Over the last 25 years of working in the bike business, I have seen a lot of new products come and go. Some are part of the current bike ecosystem, but most are not. I recall two previous attempts at making ebikes (electric assist) a mainstay in bicycle offerings. At that time, the bikes simply were not ready for prime time, similar to what happened with early electric cars. Today however, as we see the electric cars taking hold in the market, we are seeing the same momentum with ebikes.
In Europe, ebikes have become very commonplace and an integral part of their transportation infrastructure. In the US it is now taking off. We have seen a threefold increase in sales and a huge commitment by Trek in ebikes. I became a believer long ago after spending time riding ebikes, but more importantly sharing the experience with my wife.
This past weekend we planned on riding in a group ride sponsored by the League of Michigan Bicyclists. It was a hilly terrain, so I suggested to my wife that she use one of our demo ebikes. As a very recreational rider she was eager to try. In the 30 years that we have been cycling together, I cannot recall being the one behind and struggling to keep up! She was not concerned about what gear she was in, that there was a pretty steep hill ahead, that there was a 17mph headwind , or that we had another 30 miles to go. She was truly enjoying the rolling scenery and thinking about what wine she was going to taste at our next stop. She was happy that she was outside, pedaling a bicycle (you still have to pedal), but not so wiped out that she couldn't enjoy the ride.
My case for an ebike is simple:
- It removes the physical barrier that prevents some people from enjoying the cycling experience.
- For those that currently ride but do so apprehensively, it will help bridge the desire to ride more often, ride farther, and ultimately increase their level of fitness.
- They provide a means of transportation for many that would otherwise use their car to run an errand. About 50% of all trips by car are 5 miles or less. An ebike makes that trip distance possible.
- It provides a cycling commute to and from work without breaking a sweat. (At least not on the way to work - race you home!)
- They allow people of two different abilities to ride together.
I encourage everyone to try an ebike just once. I guarantee you’ll walk away with a smile and some surprise at how fun these bikes truly are.
Michael Reuter, CEO
American Cycle & Fitness