The electric bicycle boom in the United States is bigger than we thought, and it’s only getting bigger.
When the US economy began feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic this past February and March, many in the e-bike industry feared the worst.
At least until we witnessed an unexpected twist of fate. E-bikes, much like toilet paper for some reason, were the pandemic’s surprising winners that no one saw coming.
Nearly every electric bicycle company saw sales skyrocket as Americans began to exit lockdowns this past April. Sales continued to climb into the summer, and they haven’t slowed since.
According to Ed Benjamin of the Light Electric Vehicle Association, the US imported around 270,000 electric bicycles in 2019. That was peanuts compared to the millions of e-bikes sold in Europe but represented impressive growth for the US market.
But now the US is expected to more than double that figure to as many as 600,000 e-bikes this year.
And that’s not even enough to fulfill the demand.
With many Chinese factories still working through backlogs of orders after shutting down operations during lockdowns earlier this year, several e-bike companies in the US are still struggling to import enough e-bikes.
Even shortages of simple parts like pedals and handlebars from overloaded factories have held up the further flow of e-bikes into the country as Americans demand more electric two-wheelers.
The largest e-bike company in the US, Seattle-based Rad Power Bikes, has even seen an interesting demographic shift in its rider base.
With over 100,000 electric bikes from Rad Power Bikes put onto the road since the company’s start in 2015, (and with the company likely closing in on an annual sales figure of 100,000 e-bikes if trends continue), Rad knows the e-bike market inside and out.
Most of the company’s customers were initially baby boomers who were using e-bikes to get back into cycling, Rad Power Bike’s CEO Mike Radenbaugh explained to Bloomberg.
But now the company is seeing a large shift towards younger customers living in cities who are using electric bicycles as alternative forms of transportation.
The ability to socially distance on an e-bike (compared to packing into public transit and getting COVID dusted) is likely partially responsible for the uptick in sales. But equally effective could be a trend towards more affordable electric bicycles that still pack in high performance and sought-after features.
Rad Power Bikes has long led the value-oriented e-bike market. The company released two new low-cost models in the last year alone, the $1,199 RadRunner utility e-bike and the $1,099 RadMission city e-bike.
But other companies are also competing for customers in this sought after space, and they’re bringing their A games too.
Lectric Bikes is barely more than a year old, but it’s already coming after Rad Power Bikes with an impressively priced $899 Lectric XP folding fat-tire e-bike. We’ve reviewed the little 28 mph (45 km/h) powerhouse, and it is an awesome e-bike for that price!
Lectric Bikes even released a step-thru version of the bike recently which has also proven to be quite popular.
And So-Cal startup Ride1Up has also gotten into the low-cost e-bike game by relaunching one of its original e-bike models as an updated belt drive e-bike, the $995 Roadster V2. The stealthy e-bike offers most of the utility that daily riders are looking for and is an example of the increased accessibility we’re seeing in the e-bike market.
As more riders awaken to the benefits of electric bicycles and major companies keep innovating to bring down prices, the sky is the limit for e-bike sales in the US.
Now let’s hear your thoughts. Do you own an e-bike or are you interested in purchasing one? Let us know in the comment section below!
FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.
Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.