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The e-bike of the future is a bicycle

E-Bike

03/07/2017
High speed of innovation in the e-bike sector - Bicycles with electric drives and traditional bicycles converging in appearance

Friedrichshafen, Germany - What will the e-bike look like in the future? The answer from many manufacturers of e-bike drive systems is "like a bicycle.” What sounds easy is a challenge for the players in the e-bike market, as will also be demonstrated at the Eurobike in Friedrichshafen (August 30 to September 2, 2017).

Five years is a long time in innovation-driven industries. This becomes clear when one looks back at the history of e-bikes: Although the first e-bikes rolled into bicycle dealerships before the turn of the millennium, the biggest thrust in innovation and thus also what was required for an e-bike boom at the bike shop counter has only been able to be observed in the years after 2010. The pace of innovation will not be slowing down in the coming years either. An important development goal is to bring e-bikes and bicycles closer together again. "An e-bike will increasingly approach a normal bicycle in terms of its appearance. For example, while the luggage rack rechargeable battery was standard in the past, this solution will be seen less and less in the coming years in favor of semi-integrated or fully integrated batteries,” says Michael Wild, Marketing and Press Manager at Shimano distributor Paul Lange.

At Bosch, Europe’s market leader among drive manufacturers, the development is estimated to be similar, as Claus Fleischer, Head of Bosch’s E-Bike division, reports: "From our point of view, in 2022 there will be pedelecs which can hardly be distinguished from the traditional bike in form language and design. Drives as well as batteries are more compact and lighter, and so well integrated into the frame design that the e-bike can hardly be distinguished from a bike without an electric drive at first glance. On the other hand, in five years there will still be a large number of pedelec models which are clearly identifiable as such: Because while some people prefer to be on the go with a bike that is puristic and straightforward, others consciously want to be perceived as an e-biker - and thus make a clear statement.”

What sounds easy - packing lighter and more powerful batteries into e-bikes - is a real challenge for bicycle manufacturers. "With the increasing integration of e-bike components, development tasks for bicycle manufacturers are becoming more demanding. The product management of an e-bike supplier is becoming more and more a matter of project management, in which the interaction of quite different partners and actors has to be coordinated,” explains Jens Steinhäuser, who is responsible for development of the sporting brand Conway at bicycle manufacturer Hartje.

What will a typical e-bike look like in 2022? "The typical e-bike of 2022 cannot be explicitly outlined, because the typical e-bike of 2022 will not exist. Even today, we are seeing that electric drives are becoming accessible to more and more bicycle types and categories - and this trend will continue. In 2022 e-bikes will exist in so many facets that any attempt to comprehensively describe them would go beyond the constraints of the question,” says Michael Wild of Shimano distributor Paul Lange.

These market dynamics are also reflected at the Eurobike, which is one of the most important platforms for the e-bike market as the leading trade fair for the bicycle industry. "With more than 1350 exhibitors from some 50 countries in 2017, the Eurobike is again breaking all records. The Eurobike trend documents how the structure of the bicycle industry is currently changing. Visitors to the Eurobike will again see many new names among the exhibitors. Some of the companies which today rank among the market-defining companies in the bicycle scene were still rather unknown in the industry just a few years ago. In turn, some names that were quite prominent in recent decades are no longer present on the trade fair floor,” observes Stefan Reisinger, Eurobike Director at Messe Friedrichshafen.

Eurobike 2017 is open from August 30 to September 2 from 9 AM to 6 PM daily. On the Business Days from Wednesday to Friday, the fair will only be open to trade visitors and accredited journalists. For more information, visit: www.eurobike-show.com.  

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