When you’re inside the bike industry it’s easy to forget that the whole e-bike concept can be something of a mystery to everyday consumers. Identified by some as an obstacle to the sector booming in the UK as it has done at the northern end of the continent and Far East, consumer awareness has not just been an issue for the local market – consumers on the other side of the world are also still in the early stages of getting to grips with the genre of product.
In Sydney, Australia, the burgeoning electric bike market is expected to grow with the whole cycle market, which is currently being nurtured by the local authorities. Sydney is undergoing healthy investment in bike infrastructure – to the tune of $76 million over the next four years. So serious is the ambition that a project, City of Sydney 2030, aims to make the centre of Sydney completely car-free. It’s a tall order maybe, but if the city can pull the feat off then it’s the kind of environment that can only be to the benefit of bike, and e-bike, businesses in the area.
One local company aiming to make the most of the potential in Sydney is Reef Bikes, one of the many bike companies springing up in the area.
Set up by keen cyclists Jovan Vucetic and George Kazacos, Reef Bikes is a new electric bike company not yet one year old. Vucetic is an entrepreneur and investor, responsible for strategy, brand and sales and marketing at the company. Kazacos’ background includes ten years of designing and importing recreational product specifically for the Australian market with Reef Group, which he founded.
Reef Bikes designs its own electric bike models, getting them manufactured in Taren Point Factory in China, using components from the likes of TopGun, Shimano, Velo, with high quality lightweight lithium batteries. Top of the Reef Bikes range is the Bull Shark e-bike, while at the other end of the range is the small foldable urban commuter e-bike Electric Blue.
Co-founder Vucetic said that e-bike market is showing encouraging signs of growth in Sydney. He said: “Most people don't know what electric bikes are here. They are a novelty, but are gaining popularity by the day. Driven by high fuel prices, environment sensitivity and obesity issues, cycling is booming here. New bike shops open every day, and existing ones are expanding.”
Reef Bikes plans to build the business by focusing on previously untapped markets, predominantly targeting women over 40, the firm tells BikeBiz, with older men also a key focus for the firm.
Marketing manager Nina Vucetic, sister of co-founder Jovan, tells BikeBiz: “We want project a fresh, modern image and brand to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.
“Our market is growing at a pretty fast pace, we have local government legislation providing the wind in our backs with many kilometers of cycle paths/lanes in the pipeline.”
“The environment and sustainable transport is central to our business. We believe we can reduce our country's congestion and traffic problems while at the same time grow as a business.”
Sydney’s cycle commitment
London may have Boris bikes and a growing cycle culture, but Sydney’s city council has impressive plans for cycling. At its heart is a ‘safe, convenient and sustainable’ 200 km network – including 55 km of separated cycleways.
As well as reducing congestion, the cycleways are hoped to cut emissions and improve public health. The routes have been designed to improve connections between employment, recreation and residential destinations.
Cycle events, free cycling courses, cycling ambassadors and other resources are also on offer to help get locals on their bikes.