In less than ten years, this Vosges-based manufacturer has established itself as the number one in the premium e-bike market. It already exports 40% of its production and is counting on a further explosion in demand for its electric bicycles.
To win in a cycling race, you have to launch off with a good start and also you have to be able to maintain your effort over time. In the world of electric bicycle manufacturers, the rules are finally the same and it is by following this strategy to the letter that Moustache, a company starting from scratch in 2011, has succeeded in establishing itself as the French champion of electric bikes.
“In the year we were founded, we planned to sell 600 bicycles. We sold 1,300 of them. And in our last season, we produced about 30,000,” says Greg Sand, one of the two founders of the Moustache e-bike brand, which he is building together with Emmanuel Antonot. How did a small company based in the Vosges, France succeed in establishing itself as the leader of the French electric bicycle market (based on sales value)?
The boom of electric bicycles
To succeed in business, you already need to have the intuition to launch into a promising market at the right time. This is the case for the market of electric bicycles, which went from about 15,000 units sold per year in France ten years ago for an average price of 750 euros, to a market of 300,000 e-cycles for an average value of 1,700 euros.
To differentiate itself, Moustache also made several strong choices from the beginning. The manufacturer has already decided to focus all its attention on the electrical segment. Its rivals, who also follow traditional cycles such as the French Lapierre, the Taiwanese Giant or the Americans Cannondale, Trek or Specialized, cannot devote all their attention to what is for them only a segment – certainly a growing one but even smaller than their main market in which competition is fierce.
Replacing your scooter
Moustache has also made the bet of the top-of-the-range e-bike models, leaving Chinese importers and supermarkets such as Norauto or Décathlon to fight on low-cost bicycles that seduce first-time buyers who then often seek to equip themselves with a better machine.
Sold on average for 3,000 euros, Moustache electric bicycles are not cheap. Moustache buys its parts from the best suppliers (Bosch, Shimano…..) and assembles bicycles on frames that it has designed and has specifically made for them in Taiwan.
“We are taking advantage of the fact that the market is becoming more democratic. At the same time, consumers are still looking for the best. Prices are not falling because the electric bike is increasingly seen as a replacement for the scooter or second car,” Sand says.
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By starting among the first to attack this market and pushing a very wide range (from urban bicycles, which constitute the main part of the demand, to ultra-sporting mountain bikes or even Gravel bikes), Moustache has built an image in France that now needs to be internationalized. The company already exports a little more than 40% of its e-bike inventory to around twenty European countries. But Moustache has higher ambitions.
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Don’t get into the red
In a hurry but not to the point of “burning” as the cyclists say, the company is moving at its own pace. “Orders for frames and components are placed at the beginning of the calendar year for deliveries that only start in the summer. You have to anticipate volumes well,” notes Greg Sand.
But the lead already taken by Moustache allows it to keep a good number of competitors at a distance, who, starting from zero, cannot commit to volumes at the beginning of the year. The latter may, therefore, lack some key components such as Bosch batteries and engines.
Last year, the company surpassed the 50 million turnover mark and believes it is sufficiently equipped to resist industry heavy-weights as well as newcomers with trendy design, such as Marc Simoncini’s Angell, Cowboy or VanMoof.
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Photo credit for the images used in this article Alpes Aventures / Jeudi 15.