Considerable amount of E-bike brands, discounting their mid drive models

Mike's E-Bikes

Well-Known Member
Nearly every year at this time, and late fall, I do a recon on a lot of brands, and their various dealers to scan whats happening with prices. This year, there are numerous mid drive brands showing generous discounts (unusual due to MAP policies), and yet ironically, prices on hub drives models keep creeping up (most likely due to tariffs, and/or the fact many have held their prices steady for past several years, and now just can't hold them.)

Last season it was Haibike dealers showing massive discounts, and they still are, but seems to be fewer (we all know what happened with them last year so won't delve into that here), but now its many brands, both large and small. My guess is that for a number of them, the mid drives are just not moving out of stores in the quantities they expected.

There are more mid drive models out this past year (2018) than ever before, and even Panasonic has gotten into the mid drive game, packaging it with their batteries (and sounds like controls, display, controller, etc.)

I have a suspicion, and its only a gut feel, that total ebike industry sales in the US will be relatively flat year over year, and that some vendors will do exceedingly well, while others will go off the radar screen. (including a couple of the more notable names). IF this happens, I don't blame the tariffs, which will be more coincidental to other bigger trends, but the US has seen some really great ebike growth since 2015, and any flatness could be more due to the overall economy in general, and then some industry re-positioning from some over-shoots on their estimates. (leading to more discounting this year by the way, than we have seen in the past 4 years).

And yes, like all prognostications, I could be totally wrong. China trade deal could be resolved, with tariffs (ebikes category included) going away, and all sorts of consumer buying enthusiasm could re-kick in, with the entire economic system breathing a big sigh of relief. Or if the stock market resumes its volatility from late last year, that might put a damper on consumer buying.

Anyway, keeping fingers crossed that its just another great year for more ebike sales, and more people getting into it in a big way.
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
I think their are just too many players in the mid-drive market already and mountain / off-road ebikes are the primary beneficiary of mid-drive performance advantages vs. hub drives. The tariff certainly raised prices and it's had a negative impact on sales for sure (there was never a good justification for an ebike tariff given that the US long ago outsourced most of design and manufacturing capability and the tariffs are unlikely to bring it back so nothing but a cost increase to the consumer).

It would be nice if there was a "standard" mounting bracket that most / all the mid-drives were compatible with. They could still go proprietary on the high-end models. I just see a day when someone has a dead mid-drive motor and the OEM isn't making or carry inventory of the motors or service parts because they don't think of this industry like the automotive companies do (maybe Bosch does but hard to image the other mid-drive manufacturers are worried about service-ability 5 years out.

I like hub drives for the transportation / commuting market because they're essentially interchange-able or will be replaceable with a different hub motor and controller regardless if the existing motor is still in production.
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
I suspect there is a lot going on here and it will be extremely difficult separating the signal from the noise.

One observation I would make is that I would expect bicycle and e-bike sales to be highly seasonal and having discounted sales of last year's models at the end of the year isn't all that surprising.

Another observation is that your observations could easily be skewed by brand as well. If most of the hub-drive models you are looking at are (say) Rad Power and Pedego that would likely be a large portion of the total market by bikes but by brand and distribution channel not so much.

I also think that if you are predicting flat sales for 2019 you'd need more information than what you are describing here. You might well be right but I'd like to see more information to back that assertion up.

In general I strongly suspect that consumer spending patterns with respect to transportation are very likely undergoing a radical change in the United States right now. One big factor is that there are two huge technological shifts in automobiles going on simultaneously -- self-driving vehicles and electric vehicles. It makes sense to me that if your car works for you right now you'd be extremely wise to wait a few years to replace it. I also think you could make a plausible story about families with multiple cars replacing one of the cars with a few e-bikes.

What I'm trying to say is that there are lots of moving parts in this system and you should be very cautious about extracting any trend line from a subset of that system.
 

Tim859

Member
I think their are just too many players in the mid-drive market already and mountain / off-road ebikes are the primary beneficiary of mid-drive performance advantages vs. hub drives. The tariff certainly raised prices and it's had a negative impact on sales for sure (there was never a good justification for an ebike tariff given that the US long ago outsourced most of design and manufacturing capability and the tariffs are unlikely to bring it back so nothing but a cost increase to the consumer).

It would be nice if there was a "standard" mounting bracket that most / all the mid-drives were compatible with. They could still go proprietary on the high-end models. I just see a day when someone has a dead mid-drive motor and the OEM isn't making or carry inventory of the motors or service parts because they don't think of this industry like the automotive companies do (maybe Bosch does but hard to image the other mid-drive manufacturers are worried about service-ability 5 years out.

I like hub drives for the transportation / commuting market because they're essentially interchange-able or will be replaceable with a different hub motor and controller regardless if the existing motor is still in production.
I never thought about hub drives this way but your right. I recently purchased a Bosch mid drive and I'm worried 3-4 years from now if I'll be able to get parts. It's kinda scary jumping into the ebike market and wondering if companies will around in a few years. That's one of the reason I went with a major manufacturer. At least I'm covered for a couple of years. I'd like convert one of my bikes to a hub drive.
 

JimFMB

Member
I don’t think you have to worry about Bosch going away anytime soon. They are a very large and successful international company that plays a very dominate role in the industry. They have substantial dealer networks (Trek for example) that have significant service support. It does appear that they are also sensitive to a certain price range that is palatable to the general consumer with development of the improved active line motors and the purion controller/display for consumers that want to economize their purchase and still get a quality product.
 

Nutella

Active Member
Part of it is normal industry shakeout as everyone jumps in to try to grab sales and some guys don't make it. Part of it is that ebikes are more susceptible to technology creep than an ordinary bicycle as the latest and greatest in the motor wars are released every year.
 

Alex M

Active Member
In urban area where I am, most ebikes are commuters. The goal is getting from A to B with minimum sweat, minimum upfront cost and minimum replacement parts cost. This is not where big brand mid-drives shine. It is possible that low-cost commuters are becoming a bigger market segment than leisure/sport use (in the US, because in Asia this is obviously so).
 

JohnT

Active Member
I believe ebike demand is still growing, but perhaps not as fast as ebike supply. There are a lot of small companies trying to get in on the action, not realizing how hard it is to maintain sales and support over time.

I’ve heard that Haibike does year-end closeouts, but I hadn’t noticed other mid-drive brands doing the same.

I’m a Pedego dealer. We do mid-drives, but we have to be the big dog when it comes to hub motor ebikes. We don’t really do model years, so we don’t have last year’s models to close out. Again, I hadn’t noticed any correlation with other brands. I should pay more attention!