When I saw a neighbor’s electric bicycle today, I was impressed. Here was a good example of the new possibilities for sustainable transport.
The electric bike, which he bought from a bicycle shop in Caloocan, cost P17,000. It is made by LBH Co. of China. The e-bike comes with a maintenance-free 36-volt lead-acid battery. The battery powers an electric motor built into the rear axle. However, the rider can still use the foot pedal if he wants to, which takes the load off the battery. If he pedals fast enough, or when going downhill, the battery is automatically recharged. The battery is also easily detached for recharging from any 220-volt outlet. He spent a few hundred pesos more to replace the single-speed plate with a three-speed one, for higher speed pedalling.
My neighbor says he finds the battery power most useful on uphill climbs, or when he is too tired to pedal. Normally, to keep fit, he pedals to work and back.
The battery can last for five hours of riding, up to eight hours if he uses the foot pedal intermittently. He has used it to travel from Manila to Bulacan and back.
Because it is considered a bicycle, it needs no registration, license or other bureaucratic requirements. As a bicycle rider, he can go on sidewalks, counter-flow, and do other things normally allowed bicycles. The bike does look like a bicycle more than a motorcycle. The only giveaway is the elongated battery under the seat and the wider-than-usual rear axle, which contains the electric motor.
Here is the ideal personal transport for city-riding. Replace the lead-acid battery with a fuel cell of the future, and the design will even be more environmentally friendly. This is true 21st century transport. If the e-bike is used widely here — and the government should strongly encourage its use by allowing, for instance, tax-free importation — we can significantly reduce the pollution coming from the increasing number of motor bikes in metropolitan areas.
A most strongly recommended replacement for motorbikes. Cheaper, good for one’s health, and good for the environment.