Elsewhere, however, the electric pedal bike continued to develop - and it is now big business in America, Europe and the Far East with the advent of advanced battery technology. Bath-based Powabykes believes e-biking is about to be big business in Britain, too.
The company has just launched its Chinese-made Powabyke - and sold its first shipment of 1,500 machines before it arrived here. Retailing from £499, the Powabyke resembles a cross between a bicycle and a moped. It has pedals, and can be cycled like a conventional bike. Crucially, though, it has a hub motor which takes sufficient power from a frame-mounted lead acid battery to make pedalling almost unnecessary. Powabyke will run for between 20 and 25 miles depending on terrain and rider weight before the battery needs to be recharged from the domestic mains (charger supplied) - about 10p a time for up to four hours.
Sales and marketing manager Steve Loftus says they are developing a new prototype specifically for trial with Royal Mail and both a powered trike and lightweight foldaway e-bike will be launched in the UK in the next few months.