Highly Informed....Not!

D

Deleted member 803

Guest
Helped my local bike dealer do a demo day/booth at the local farmers market. Had 4 bike vendor reps and about 8 people helping out in the booth. The interest was surprisingly high. Here are a few of the stats I observed:

a. Average age of interested persons: Dead or slightly older
b. Primary reason for interest: Infirmity of one sort of the other
c. General bicycle knowledge: NONE
d. Awareness of e-bikes: Less than NONE
e. Primary use intent: Shopping at the corner store, weekend ride around the neighborhood
f. Most popular style: Low step-thru, big fat cushy seat, cargo basket, very few gears. Look at the recent review of the EZ Pedaler T500 and you will see the kind of bike that generated the most interest
g. Expectation of Price: $750 or below.


My point in posting this is twofold:

a. those who visit bike shops regularly and are considered cyclists of some sort are a disinterested target market.
b. For the existing bicycling community, ebikes represent a solution in search of a problem.

My initial supposition about improving the exposure of ebikes and sales volume by proactively reaching the non-cycling community is supported by today's observations and also fortifies my opinion that retail bike shops are definitely not the correct go to market strategy. My opinion is further fortified by the collective rejection of my opinions amongst vendors and dealers.

P.S. I asked one of the reps for an Accell Group brand if he could supply me with 100 or more bikes a quarter. He smiled and politely said, "that kind of volume would be difficult for us to accommodate."

P.P.S. There need to be exceptional circumstances that provide market leverage. As an example, Google today announced a $5M grant program to local communities in the SF Bay Area who present bicycle transportation initiatives (such as dedicated urban bike paths). I am also encouraged that there are more and more city initiatives that would present the public with readily accessible bike sharing programs: a program that lends itself to ebikes if the battery charging issues can be addressed.
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
There are strange cross-currents in the ebike world. California will let people ride ebikes on bike paths, legally. But they are creating a type of electric bike that is too fast, so they are not allowed on paths. The big companies seem to like the idea of selling speed to people with enough experience to appreciate it. But then you might ask, if people are fit, why they need the 'help'. Google will fund bike programs, but ebikes are moving away from being bikes. I liked the original idea of developing cycling transportation systems, but the fast bikes likely won't make that cut.

This goes quickly to the whole idea of urban versus suburban. I don't know where that ends up. I don't know if any bike is a reasonable year round method of transport in many places. Bike paths go with higher density and walkable streets and main streets with shopping, services, and jobs. Cycling, by itself, doesn't change much.

You have the great mass of people who might just use a cheap ebike (the only kind they would buy) as a kind of scooter. There may be people who would ride the ebike to the shopping scooter at Walmart and get on that scooter.

If you have low income young people, with the obvious jobs in areas like fast food, maybe they ride ebikes as a pure form of transportation. But why do fit young people need an ebike, or how far do they want to go if it is a primary means of transport? There is some potential here, but zero sign it is developing. My closest ebike shop has one such commuter, and many upscale older riders who basically are invisible. There's no question about the step-through profile.

The best case is that people realize a $1200 ebike is a very useful tool, and something that can be a lot of fun. In the end, the industry will have to build on that. I don't think arguments about mid-drive and fancy gearing systems have much relevance to that. If you have a brilliant marketing formula, I hope it works. Was this the year ebikes were going to have the big breakthrough? Has it happened?
 
D

Deleted member 803

Guest
Price and feature set is irrelevant to value proposition. It is perceived value that needs to be addressed. The sharper folks in the industry that I have talked to believe we are perhaps a decade or two from any decent ebike volumes and even there there is some skepticism that the market will develop. North America is fighting a cultural issue with regards to cycling. We are first and foremost an automotive society.
 
I have hope for ebike growth because of my own experience as a newcomer. 5 years ago I looked into ebikes, and dismissed them completely because of form factor, availability, and performance. I put ebikes completely out of my mind until a month ago. I am delighted to find I have many beautiful models to choose from, to match any type of riding, with plenty of range and performance for my needs, from three different shops within 25 miles of my house. I expect to make a purchase this week
 

PowerMe

Well-Known Member
People who have no trouble cycling, getting up hills, are not commuting 10-20 mi on a bike, and can easily ride 15+ miles recreationally aren't going to see the need for an eBike, which, if they even know about, they often perceive as 'cheating' somehow. They don't know you can actually get a workout using an eBike. There's no real advertising about eBikes. I didn't know about them until I found myself frustrated trying to ride my hybrid bike in my area with all the rolling hills and being so out of shape and having to walk the bike. It was at that point I went in search of a solution and started down the motorized bike/eBike path. 6 months later I had my EVO Street.

So first it's a problem of awareness -- that these bikes even exist. Then it's setting the stage for their best use (commuting, out-of-shape, alternative to car, dealing with hills, etc), segmenting the market, knowing the population who is being seen and customizing the message to that segment. Then it's making eBikes (and several different kinds of eBikes) available widely to try out because everyone reports back that when a friend tries out an eBike, they dismount with a big smile on their face and they suddenly 'get it.' It's not something you can truly understand in theory--it's a visceral feeling of exhilaration and possibility. Because the cost is often 3x to 10x the price of a conventional bike, it's a different value proposition than just "riding a bike in the park."
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
People who have no trouble cycling, getting up hills, are not commuting 10-20 mi on a bike, and can easily ride 15+ miles recreationally aren't going to see the need for an eBike, which, if they even know about, they often perceive as 'cheating' somehow. They don't know you can actually get a workout using an eBike. There's no real advertising about eBikes. I didn't know about them until I found myself frustrated trying to ride my hybrid bike in my area with all the rolling hills and being so out of shape and having to walk the bike. It was at that point I went in search of a solution and started down the motorized bike/eBike path. 6 months later I had my EVO Street.

So first it's a problem of awareness -- that these bikes even exist. Then it's setting the stage for their best use (commuting, out-of-shape, alternative to car, dealing with hills, etc), segmenting the market, knowing the population who is being seen and customizing the message to that segment. Then it's making eBikes (and several different kinds of eBikes) available widely to try out because everyone reports back that when a friend tries out an eBike, they dismount with a big smile on their face and they suddenly 'get it.' It's not something you can truly understand in theory--it's a visceral feeling of exhilaration and possibility. Because the cost is often 3x to 10x the price of a conventional bike, it's a different value proposition than just "riding a bike in the park."
Great points, @PowerMe .
The real cheating is to sit in a SUV and drive to office. I call those kind of vehicles, glorified wheel chairs!

Also, one of the benefit is cognitive ease - No need to plan you ride or worry about hills, it's truly one of the best pleasures one can derive and push their dopamine levels without taking drugs. Not to mention the health benefits from regular biking.
 

PowerMe

Well-Known Member
IF you have safe roads or paths to cycle on to get to the office. I explored commuting by bike and realized it would double or triple the amount of time to get there and back and, more importantly, there is one dangerous 2-lane road I simply can't avoid no matter what path I take. So, I drive my car and keep my ebiking for recreation, which was my original intent anyway.
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
IF you have safe roads or paths to cycle on to get to the office. I explored commuting by bike and realized it would double or triple the amount of time to get there and back and, more importantly, there is one dangerous 2-lane road I simply can't avoid no matter what path I take. So, I drive my car and keep my ebiking for recreation, which was my original intent anyway.
Sorry to hear about your commute route.
Some people on the roads = morons. It's really not worth taking the risk.
If you do ride in the traffic , I might have to send some flowers your way :p.
eBiking for fitness = 100 times better than tread mill. Enjoy...