The folks who make e-bikes aren’t stupid. They aren’t solely targeting serious cyclists as their market. They’re targeting folks who may not remember what it’s like to pedal a bike. More cynically, some of them are targeting the consumer who doesn’t know junk from quality.
Recently I was talking to a guy who said he was thinking of getting an electric bike for his 13-year-old daughter’s birthday. I had to suppress the urge to say, For God’s sake no!
This guy told me he saw one for $700, and wasn’t sure if he wanted to get that, or a different gift. I told him that a $700 e-bike probably wasn’t a very good one. Yes, I said it tactfully.
I’m not trying to become an expert on e-bikes. But I’m in a position where I get to try out a few different models, and I’m starting to get an idea of what a good one feels like.
Ironically, this is similar to when I got rid of my car. I rented cars more often, and used a car-sharing service. As a result, I (a) realized that all the cars I’ve ever owned were crap, and (b) developed a taste for Hondas.
Yesterday I wrote about my experience with an Ohm e-bike. That’s my favorite so far–because it feels like a bike. And when it assists my own power, it still feels pretty much like a bike. When I pedal up the hills on the way home, it feels like I’m pedaling on a flat surface–but I’m pedaling.
And yesterday afternoon, I rode home an A2B Metro, which neither rides nor looks like a bike. It’s a throttle e-bike, not a pedal-assist bike. It’s my least favorite so far. It feels to me like a scooter–with pedals instead of pegs. It’s a solidly-built e-bike, but I’m not the target market.
This review on Motorcycle.com says volumes about who the target market is. (“[I]t costs less than some Ducati aftermarket exhaust systems.”)
A2B also makes bikes that are more like bikes and less like scooters, but I haven’t had a chance to try those yet. The point is, A2B understands that other target market and makes a quality product for them.
I can tell you that it was neither the Ohm nor the A2B that the guy was talking about for his teenage daughter. The retail price of the Ohm pushes $4000, and the A2B is in the mid-$2000 range.
Those cheap e-bikes are the two-wheeled equivalent of the battery-powered toy Hummer from Wal-Mart. This year’s $700 special is next year’s garage sale deal.