The titular question is perhaps the most awaited one amongst e-bikers, e-bike manufacturers, environmentalists, and anyone interested in the burgeoning e-bike industry.
Whether you are excited by the potential of e-bikes to change the world, or you are just looking for a ride that doesn’t need charging every time you go out, we have written this article for you.
Are Self Charging Electric Bikes Available To Buy?
So straight up – the truth about self-charging e-bikes is that they are not available to buy. Not at least as of now, though quite a number of them are in the works. You will be able to see some of them on the roads very, very soon indeed.
But before we start discussing some of these products, let’s pause for a moment. Let us talk a bit about how this miracle is becoming possible and some of its ideas.
How Does a Self-Charging Electric Bike Work?
There are only two power sources on an electric bike: the human riding the bike and the battery driving the motor. So when we think about “self-charging,” these are the only two ways charging can happen.
The battery will not charge itself because any system that powers itself is bound to have transmission losses, thereby becoming slower and slower.
The only option left is for the rider to provide the power to charge the bike battery. And that is how self-charging bikes work.
The rider powers the bike in two possible ways – 1) while pedaling and 2) while breaking.
Charging While Braking
You might have heard the term “Regenerative braking.” This form of self-charging has been around for a while. People have been using it in larger vehicles for charging their hybrid batteries.
The idea is to store up some of the energy produced when applying brakes to your vehicle. This stored-up energy charges the battery.
Regenerative braking has been around for a while, but unfortunately, it is not a very successful way to charge an e-bike. This lack of success is because the friction produced by an e-bike is very limited compared to that in a car or a larger vehicle.
E-bikes are lightweight; the brakes simply don’t work hard enough to be able to build up any significant charge in your battery.
Charging While Pedaling
The concept of riders pedaling an e-bike is, of course, nothing new; most e-bikes have a self-ride mode as well as a pedelec mode where the rider can turn the pedals just like a regular bike.
Self-charging’s innovative idea is to use the rider’s pedaling power when riding on plain roads and less strenuous terrains to charge the battery (using something known as a XXX).
When the rider needs the bike to support them (in rough terrains or hilly areas), the bike can shift back to assisted or battery-operated mode.
In this way, the rider gets help when they most need it, and when they don’t need it, they are storing up some energy in the battery of the self-charging electric bike (Reminds me of the old children’s story of the ant and the grasshopper!)
Charging while pedaling is more challenging. However, this is how most electric bikes with self-charging operate.
Self-Charging Electric Bikes: The Frontrunners
Let us now have a look at some of the self-charging electric bikes which we are already seeing or will very soon see on the roads:
VELLO Bike+: First Folding Self-Charging Electric Bike
The Austria-based Velloo Bike+ is the world’s first self-charging electric folding bike. It uses both pedaling and braking to charge its 250W motor.
You can go at a 15mph speed pedaling normally, and as soon as you stop pedaling, the motor will take over. On a full charge, you can expect to travel anywhere between 18 to 30 miles.
Apart from this, it has a cool one-hand folding mechanism, and there is a Bluetooth-connected app with some great features.
The Barcelona-based Nua is about to come out with its Nua Electrica, a beautiful e-bike that is hardly distinguishable from any regular bike.
The secret behind the Nua Electrica’s lean and mean body, which does not reveal those unsightly wires and gadgets commonly associated with e-bikes, is the Zehus Bike+ self-charging electric bike kit.
This kit operates in six modes, but the most interesting one is the self-charging mode, which uses a tilt sensor to determine whether you are riding on an incline or not. The bike assists you automatically when climbing uphill, and when traveling on flat roads, it uses pedaling and braking to recharge its 160 Wh battery.
Rocket E-bike: Fat Tire Self Charging E-bike
The Rocket e-bike looks and feels very much like any other standard e-bike, except for one distinguishing feature: its “kinetic energy recovery system.”
Essentially using the same method as the Nua Electrica, the Rocket’s 48V, 15AH Panasonic cell battery can recharge itself whenever you are traveling on flat roads or going downhill.
The Rocket is an all-terrain bike with fat tires and an impressive range of close to 100 miles.
The Byar Volta is another self-charging electric bike that uses the Zehus Bike+ motor that we talked about earlier. It also has a 250W motor along with a 160Wh battery.
The bike has many excellent features, including Bluetooth and GPS radios. It also has sensors to measure torque, slope, and cadence.
Dexquisite – Self Charging Electric Mountain Bike
The Dexquisite uses the DX motor’s proprietary self-charging motor hub. It has a regenerative self-charging system with a 250W or 500W motor hub.
The bike is lightweight and can hold up to 300 pounds of weight. It has a seven-speed system and solid wheels with high traction.
Self-charging electric bikes are the ultimate dream that can solve many environmental and traffic problems if adopted widely.
We have discussed the technology behind this innovation. We also saw some of the bikes that are planning to launch which have these capabilities.