Advertise on Bikeforums.net



User Tag List

Results 1 to 16 of 16
  1. #1
    Super Moderator Allen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Atomic batteries to power; turbines to speed
    My Bikes
    Salsa La Raza, Panasonic Electric, Bria, Bamboo touring, Bamboo cargo
    Posts
    4,687
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Is the electric bike market in North America really that obscure?

    http://www.bosch-ebike.de/en/custome..._brands_2.html
    ^^^
    Just check out the amount of brands using the Bosh system. And then check out some of the bikes those companies have available, they are astounding. Nearly all are only available in Europe.

    Why is the selection in the US so limited?
    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen
    I believe that in this case "solid meh" means "so 'meh' that it could never be anything more than 'meh', and yet also no less than 'meh' -- in a word, exactly 'meh'"

  2. #2
    Daily Rider Robert C's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Salt Lake, UT
    My Bikes
    This list got too long: several ‘bents, an urban utility bike, and a dahon D7 that my daughter has absconded with.
    Posts
    921
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Why is the selection in the US so limited?
    There are several reasons for the limited US selection of e-bikes. However, they almost all relate to demand and urban planning, which, of course, impacts demand.
    E-bikes clearly have not found their place in American society yet. This translated to minimal demand and accordingly minimal offerings. First I will also add that, when in the US, I live in Ashland OR, where e-bike usage is high. That being said, Ashland is one of the few places I have seen frequent usage. In other US cities, which lack Ashland’s unique features, e-bikes are a rare sight.

    The first issue related to greater market choice is; where would one sell an e-bike? While it is slowly changing, established bike shops tend to treat e-bikes with grave disdain. As can even be seen here in this forum, many people who consider themselves serious bicyclists are very put off by e-bikes and do not hesitate their opinion that potential e-bike riders would be better served by a petrol vehicle.

    This results in, as stated, less willingness to purchase e-bikes; after all, even the bicyclists are saying, “just drive.” This results in less shops being willing to stock e-bikes and the cycle continues.

    Yes, this is counterproductive to long term cycling advocacy; however, that is not the concern of those who deride e-bikes. The reality is that for most the bicycle is an inferior substitute (in economic terms, not social value). The e-bike provides an excellent means of reducing auto dependency; but, I am preaching to the choir here.

    Other than lack of presence in shops and social derision, e-bikes have other problems in the US market which are unique from the European markets (and I understand the European market, I am significantly more aware of the peculiarities on the Chinese market). One of the first issues, already touched on, is that the US market treats any bicycle usage as suspect. Further the purchase of expensive bicycles is treated as outright folly.

    Going beyond these social issues are the issues of urban planning. Very simply, the US is more spread out. This means longer distances to travel for work and recreation. These longer distances are traveled on higher speed roads. This brings the first major difference between US and many European bicycles. Most European bicycles are severely limited on permissible power output. The low level of power assist simply does not match what the American consumer is looking for.

    The second issue is range; the US consumer seems to want greater range than is seen in the typical European style e-bike. In fact, watching here, and in other e-bike forums, the greatest issues, of dissatisfaction, with e-bikes seem to be package characteristics and range. One group wants packaging that leaves the e-bike entirely indistinguishable from push-bikes. While specialized’s insanely priced offering makes great strides in that area we are still far from a bike that is exactly the same as any other bike, just easier to ride. The other group wants range and rapid charging that resembles a petrol vehicle.

    Even though the e-bikes should be able to be charged at destinations, very few destinations are aware of, and accommodate, the needs of e-bike riders. Because there are so few in existence it is hard to say, with any certainty, how destinations in the US would respond to an increased demand for charging facilities by e-bike riders. All that can be said with certainty is that range is in issue.

    I am not saying that the European style e-bikes are bad. In fact, I like many of them. However, the American e-bike market is in its infancy and is still facing considerable resistance from both bicyclists and motorist’s; both of whom consider the e-bike to be an inferior choice. Further, the power and range limitations, coupled with limited charging opportunities in America, make the European e-bike a hard sell.
    As a nation we still continue to enjoy a literally unprecedented prosperity; and it is probable that only reckless speculation and disregard of legitimate business methods on the part of the business world can materially mar this prosperity. – Theodore Roosevelt, Sixth Annual Message, December 3, 1906

  3. #3
    Daily Rider Robert C's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Salt Lake, UT
    My Bikes
    This list got too long: several ‘bents, an urban utility bike, and a dahon D7 that my daughter has absconded with.
    Posts
    921
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I also wrote this some time ago, in a different forum when someone was trying to compare US bikes to those in China:
    I live in P.R. China and that is pretty much the case. It gets confusing because they call electric scooters "bicycles." There is no easy word for them to use to differentiate the electric scooters form the pushbikes. Even those Chinese who are around the foreigners on a daily basis and hear us saying electric-bike or electric-scooter still call all classes of bicycles and two wheeled electric vehicles "bicycles." it actually makes for frequent confusion.

    Back to the topic at hand, there are definitely more "two wheeled electric vehicles" (e-bikes) than automobiles. One factor is that an e-bike does not require a license for either the device or the operator. Second, traffic speeds in Chain are, generally, quite low, so the natural speed limitations of the Lead Acid powered e-bikes is not as severe of an issue. Speed is also less of an issue because, in China, e-bikes are not competing with traffic, they are the traffic (of course, remember that traffic here is totally chaotic). Range is not as much of an issue because Chinese cities are, generally, smaller. Further, Chinese tend to work, live, and shop, in their own neighborhoods. Yes, I know that these are generalizations, there will always be outliers in any sample group; however, as generalizations, they are generally true.

    There are several e-bike shops in the cities. Most are e-bike only shops; however, the Giant dealers tend to also deal in Giant e-bikes, one of the better brands. The most popular types are the heavy scooter style bikes and the, for lack of a better word, lite moped style.

    The heavy scooter style units resemble petrol scooters and have the advantage of a large floorboard for packages (and, in my case, my dog), further, they have room for extended range batteries. The also enjoy more lockable storage, under the seat, larger trunks, better weather protection, and more passenger room. However, several cities in China are beginning to ban the heavy scooter style e-bikes. This is being done through regulations regarding the sale of e-bikes that exceed maximum size and weight restrictions. Because China is a very lawless society, it will take time for these laws to trickle down and have an impact on users.

    The heavy scooter e-bikes are clearly being replaced by the lite moped style e-bikes. One interesting development in these lite e-bikes is the standardization of the battery packages. This is not happeneing as a result of efforts at standardization, intentional coordination at that level goes against Chinese cultural practices, it is clearly happening as a result of market dominance of a few manufacturers. This standardizing effect is seen in many industries, it is just starting to happen in e-bikes. These lite e-bikes are clearly replacing the scooter style. This is, in large part, due to cost; further, the advantages of the heavy e-bikes are not so great, and the heavy e-bikes are harder to park.
    All that being said, there will still be a market for the heavy e-bike until that market is significantly interfered with by enforcement of legislation. They remain better suited for commercial applications and family transportation due to their better heavy load handling capabilities and larger size [Note: I suddenly feel that I am writing a short analysis of US auto trends for the Chinese]. However, the smaller units are clearly increasing their proportional sales.

    It should also be noted that the heavy e-bikes are also in competition, for family usage, with the growth in popularity of the small, petrol powered, automobile. These small automobiles will most likely, further, push the heavy e-bike into a fringe application and, combined with legislative changes; eventually leave the lite e-bike dominant. However, it should be noted that this paragraph is making a long range projection and should be seen as having a lower level of reliability than the observation based statements that comprise the rest of this document.

    The form of e-bike that is not seen in China is the pushbike based models that are popular in the US. IN all honesty I cannot recall seeing any; and, as I have an interest in e-bikes, I do look. I suspect that the reasons for this are, primarily: battery space, passenger space, market differentiation, and perceived usage.
    While this is slowly changing, the standard battery used in Chinese e-bikes remains the Lead Acid type. The weight and size of these batteries calls for specialized frame designs to both store the battery and to distribute the weight. This consideration, almost immediately, limits the practicality of converting a pushbike to a, market competitive, e-bike merely by adding e-bike components. Hobbyist conversions are unlikely due to Cultural practices.

    The next issues are passenger and cargo space. While they could be built differently, and some are; the practice tends toward building pushbikes with poor passenger and cargo handling capability. Rear racks are frequently called into passenger carrying service; however, it is not seen as ideal. In contrast, modern e-bikes are frequently designed with passenger carrying as a design consideration and also, frequently, sport lockable storage.

    The final consideration is the perceived usage. Even discounting the issues of passengers and storage, I suspect that the Chinese consumer would see the converted pushbike as an inferior choice. They have less splash protection and, very importantly, have no place for the operator to rest their feet. Even when pedals are present, Chinese riders do not ride with their feet on the pedals; they place their feet on some, built-in floorboard.

    While it is true, the pushbike based e-bikes are, significantly, easier to pedal, pedaling is not a consideration in e-bike purchases. Chinese consumers purchase e-bikes so that they will not have to pedal. It is not at all uncommon to see e-bikes with missing, or detached, drive chains. A Chinese rider is more likely to dismount and push an e-bike up a steep hill than to attempt to supplement the power through pedaling.

    Dismounting is another issue that limits the attractiveness of the converted pushbike. The Chinese generally ride step through bikes. This is because Chinese frequently dismount their pushbikes at all stops, while entering driveways, and while going through gates, no matter the size of the gate. For example, the entrance to an educational campus would be called a gate, even though it is a paved roadway, and all pushbike riders are required to dismount and walk through the gate (yes, this is done with cars, motorcycles, and e-bikes speeding around and into them). The step through design is very popular because there is no point of the mounting process that has the rider looking down and away from the traffic around them. This preference extends to e-bike purchasing preferences.

    The advantages of the Western Style e-bike are, generally, better handing at speed, small package size for the level of performance, light weight for the level of performance, better, western biased, aesthetics, and better pedaling performance.

    Handing at speed is simply not an issue. As stated, the Chinese e-bikes are, able to operate in the Chinese traffic conditions. Further, even with their limited performance, Chinese riders seldom ride at full throttle. There is no sport e-bike market. The smaller package size and weight are less of a consideration, and may even be a detriment. Chinese bicycles are stored outside and are seldom locked to any permanent fixture. Ring locks, which immobilize the bike by preventing the wheel from turning, are the most common type of lock used here. If a cable, or “U,” lock is used, it is generally put through the wheel and not locked to a fixture. Bicycle and e-bike theft is a common problem. A heavier bike is significantly harder to lift into a truck; or, simply walk away with, in an attempt to steal it.

    As the premise stated, the western style, converted pushbikes are not popular in China. They do not match the usage patterns of Chinese e-bike riders.
    As a nation we still continue to enjoy a literally unprecedented prosperity; and it is probable that only reckless speculation and disregard of legitimate business methods on the part of the business world can materially mar this prosperity. – Theodore Roosevelt, Sixth Annual Message, December 3, 1906

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    57
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Interesting insights Robert. I agree that a lot of the problem is that America is THE car culture. Changing that mindset would be difficult. I wonder how epidemiologists would see this problem--the way that they have studied how for instance obesity happens in epidemiological-social patterns, or people having a certain number of children correlates to their peer groups having that number, how moving toward e-bikes might happen in the same way. Really it's like judging fashion--how do things catch on, and why wouldn't extremely rational things like low-cost, efficient, cheap, healthy transportation catch on?

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Port Townsend, WA
    My Bikes
    xtracycle, electric recumbent, downtube folder and more
    Posts
    982
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I bet if we saw endless commercials about bicycling, the U.S. would begin to change in a big way.
    In the U.S. we have much longer commutes than Europe so we need faster ebikes than the limits they set but mostly it is the fact that they already have a bike culture to tap into.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    My Bikes
    2012 Kona Lanai
    Posts
    528
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by AllenG View Post
    http://www.bosch-ebike.de/en/custome..._brands_2.html
    ^^^
    Just check out the amount of brands using the Bosh system. And then check out some of the bikes those companies have available, they are astounding. Nearly all are only available in Europe.

    Why is the selection in the US so limited?
    I agree, even the local bicycle stores don't have any clue when it comes to electric bicycles. The majority of us are forced to go online for kits and parts. Wasn't there a member thinking about opening up an electric bicycle shop a few months back? There's not much local competition if you do decide to open one up. Of course, if oil prices go the way the geologists and oil analysts predict everyone will want to open up a bicycle store.

  7. #7
    Member BobV13's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Westminster Maryland
    My Bikes
    FUJI
    Posts
    29
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Bicycles are for recreation not transportation silly man. Well I'm sure that is how most North Americans think and I'm one of them. I can't ride my bicycle 60 miles round trip to work every day or even 16 miles round trip weekly to pick up food. If the distance didn't get me it would be disregard for bicyclist by car drivers or even the weather or age. A car magically circumvents all potential problems.

    Now why would e-bikes be given any more attention than canoes? To do otherwise would require restructuring America's cities and towns, not to mention several generations of thought.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Allen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Atomic batteries to power; turbines to speed
    My Bikes
    Salsa La Raza, Panasonic Electric, Bria, Bamboo touring, Bamboo cargo
    Posts
    4,687
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by BobV13 View Post
    Bicycles are for recreation not transportation silly man. Well I'm sure that is how most North Americans think and I'm one of them. I can't ride my bicycle 60 miles round trip to work every day or even 16 miles round trip weekly to pick up food. If the distance didn't get me it would be disregard for bicyclist by car drivers or even the weather or age. A car magically circumvents all potential problems.

    Now why would e-bikes be given any more attention than canoes? To do otherwise would require restructuring America's cities and towns, not to mention several generations of thought.
    We don't have to go to Europe to buy a canoe. And canoes are nearly as diverse as bicycles, especially if you include kayaks in their class--basically a covered canoe.

    Our bicycle selection in the US however is limited to a huge choice of high end specialty race bikes, a huge choice of ultra low end box store bikes trying to look like race machines, and very little in the way of practical bikes.
    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen
    I believe that in this case "solid meh" means "so 'meh' that it could never be anything more than 'meh', and yet also no less than 'meh' -- in a word, exactly 'meh'"

  9. #9
    Member BobV13's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Westminster Maryland
    My Bikes
    FUJI
    Posts
    29
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by AllenG View Post
    We don't have to go to Europe to buy a canoe. And canoes are nearly as diverse as bicycles, especially if you include kayaks in their class--basically a covered canoe.
    My point was that like canoes, bikes are primarily used for recreation and not for transportation in North America. The two groups of recreational riders fall into the two groups you describe below. For things to change here its going to take more than simply diversifying choice among commuting bikes or the other way around, we will not see diversity in commuters until there is a demand.

    Our bicycle selection in the US however is limited to a huge choice of high end specialty race bikes, a huge choice of ultra low end box store bikes trying to look like race machines, and very little in the way of practical bikes.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    57
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Just a post here from Germany, where I'm working for a few weeks. I am seeing LOTS of middrive motors on bikes here, it seems like a totally normal thing to have, more so than hubs. I do think it's just part of a bicycle culture issue. But I am just stunned at how many middrives I see each HOUR I'm here.

  11. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    118
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    The e-bike industry in the USA is not obscure...
    Just expensive...
    There are plenty of e-bike manufacturers in the US, they're just expensive caparatively so...

  12. #12
    Senior Member knurly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    102
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Aside from the occasional kid on a bike, there is the rare adult on a bike. I heard there are a handful of people who regularly commute to work with their bikes, not when I'm looking, I don't see them. The other day I saw some old boy who fabricated a small gas motor onto his bike. I wonder what he will say when this small town's sheriff ever pulls him over- Is it a moped? Does he need a license now?

    There is an undeniable culture all across the USA, its all about cars. Locally, its about pickup trucks. I was watching the price of fuel here recently. When it was bounding upwards my thoughts were, maybe the traffic will start to thin out? (it didn't). Now the prices are going back down. I'm thinking, maybe they can burn it up 'till it's gone? (they won't)

    I sat for a few moments outside the restaurant downtown just to watch who is driving cars. It's mostly old people and obese ladies. I wouldn't dream any of them to consider electric bikes. Everyone else is pulling a stock trailer, driving utility truck full of tools, a van bringing produce to the grocery store, another giant truck hauling logs.

    If I can't keep up, I will simply walk to where I want to go. I find the bike to be joyless, frustrating and aggravating. Maybe I'm getting too old for the curse of the age, but my first memories as a kid on a bike were laced with foul language for what I had to deal with every time I pulled onto a road.

    I don't see the market for eBikes expanding any time soon. It will take a zombie apocalypse to make it happen.

  13. #13
    Computer IT
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Flushing, New York City
    My Bikes
    Giant Bolder (White) 2010
    Posts
    100
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    When i see E bikes i see money. I like in NYC and they are EVERY WHERE. They are Especially popular with the Chinese food delivery man. The italian pizzerias quickly caught up and now its rare to see a delivery man on a regular bike or car (expect for like dominoes they always have cars).


    I commute a total of 12 miles a day. This is just inside my range for biking EVERYDAY. And where i work parking is impossible to find. the only thing that makes economical and practical sense is a ebike. (Thats why im getting one).
    "Pedestrians hate motorists. Motorists hate pedestrians. Everyone hates cyclists."

  14. #14
    Interdimensional Spy Apache Thunder's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    57
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I don't own my own vehicle and can't really afford to get one on my income. Thus for me, an electric bike is a good option. Even more so since I lack a driver's license and driving skills for the most part. Thus bicycle is my only means around other then walking.

    My work place is around one and a half miles away roughly and takes about 15 minutes to get there and another 15 minutes to get back. I work nearly every day and get only two off days. Now that's not a lot compared to some jobs, but an e-bike works really well in place of riding the bike. My job is a bit physical (truck unloader at Wal-Mart. ), so I don't want to show up at work tired. I never really go out of town and because my town is somewhat small, everything is in easy e-bike range. (plus the town is relatively flat, so I don't need a super high wattage system! )
    Last edited by Apache Thunder; 06-22-12 at 10:37 PM.

  15. #15
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    12
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I guess the biggest difference between the US and the rest of the world is the gas price. The rest of the world is paying for the same dollar amount or more in Liters and not Gallons. US consumers are so used to cheap gas price, it is already hard for us to switch from SUVs and pickup trucks from the more economy compact car(gas efficient compact cars). When the gas price hit 5-6 dollars per gallon in the US. I think that will be the time that people will re-think their commuting strategy to use the public transportation along with a commuter bike(folding and electric). But other than that. I think it will take a while before the electric/folding bike to catch on in the US. Another point I want to point out is most of the US city are not bike friendly except for a few exceptions. It makes it hard for people who are not a regular cyclist to use bike for commute or daily life without worried about getting hit by a truck. For most of the people who use a bike regularly for commute and daily life in the US are living in the big city proximity such as NYC, SF.etc.etc which is pretty self sustainable within the city. But if you live in the outskirt of the city, there are no way to just use a bike to achieve all of your daily needs.

    As a matter of fact, I am debating myself whether I should get a folding bike for commute, I live 13 miles away from the city. There is no bike trail for me to get to the city safely and my office offer free parking in the city . It is really hard to ignore the free parking and luxury amenities in a car than riding the bike to work. Just my friday thoughts. Thanks for reading.

  16. #16
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Canada, PG BC
    My Bikes
    27 speed oryx
    Posts
    835
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by dumbface View Post
    I guess the biggest difference between the US and the rest of the world is the gas price. The rest of the world is paying for the same dollar amount or more in Liters and not Gallons. US consumers are so used to cheap gas price, it is already hard for us to switch from SUVs and pickup trucks from the more economy compact car(gas efficient compact cars). When the gas price hit 5-6 dollars per gallon in the US. I think that will be the time that people will re-think their commuting strategy to use the public transportation along with a commuter bike(folding and electric). But other than that. I think it will take a while before the electric/folding bike to catch on in the US. Another point I want to point out is most of the US city are not bike friendly except for a few exceptions. It makes it hard for people who are not a regular cyclist to use bike for commute or daily life without worried about getting hit by a truck. For most of the people who use a bike regularly for commute and daily life in the US are living in the big city proximity such as NYC, SF.etc.etc which is pretty self sustainable within the city. But if you live in the outskirt of the city, there are no way to just use a bike to achieve all of your daily needs.

    As a matter of fact, I am debating myself whether I should get a folding bike for commute, I live 13 miles away from the city. There is no bike trail for me to get to the city safely and my office offer free parking in the city . It is really hard to ignore the free parking and luxury amenities in a car than riding the bike to work. Just my friday thoughts. Thanks for reading.
    That, is the real reason for sure... Not too bike friendly streets also are/is a problem but cheap gas is why people keep driving their big SUVs and trucks...

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •