Ebike University: Trends autumn 2021
Thanks to all our customers old and new who have put their trust in our technical and industry knowledge and bought bikes on our recommendations. We hope you are all happy with them and the customisation we have done for you.
This has been a challenge because getting any bikes and parts has been excruciating this year but we have enjoyed seeing the fruits of our labour with more people dropping by for little tweaks or just to say Hi!
Lots of reasons have been given for the shortages and price increases with Covid taking most of the blame.
Global demand increase, raw material shortages, competition for shipping containers etc.
They all make sense and add up and at the end of the day we are not the only industry affected.
What is clear to me is that things will not get significantly better in terms of ebike availability and cost in the short term. We hear a lot about about tariffs changing and factory relocations but for now we have to continue to live with what we have and make the best of it. Promises of “jam tomorrow” may mean “jam 2023” when the money machines owning the big brands decide on the cheapest global manufacturing locations.
In the meantime lots of smaller passionate, innovative European companies are designing and producing great quality ebikes still available but in limited numbers now.
Our customers come to us in all shapes and sizes and for all sorts of reasons. it would take too long to list them here but some know they want an ebike and why and often exactly the specification needed and in worst-case scenario – the exact brand! (When you are ill, do you google the symptoms and tell your doctor what to prescribe?!!). Many however are unsure whether an ebike would be for them at all so think about a cheap one from the internet. Nothing wrong with that, we all do it for some things but the problem comes when the cheap Chinese bike arrives with no instructions on how to put it together, let alone how to ride it in a way that benefits you. Doing this is often a false economy as these products often break down early and are impossible to repair just as the seller has disappeared without trace. It’s also a false economy; a big percentage of the cost of a bike from China (or Taiwan or ….) is tax and shipping, so all the savings needed to sell them ‘cheap’ must come from quality and design. Better to come to a shop and try one (for up to a day if necessary) and if you like it, buy one that meets your needs and realistic budget. Our most expensive bike at the moment is £9939.00 but we cater for all budgets with bikes down at around £1500. Yes they are from China but we make sure they are the best ones and that the suppliers have been around a while and are controlling production from the UK.
If that’s all you need, fine by us but really, what IS the difference?
Well you would need to come for a chat for me to explain in detail but here are a few factors that build up the cost.
A lot of what we thought was in decline has been revamped and bikes with motors in the HUB are seeing a bit of a comeback. They are the cheapest to produce and some big brands are re-introducing them on a technology ticket by reducing the weight (therefore power) and improving the control technology. My current feeling however is that, despite the price climbing towards and beyond that of crank-motor bikes, they are still not as good for most people’s needs having lower torque (hill climbing power) no gearing- benefit and consequent lower range possibility. The main advantage of this system is that if you want to do as little work as possible, a hub motor bike can deliver a lot of help with minimal effort (for a shorter range on smaller hills). CRANK motors work differently and give a more authentic cycling experience by effectively adding extra muscle to your own legs to conquer any hill by sensing your own effort and multiplying it only when needed. Range is therefore much better and a smaller battery will take you further.
Torque roughly translated means hill climbing power.
A low torque motor will help you up a hill but once you reach the maximum torque of that motor… the rest is up to you!
As maximum motor torque increases hills become a doddle but the weight is increased, the battery (see below) needs to be bigger and the components need to be tougher …. so the price goes up.
Remember though torque can be turned up to the max or down with you handlebar controller so you get only what you want/need. Torque figures are therefore always quoted as maximum.
Can you have too much? Not really… just turn it down. (We are leaving aside some special cases for road/gravel (racer style) bikes where low torque/small battery is used to minimise weight).
Don’t confuse size of battery with hill climbing power. The battery is only your fuel tank and putting a bigger fuel tank in your car doesn’t make it more powerful. Battery sizes are quoted in different units and can be confusing but a bigger number will always take you further. Riding in a low torque setting will maximise your range (generally speaking but we have some riding tips for that too).
Things hiding under the bed…
There are lots of components on the ebike you can’t see. The (usually bigger) bike manufacturers know this so it gives them chance to save money to spend on marketing and promotion making their brands look more attractive. Think about DESIGN for COMFORT or PERFORMANCE and the reliability and replacement cost of things like tyres, tubes, bearings, cassette, chain, rims, spokes, cables etc. Real quality bikes will have more testing and use better versions which ride better and last longer. Even the tuning of the ‘same’ motor differs between brands.
Is the bike sold through a knowledgeable dealer? or sold through ‘bike supermarkets’ selling in megastores or online. Do they have time to make sure sure you get the right bike for you or are they just selling their massive stock.
So as a rule of thumb …
- Ask yourself how much you want an ebike and why? (health, mental and physical, saving time and money, being ‘green’ , FUN.
- How much of your total available lifestyle budget does this deserve?
- What savings will be made by using your ebike? eg long term fitness, (longer ‘til the nursing home!) less car fuel and repair bills for short journeys replaced with bike use or what money would you spend during the time you will ride your bike (online shopping, gaming, eating out etc.)
- Summing this up, if you think you will use an ebike and enjoy it, buy the best you can afford and future-proof your investment. If you’re not sure, come and try one and if you must buy a ‘bargain’ remember that your losses will be greater if you fall in love (as most people do) with ebiking and want a better one.
- &Finally…. a bike you love to ride will get ridden…… An unreliable one with difficult gears that won’t quite do the big hills and runs out of battery, certainly won’t!
So what are the trends for autumn 2021 and beyond?
– Well, better than last year. We are at least able to continue to offer new and current model bikes for most of our customers’ needs and numbers are growing so more people than ever are either converting to ebikes or rediscovering the pleasures of cycling.
- Something that’s been ‘in the wings’ for a while but is coming towards centre-stage is replacing car and van journeys with ebike rides, for purpose, fun or both and we have now actually sold quite a few bikes to people who, for whatever reason, have reduced or eliminated car use. (This is always going to be more challenging in a rural environment than in a city but we are proving it is possible).
- We will have a DEMO FULL CARGO BIKE. There are now GOVERNMENT GRANTS available to help you buy one for your business and we can help with that.
– E-bike rentals in hospitality is happening despite COVID19 having restricted the cash available for investment. Smaller self-catering and B&B’s are buying a few bikes to make their offering more attractive to bookers and provide additional revenue and bigger hotels are taking advantage of our leasing scheme on a bigger scale. This is a turn-key package and we are able to offer help and advice to anyone wishing to start-up.
- We have also supplied a rental-bike-pool company in Glenridding where local accommodation providers can rent bikes short or longer term for their guests.
- This is a great model and we are looking for more partners in this as well as someone to start a dedicated ebike rental business. We used to do this and there is strong demand but it has become impossible due to the growth of the sales and servicing side of our business. The extension possibilities of this as a well-run (it’s not easy) business are increasing as STAYCATION and traffic congestion become part of post COVID life.
- Servicing and repair has increased massively for us and we have invested in better workshop facilities and more trained mechanics. We do still give priority to our own customers for bikes they have bought from us. We still have some space and time for non-warranty work on other brands and in fact have created a network of great local bike services to share the load and in some cases reduce travel for some customers. Thanks to those who prefer to come back to us in person though, its good to know we can still earn our keep!
- Locks and insurance are keeping us busy as well as ebikes are becoming more popular and visible. Carrying an insurance approved lock can be a problem (to stop it spoiling your ride) so we are looking into what’s around and trying to stock some innovative solutions (slow progress at the moment). This whole ball game has to improve and we are behind the rest of Europe). For insurance, our long-term partner BIKMO.com have upped their game and are now offering policies for normal ebikers, worth a look and you can get 14 days free insurance and annual discount when you buy your bike from us.
- Comfort remains a priority for a lot of customers and we continue to offer custom fitting of bikes to our customers. Often this is a case of right bike – right size but we are happy to swop bars, stems saddles and more to create your perfect ride.
- Luggage is hard to find right now due to the global shortages but we still get what we can from the brands we know work well for our customers … if nothing else advice is still available.
- Getting further afield is now becoming more popular as seasoned ebikers are looking for new scenery. Whilst it’s possible get an ebike in the back of of a hatchback, it’s hard to get 2 and damage is inevitable. In this case, a decent RACK is GAME CHANGER. In almost all cases, the best, easiest, safest and LEGAL is a tow-ball mounted rack. This may appear expensive if you don’t have a tow ball and have to get one fitted but is a no-brain decision if you do. Using our knowledge and experience as regular users, we have found the perfect solution and regularly take our bikes even abroad.
- We think ebikes can and should be used all year round in all but the very worst weather. It’s good to get out in the fresh air for you and the bike. It’s good for the bike because it keeps the moving parts moving the battery ‘awake’ and prevents condensation. Just like all year round… a clean bike is a happy bike and a happy bike gets ridden more… it’s called a virtuous circle (can you believe I used to teach this stuff!). You dont need to over clean just a hose or a bucket and soft brush and we have some magic stuff that doesn’t make your brakes squeal. Do your chain last and add a very sparing amount of dry (summer) chain lube… someone will tell me otherwise, I’m sure but I hate wet lube.. it’s messy and really gunks everything up.. dry lube works better for me but I suppose wet lube is better for business!!!Add a little after each wash during the winter to make sure the chain is not getting rusty. Salt is the enemy of aluminuim so wash more often during gritting season… especially the wheels. Drying the bike is a good thing or better bring it in next to the Aga… shift the dog but leave the Mrs, especially if baking (sorry Kat/couldn’t resist). Bit of heat in the shed or garage helps. That way your bike will be crying out to be ridden not a worry for next spring. Just to say if you are leaving the bike out in the cold, bring the battery inside please… good for business if you don’t.
- MOTORHOMES are becoming more popular. They are a great escape even without COVID travel restrictions and (sadly for us who have enjoyed quiet campsites for years!) many people will continue to explore the UK and Europe in place of long-haul holidays. However they have one major shortcoming … they are a pain to move once you are camped and levelled. Personally all we want to do after a long drive and getting settled is to explore the area so our ebikes allow us to do that without ever moving the van until the next stage of our journey. We can also nip for a pint of milk (or just a pint!) even if we are way out of town (where we usually like to be) and even enjoy city breaks without having to park even our small van, in narrow city spaces. We have an old van and it already had a towbar so we take our full size bikes but modern COMPACT and FOLDING bikes fit in luxury motorhome garages with ease and (believe me!) ride just as comfortably as a full size even on a long ride. Like anything, you get what you pay for so we advocate buying good ones; after all the investment in a motorhome is significant (well not ours actually, but we wouldn’t part with her) so why spoil it with cheap folding bikes that are not fit for purpose.
What about us?
Our mission remains unchanged.
- To give the best possible advice and service to customers and potential customers who visit our shop. We will continue our thirst for knowledge to pass on verbally and through the products we sell.
- To rail against turning the ebike industry into a “pile-it-high-and-sell-it-cheap business.
- To offer great service; you pay a fair price, it helps you and it helps us.
- To enjoy meeting people and have fun in what we do.
We must be getting it about right according to our reviews and we are growing.
- We have improved our status with all our suppliers but especially Riese & Muller and have become a test centre for ebikes and cargo bikes which means we can now carry stock for immediate delivery.
- We have improved our workshop capability and are negotiating for another showroom unit at Hartley Fold.
- We have partly acquired the assets of another small local ebike dealer who is retiring and we will continue to serve their customers together with a network of contacts which we are formalising at the moment.
- We are extremely lucky to have teamed up with one of our long standing customers who is a qualified bike mechanic and passionate about ebikes. David has recently retired early from a key public sector role and alongside running his own (first aid) training company, is mad enough to want to get more involved in Eden-e-Motion. Please join me in welcoming him. He is exactly what we needed to make all this happen! (email@example.com / 07398103110)