The future is coming, fast, and it is Electric! Electric is such a great word. Fun to say, fun to imagine, multiple meanings, exciting to think about. Electric. I feel like I am in a Devo music video or something by just saying the word. Electric. In the future, everything will be electrified. I have been trying to figure out how to electrify everything now, my kindling splitter, my dog’s throw toy, the hose that I wash the car with, etc.
But seriously… These days, it seems like you cannot turn on Facebook, or Instagram or LinkedIn or the news, without seeing the latest electric car or motorcycle or ebike.
If you are in the bicycle business, the auto business, the motorcycle business, the transportation business of just about any kind, and you are not positioning your business to address electrified things in your category, you will be sorely off the back in no time. The time to address Electric is now. The vehicles themselves are either already starting to be electrified, or will be very shortly. But the vehicle isn’t all that will change. The way the vehicles are used will change, the way they are refueled will change, the accessories and clothing used with the vehicles will change, the way the vehicles are serviced will change, the lifespan of vehicles will change, our expectations of performance of those electrified vehicles will change, and on and on. The only way to keep pace with those changes, much less to get ahead of those changes, is to get started now. Jump in with both feet.
We are only a few years on from auto manufacturers originally introducing hybrid vehicles. Think back to how revolutionary that felt when they arrived. Now it seems like such a half measure, almost quaint. Full electric is where it is at. The number of motorcycles coming out now that are purely electric is astounding. If you haven’t caught the news that Harley Davidson took an interest in Alta motorcycles, check that out here. If you haven’t noticed the reviews on the Alta motorcycle, do yourself a favor and surf the web for those reviews. Alta has made a big splash in the offroad motorcycle world. Even if you are not into motorcycles, the positive reviews the bike has been getting from the standard moto press are really impressive. On top of that, there are many European electric motorcycles coming to market in what seems like daily announcements, … the list just seems to go on and on.
The Kalk by Cake (or is it a Calk by Kake, wait is there Kale involved with this?). The Kalk is attempting to bridge the gap between a real offroad motorcycle and a MTB. The Kale leaves little trace like a MTB can, but has the thrill factor of an offroad motorcycle. It is yet to be seen where it can be ridden in NA, but it sure looks fun. The Cake company is moving fast, and even just introduced their own solar charging system.
In much of the world, the ebicycle or EBike or pedalelec as they are known by many names, are already a really big thing. In Germany and the Benelux, where people do about 30% of their trips (to the store, to the office, to town, to pick up the kids etc…) via bicycle, the EBike has already become king. Bicycle shops in those parts of the world already do most of their business in the category of EBikes. The manufacturers and brands in that part of the world that are big into EBikes are dominating the marketplace. The dealers and the manufacturers long ago stopped wondering if these are legitimate bicycles or not. They also stopped the debate about what trails they could be used on, and just got on with it all.
And it is not just the commuter or old retirement crowd that are buying those electric motor equipped bicycles. Those original categories of rider are surely the dominant customer for traditional commuter and European style vacation EBikes, but the sports crowd is getting in on the action as well. In the German speaking parts of the world, EMountain Bikes are beginning to surpass the sales of regular mountain bikes. In both Germany and the Benelux there are categories and regulations around different speed Ebikes, requiring different licensing etc… Helmet and clothing manufacturers are all starting to make specific accessories for that Ebike rider.
In the town that I live in (Madison, Wi.) I am seeing more and more electric cars, and electric bicycles on the roads and on the paths. The drivers in those cars look just like drivers in regular cars. The riders on the ebikes look just like riders on regular bikes, (except it is hard to see past the larger than life smile on their faces).
We have all heard over and over about Elon Musk and Tesla. He is certainly an industry titan, and is willing the automobile market to electric. What we may not be paying attention to is Nissan, and Toyota, and Honda and GM and Ford and everyone else coming to market with electric cars. Not just the hybrids that probably started all of this, but full on non gasoline motor equipped electric vehicles, and for reasonable prices (unlike a Tesla).
This is all coming to mainstream America in a big way. That is why I am so bullish on the advice of getting your business ready for the Electric future that is coming – quickly.
If you are running a bicycle shop and living in the past, talking about if these are real bikes or not, then prepare for the future to steamroll right over your business. If you are still wondering if an ebike should be allowed on mountain bike trails, or if you are still talking about silly things like earning your trails by pedaling un-assisted to the top of the descent, then prepare to have your business go the way of the dinosaur. I bet the new shop run by a younger owner down the street is selling a ton of ebikes. Trust me, I have stopped in there.
The ebike market grew about +80% in the USA during 2017. There are more than 250million ebike riders in the world, yet only a small fraction of those are in the USA. That will change.
There IS a light coming at you in the tunnel, but it is not a train, it is an electric bike/car/motorcycle.