An e-bike is a bicycle that has an integrated electric motor, some are equipped with a throttle and can be used similar to a moped, but they can all be pedalled. Despite the large price tag and the confusing laws around riding e-bikes, e-bikes sales have more than tripled, as the health crisis has steered people away from using public transport.
E-Bikes in the US
E-bikes are proving popular across the globe, not just in the UK. In the US, e-bikes are becoming the norm with cycling clubs being founded. Gregory Maassen is a 53-year-old Dutchman living in Washington DC, and he has founded an E-Bike Lovers club with over 250 members. Maassen was converted to a motorised bike after finding the inclines exceptionally hard on his commute to work.
In the US, e-bikes are classified into three categories;
Class 1: E-bikes with a motor that only provides assistance when pedalling, and stops when the bike hits 20mph.
Class 2: E-bikes equipped with a throttle that can be used to power the bike to 20mph.
Class 3: E-bikes that come with a motor that only provides assistance when the cyclist is pedalling and stopping when the bike reaches 28mph.
Maassen says that the classification of the e-bikes makes it confusing for cyclists, as they don’t often know which class their bike falls into; “It's difficult to understand what class they are because they all look the same", he explains.
E-Bikes in the UK
In the UK and EU, motorised bikes either fall into the category of ‘e-bike’ or ‘moped’. For it to be classed as an e-bike, it must have pedals that can be used to propel it and the motor is just to assist pedalling. The motor must have a maximum power of 250 watts, and the motor shouldn’t be able to power the bike above 15.5ph. E-bikes in the UK hold the same laws as a regular bike, but you must be 14 years old or older to ride one, however, you do not need a license, and it doesn’t need to be taxed or insured.
E-Bike Sales and Retailers
An e-bike can cost anywhere from £900 to £3,500, and despite the hefty price tag compared to a standard pedal bike, e-bike sales are expected to grow. According to Forbes, sales are predicted to grow to 17 million by 2030. The market in 2020, was already up by 23% from 2019 and based on these figures, there are predicted to be 10 million electric bikes sold per year from 2024.
While many retailers were struggling through the pandemic, bike shops and repair stores could not relate. Halford’s Chief Executive, Graham Stapleton said, “The electric bike growth has been significant, nearly one in three of our adult bikes are electric”. According to Mintel, UK shoppers purchased 2.5 million bikes last year, and even though only 100,000 of them were e-bikes, this figure was up 40% from the previous year.
Lockdown has created a huge hunger for cycling across the globe, but especially in the UK, with many people replacing their public transport commute for an e-bike. The bikes are quicker, more sustainable, and safer in regards to COVID-19 and avoiding crowded spaces.