Thursday 24 September 2009

Electric bike demographics

Every so often someone asks me who buys electric bikes in the Netherlands. My usual answer is that they are bought by the elderly (Dutch over 65s make 24% of their journeys by bike) and by people with a disability who need a bit of assistance.

This short article appeared in the September issue of Tweewieler magazine. A magazine for the Dutch bike trade, which is distributed to bike shops.

The title of the article reads "Modern e-bike gets still younger buying public"

There was an online survey of 500 people organised by the Dutch "Halfords" chain of shops (I understand this is no longer connected with British "Halfords"). The survey produced such results as that 37% of correspondents said they wanted an electric bike to make cycling easier.

A representative of Halfords claims that the average buying age is creeping down to around 50, which is much lower than previously, when most were bought by 65+ers, but do bear in mind that he's a salesman.

An older assisted bicycle with a two stroke petrol motor (a snorfiets or low power moped) next to two newer e-bikes. All three are limited to 25 km/h. E-bikes are rapidly replacing the older snorfietsen of this type.
The article also mentions that they often see couples buying his and hers bikes together. This is something I've noticed in the past. Dutch couples who buy identical bikes at retirement so they can cycle together.

The two bikes in the photo on the right are near identical models which were probably bought by a couple. The bike on the left with the number plate is an older style of assisted bike with a petrol engine. These are also limited to 25 km/h, so they were bought by very much the same people as now buy electric bikes. Part of the growth in electric bike sales is due to these types of low power motor bike having been replaced by electric bikes.

Much has been made in some quarters of the number of electric bikes sold in the Netherlands. This article gives a figure of 5000 electric bikes sold in the country last year, with an expectation that this may have doubled to 10000 this year. Impressive growth, but still small numbers compared with the 1.3 million bikes sold per year in the Netherlands.

The reason for the high monetary value of electric bicycles is that when people buy electric bikes in the Netherlands they tend to buy expensive ones. Also, because it's quite common for older couples to buy identical "his and hers" pairs of bikes as in the photo, this in effect doubles the amount spent.

We sell parts for electric bikes in our webshop.


Frits B said...

Not just the elderly. My mail is delivered by a variety of people, all on bikes. The one I met today, in his fifties, rode a Gazelle e-bike. Knowing that the mail will issue new bikes to their employees this October, via Halfords but that's just a coincidence, I asked him what he was going to do. Stow it away, he said, and continue to use the - privately bought - Gazelle, as that is so much more practical, and so much easier on his legs.

Kevin Love said...

After I had surgery two years ago, I put a Nine Continents electric kit on my Pashley roadster. I liked it so much that even upon renewed health I kept it.

In Ontario, electric bicycles are allowed 32 km/hr. The great thing is that I decide how much human effort goes into getting around. I like a nice gentle push that does not work up a sweat. Now I put in that much effort and go up hills at 32 km/hr. Nice.