E-bikes could help switch new consumers on to cycling

While not a favourite for many UK bike retailers, the electric bike has the potential to unlock hard-to-reach markets
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Ever keen to listen to the market, BikeBiz has launched a new regular electric bike section of the magazine, which you can find on page 33 of this month’s edition. Go on, have a quick peek. Seen it? So now you’re wondering why we’ve gone and created the section?

Let me explain: While the market isn’t exactly cleaning up in the UK just yet – and many bike retailers suck their teeth and tut whenever ‘e-bikes’ are mentioned (you might even be shaking your head disapprovingly as you read this), there is – we think – something in the electric market.

There are rooms full of head honchos in the bike trade, filled with cigar smoke, drinking more coffee and/or whisky than is good for them and gruff talking at each other, arguing over how to grow the cycle market (and if there isn’t, there surely should be).

Innovations in gearing technology, super-light frame materials and accessories are great for keeping the bike retail space interesting, fresh and lively. But do they actually grow the market? Or are we selling to the same bunch of people – preaching to the converted, if you will? Nothing wrong with that, of course, but if you want to grow a business, or an industry, there must be some thought dedicated to how to appeal to new (potential) customers.

On paper, e-bikes should be a boon for the less fit who are eager to dabble in longer cycle rides and – perhaps more significantly – older generations or the disabled that can find the effort required for cycling prohibitively difficult. Then there is potential cycle commuters unwilling to turn up at work sweaty, and those that live in hilly areas put off by nearby gradients…The list goes on.

Sadly, lacking the skills to see into the future, we cannot predict whether the e-bike market will ever take off significantly in the UK – or should we say more significantly than it already is. But while we’re waiting, we’re dedicating regular space to the market in the hope that e-bikes can fulfil expectations here in Britain.

Sure enough, e-bikes won’t force minicab firm bosses to side with cyclists or ensure the government thinks of bikes when it creates new roads, but if those electric marvels can widen the UK cycle market just a fraction, then everyone is, we think, a winner.

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