Sales are soaring and the new public is taking to the streets. Electric bicycles have become very popular. So much so that in a few years’ time the number of e-bikes could outstrip the number of traditional bicycles. Or will it?
Are electric bicycles slowly but surely bypassing traditional bicycles?
Start-up Thirty One Bikes, which specializes in designing electric bicycles, is not experiencing any crisis. “We had already noticed an increase in the number of contacts on our website and an increase in orders,” says Christophe Baeza, the president of the company, based in Saint-Gaudens in Haute-Garonne.
“And once the end of quarantine was announced, it really became madness. On the website, our sales were multiplied by 15!” Now, the company plans to double its workforce by the end of the year.
“In one month, we made the same sales as for the year before.”
At “À Fond Gaston”, which is located next to Lyon, traditional bicycles are converted into turnkey electric bicycles. With the same frenzy seen on the buyers’ side. “In one month, we made the sales figure of the year before. We’ve been out of stock since mid-June.
We’re doing our best to restock as quickly as possible,” reports Antoine Galonnier, who founded the start-up in early 2018. “Either we have customers who have a bike they enjoy pedaling on, in which case they have it converted, or we have customers who prefer to buy a new bicycle and have it converted to an e-bike that is much lighter than a factory-made electric bike.”
A frenzy that first proves one thing: the bicycle, electric or not, is the winner of the health crisis. “Would you take the crowded subway at a time when you risk your life by catching a virus? We’re seeing a shift from public transport passengers to bicycles,” says Christophe Baeza of Thirty One Bikes.
Not to mention the cities, which have “considerably increased their awareness of the usefulness of the bicycle”. “We’re seeing cycling facilities springing up all over the place.”
“In 10 to 20 years, there’ll be more electric bikes than mechanical bikes.”
But compared to traditional bicycles, electric bicycles could actually do well. This is the opinion of Claude Droussent, co-author with cycling champion Thomas Voeckler of “Guide du vélo électrique”: “I’m betting that in 10 to 20 years, there will be more electric bikes than mechanical bikes. They’ll be in the majority in the bike park.”
“The mechanical bike is difficult. It’s a physically demanding practice if there’s a hill to climb,” reports the former editorial director of the daily L’Équipe. “And for people who want to get to work, who sometimes ride several kilometers, it’s more fun to arrive without sweating too much.”
Not to mention a “reassuring” side: “There’s a psychological safety aspect to the electric bike, which is more imposing than the traditional bike.”
What is the profile of the buyers? “We have senior citizens, who would never have cycled again if it wasn’t for the electric bike, attracted by the ease of use.
An electric bicycle can also lead overweight people to pedal”.
With, in addition, a “gadget” dimension, which also seduces new riders: “Today, the electric bicycle also appeals to people because it’s full of technology.”
Always more innovations
An attraction for the “new technologies” side reinforces the permanent innovation policy of the Thirty One Bikes start-up. France’s first electric Vélib’ in 2014, the first bicycle that also recharges when breaking…
“Innovation is part of our DNA,” says Christophe Baeza, the President of the company. Driven by growing demand, the company is already preparing a new generation of electric bikes.
“These new models will be even more connected, even more at the service of the cyclist. Your e-bike will talk to you and you will be able to talk with your e-bike.” The beast is expected to be unveiled in early 2021.
Read also: Cowboy 3 delivers much more in its app – in this article. And, Angell vs Vanmoof S3/X3, two connected city e-bikes – in this article. And, Angell vs Cowboy vs Vanmoof, which one would you choose? – in this article.
There is one aspect that can still put you off: the purchase price. “If you want a good electric bike, you have to pay at least 1,500 euros, which is why some conversion start-ups are so successful,” says Claude Droussent.
But according to him, costs will gradually decrease: “The electric bike will be like smartphones: prices will drop as production increases.” For the advent of the electric bike, we’ll have to wait a little longer…
Here is a quick video, introducing a modern city connected e-bike from Vanmoof: