Asked to write for - 'Cycling World' Mag


So why do we have so many customers who love them…

written by Jim Duncan Nationwide eBikes’ founder

Electric bikes are  rubbish.... aren’t they?

If you imagine an electric bicycle and rider, you will most likely conjure up images of an elderly person, climbing on to a cumbersome – moped-like – heavy framed bike, with a motor whining noisily as they ride off. This appears to be the common misconception.

From my position in the industry (I personally serve around 1,000 customers each year and also meet regularly with other national importers on the continent) I can tell you a radically different view has swept across Europe over the last decade or so and is now washing up on these shores.

At Nationwide eBikes we have been successfully serving trade and retail customers across the south west for many years from our headquarters in Taunton. Now we have expanded with showrooms in London, Birmingham and shortly Manchester, with a number of hire agents across the country.

What we’ve learnt, is the thing that everyone loves about cycling is being outdoors in the fresh air, turning those pedals and experiencing the ride. The feeling is no different for someone on a manual pedal bike or on a modern eBike.

But, what is fantastic about the eBikes, is that they open up cycling to a whole range of people who for various reasons might want or need a little power behind their pedals. With the sophisticated motor systems that we now import this can be a precise match of the riders output – from as little as 30%.

Or, you can turn it up to more than 250% when you really want to hurry home or climb a mountain! (Flyer eBikes are widely hired across the Alps). With the high-end systems taking more than 1,000 measurements a second, this assistance comes in and goes out seamlessly so the ride feels natural.

Modern eBikes can be turned down low or off altogether– ours have good equipment levels and ride well unpowered yet enable someone to go cycling with the confidence and peace of mind that there is power behind them should they want it.

So who buys eBikes…

What kind of person buys an eBike? Well when we first started trading, maybe it was true that our average customer was a female aged over 60. That’s no longer the case. We have seen a huge rise in the numbers of trendy 30-something men and women buying eBikes from us. They range from club riders returning from injury, to those who want to increase their fitness in a measured and precise manner, to cyclists who are looking to increase their average
speed on climbs and to others who simply have the stamina to cycle 50 miles but want to cover 100 miles.

How does it look…

There are eBike models now available even for the most style conscious rider. EBikes have come a long way on the style front. People used to think their look was similar to Chinese mopeds – not anymore. Batteries can be shaped in with the frame, motors can be hidden in the wheel or crank.

As a national importer of high end Swiss and European eBikes, we have seen a shift from the traditional, functional and somewhat plain, to the high-style, hard-core and frankly adventurous. These are now finding their place in the UK market. This year has seen a particular surge in demand for serious electric mountain bikes from the top brands.
Manufacturers such as Gepida with the Asgard and Ruga, Flyer with the Goroc and Uproc and Haibike with the XDuro and SDuro.

These brands utilise various Bosch, Panasonic and Yamaha battery and motor systems. These models can make even the roughest terrain manageable for those who relish the thrill of off-roading and serious down-hilling.

In my passion for electric bikes I must state clearly that I believe there is a place for both purely manual pedal bikes and eBikes. Sometimes you just want to cycle to work but don’t want to turn up at the office hot, sweaty and in desperate need of a shower. At other times it’s for when family members of differing abilities and ages want to go for a ride together and all keep up. In short it’s a tool in a toolbox. You use the right bike for the job.

With more and more people across the nation taking up cycling, it mustn’t be an exclusive club just for the super it, with honed bodies capable of pulling off any shade of Lycra.

With modern eBikes anyone can saddle up and enjoy the road, the ride and the countryside with a little help from a few volts. Perhaps you know someone who might just develop a love of cycling after test riding an eBike. And maybe – eBike and pedal bike can live together, in peace, in the same garage!

Electric bikes are  rubbish.... aren’t they?