it more durable than a typical NiMH battery and SLA (sealed lead acid) battery. Another plus is that Li-ion batteries are recyclable making this electric bike a truly eco-friendly.
Electrec Electric Bicycle
From Ideation Taiwan, the Electrec electric bicycle allows for non-pedal cruising for an 8-12 mile ride using only the motor. Of course, the actual range depends on the terrain and weight of the cycler. This seven speed electric bike comes with a 600-watt high-torque brushless motor powered by a 24-volt, 12 amp-hour battery pack.