Electric bicycle sales are booming despite the high prices and difficult-to-understand rules


Dr. Gregory Marsen

Gregory Marsen and his electric bike

In a warm, unpleasantly humid afternoon at Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC, 53-year-old Dutch and former World Bank executive Gregory Marsen quickly bikes up a very steep hill.

“The hills here are pretty steep,” he says. “Despite the fact that I like to ride a bike, as many Dutch do, it wasn’t practical. That’s how I started e-biking. 2019 Get one a year and the rest is history. “

Maassen, who founded a powerful 250-member E-bike Lovers club in the US capital, is one of the hundreds of thousands who switched to electric bikes for fun or to move between cities and towns.

Simply put, an electric bike is a bike that uses an integrated electric motor to assist in propulsion. Some are equipped with throttles and can be used like mopeds, but they are all legally distinct from electric bikes because they can be pedaled.

In the United States, the industry, not the government, roughly categorizes electric bicycles into one of three categories.

Class 1 electric bicycles are equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when pedaling, and assist stops when the bicycle reaches 20mph (32km / h). Class 2 electric bicycles, on the other hand, are equipped with throttles that can be used to propel electric assist. ――Ride a bicycle at the same speed.

Class 3 bikes are equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and will stop when the electric bike reaches 28 mph (45 km / h).

Dr. Gregory Marsen

Electric bike riders often do not know what type of bike they own. Gregory Marsen said:

However, according to Marsen, the classification system is still confusing and often the rider himself does not know exactly what kind of bike he is using.

“It’s hard to understand what they are because they all look the same,” he explains. “Often it’s just a software issue that makes a difference.

“Next, we have a conversion kit. People build their own e-bikes and have no classification at all, or they buy merchandise on the internet. No one knows the type of spec,” Maassen said. I will add. “It’s very difficult to do that”

According to industry experts, the sector has been devastated by local governments and various international rules and regulations, providing a surprising number of ways for governments, manufacturers and trade associations to compare and contrast electric bikes. I am.

For example, in the United States, the National Park Service ignores the industry classification system and instead considers all classes of electric bicycles to run alongside bicycles on the park grounds, as long as the engine output does not exceed 750 watts. I am.

In the EU and UK, electric bikes that travel at speeds in excess of 15.5 miles per hour (25 km / h) or generate more than 250 watts of power without pedaling the bike are legally moped or It is considered a motorcycle and is subject to another regulation.

Richard Alvin, former London-based advisor to the UK Government and Group Managing Director of EV Powered

The turmoil about electric bikes can end up in a legal dispute, says Richard Alvin

“It’s frustrating to say the least,” says Richard Alvin, a former London-based adviser to the UK government and group managing director of EV Powered, an electric vehicle analysis and review company.

“The principle behind e-bikes is to allow cyclists to easily travel long distances in an environmentally friendly way. Often they make a large investment in purchases, but the law The interpretation is different. “

Claudia Wasko, vice president and general manager of California-based Bosch eBike Systems Americas, said confused rules could have even more serious consequences, along with media and marketing materials that misidentify vehicles as e-bikes. It says there is.

“Using them in facilities designed and designated for the use of bicycles and electric bicycles can lead to user disputes and can be illegal when riding in areas designated for bicycles. Yes, it will be more widely accepted. “

But confusing regulations have rarely diminished the growing public enthusiasm for technology.

In the United States alone, e-bike sales increased 116% from $ 8.3 million in February 2019 to $ 18 million (£ 12 million), according to market research firm NPD and advocacy group People For Bikes. By February of this year, sales had reached $ 39 million.

Terika Haynes, CEO and Founder of DT Scooters, said:

Demand for electric bikes outpaced supply during the pandemic, says Terica Haynes

Terica Haynes, CEO and founder of DT Scooters, an online retailer specializing in electric scooters and bicycles based in Florida, said the supplier was in a pandemic due to factory closures and supply chain disruptions. , States that it could not keep up with demand.

“We are still working on this issue. Unfortunately, it was a time to shine with people who want to go out, exercise, or buy an electric bike, but there is a shortage of supplies. was doing”

However, once these problems subside, some companies are using them as an alternative to bicycle tours, either as a result of increased use as an alternative to urban travel, or as an easier alternative to bicycle tours in cities around the world. , Haynes believes that e-bike adoption will continue to increase.

More business technology

As an example, DT Scooters points out that a number of e-bikes intended for use by European ride-sharing companies prior to the pandemic could be purchased in bulk at “very good wholesale prices.”

In the short term, the relatively high price of e-bikes can be exorbitant for casual riders. It often costs between $ 1,500 and $ 4,000 (£ 1,000 to £ 2,800), but some high-end machines can cost up to $ 10,000, depending on the accessories included.

“Prices are rising, which applies to all categories of both analog bikes and electric bikes,” says Ryan Berkicht of Pacific Cycle, which sells electric bikes under the Schwinn brand.

“The supply chain is still under stress and [manufacturers] The charges for circuit boards and various electrical components are high. Imagine the price of an electric bike going up for several years. “

In the long run, he says, as more e-bikes are produced and more potential e-bike riders come into contact with this technology, prices will go down.

“Electric bikes are exciting. When you put your foot on an electric bike, it makes a clicking sound. It offers many opportunities to do things that analog bikes probably can’t do. I’ll give everyone a try. Please recommend to. “

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