E-bikes and the worst term in cycling
It is clear e-bikes have a bright future, but it’s equally clear that no one knows yet what that future will look like.
There might be no term more annoying than “analog bike.” But it’s become something of a joke throughout a year of tradeshows chock-full of e-bikes. Interbike 2018 was no different: There was an entire hall dedicated solely to e-bikes, and they infiltrated the rest of the show floor too at just about every manufacturer’s booth. It is clear e-bikes have a bright future, but it’s equally clear that no one knows quite yet what that future will look like.
At the moment, it seems we’re in the “chuck a motor on it and see what happens” phase of e-bike development. Everything from folding bikes to fat bikes and beyond seem to have massive batteries attached to their down tubes. While some of these creations will live on in more refined iterations, others will die an embarrassing death. Do we really need e-gravel bikes, for example? Isn’t that sort of antithetical to the whole point of gravel riding? Time will tell.
What’s clear is that there’s a massive audience for pedal-assist bikes. This should both cheer and dishearten those of us still riding “analog” bikes. (Yep, feels gross saying that.)
Let’s start with the good: The growth of e-bikes means more butts in bike seats. Those who were afraid they couldn’t make it over that hill between home and the office will probably be encouraged to give it a go now. In turn, that means more people scratching their heads, saying, “Why is bike infrastructure in the U.S. so dangerous? What can I do to help change that?”