We label a lot of our bikes electric hybrid bikes. What does that even mean? "Hybrid" is a pretty loose term, and with all of the different kinds of "hybrid technology" these days, it can seem like a generality. Is an electric hybrid bike any different than an electric bike or an ebike? Let's straighten out this confusion once and for all.
Many years ago, the word "hybrid" wasn't used as much as it is today. In scientific terms, hybrids were created by genetically mixing two species together to make a new species. Take the Zebroid: half-zebra, half-horse. It seemed like anything that could be mixed in a genetic blender could be called a "hybrid." Of course, once the film industry picked up on this, they made hybrids out of almost everything: wolf-men, cat-women, spider-men, you name it. Of course, it took drastic changes in the automotive industry for the word "hybrid" to take on a new meaning.
The hybrid electric car first came onto the scene in the mid-1990's, and with it came a wave of revolutionary technology. Suddenly, everything could use "hybrid electric power" to help reduce the carbon footprint. People were adding electric power to anything with wheels, from a wheel-barrel to a scooter to a motorcycle. Some of these ideas, like the electric hybrid bike caught on, while others (hybrid electric treadmill bike, anyone?) failed miserably. So what makes something like an electric hybrid bike so successful?
With the dawn of the new millennium came the dawn of the electric hybrid bicycle. Leading the charge was Giant Bicycles, one of the biggest bicycle manufacturers in the world. They boasted Hybrid Cycling Technology, where the electric motor worked in conjunction with the rider's pedal power to produce an efficient hybrid machine.
Many other companies developed electric hybrid bikes to compete with Giant. Some of them, referred to as E-Bikes, were simply powered by a throttle. The others were called pedelec, which meant they were powered by a sensor in the pedals. In the early stages of the electric hybrid bike, many people preferred the E-bike because of its ease of use, as well as its large heavy frame. The feeling was similar to riding a motorcycle without a license. The only problem was the short range batteries.
By 2005, many electric hybrid bikes were phasing out the heavy, inefficient batteries for a lighter, longer-lasting model. As a result, the bikes dropped a lot of weight, the motor power decreased, and many of them replaced their throttles in favor of an automatic assistance based around torque sensors in the pedals. This not only extended the range of the battery, but it made an electric hybrid bike feel more like a bicycle than a motorcycle. Bikes like the Sanyo Eneloop electric bike and the IF Reach DC electric folding bike weigh in at 50 and 42 pounds, respectively. Even folding bike giants at Dahon have a lightweight folding electric bike called the Dahon Boost that clocks in at 43 lbs. This is a HUGE difference from the 100-pound bikes of the late 1990's.
All of the latest models of electric hybrid bikes have already caught on to Lithium technology in one way or another. These long-range batteries are less than ten pounds, and they can power a bike up to twenty miles on a single charge! Of course, the lighter the bike, the easier it is for the motor to move it. One of the biggest complaints we get about older electric hybrid bikes is their weight. With Lithium battery technology in all of our new bikes, the weight of an electric hybrid bike is almost the same as a regular bicycle!