Motorized Bicycle - Design and Usage

Design and Usage

Motorized bicycles have utilized all variety of engines, from internal-combustion (IC) two-stroke and four-stroke gasoline engines to electric, diesel, or even steam propulsion. Most motorized bicycles are based or derived from standard general-purpose bicycle frame designs and technologies, although exceptions abound. In addition, modifications to a standard bicycle frame to support motorization may be extensive.

The earliest motorized bicycles were ordinary utility bicycles fitted with an add-on motor and transmission to assist normal pedal propulsion, and it is this form which principally distinguishes the motorized bicycle from a moped or motorcycle. In a day when gasoline engine and transmission designs were in their infancy, and power-to-weight ratios were low, a dual-purpose propulsion system seemed particularly advantageous. As time went on, pedal propulsion was increasingly replaced by constant use of a two or four-stroke gasoline engine. Nevertheless, the concept of using motor assist for the ordinary bicycle has persisted, and the concept has periodically resurfaced over the years, particularly in times of austerity or fuel shortages. In countries where automobiles and/or fuels are prohibitively expensive, the motorized bicycle has enjoyed continued popularity as a primary mode of transportation.

The design of the motorized bicycle or motorbike varies widely according to intended use. Some motorized bicycles are powerful enough to be self-propelled, without use of the pedals. A development of the motorized bicycle is the moped, which commonly has only a vestigial pedal drive fitted primarily to satisfy legal requirements, and suitable only for starting the engine or for emergency use. The alternate design philosophy to the moped is the so-called motor-assist or pedal-assist bicycle. These machines utilize the pedals as the dominant form of propulsion, with the motor used only to give extra assistance when needed for hills or long journeys.

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