Making eBikes More Ecologically Sound


By Charles Pekow — An ongoing issue with ebikes is how to make them as ecological as possible. A few new studies shed some light on how to do that in different ways.

One report says that solar-powered ebikes can become practical and economical eventually but only in climates with plenty of sunshine. The Middle East and Mid-Asia, yes, but not in most of the United States.

The “Solar Bicycle Project,” as published in the Journal of Student Research (, created such a bike, which takes about 5.5 hours to charge by sun (or about three hours by plug-in), which will allow it to run about 25 miles at a top speed of about 25 mph. The solar panel is rather large and limits the ability to carry much on the bike. If the sun doesn’t shine or the battery wears out, riders can always pedal!

The researchers built a motor and attached it to a bike they bought and placed the battery in a box at the back. This prototype can be built for about $467.

Meanwhile, a German report says you can recycle or refurbish ebike motors when they wear out. The highly technical paper discusses how to take the engine apart. It looked at five makes sold in Germany. The report acknowledges that the success researchers had may not work on untested motors, but the same tools worked on all the ones tried; only the screws differed.

The paper didn’t consider the economics, such as the cost of labor in taking motors apart and rebuilding them. The manufacturers hadn’t provided information about doing these things.

See “Assessment of the Disassemblability of Electric Bicycle Motors for Remanufacturing” at


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