Distinguished Student Work

Ride Like the Wind Without Getting Winded: The Growth of E-bike Use

Shiqi Cheng '23, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Rohan Jain '23, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Daniel Ma '23, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Bikrant Bhattacharyya '24, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Albert Han '24, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

The team scored in the top 25% at the 2023 M3C Math Modeling Competition.


This briefing was written to highlight the increasing use of e-bikes and their environmental applications in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

The current and future traction that e-bikes have and will be receiving in the upcoming years is of great interest to this growing industry. To begin, we analyzed predictions for the growth in e-bike sales for the next 2 years and for the next 5 years using an exponential model which represents the data with a confidence interval of over 0.96. We found that for the U.S., e-bike sales would nearly quadruple in 2028 compared to the last data point from 2022 with about 3,723,130 sales. As for the UK, sales would increase by nearly tenfold by 2028 from its last data point in 2019, yielding about 33,593,700 e-bikes in sales.

As we see the usage of e-bikes increase, it is also important to consider the factors that have contributed to this growth, and the future implications of each of these factors. The factors that we zeroed in on were (1) environmental awareness amongst the population, (2) gas prices, (3) personal welfare and finances amongst the population, (4) the importance of health and exercise, and (5) the “coolness factor“ – a measure of how increased visibility of e-bikes encourage demand. For each of these factors (that could be quantified by data), we compared the magnitude of their effects to the sale of e-bikes in the U.S. and UK respectively. This comparison was then fitted to linear, exponential, or power law model based on statistical best fit. Our model showed that in the United States, disposable income and gas prices were has significant impact on the market of e-bikes, while other factors including environmental awareness doesn’t have as statistically significant of an impact. For the UK, our data showed that disposable income was also a significant factor while other factors like gas prices didn’t have as much of an impact.

It is also important for us to quantify the positive effects of switching to e-bikes. The third part of our paper details how we mathematically determined how the UK was able to reduce their CO2 emissions by 31.48 billion kilograms. We did this by using data regarding the percentage of people who travel in different forms of automotive transportation and the number of miles traveled in each form across the U.S. and UK.

As we move into the future, we are confident that the use of e-bikes is near. Though we are only in the primitive stages. we have mathematically modelled, with high confidence, a prediction of significant growth in sales of e-bikes. To understand the foundation, we analyzed reasons for why our models predicted high sales, and found them to be positive: they save gas money and raise environmental awareness. Then to understand the implications, we analyzed how recent growth in the use of e-bikes has positively affected the world, and we saw that it significantly helped reduce carbon emissions.

As we move into the future, we hope that our findings will allow you to support the movement of citizens of the U.S. and the UK switching from various automotive services to e-bikes.