While fully person-powered transportation is best for the planet, sometimes you need a little juice behind you. That's why electric bikes are a great alternative to cars or motorcycles. Trouble is, they've never really caught on. Well, that may be about to change.

Schwinn just announced the release of a new line of electric bikes that look surprisingly slick (all the electrical components are cleverly hidden inside the frame tubes), and have an impressive set of stats. Plug in the rechargeable battery for just four hours to get a full charge, which amounts to a commuter-friendly 40 mile range. Also, with an aluminum frame and an electric drivetrain system weighing in at about 10 pounds, it's pretty light and maneuverable.

Make no mistake, these bikes are pricey: the least expensive model will cost you several hundred bucks more than a regular high-performance bike. It's sure cheaper than a car, though ...

Story by Jacquelyn Lane. This article originally appeared in Plenty in October 2006. This story was added to MNN.com in July 2009.

Copyright Environ Press 2006.