Why aren’t our Icons bikes electric?

Since the early 2000s the big news in the bike industry has been the electric bike (or e-bike). The technology has been around for a while, but the market has grown quickly in recent years. In 2010 e-bikes generated $11 billion as a global industry. This is even more staggering when you consider e-bikes outsold “normal” adult bikes, accounting for 40% of total sales.

When electric bikes first entered the market, the potential benefits they offered were clear, especially to older riders or those with any physical conditions that may have hindered “normal” cycling.

With the rise in popularity of the e-bike, there has been an assumption by the cycling industry that older riders will only be interested in pedal-assisted cycling. However, this isn’t always the case and for those keen to continue their cycling life under their own steam, there has been a clear lack of choice, with little or no consideration of design or weight.

As we get older, we can lose a bit of flexibility, for some people this comes later than others, but when it does happen, getting on and off a traditional bike can become difficult. When considering this in the design of a bike, a low step-through top tube can be of huge benefit, allowing the rider to get on the bike and get going without having to perform a balletic arabesque!

Why would I want a normal bike when I could have an e-bike?

The major benefit of having a non-electric bike is weight. With a low step-through style, e-bikes can range from 20kg up to the dizzying heights of 30kg, which put into perspective is about four-and-a-half times as heavy as a Bowling Ball!

That is a big weight to lift, even for the strongest among us. For people with reduced strength, especially when it comes to the handling and manoeuvrability of the bike, this can be a huge issue. Imagine propping your bike up next to your table at a café and then having to turn it around in a narrow street. You’ve got to be pretty strong to deadlift 30kg and pivot on the spot!

To put this into context, the manual handling guidelines in the workplace suggest that the maximum weight women should lift is 16kg and 25kg for men and that relates to loads held close to the body at waist height. If we take a 20-30kg e-bike and attempt to lift it above elbow height, for example, lifting onto a bike rack, this would be ill-advised. With a lightweight step-through bicycle, such as the Janis, you’re talking about a bike that weighs approx. 9kg, with all the above barriers to cycling removed.

This can be critical in bringing people back into cycling after a break from the saddle, having a positive experience in a return to anything can be crucial in ensuring people continue with a hobby. We think e-bikes are great, but until they’re made lighter we think the solution for most riders is the lightweight, low geared, human-powered option.

 

 

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