INTERESTING ANALYSES OF US AND UK MARKETS
Two interesting bits of news from the US and the UK respectively show some similar trends towards cheaper hub motored e-bikes. This is a change to our usual news take which emphasises the differences, with the US preferring higher powered, throttle-controlled machines and higher powered motors and heavier e-bikes in general.
Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN) looks at the old chestnut of hub motors vs mid-drives with a fresh take – what the trends will be for the US market and what kinds of -bikes you might expect to see in the near future.
As the BRAIN article notes, those looking for higher quality e-bikes are traditionally steered towards mid-drives, typically costing many thousands of $. As they say, ‘…the humble hub motor….until recent years has been largely shunned in the brick-and-mortar e-bike marketplace. Electric bikes with mid-drive motors such as those made by Bosch, Shimano, Brose, and others largely have dominated showroom floors.’
The article suggests that ‘that dynamic is changing, thanks to the lower cost of hub motors compared to mid-drives, and as legacy brands chase the cost-conscious consumers who have turned to Rad Power Bikes and other online sellers peddling sub-$2,000 e-bikes.’
Hence it reminds us that back in May Specialized’s Globe project suggested they would launch a hub motor model (of course they never actually said that and they could just be being a little mischievous…).
In the article Alex Dunn, general manager of Seattle E-Bike, estimates that about two-thirds of the e-bikes sold in his shop were mid-drives. Now it’s roughly 50-50. However this is partly due to what he calls “…nice sub-40-pound e-bikes with lightweight hub motors..”. Dunn gives the example of Cannondale’s $2,500 Treadwell Neo with a Mahle hub motor as an example.
Rather than premium e-bike manufacturers looking to introduce hub motor models, another way they could counter the rise of cheaper hub motor models is to find ways to pare down the cost of mid-drive models.
Intriguingly “It’s possible to manufacture and sell a Bosch e-bike for less than $2,000,” says Zach Krapfl in the article (Krapl is co-founder of VPL, which distributes Bosch motors in North America to small- and medium-sized brands). Krapl adds “I know it’s doable, and that people are evaluating how to do it.”