I’ve been in the market for an electric bike for a while now, after building, riding and testing over a dozen products on offer today. Some have been great; others – which I shall not name today – have not.
With countless electric bikes on sale today and a colossal rise in demand, it is very easy to be overcome with confusion when selecting which one suits your lifestyle best. Choice include premium models, cheap retrofit e-bikes
However, as e-bikes continue their rise to fame, a leader is emerging. And it goes by the name of Vanmoof.
Founded in 2009 by brothers Taco and Ties Carlier, the Dutch startup has taken the European market by storm, with its latest offering becoming its most successful e-bike yet. With over a decade of experience in e-bikes, the company has set the new standard in urban mobility. And they are showing no signs of slowing down.
“Our goal, the long-term vision, is to get the next billion on bikes by challenging what a bike looks, rides and feels like,” says Job Stehmann, Chief of Product Design & Technology for Vanmoof. “For example, the launch of our latest e-bikes in April, the VanMoof S3 & X3, was our most successful product launch ever in terms of impact and sales. But it had to be completely re-worked to a totally virtual experience because of Covid-19. In the end we attracted over 6000 live viewers from over 100 countries and had over 4000 sales in the first 24 hours after launch.
The Rise of E-Bikes
What makes Vanmoof so interesting is how it is breaking industry conventions by doing everything in-house from product design, to retail, to customer support and everything in between. Born out of Amsterdam, the city cycling capital of the world, it fully integrates its technology and has complete ownership over its supply chain.
“We are committed to creating the best e-bike built for the city with a mixture of high tech and high quality and a truly accessible price,” Stehmann continues. “Our latest rides are a huge step forward in terms of ride quality and technical performance at almost half the price as the previous model. We are making quality tech and design accessible to a wider audience and doing it as a fully integrated end-to-end company.”
And, with a huge decline in public transport demand due to the current climate, everyone wants a piece of urban mobility. In fact, Vanmoof’s own demand has surged with sales up over 140% from January to June compared to the same period in 2019. What makes this figure so interesting is that Vanmoof also sold non-electric bikes up until the end of 2019, showing the huge spike in demand for e-bikes. As of 2020, says Stehmann, the company has moved to only selling e-bikes, reflecting its whopping 260% year-on-year increase for e-bikes.
“The huge decline in public transport demand and capacity is leading to a shift to different forms of urban mobility – primarily bikes and e-bikes,” he adds. “The shock value of Coronavirus has pushed people out of their normal routines and new habits, like cycling, will be kept even after the crisis is over.”
We are currently facing one of the biggest challenges we have ever faced, which is having an incredible impact on societal structures and the economy. Social distancing alone has created a new reality and is, as Stehmann says, a major factor in people looking at picking up an e-bike.
“Bikes are now seen as an increasingly dependable and healthy mobility option. Public authorities around the world understood this benefit and have responded to it by creating infrastructures in favor of biking. We see new bike lanes in Berlin and a spike of city commuters in Sydney and NYC.”
Ditching Four Wheels for Two
Your average consumer, who probably hasn’t been on a bike for many years, may seem unsure on the e-bike concept, as they don’t see the benefits from a conventional bike. However, they couldn’t be more wrong. Ask anyone who has tried an electric bike and they will sing its praises.
“At VanMoof we believe the future of bikes lies in electrification,” says Stehmann. “We believe now more than ever that e-bikes are the answer to get more people out of cars and onto two wheels. The motor means you go faster and further; they will change the way we move around cities, no need to worry about hills or sweating on your commute.”
E-bikes can make a 10-15 mile commute very doable without a car or public transport. This avoids crowded and stressful transport and allows people to help make a difference to our society going forward. Most importantly, it feels great!
But it is extremely difficult to get people to ditch the car and get on their bike, whether that’s the commute to work or general leisure.
“E-bikes are helping people arrive at their destination faster, fitter and happier. E-bikes give a freedom to moving around busy cities like NYC or London or Paris or Berlin – it’s a whole new perspective on urban spaces. They are fun, green and clean – they get cars off the road and they help you stay healthy,” says Stehmann. “This is not a trend, more and more people are discovering our bikes and other bikes, and they are going to see what a compelling alternative to cars and public transport they are.”
With no signs of slowing, the e-bike sector will continue to expand and cater for a growing customer base around the world. So what does this mean for the future of cyclicing; and transport for that matter? Well, according to Stehmann, it’s pretty straightforward: to make more e-bikes for more people and more markets.
“Demand for e-bikes has skyrocketed globally. So much so it’s outstripping supply – a completely unprecedented situation in the bike industry. Our aim is to continue with our international expansion, scale up to meet the increased demand and open more brand stores so we can drive full-scale e-bike adoption.”