OWNERS of a city centre bike shop say it could be at the forefront of a revolution as it becomes the first independent store in the city to start selling electric bikes.

E-bikes use battery power to assist the motion of conventional pedals as a 'booster', enabling both a less strenuous cycle for riders and also as a way to achieve higher speeds.

The technology, which has been around for more than a decade, has not yet been met with open arms by cyclists, but sales and marketing manager at St Michael Street's Bike Zone thinks that customers will soon come around to the idea.

Tim Harris, 27, said: "We are the first independent bike shop in Oxford to really commit to these bikes.

"It is really the only growing part of the cycle market at the moment and it is a future market that can only get bigger.

"I think there is a lot of stigma about electric bikes at the moment as people see it as cheating but actually with education people realise that it isn't like that at all.

"Its good for getting people out on their bikes and for rehabilitation and there is a large number of health benefits with getting people on bikes."

He added that the motor-assisted bikes, which can only legally climb to assisted speeds of 15 and a half miles per hour would suit commuters who are living further and further afield due to the high cost of living and the worsening Oxford traffic.

The new bikes would also suit elderly cyclists, he said, who enjoy cycling but are less mobile and able to use the traditional pedal-powered cycles.

Addressing safety issues of motor-powered bicycles he assured that e-bikes were 'completely safe' and added: "The new system is so user friendly and safe. As soon as your stop pedalling the motor instantly cuts out.

"The technology has been improving all the time. Since it was introduced there have been some awful stuff and with advancements in automobile technology there have been a lot of improvements and it has got much better.

"It is a proper alternative form of transport now."

The store now has fifteen e-bikes in its stock and hopes to start stocking more if the technology takes off.

Mr Harris said there will also be seminars taking place at the Handle Bars cafe directly above the shop in a bid to teach people about the new designs and give them a try on the bikes with dates to be confirmed.

The Summertown branch of Bike Zone; Summertown Cycles, will also soon be stocking the new bikes and there are currently e-bikes being sold at national store Electric Bike Sales, based at Magdalen Road, East Oxford.