VERY early days for this new pedelec forum based in USA. I’m interested to consider how the bits and pieces from China and Taiwan are assembled differently, marketed differently and named by different companies between here and over there.
Does the UK have the kind of customers found in mainland Europe? Do Brits buy because they ‘have to’, not because they want to?
With electric bikes very much in focus this month, much thanks to the Bicycle Association calling a second gathering of the trade to discuss the market’s future, it seems fitting to do a bit of thinking out loud on the topic.
First of all, if you’ve yet to read the summary of the meet, perhaps head here first to read what the professionals had to say during the late November meet.
Now, let’s not beat around the bush – the evolution of the market in the UK has been like watching paint dry, thus far, at least. In my opinion, the UK’s demographic will never really change, no matter how flashy the bikes and technology to back them becomes. The electric bike is largely suited to the over 50s rider with creaky knees and anyone who requires that little extra bit of push up a hill, whether it be down to disability, or simply bought as the first stepping stone in a regime to get in shape.
The famous post-war French moped is still around today- and will cost you less than an electric bike if you can afford the new tyres driven directly by the little engine on the front. When I was a kid, my older brother and his wizard mechanic mate fitted a two-stroke to drive the back wheel of his bike like this. The engine had been salvaged fromwhat is known as a social tandem or social bike, a four wheeler with two seats and sets of pedals. That vehicle was used by the local vicar and his wife on their pastoral duties before they moved on to the luxury of a Bond three wheeler minicar. The reason I mention the Solex is that it is now produced as an electric bike, its folding version described on this site.
How many time have you met people who ask if an ‘electric bike’ is one where you generate yje battery power by pedalling? While there are some bikes that ‘regenearte’ when you are on a long straight or going downhill, the current they provide is negligible, and for the forseeable future ebikes will rely on the big heavy batteries that take hours to charge.
Now, however, the Mando Footloose looks set to changeall that, with the bike due to be launched in Europe in 2013. Hre is a chainless machine with an alternator dtiven by pedalling which does just what the confused always thought an electric bike does. Read here a full description with many images.
I’m not blind to the wiles of marketing especially when it comes to hyping ‘sustainability’. and general environmental concerns. Nevertheless, the idea of integrated transportability in cities is important. In any case, this bike looks lovely! I am more than slightly off topic as far as this blog goes but it does make me think as a ‘concerned citizen’ of starting another one!
In any case, the question of the relevance to sales of electric bikes is pertinent. Other countries such as China – and Germany – seemmore foreward in normalising electric bikes, and the question remains as to why the UK market has not (yet?) ‘taken off’.
Interesting and informative round-up of e-bike products for 2013 from road.cc