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Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Batribike at Westminster eBike Meeting

Batribike was in London yesterday to attend a meeting of the APPCG (All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group) at the House of Commons. Andrew Sealous MP who is co-chair of the group, chaired the meeting.
Electric bikes are a huge part of the cycle economy in Europe whilst we are a little behind, here in the UK. Subsidies and incentives are being rolled out in many European countries to encourage riders to get out of their cars and take to two wheels.

The meeting was to look at ways of growing the electric bike market in the UK.

Steve Edgell, Director of Cycle Solutions and Chair of the Cycle to Work Alliance, stated that, in his opinion the clear way forward is to lift the Cycle to Work Scheme limit from £1000 to £2500. The mechanism is in place for this solution and results can clearly be measured by the uptake. He said that there was currently no funding or mechanism in place to provide an ebike subsidy. He believes that lower wage earners will benefit most, as they will be able to save on commuting costs.

30 miles of cycling a week, can reduce cancer risks by 46%

Will Butler-Adams, CEO of Brompton, spoke about health benefits. He said that obesity and mental health problems are now at crisis point and that unless something is done the NHS will be unable to cope in the future. He believes that more people cycling could have a positive impact on the NHS. Key facts are that 30 miles of cycling a week, (including ebikes) can reduce cancer risks by 46%. He also said that people who use ebikes do more cardio-vascular exercise (not at the highest rate) because they cycle for longer.

Only 4% of Londoners are cyclists - but 99% can ride a bike.

He stated that only 4% of Londoners are cyclists - but 99% can ride a bike. What we need is something to start the process of getting more people on ebikes. We need the Government to kick-start the process, once it is started it will continue to build.

Laura Dyett, Senior project manager for Behavioural Change at TfL, said that they are starting a website and a campaign to get more people to take a test ride on an ebike. She said that other local authorities should follow suit.

The meeting was then open for questions and comment.

Raising the Cycle to Work limit could make a step change in cycling and would be a small cost to government

Phillip Darnton, Executive Director of the Bicycle Association, said that as much pressure as possible should be put on Government to raise the Cycle to Work limit, even if it is for 5 years. This could see a step change in cycling and would be a small cost to government. France and Germany are already ahead with their subsidies on ebikes. The real advantage of electric bikes is that they are for different types of people making journeys.

Real people in everyday clothing, making transport choices

The overwhelming feeling of the meeting was that electric bike riders are not cyclists, they are real people in everyday clothing making transport choices, whether that be for commuting or leisure.

Electric bikes can, and will, make a difference to health and the environment.

It was good to be at the meeting and hear the opinions from many different organisations – all believing that electric bikes can, and will, make a difference to health and the environment.

On top of that we got to be in an amazing building too.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Ten Years in the Electric Bike Business and still Growing Strong

Batribike has reached and passed the ten-year milestone of being in the electric bike business. When the company first started the industry was still in its infancy. Most of the major players in the cycle industry at that time thought it was just a fad or too risky to dip a toe in the water. I have found myself reflecting on the changes in design and innovation that the industry has seen in that time

Batribike saw a gap in the market.

The electric bikes that were available in the UK market then were lacking in spares backup and in some cases reliability. We saw a gap in the market to produce a quality reliable electric bike with UK based spares and back up.

When we first started Batribike, lithium batteries were just entering the market, motors were heavy and clunky and the complete design of the bike was only just starting to look more “bike like”. We even had an entry level bike with an SLA battery, and that battery weighed 15kg. The all up weight of most electric bikes is now not much more than that battery alone!

Improvements in technology

We have seen huge improvements in batteries. They have become lighter with greater distances and better reliability. This has lead to extended warranties. Motors have become lighter and more efficient and so have control systems. In the industry these are the things that we notice and remark on but as far as the buying public are concerned, it’s design and style that they notice first. That seems to be what draws them to a particular model, specification comes later.

Hidden batteries and stylish designs

Last year it seems that there was another step change in design, the emergence of hidden batteries into mainstream brands. A year down the line, at the recent Cycle Show, and batteries were even less in evidence than they had been before. Improvements in the way that cells can be packed to produce more compact and different shaped casings has certainly had an impact on the design of the bikes. It seems that customers are noticing and approving of new sleeker more integrated designs. Gone are the days of bolting a big square battery to the frame and announcing “its an electric bike!”

Looking at trends I can see that eMTB’s are definitely taking a share of the UK market, but it is in the leisure and commuter sectors where frame design and hidden batteries are making an impact. With these improvements and further innovations will also come the affordable electric road bike. Something that has not really been possible before due to weight, and to be honest, some prejudice against the concept. But more people are asking when this will be possible.

Electric bikes – future transport!

Vehicle emissions and congestion in cities are hot topics. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has recently announced transport strategy plans to make 80 per cent of trips in London to be on foot, by cycle or using public transport by 2041. These plans will undoubtedly include greater use of electric pedal assisted bicycles.

Going forward

The old-fashioned designs and clunky technology of ten years ago, have leapt forward and the future for electric bikes is assured and exciting – bring on the next ten years!