E-bike guru back-pedals on his claim that bicycles are history

Carlton Reid
E-bike guru back-pedals on his claim that bicycles are history

Hannes Neupert, founder and president of ExtraEnergy, an electric vehicle lobbying organisation based in Germany, told a Light Electric Vehicle (LEV) conference in 2010 that pedal-powered bicycles would go the way of the dodo:

“Electrification will kill the mechanical bicycle within a few years like it has killed many other mechanical products. Bicycles…will remain as historical items hanging on the wall.”

Responding to a current article that has resurrected the claims, Neupert said:

"I am a bicycle enthusiast and see, in the clever way of enhanced muscle power, a bright future [for e-bikes]."

He then backs away from his 2010 claim that pedal bicycles would wither and die but adds that his first view might come true after all:

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"I fully agree that the muscle power propelled twowheeler will never go away - I just see that electronic will get into it all over like it has done it in so many other lovely mechanical products and has brought them to a new glorious age due to the added ease of usage. But let's speak about this 10 years down the road - I believe that reality will have proven my version of this theory."

ExtraEnergy is one of the key electric vehicle organisations in Europe but it is not a member of ETRA, the European Two Wheel Retailers' Association. As reported on BikeBiz.com over the Christmas holiday, ETRA and the Bicycle Association have crossed swords over the proposed changing of the type-approval rules for motorbikes, the Motor Cycles Framework Regulation COM (2010) 542 by the IMCO Commission of the European Parliament.  These proposals are to be voted on by a plenary session of the EU Parliament in February.

CTC, Sustrans, European trade organisations Colibi and Coliped, and the European Cyclists' Federation also oppose ETRA's rule-change lobbying.  However, ETRA's lobbying has probably paid off, with a rule change, in ETRA's favour, expected soon.
It's highly likely that the UK Department for Transport will oppose the rule change.

Bicycle Association executive director Phillip Darnton said the rule change gave cause for "serious concern" and could "blur the distinction between what is/is not a bicycle." 

Further, Darnton said the EU rule change "presents considerable risks for road safety, especially in terms of continuous speed as well as acceleration.  It is not stated whether there would be any minimum age limit on the riders of these 25 kph electric vehicles, or where their use would be proscribed, eg whether allowed in cycle lanes."

Neupert revealed he's also opposed to ETRA's lobbying:

"The tendency of [ETRA] to ask for more and more power is not the real future. [And] when adding a power on demand throttle this will mean that you drop the pedals next and become a pure motorcycle. I have published in the latest ExtraEnergy magazine a proposal for future laws opposing to the current trend in the EU. Here I ask again for a combination of motor assist allowance in relationship to the muscle power input and a correlation between max assist speed supported by the electric enhancer and the muscle power input which is a new item."

Tags: etra , ebike , extraenergy

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