OPINION: So you're thinking of stocking electric bikes?

Bob Wales of Juicy Bikes provides his take on the market
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Entering the electric bicycle market as a retailer is a smart business decision. The promised and much hyped market for electric bikes in the UK is finally taking a hold. Recent indications have been very encouraging, with specialist electric bike shops showing healthy resilience during the recession.

Five years ago the German e-bike market was where the UK market is now at roughly 25,000 units sold each year. Now our German friends purchase in excess of ten times that figure with one third of all bikes sold being electric.

Consider how electric bikes will introduce new custom to your store by looking at your existing customers and asking are there any gaps? Are women catered for? Are your older riders still able to participate in their life-long sport or would they benefit from electric bikes that now offer adjustable levels of assistance from zero to 100per cent? Would you attract more onto two wheels if it wasn’t for the hills around your shop or if commuters felt they could arrive at work without sweat?

If the answer to any of the above is yes, then electric bikes are for you. Take your time to work out which type of customer you have in your area. Are they more likely to be interested in mountain bikes, commuter bikes or city bikes? Once you’ve established which type of customer and which style of bike is most suitable you should get in touch with members from BEBA and BA who uphold good business practice. You should make sure that the bikes you pick comply with EN15194 and have a certificate, also make sure that they have UN38.3 certificates for their batteries. After that it’s freewheeling. All BEBA and BA members have UK service support centres for training and spare parts.

E-bikes make cycling more inclusive, as it breaks down many of the barriers. More people on bikes is good for the whole industry. Statistically electric bikes are used up to five times more than conventional bikes, which means more servicing.

Bob Wales, director, Juicy Bike
beba-online.co.uk; bicycleassociation.org.uk

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