We recently returned from Eurobike, the largest bike industry trade show in the world, and one of the primary themes that dominated the show was E-bikes.
What Are E-Bikes
Put simply, e-bikes are bicycles assisted by an electric motor, most of which travel at a speeds up to 20 MPH. In many cases they are traditional bicycles that have been equipped with an aftermarket conversion kit.
Most jurisdictions, nationally and internationally make a distinction between a motorcycle and electric bicycle and as a result electric bicycles aren’t subject to the same laws and regulations as a motorcycle. A major difference between a motorcycle and an electric bike is the rider still pedals a bicycle but is assisted by the electric motor either as a result of their pedaling action (known as a pedelec) or by a handlebar throttle.
The range of e-bikes can vary widely depending on the weight of the rider and the extent of hills that are covered during the ride. Typical stated ranges vary from 5 – 25 miles. Prices for just the conversion kit can range from several hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.
E-Bikes Gaining Popularity
E-bikes are still in relative infancy, especially in the United States, but are rapidly gaining popularity both in the US and abroad. 2010 sales in the US are expected to hit 300,000, which is significantly less than the 1,000,000 expected in Europe but double the number of 2009 sales. Both of these pale in comparison to China where it is estimated there are 120,000,000 E-bikes.
As the popularity of E-bikes continues to grow it’s no surprise the number of manufacturers of conversion kits and E-bike retailers has also increased. This was certainly evident at Eurobike this year.
The number of retailers installing conversion kits on Montague folding bikes has also increased, both in the US and internationally. We had several existing international Montague dealers stop by our Eurobike booth and let us know how well sales are going and how well the bikes are suited for conversion kits. For riders interested in e-bikes, combining an electric assist conversion kit with the portability of a Montague further extends the utility of our folding bikes.
There was plenty of focus around E-bikes at Eurobike and predictions are strong for future worldwide growth. It will be interesting to see how much coverage there is at Interbike, the largest US bicycle trade show, at the end of September.
Critics of E-bikes cite the environmental impact resulting from battery usage and electrical consumption but there are also plenty of positives that come from more people getting on bikes. E-bikes are attracting a segment of the marketplace that might not have otherwise considered getting a bike.
It’s likely that E-bikes will be around for good, but as with all products, the pace of that growth will be determined by the marketplace.
Montague bikes can be equipped with electric conversion kits along with any other after-market part, as all of our bikes use industry standard parts. Give us a call if you need help finding a local Montague dealer.
Do you have any experience with E-bikes? Let us know what you think in the comments below.