Out of nowhere, a new trend accelerated into the forefront of the picture this past year, giving millions of legs a much-deserved break. But now, E-bikes are asking for one, too.
While E-bikes are being told to stay off some trails, bike experts are telling us why they’re perfectly safe for the environment. Before we get to that, we need to look at its sudden rise in popularity.
In December 2019, all eyes were on virtually every industry, except the most obvious one – outdoor recreation.
But, the tech industry experts at Deloitte were watching.
Sure enough, they called it.
According to Forbes, they predicted the pandemic would spark a bull market for the E-bike industry, anticipating a surge between 2020-2023 with sales reaching at least 130 million E-bikes nationwide. (I won’t mention what happened at the start of 2020, but I’m betting you already guessed.) In fact, national market research organization NPD Group reports E-bike sales hit $560 million in 2020, which was a 137% jump from the year before.
“With the pandemic, more people have been wanting to get outdoors more often, and have been moving toward the E-bike to get themselves back on the trail,” CBI Bikes bike shop manager Landon Poulter said. “We have had them in stock since our shop first opened, but we’re definitely noticing them thinning-out this past year, especially as we head into the end of the season.”
Currently, the E-bike industry exploded worldwide, with some companies even offering E-bikes to employees as an incentive to come back to work.
In July, Amazon launched a new bike subsidy program to help make the daily commute more tolerable for its employees, using E-bikes.
Tolerable? Shoot, we would be all about that, given most of Idaho is 90% hills, and paying for gas is costing us everything but our dignity (debatable).
Cities across the world are now promoting E-bike programs, with British Columbia nixing the sales tax on E-bikes. Up and down California, it’s nearly impossible to travel anywhere without seeing riders pedaling effortlessly on their E-bikes. In fact, several SoCal cities received millions in state funding to stock E-bike hubs around town.
Unlike coastal communities, Poulter said electronic mountain bikes have been the biggest seller at CBI Bikes.
This E-bike trend has been around for years. And if you’re thinking, “Duh. Yamaha already started the electric assist bike in the 1990s,” think again. Yes, the lithium-ion battery was invented in 1991, which drastically reduced the weight load of the original E-bike patent — from 1895!
Yep, the original E-bike patent dates back 126 years ago.
On December 31, 1895, good ol’ Ogden Bolton Jr. of Canton, Ohio was celebrating a lot more than ringing-in the new year. He submitted this remarkable design, detailing his invention of the world’s first electric bicycle.
Seriously, check-out the specs here.
Good effort, buddy. But, there were two big problems with his original design: the weight of the bike, and there was probably more battery life in that obnoxious birthday card you got from Aunt Patty last year.
Since then, Poulter said there are countless E-bike models, accommodating every rider, from those who are just hoping for a more enjoyable morning commute to work, to those scrubbin’ jumps down some serious rock gardens in the Tetons.
So, choosing which E-bike is right for you, should be fairly straightforward.
“There’s an E-bike for every type of bike you would normally ride,” Poulter explained. “We see a lot of people come in, of all ages, who want some help going further distances. We even see riders rehabbing from injuries, and those who haven’t been mountain biking in awhile, who just want to get back out on the trails. It’s an equalizer for people hoping to get back into biking.”
Poulter noted, CBI Bikes has been diligent about keeping the shop stocked with E-bikes to fit different riding styles, including: hardtail, full-suspension, gravel, and road E-bikes.
Poulter added, there are two types of E-bikes: throttle assist and pedal assist. Right now, CBI Bikes only carries pedal assist E-bikes, which means you still get to pedal, but your legs won’t be on fire 15 minutes into your hill climb.
But, informing trail conservationists of just how harmless pedal assist bikes are, has been an uphill battle for some bike experts. Somehow, E-bikes gained a misunderstood reputation, causing a number of communities to ban them from biking trails.
“There’s a fear they’ll damage the trails, but in reality, there’s just not enough throttle or torque to allow that to happen,” Poulter pointed-out. “These bikes have the same impact as a normal mountain bike.”
He said electronic mountain bikes usually have four settings that assist you up the mountain. Each mode provides another degree of power you need. The bikes top-out at 20 miles per hour, making it perfect for your little ones to finally have a chance to keep up with you.