The European continent loves e-bikes, and nothing could have added more excitement to this fast growing market than the recent entry of Specialized with their “Turbo” e-bike. Specialized’s Turbo was introduced to rave reviews in Valencia Spain several weeks ago, called the most impressive e-bike ever made. With it’s 5,499Euro price tag it won’t be a mass product, but there’s no question that the technology and design of this impressive e-bike will help to revolutionize this market segment.
So what does all of this have to do with recreational biking in France? A lot. E-bike sales are exploding and comprise the fastest growing segment of the bicycle market throughout Europe. Local governments throughout France and Europe are aggressively promoting bicycle commuting and this is impacting recreational bicycling as more and more bike paths are being built and/or renovated. When I was researching my last post on bike rentals in Bordeaux, I was amazed to see the number of bike rental agencies with electric bikes available.
Historically e-bikes have been regarded as a bit nerdy and something reserved for old people. But new research shows this perspective changing, and the introduction of Specialized’s Turbo to the market will definitely do a lot to change perceptions. A very cool bike that can also go 45 km/h is every recreational bicyclist’s dream–certainly mine–and it will only be a matter of time until Specialist’s design+power model becomes more mainstream and affordable.
A recent study in the Netherlands where there are already 700,000 e-bike users, revealed some very interesting information about e-bike users. Contrary to the thought that e-bikes are for old people, this study found that over 40% of e-bike sales in upcoming years will be among those younger than 50. About half of users will use their e-bikes daily for commuting and for short city trips.
Regardless of the age of user or the country, there is no question that increased availability of e-bikes will impact recreational bicycling in France and throughout Europe. More and more organized bicycle tour companies are offering an e-bike option. I just received an e-mail from Discover France, a tour company specializing in guided and self-guided bike tours, announcing that they have added electric hybrid bikes to tour options in the Loire, Provence and Languedoc. As with most of the e-bike rental options, they provide a boost, not a motor, so there is still plenty of opportunity for exercise from pedaling!
The growth in e-bikes will encourage more people to try a weekend or longer bike adventure, and it will enable existing cyclists to try more hilly routes. It may also encourage more couples with varying athletic skills to consider taking a bicycling vacation together, and more families with teenage children to plan bicycling vacations. I will begin to include information on electric bike availability in my resources sections on my blog as well as in my new cycling e-guides. In the meantime, let me know if an e-bike would make a difference in your interest in biking in France or anywhere else in Europe!