Yeah, yeah, e-bikes. But here’s the deal, they are helping drive the bike industry right now, particularly in Europe. From a technical, feature-wise standpoint, there are a couple of trends worth noting, and we’ll cover those first. But looking much farther down the road, we had a few good conversations with product managers and saw brands that seem more interested in how the automotive industry is going to take over the e-Bike industry.

Or, as some of those companies and Eurobike itself are calling it, e-Mobility. And that naming is important…because it’s not going to be just e-Bikes, it’s going to be various personal transportation options using electric assist. But first, the tech…

29 in the front, 27.5 in the back

2019 Ghost SLAMR-X eMTB

It was almost comical how many eMTB brands were showing off new enduro level mountain bikes using a 29er front wheel and 27.5 rear wheel and calling it Moto-something. Motocross bikes use a similar setup, and now we’re seeing it on long travel trail to enduro e-mountain bikes, too.

Ghost and KTM are two such brands, both shown here, and the idea is pretty simple: Use a bigger wheel diameter with a leaner, lighter tire to roll over obstacles in the front, then put a fatter, wider 27.5+ tire in the back. We expect more of this setup to start showing up in 2019 and beyond.

Batteries are disappearing

Haibike makes some gorgeous e-bikes and is introducing one of the most powerful motor and battery combos for 2019.

The first e-bikes were kinda ugly. They looked like regular bikes with motors and batteries bolted on and wired up wherever they could fit. Because that’s what they were. Over the past couple years, downtubes and frames have become more shapely to match the battery pack’s lines, but the next step is frames that completely integrate the battery into the tubes. 2019 will see a ton of these, like the Haibike prototype shown above that slides it completely into the downtube. Specialized’s Turbo models do a really good job of this, too, making it harder to tell they’re e-bikes save for the extra bulky downtube.

ebikemotion e-road bikes make it almost impossible to tell if its an e-bike

For road bikes, you might be riding next to an e-bike and not even know it until you’re sucking wind to keep up. That’s thanks to eBikeMotion, which has developed a super slim battery pack that fits into a near-standard sized downtube. The charging port sits on top of the BB shell, and the on/off/mode button is flush on the top tube. They’re paired with a small hub motor that’s almost undetectable unless you’re looking for it. Bianchi, Orbea and others are already using this system, and more are coming.

Why Automotive Companies Might Take Over?

Mubea is an automotive supplier specializing in lightweight carbon fiber parts to improve efficiency. Now they’ve set their sights on the bicycle market.

When you look at the future of the automobile, it’s looking more and more electric. Which means the vast majority of battery technology advancement is going to be driven by the automotive industry. And battery improvements are the main way that e-bikes are going to get lighter, faster and longer range. Electric vehicles are also more and more likely to become “last mile” delivery methods, using small cargo vans and bikes to deliver our increasingly online purchases. Some of those “vans” may look more like trikes with basic enclosures, others might be bakfiet-style bikes. UPS, DHL, Deutsche Post and others are already using them for urban delivery. Regardless of all the forms they’ll take, there’s little doubt many of these will be branded with well known automobile names. There’s several reasons for that.

First, as one major brand’s PM (who asked to remain anonymous) proposed, what are general consumers more likely to buy – a high tech electric powered “vehicle” from Tesla? Or from Haibike? Nothing against Haibike, they’re actually pushing the boundaries of e-bikes and we really like what they’re doing. But for most non-cyclist consumers looking to drop $5,000+ on an occasional use alternative to their car, who do you think they’re going to trust? And where do you think they’re going to look? If they already own a Tesla, and Tesla is selling e-bikes through their dealers, would that customer really go to a bike shop?

Second, as the automakers continue to develop electric battery and motor tech, they’ll be looking for more ways to use them to defray those development costs. In Europe, e-bikes are almost the norm anymore. They’re literally everywhere. But in the US, there’s little brand awareness outside of the cycling community, which means there’s massive opportunity for a well-known car brand to own that market. Ford is already dipping their toes in the water by helping to develop car-to-bike awareness and safety tech. Volvo is, too. And Maserati just launched a full lineup of e-Bikes developed with Diavelo, which is owned by Accell Group (Raleigh, Lapierre, Ghost, etc.) and is promoting their consulting business to bicycle and automotive partners alike.

SRAM EX1 electric mountain bike drivetrain group
The SRAM EX1 group is purpose built for e-Bikes.

So, where does this leave bicycle brands and component manufacturers? One concern is that the automotive brands have infinitely greater R&D resources and can develop most of what they need on their own. And if they put their weight behind it, we could see greater bike-friendly infrastructure come to our cities. Which is good. Great, actually.

But what if the bicycle brands we know and love are left behind? It’s a legitimate concern, and the smart brands are trying to figure that out now. SRAM has their eBike-specific EX1 drivetrain group, but as we discussed in our Drivetrain Trends story, the future may not be the derailleur and cassette we’re all used to.


Want more e-bike news? Check out our sister site, e-Bikerumor.com, for the latest tech and coverage of electric road, mountain, commuter and touring bicycles.

98 COMMENTS

  1. They did this same kind of stuff in another industry. Motorcycles. That is so funny. Although, I guess since these are motorcycles they are not really doing anything new.

        • this is exactly what i’m talking about. and the hatred or dislike or whatever you want to call it, comes from people who are unwilling to accept the e-bike as something that defies categorization using concepts and definitions from 50 years ago. just get over it already.

          • Um roughly 200 years? Its been called a bicycle longer than cars have been around…

            Why dose the definition have to change when hyper marketing gets involved? Its not like cyclists voted to call a bike with a motor a bicycle?

    • The only MC brand owned by an auto company is Ducati being owned by Audi/VW. Honda/Suzuki were making MC’s and ventured into autos.
      Ducati was almost dumped recently until Audi realized they were being stupid in dumping it. It is the Ferrari of Moto.

    • E.bikes are bikes, and are doing great things for the bike industry. It’s new, and is the biggest revolution the bicycle industry has been since post WW2.

        • Yes. 250watt electric bicycles being sold at your local Harley dealer today. In the city I live e.bikes are sold in bicycle shops. I’m content classifying them as bicycles as are thousands (actually maybe millions) of other people.

          • they do because bikes do not respect traffic laws and its looked over “its just a bike”.
            however with ebikes its another story. youre not “tired” and ppl with zero experience ride them at high speed, while blasting red lights and what not.

            thats the real issue imo, not that ebikes would be otherwise bad. theyre fun and definitely different than a self supported ride

        • Hi Bill. They are generating profit in an otherwise stagnant or declining market. Just look up the many published stats or go talk to any one of numerous bicycle retailers.

  2. “In Europe, e-bikes are almost the norm anymore” not really true… I am living in Germany at the moment and whilst they are popular, they are far from being the norm. Furthermore in other European countries they are significantly less popular, I would probably describe it as scarce. It is really only Germany who has adopted them.

    • Seconded, I see a lot of E-bikes being used by commuters and old folks, but they’ve been doing that for decades already. The growth in sales is there but it isn’t the exponential level some outlets seem to think, I predict a lot brands quietly dropping their E-bike range in a couple of years time, just like they did with Fat and Plus bikes. The ones that got it right and got in early like Haibike and Specialized will be fine, everyone else is going to sat on expensive overstock.

    • Possibly scarce in regard to usage per overall population but the statistics are showing significant year on year double digit growth of E.bike usage. “it is really only Germany that has adopted them” is so incorrect and misinformed it’s not funny. E.bikes are bikes, and are doing great things for the bike industry.

  3. Bikes through car dealers makes more sense when you leverage the financial programs auto companies can offer. a $10k bike is a lot better at $150 a month for 72 months.

  4. These motorcycles are not doing anything for the bike industry except for giving them a bad name.  thought you agreed to put all this electric motorcycle nonsense away. No e-bike stuff. We don’t want it! Keep motorcycles off our trails!

    • E.bikes are bikes, and are doing great things for the bike industry. I’m seeing this first-hand, not from behind a keyboard…You are very misinformed my friend.

        • Give it a rest… Ebikes are bikes. Why do you even care? Why does everyone else have to bend to your definition? Why is that so hard to understand?

          • I like to ride my bicycle. It has 4 wheels a petrol engine and room for 5 people, It is great fun riding it so it is exactly like cycling!!

  5. I love how many insecure and uninformed folks are scared of eMTBs.

    The only real concern would be trail degradation, but these eMTBs are pedal assist and don’t actually make a TON of power like an eMOTO, they’re not a real threat. In fact, these bikes will get more people riding and could produce more financial support for your local trails.

    How many of you bikers have picked up a shovel to build/maintain trails? Maybe start there.

    eMTBs aren’t for me, but I definitely see how this will get
    more folks out on the trails. And guess what happens when more folks are on the trails… We build more trails.

    • I laugh at your first point of “they don’t create a TON of power” because every company now makes beefier drive trains and brakes and suspension and rims and tires and spokes and hell even seats for specifically the reason that you just said didn’t exist. so are you ill-informed or is the industry?

      And i have yet to see and old or handicap person ripping around on a 140mm AM e-moto but i have seen a few dude bro’s “shreddin’ the nar” on them. which is pretty much what the anti e-moto people said would happen. cause every trail system needs more people skidding their tires into corners.

      Old people could buy these contraptions but i am not so sure that they are.

    • It’s simple. E-bikes don’t belong on non-motorized trails. Plain and simple. As long as people adhere to that then everyone can get along.

      • So ridiculous. I encourage E bikes on trails. Come join us and enjoy the trails that some have for some reason have tried to claim as exclusive.

        • matt – I don’t hate ebikes myself but the problem with inviting them onto trails that MTBs were only grudgingly allowed on previously is that ALL bikes, e- or otherwise, could be banned

    • Biggest problems we’ve had with E-bikes round here has been interactions with pedestrians. A lot of our climbs are shared use with only the DH being bike only. Not a problem when you’re pedalling along at 6mph because it’s a really big hill, bigger problem when they’re going 12mph up a bendy path with walkers in the way. E-bikes have already been banned from a couple of local trails after complaints from the public. So far we’ve been lucky in that the various land owners see E-bikes as distinct from Push bikes, despite the industry’s efforts to ignore that line.

      • So funny to see the same arguments made from the same people that were angry when MTBs were banned from trails. There will always be some idiots on trails, but a majority will be able to coexist and enjoy trails together without a ban.

        • But the minority seems to ruin it for the majority in almost every single situation. The former causing over-reactive strict regulation that does limit the responsible person.

    • I love how people throw the words “scared” and “insecure” into their verbiage when they don’t actually have an argument. What about an electric motorcycle with pedals would make a cyclist scared? Or insecure? The answer is nothing. They’re just words that people with no facts to work with use to confuse the situation and make themselves feel better about not having a leg to stand on. People that use language like this are saying a lot more about themselves than the people they’re directing it toward. All that said I don’t have an issue with electric motorcycles with pedals, I think they’re kind of cool. Just keep them off the trails marked no motorized vehicles.

        • Has motor = not bicycle. Not a hard concept to grasp……for most people……that understand words have specific meanings. Are you one of those 2+2= cat people?

    • “I love how many insecure and uninformed folks are scared of eMTBs.”

      Certainly some people that dislike eMTBs are uninformed. Insecure? Possibly. But “I love” that you demeaning those people is the same mindless rhetoric you’re critical of.

      “The only real concern would be trail degradation, but these eMTBs are pedal assist and don’t actually make a TON of power like an eMOTO, they’re not a real threat. In fact, these bikes will get more people riding and could produce more financial support for your local trails.”

      Bullshit hypotheticals, and garbage logic don’t make for sound arguments. The financial support trails are in need of, net large, is to preserve their existence from external interests such as land development, and wilderness. A 10% usage increase by eMTB’s trails does not impact that.

      Furthermore, your argument that the only concern is trail degradation is uninformed. I would argue that a 50lb e-bike does pose more of a safety concern, and increases trail wear.

      “How many of you bikers have picked up a shovel to build/maintain trails? Maybe start there.”

      They can’t have an opinion about not allowing e-bikes on trails if they’ve never contributed to building that trail? I guess you can’t discuss the Tour De France if you’ve never volunteered for the race. What?

      “eMTBs aren’t for me, but I definitely see how this will get
      more folks out on the trails. And guess what happens when more folks are on the trails… We build more trails.”

      Prove it with data, because I disagree. Increase impact in some areas is actually responsible for trails getting shut down.

    • have you used emtbs? i have. theyre ton of fun. its like a super light motorbike.
      the pedals activate the motor really smoothly on the latest gens of motors (last i used is the newest bosh) but it still feels like an excuse to not put a throttle button
      the power while rated 250w is huge. feels like 1500w. i believe 250w is based on very specific conditions / a lie. i can take dh trails uphill and not even sweat (Yes it WILL skid !). i did this the other day at the mamooth lakes bike park, latest bosh, stock settings, 27.5 plus tires, bike was about 33lbs. much better than the baofang “1000w+” motor like the bbshd.

      i think these bikes have their place and i enjoy them, but theres no reason to outright lie about their capabilities. use them, be amazed.

  6. Still not interested in reading about mopeds and such on a bicycle web site. I’m sure the (moped) industry will do just great and make lots of money with all of it, but in the end this won’t do much for bicycles per se except relegate them to the back room of sales and development.

    • E.bikes are bikes, and are doing great things for the bike industry. The statistics are showing significant year on year double digit growth of E.bike usage. This is creating sales for bike shops and increasing servicing revenue as many E.bike buyers have zero knowledge of doing any mechanical work on their own bikes. I’m seeing this first-hand, not from behind a keyboard.

      • If a E-Bike is a bicycle is a bike, so is my Honda CR450. Care to go for a trail ride with me? You won’t mind the roost at all……

        • Ahh no not quite. In fact, not even close. There is massive disparity in power output between an E.bike and a motocross bike. Your CR450 is what, 60 horsepower? That’s approx 44Kw. Most E.bikes peak at about 0.800 Kw, see the difference? A human can put out 800 watts no problem, but not 44,000 watts. The difference is as clear as day. Massive difference in everything in every way. It’s like comparing an F14 fighter jet to a paper dart.

          • Bicycles make 0Kw. As in ZERO. Just sayin. As soon as something makes 1Kw, it’s a motorized vehicle. Either a moped, or motorcycle.

  7. Also, I notice not a spec of coverage of the Scott bicycles booth at Eurobike and many others along those lines, for example, but here we are being subjected to off-subject e-bike news that I’m sure you know most readers of this site are not interested in.

    • Freedom of choice gives us the option of reading, or not reading, anything we want. It’s amazing. What I do is this: If I see a heading that I’m not interested in then I scroll on by. It works really well.

  8. If growth and profitability are giving a bad name to cycling then call it what you will. You can deny or be angry all you want about eBikes but they are affecting the bike industry in monumental positive ways. Where do you think all the growth is coming from and keeping cycling business healthy… not traditional bikes or dealers. Both are shrinking. Why are the big boys now giving the bike industry a second look? Not because of traditional bike sales. They are looking at eBikes because it’s current triple digit growth and future forecast. Non-cyclist are getting on eBike while having fun and getting in shape again. In order to have your grumpy opinion you should at least ride one and talk to people about it to better understand who is buying them and why. If you still want to be angry then by all means but at least you have given it some what of an open mind. Go ahead and put youre head in the sand, talk about how you “think” you know better then the growth that is happening. Go ahead and ignore the real world movement that has already started. Youre going to be that “old guy” or troll under the bridge yelling at non-cycliist having fun. Non-cyclist are enjoying ecycling instead of the pain/discomfort they feel when starting to ride non-eBikes. Why not embrace new people entering the bike industry and keep riding your non-ebike and be glad we have healthy growth again? Maybe non-cyclist will get healthy enough to want to by… dare I say it… buy a non-eBike for a century road race or triathlon, etc… Have fun with your shrinking, enthusiast, non-business minded cycling… enjoy it to death or be welcoming to non-cyclist entering the bike industry and it’s growth.

    • Explain why growth is a good thing. Or needed. And I will retort with 10 things that grew out of control and then collapsed.

      I’ve ridden a few electric motorcycles with pedals. They were fun. Just like motorcycles are fun. Just like snowmobiles are fun. None of witch belong on a non motorized vehicle trail.

  9. ive been running 29 up front and 27.5 in the back on my last few enduro bikes and its amazing. Been waiting for it to pick up and become common. If only UCI would get rid of its stupid rule on wheel sizes

    • Too funny! I was thinking about trying a 29 on the front of my 27.5 plus bike today, then this pops up. Ha! Maybe I will give it a try now. Gonna skip the e-bike, but not gonna hate on it since it’s a bike….

  10. Ebikes are very popular here in the Netherlands at the moment. Mostly elderly people, but sometimes even youth are riding them to school. I get the idea that when people buy an ebike when they need a new bike. But also they are buying an ebike because there are ebikes now. Please note that most bikes in the Netherlands are used recreational by elderly people and utilitarian (shop, work, school) by others. There are very, very few electric mountain-bikes around.
    Some say ebikes are good while people will take the bike instead of the car. But ebike riders are usually still in perfect shape to ride a bike to e.g. work for 5 – 10 km. So they are actually plain lazy and they miss out on doing something positive for their health. Ok my uncle is 82 years old, he now rides an ebike since a 2 years. But my mam still pedals a normal bike at 77 years to the shops, and to my father in the nursing home. She only uses a car when it rains.

  11. I wouldn’t give too much credence to the auto companies dominating the e-bike business. Yes they have a lot more R&D money, but that is already spoken for in auto development. They aren’t going to divert any meaningful amount of that money to e-bike development. They also don’t have production facilities, separate marketing groups… There isn’t enough money or volume in e-bikes to divert any of their current operations that way. Also as a consumer can you imagine anyone wanting to go to an auto dealer to buy a bike? Not to mention no car salesman is going to want to spend there time selling a bike when they could be selling a car for 4-10 times the price.

  12. The prices on e-bikes need to drop drastically.

    When I can get a street legal Zero-FX for $8,500 before the tax credits, bikes like the Levo’s and XDuro’s seem like a ripoff.

  13. Nice that the industry has finally admitted that they are motorbikes.
    Power is going up, wheels are changing size, brakes, shifters, chains are getting bulked up, waiting for the next big shift, getting rid of the pointless pedals.
    Oh and all those people riding ebikes in Europe, it is the older generation taking their dog for walks, picking up groceries and riding the bike path, in the US its sad bros who want to run more laps, faster and shred (literally) the trails we have fought hard to build and keep.

    • Umm, the industry hasn’t admitted that E.bikes are motorbikes. Not sure where you heard that. The development in E.bikes parts is no different to DH bikes running 200mm rotors when they used to have 160mm. Or road bikes running 28mm tyres when 23mm used to be the norm. This is incremental progress and by no means an admission that E.bicycles are motor cycles. When a 250watt E.bike peaks at 750 watts under acceleration, and even a small 50cc scooter has over 3000watts it takes a blind man to not see that an E.bicycle is more bicycle than motorbike.

        • I understand it just fine, however I’m really tired with the negativity (which seems to be mainly coming from the USA, land of the free etc…) on E.bikes when I am seeing how positive their influence is on the bicycle industry and on peoples lives. E.bikes are putting more people on bicycles and that’s positive. Many people who are negative on E.bikes fail to acknowledge the massive power output difference between an E.bicycle and a motorbike. I look at the facts and statistics rather than spouting off some emotionally charged opinion.

          • Why is is so important that an E.bike be classified as a bike? If I am elderly European commuter and I want an electric motor to assist me what do I care if its called a bike, an e.bike, or moped. I suspect the reason is that access is desired that is otherwise barred from things that are not “bikes”. If so make the argument. “E.bikes are bikes” is not an argument.

            In the mean time the bike industry likes e.bikes because its another source of revenue, that potentially can be larger than the revenue they get from traditional bikes. They don’t want any impediments to this revenue stream, like laws that say “non-motorized only”. In reality the e.bike is only the first step in the evolution of light weight low power low cost, enclosed multi-seat motor vehicle. The goal is to get the same functionality as a car, but not legally be a car because if its legally a car then all of the safety standards kick in, and it will weigh pretty much what a car weighs. That’s a different market.

  14. maybe I don’t have the benefit of adverse experience, but I think E bikes will benefit the cycling world in general. First, it will get more people on bikes, whom are therefor less likely to want to run me over when I am on the road. Second, more demand for trail networks will bring more resources to the cause, so maybe we get more opportunities. I think there is an ebike in my future at some point, maybe 15 years from now when I’ve slowed down and can’t grind up the steep stuff anymore.

    • Well Tom you are correct there, they are already benefiting the cycling world, and society in general getting people out of cars and onto bicycles. Our mate who posted below has a bit of a skewed view of reality of the situation.

      • Clearly you know nothing of human nature and instead cling to the idea that humans are at their core care about other people outside of their immediate circle. Your thinking sounds like a nice world to live in. Too bad 40,000 years of history says that world doesn’t exist. Human beings are self centered and for the most part only look out for themselves and a few people in their orbit. And a lot are openly hostile to “others”. Your fantasy world sounds fantastic. Sign me up. Too bad it’s a fantasy.

        • Quite the opposite Jason. I think instead that people generally don’t care about each other and are heading towards self-destruction. In the meantime however, numbers can and do influence change. I’m seeing it in the city I live, money is being spent on developing cycling infrastructure and that’s a good thing. Cycle lanes help keep separation between those that choose to ride bicycles and those that drive vehicles. That’s also a good thing, for safety of cyclists from those that are less attentive behind the wheel of a car, either less attentive because of a lack of driving skill or a lack of consideration towards others. Regardless of ones views, it’s hard to argue that getting someone on a bicycle (E.bike or otherwise) means 1 person spending money in the bicycle industry and one more person adding to the numbers to influence positive change towards cycling.

          • You’re assuming the cycle industry has the best interest of us plebs in mind. You know, like Monsanto or the pharmaceutical industry (to name only two). They clearly care about people. 🙂 The bike industry is like any other industry. they’re in it for the money and power (I’m not saying that’s a bad thing). Altruistic they’re not. If they can sell more bikes by offering E bikes they will. If having more bikes out on the road helps the standing of cycling in the eye of the public at large it’s a unplanned secondary effect. On the flip side if E bikes start to tear trails up and they get closed it is also an unplanned secondary effect. In the case of the latter,the cycling industry will not be coming to bail anyone out with their money.

            • I made no such assumption or claim that the bicycle industry has our best interests in mind. But I am stating that e.bikes are creating far more positive influence than negative. I’m also stating the very obvious correlation that the power output of the typical e.bike is within the power output of a fit human being and no where close to that of even the lowest power 50cc motorbikes. And I’m going to be careful to add a political slant to this but (and statistics are showing this) why is it such an issue in the USA? Many countries are embracing e.bikes, people are getting out of cars and onto bikes
              exercising more where perhaps they couldn’t before. If trail access is an issue then the bigger question is why is trail access an issue? And your above comment about anything above 1kw being a motorized vehicle ignores the fact that I clearly stated that most e.bikes, which most are rated at 250-300 sustainable watts, peak under acceleration at around 700-800 watts. This is still less than your 1kw statement. So lets put the emotion and fear aside and look at facts and embrace positive change. I bid you good day sir. I can no longer waste my time. Some people get it and some you just can’t reach.

              • Most headlines I read about electric pedal assist motorbikes is more power than last year…soon your argument that they only put out peak power of a human won’t have a leg to stand on. I think we can all agree on one thing, call them what you will these things have motors for propulsion, however small…and need to stay off of non-motorized trails. Ride them all over the road, great! I don’t have a problem.

  15. Lol, I’m gonna keep pedaling my bicycle with no motor ! It’s crazy, I can even commute without a motor ! & I don’t want to read about motorcycles on here!

  16. Hey why don’t you guys start an ebike rumor and…..oh crap in a hat!!! Well what the hell is this doing here then?
    Anyone else notice how much time Craig has to comment on other peoples ebikes comments?

    Is he like, truly the saddest social media influencer ever?
    Is this a paid position, to counter troll ebike trolls?
    If it is would it be less sad?
    Curious….

    • The sad thing about “Craig” is he clearly feels the need to answer everyone defensively but mainly doesn’t read their comments and copy/pastes a response. Notice also that when someone actually argues with him he quickly runs out of things to say.

      • No I just can’t keep up with the petty negativity. I do read the comments and yet I’m still to see anything valid as to why E.bikes are not a positive influence on the bicycle industry and society. I see it in my job, every day.

  17. Hey Tyler, feel free to keep putting ebike related articles here, its your website after all. The rest of us will just stop visiting.

    • I for one have stopped coming to this site as regularly. I don’t care to read about ebikes and it seems to come up pretty dang often for a site that has a sister site entirely devoted to such things.

  18. E-bikes Are a curse. It’s what happens when people chace strava segments…and companies figure ways for people to go fast from tree to tree. They’re mopeds

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