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NY Times: E-Bikes are Gaining Ground in U.S.

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With the mainstream debut of Sanyo’s Eneloop electric bicycle at CES this year and Best Buy’s test marketing (Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland) them in their stores, the NY Times says E-bikes are starting to take hold in the U.S.

Many things have conspired over the past decade to help make this possible, notably higher gas prices (more incentive), lithium battery technology advancements (greater range), improved reliability and legislation.  In 2002, the federal government classified any two-wheeled, pedal driven bike with a maximum speed of 20 mph as a bicycle, which does not require turn signals or a license to operate.

Another major factor is the public’s shift in opinion.  Either people thought older models were unreliable and unable to perform well, or they just didn’t want to ride a bike.  Now, new models are more capable of traveling further and perform much better, and growing traffic, pollution and gas prices have people rethinking a bicycle as a utilitarian device rather than just a recreational one.  Additionally, any stigma of E-bikes being a lazy person’s bicycle is vanishing as people see the motor as increasing the number of trips and uses the bike can have.

Of course, the lack of bicycle lanes and infrastructure and bike shops’ willingness to stock e-bikes remain hurdles, but things seem to be headed in the right direction.

Read the full article here.  H/T to Bikehugger for the link.

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Terry at Pedego
14 years ago

There is no question that electric bikes are gaining popularity. The big question is whether or not the independent bicycle dealer (IBD) is going to control this market or are they going to let the big box retailers (like Best Buy) steal this market from them. Electric bikes currently are sold to baby boomers who remember how much fun it was riding a bike as a kid and just want to be a kid again and have fun. They have not bought a bike in the last 20 years and would not have bought a regular bike now. The electric bike allows them to get back on a bike again and not have to worry about being able to fight the hills and headwinds. Every electric bike sold by the IBDs would create incremental profits not to mention the accessories sold to go on those bikes. The IBDs should be leading the way.

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