Electric bicycle sales had been growing at an impressive rate in the US even before the COVID-19 pandemic began. But ever since the pandemic started, sales of e-bikes have skyrocketed. Now the latest numbers show that e-bikes sales aren’t cooling off anytime soon.
The latest figures were compiled by NPD and indicate a growth rate for electric bicycles of 240% in the 12 months leading up to July 2021.
Interestingly, though, general cycling equipment only grew at a rate of 15%, showing that electric bicycles are leading the overall growth in the cycling industry.
And making this all the more impressive is that these figures show growth on top of the tremendous increase in sales we saw at the beginning of the pandemic nearly two years ago.
While some worried we might have been looking at an e-bike bubble of new riders rushing out to buy e-bikes after the first lockdowns lifted in early 2020, we’ve seen sustained and unprecedented growth in the e-bike industry.
While the pandemic reversed several years of slumping non-electric bike sales and finally sent the category back into the growth column, e-bikes saw their existing growth double, triple, and even quadruple in many cases.
The increased ease of electric bicycles has convinced many drivers and public transportation riders to finally switch to two-wheels by removing the biggest hurdle: the large perceived effort of cycling.While studies have shown that e-bikes can still offer nearly as much exercise as pedal bikes (and sometimes even more, believe it or not), the added benefit of pedal assist means that riders don’t show up to work drenched in sweat like typical pedal cyclists.
Throttle-enabled e-bikes available in North America have taken that advantage one step further, offering the ability to travel by bike at speeds up to 20 mph (32 km/h) with minimal or even no pedaling at all. And since throttle-enabled e-bikes also feature pedal assist, riders can always rely more on pedal power to add in as much exercise as they want. Those advantages get added on top of the huge commuting time savings offered by e-bikes in urban areas, where bike lanes offer speedy shortcuts past gridlocked traffic.
Despite the pandemic sending e-bike sales into overdrive, pricing has stayed relatively consumer-friendly.
When e-bikes initially began selling like hot cakes in early 2020, nearly every e-bike supplier was left with empty shelves and warehouse
Instead of price gouging, companies largely kept e-bike prices steady in the US. Many brands saw extended lead times, but there were almost zero cases of price gouging.
As the pandemic wore on, though, increased pressures on pricing including shipping container shortages, skyrocketing sea freight prices, increased cost of raw materials, and a worsening US/RMB exchange rate led to many retailers slowly walking up their prices.
As some of the largest influencers of pricing showed signs of stabilizing, many retailers have already begun to lower their e-bike prices back down to pre-pandemic levels.
Such pricing moves come at a time when many brands are introducing new models to the market.
Rad Power Bikes unveiled an interesting new sub-$1,000 e-bike early in the pandemic that targeted the urban commuter market. That quickly became a key demographic that grew sharply when commuters began searching for a socially distant alternative to crowded public transportation.Many other companies such as VanMoof, GoCycle, and Cowboy have also targeted this key commuter demographic with more premium models designed to safely and quickly move commuters around cities while offering more sophisticated electronics and features.
At the same time, many more recreational-oriented e-bikes have been introduced over the last few months, such as the fat tire Aventon Aventure e-bike and the new Rad Power Bikes RadRover 6 Plus, as well as new moped-style e-bikes like the updated Super73-ZX.
With a number of interesting new e-bikes hitting the market and a public that has shown no slowdown in demand for electric biking, continued growth of the segment is all but certain in the near future.