This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

These offer a zippy,

Photo of Rayos Electric Bike courtesy of Andy Koblick of Electrik Motion in New City.

eco-friendly way to run errands, combining pedal power with the

assistance of a small elec- tric motor

that facilitates speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. They require no gas, license or registration, and often are allowed on roads where mopeds and scooters are off-limits. A good electric bike can travel 40 to 50 miles on a single charge. In another twist, the power of the mo- tors in Kalkhoff brand bikes, known as pedelec bikes in Europe, increases the more you pedal.

Examples at, kabs,

ELECTRIC MOTORCYCLES: Electric motorcycles provide the same thrill and speed as gas-powered versions, minus the noise and dirty emissions. These motorcycles are ready to race: The Mis- sion R electric racing superbike is not only a sleek-looking machine, but can go from zero to fast in one gear. They also look nearly identical to a tradi- tional ride, hosting a battery pack and motor in place of the powertrain. Because motorcycles are small and efficient, they don’t require heavy bat- tery packs, and can be plugged into any home outlet to charge. Most will run for about two hours, or 40 to 50 miles on a charge. A federal incentive of a 10 per- cent tax credit helps with the purchase price, along with state incentives active in California, Colorado, Georgia and South Carolina and pending in many other states (update at ZeroMotorcy-

Examples at; RideMission. com (Mission Motors). For more info see Popular Mechanics’ Electric Motorcycle Guide,

ELECTRIC DIRT BIKES: Nature lovers may recoil at the idea of gas-powered

dirt bikes or motocross bikes tearing around trails, but in designated spots, they can provide the thrill riders seek, minus the noxious exhaust and noisy, revving engines. In fact, Dirt Rider Magazine says of the all-electric Zero X dirt bike: “Utter silence... is the inevi- table sound of the future of off-road motorcycle riding.”

Its battery charger plugs in to any standard outlet, and all of the com- pany’s lithium-ion power packs are recycled. While the battery-powered Zero can reach off-road speeds of up to 47 mph, the company Razor also designs scaled-down electric moto- cross bikes (and quads and scooters) for younger enthusiasts that are built for fun, with speeds of up to 14 mph for up to 10 miles on a single charge.

Examples at and ZeroMotor (search Dirt).

LONGTAIL AND CARGO BIKES: Longtail, or cargo, bikes are designed for carting every- thing from gro- ceries to kids. An extended mount for the back tire gives riders extra space to use as a long, flat

seat for kids to straddle, with space on either side for saddlebags (called pan- niers) or other bucket- or basket-type attachments. It has a bit larger turning radius and two kickstands for keeping the bike upright when stationary. With a base price often upwards of $1,000, cargo-oriented riders may wish to opt to convert an existing bicycle into a longtail with a backend attachment like the Free Radical from Xtracycle, which can be bolted on to provide two deep compartments for hauling up to 200 pounds of carry-ons. Madsen bikes come equipped with a large, sturdy bucket that supplies a fun ride for young ones—or for packing beach gear or shopping bags.

Examples at, Surly and

BALANCE BIKES: Pedal- less or “walk- ing” balance bikes (also known as run bikes) are all the rage in kids’ bicycles today, and a quick pe-

rusal of YouTube videos of kids riding them shows why. Because little ones are able to use their feet to push off the ground, then lift their feet as the bike rolls forward, even tots as young as 2 or 3 can do some serious cruising. Not only can they go somewhat faster than they would with a hard-to-accelerate tricycle, they also learn how to balance themselves, facilitating a quicker transi- tion to a larger bike without training wheels when the time comes.

Examples at tail,, MyStriderBike. com and

BIKE ACCESSORIES: Rock the Bike, a col- laboration of inven- tors and advocates in Berkeley, Califor- nia, wants to make bike riding a fun, community-centered, mainstream activity with citizen advocates everywhere.

Products of-

fered by Rock the Bike are designed to

make daily commuting and night riding easier, including cargo bikes designed for hauling heavy stuff; the Biker Bar, which allows several riders to produce clean energy from pedaling together (providing a steady 200 watts of power); Bike Blenders, which let riders pedal their way to tasty smoothies; and The Down Low Glow multi-colored neon lighting for bike frames that pro- vides better nighttime visibility.

Information at

Brita Belli, the editor of E – The En- vironmental Magazine, is a regular contributor to Natural Awakenings.

natural awakenings June 2011 23

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