Bikes With Buzz: Retailer Carves Out Green Niche

eco-wheelz

There’s a new game in Detroit town, and a major player is eCo Wheelz. That’s an electric bike retailer in downtown Plymouth who believe that consumers in the tri-state area are primed and ready to start replacing their gas guzzling – not to mention money devouring – cars with the much more efficient electric bikes.

Electric bicycles have been used by commuters in China, Europe and Japan for decades – indeed, they have entire transport systems designed around this type of transport, but of course they’ve been slow to take off in the United States. The first US states to get involved were the sunshine-drenched ones of Florida and California, but now they are – very gradually – expanding into the rest of the country.

Most electric bikes don’t look any different than a non-electric bike. Indeed, you’d probably need to give the bike a second look to notice the battery, motor and throttle. Early models have a removable battery that you put on and take off the bike, the newer versions have the battery built right into the frame.

Because it’s a bike, riders can pedal it and have no fear that they’ll be stranded far from home with a dead battery, on the other hand they need have no fear of hills because all they have to do is kick on the throttle and let the motor do all the work

Federal law limits electric bikes to 20 mph. With that speed limitation, they can be ridden wherever regular bikes are used.

In 2008, Electric Bikes Worldwide Reports stated that more than 170,000 electric bikes were sold throughout the U.S., and sales are expected to increase by 30 percent in 2009.

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