E-ROAD BIKE: TOP OR FLOP?
At EUROBIKE 2018 it was one of the hottest topics: the e-road bike. Yet the electrified bikes with racing handlebars are also a source of heated discussions. Is this a hot topic for the future or just a lot of hot air?
“An e-road bike – who needs one?” This question, accompanied by an uncomprehending shaking of the head, is no doubt one that every bike enthusiast has heard at least once or even asked themselves. While the e-mountain bike has now become established, despite the initial resistance, e-road bikes are regarded as extremely exotic. Large sales figures? No sign of that all. And Matthias Grick of KTM Bikes confirms this. “The e-road bike is very thrilling, but last year we started rather modestly and will continue to be cautious next year.” The topic first has to be planted in the minds of cyclists, he believes. “However, this is not due to the product. The attention is there. Dealers are increasingly asking for test bikes”, Grick points out.
So where’s the problem then? Here are a few reasons: almost all current models have been designed for the premium segment. At the start of the new season, however, more and more lower-priced models will be coming onto the market. This will automatically lead to a growing demand. At the same time, the target group is very small due to the generally ailing condition of the market for road bikes. “Nevertheless, the situation for road bikes will change in the medium to long term. Young riders are appearing who have nothing against electromobility and simply want to have fun”, is the conviction held by Felix Kuffner, Head of Marketing for the drive producer Fazua. Another step here will involve the rapidly growing market for gravel bikes. Demand and developments show that the road bike will also have a future away from the tarmac – and experience has taught us that electrified models should be able to provide support here. “This will significantly expand the range of applications for the road bike and exploit a great potential”, comes the positive message from Christian Denfeld, a specialist dealer from Bad Homburg. Consequently, his forecast is: “The market for e-road bikes will grow in the next few years. Admittedly not as rapidly as in other segments but levels of up to 30 per cent growth are possible. This is what we are preparing for.”
One company paving the way for the e-road bike is the previously mentioned drive manufacturer Fazua. Based in Upper Bavaria, the firm actually wanted to launch a lightweight motor for e-MTBs, but after the first road bike with the small electric drive was unveiled in July 2017, the topic has rapidly gained momentum. “At a rough estimate, we are now covering 80 per cent of the market”, says Kuffner. The main focus for the target group is shifting to competitive cyclists who, due to age or a lack of training, are not or no longer able to keep up with their partners or training groups on climbs. “An important factor in product development for the e-road bike is to maintain the same values as for a normal road bike. The bike should be attractive and lightweight and also ride well”, explains Kuffner. What results is a drive system that not only shines out with its tremendous power, but also promises a natural riding sensation and has a lightweight, detachable motor. “In this way, you have a normal road bike in no time at all”, says Kuffner, describing another advantage.