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eBikeDude
07-11-2011, 06:32 PM
I'm new to the forum, but was impressed with the thoughtful posts to a thread I started a few weeks back, asking for perspectives on eBikes. In that post I admitted that I had ridden an eBike, but I don't own one, as I live in an area that's not conducive to road use of bikes of any sort (Great Falls, VA).

Well, all that feedback got me motivated to dig deeper, and - long story short - I am now consulting for an eBike distributor. And one of my projects is to conduct some informal market research into the potential applications of eBikes. It occurred to me that this community may be able to help in that regard.

(I trust someone will inform me if, in making this request, I'm in violation of some rule of conduct for the forum. If it's an issue, please accept my apologies. Could anyone fill me in on related policies of generally accepted rules of conduct, e.g. regarding mentioning of this company's name, what they're doing commercially, etc? I want to behave properly. What's acceptable, and what's not? Thanks!)

Continuing cautiously, I'd appreciate any thoughts on creative/non-obvious ways that eBikes might be used, by individuals, by businesses or in a public/government setting. To get the conversation going, here are just a few thoughts:

1. Use for take-out food delivery
2. Transporting of passengers, on city streets, in parks, in retirement facilities, etc. (Three-wheel eBikes are on the way, and I can imagine a Pedicab set-up, though I have no idea whether the power needed to carry 2-3 people is practical, cost-effective, etc.)
3. As a means for handicapped and elderly to get around
4. As a way to augment the pedal-only bikes in programs like Capital Bike Share, possibly addressing the issue of people taking "downhill only" trips.
5. Through rentals perhaps, as a way to increase the "range" of park visitors, who are often limited by time/energy/heat/health to areas closest to parking lots.

A friend suggested that I should get together some people and do some hands-on research on eBikes, which I can arrange at no cost. If anyone is willing to jump on that grenade, please send me an email. Maybe we can discuss that in this thread as well, if that's appropriate.

Looking forward to this dialogue. Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Joe Chapline
07-11-2011, 07:11 PM
Could anyone fill me in on related policies of generally accepted rules of conduct, e.g. regarding mentioning of this company's name, what they're doing commercially, etc? I want to behave properly. What's acceptable, and what's not? Thanks!

As long as the topic has something to do with bicycling in the Washington, D.C., area, we don't have any problem with talking about businesses. If forum members want to discuss it, that's great. We have deleted outright advertisements for gear, but those posts had no local connection and were not intended to start a discussion. If you have any particular concerns, feel free to send me a private message or use the "contact us" link (bottom right).

Tim Kelley
07-12-2011, 08:56 AM
Is that Pedego you're working with now?

eBikeDude
07-12-2011, 05:17 PM
@TimKelley Yes, I'm working with Pedego. You're familiar with them?

Tim Kelley
07-13-2011, 08:35 AM
I've been over to Big Wheel once or twice and I know Jay Wind through Friends of the W&OD and some of the running races he puts on.

Mark Blacknell
07-13-2011, 08:31 PM
@TimKelley Yes, I'm working with Pedego. You're familiar with them?

Indeed, I pass their World HQ on a daily basis :) Good job with getting Mario's to promote. I think that nothing good can come of the association with Big Wheel (worst shop in the area? Quite possibly!), but I'm happy to see an Arlington-based ebike biz make a go of it. I don't think there's anything wrong with talking about the biz from the get go (plus, more than one of us assumed you were Pedego affiliated from the first post :D).

eBikeDude
07-14-2011, 10:43 AM
I don't think there's anything wrong with talking about the biz from the get go (plus, more than one of us assumed you were Pedego affiliated from the first post :D).

Clarification: I'm working with a company called Hybrid Pedals, which represents Pedego eBikes in this region, and is focused on both government (Federal, state, local) and commercial sales opportunities. They also represent other eBike lines, but Pedego receives most of their focus, for a number of reasons including the fact that they are a U.S. based manufacturer (striving to become >50% U.S. materials), they produce a fine product and they stand behind it with strong/swift warranty support. Hybrid Pedals recently launched Pedego DC Tours - http://pedegodctours.com/ - which serves as a way to generate consumer interest (and hopefully some sales) among tourists. So, the "World Headquarters" in Arlington is that of Hybrid Pedals, while Pedego itself is in Irvine, CA.

It appears that the reason you (and anyone else that has been tracking eBikes) could easily guess where I was working is that this group has a stronger presence in the DC area than any other eBike company. Not sure if that's saying much, as eBikes are still fairly obscure here in the U.S. (China and Europe are another matter, though I'm wondering whether the things driving the success of eBikes there are relevant to the U.S. market. Comments please.)

Moving back to the topic of new/innovative applications for eBikes, I'm particularly excited about the potential uses for elderly and handicapped. This area will become a big target as Pedego releases 3-wheeled bikes later this year. I'm also very interested in the therapeutic potential of eBikes, with the combination of pedals and "electric assist" offering possibilities that should be attractive for rehabilitation. Thoughts?

As challenging as it may have been, up until this point, to drive demand for eBikes in the U.S. market, I believe a number of factors are coming together that should open things up:

1. I believe gas prices will continue to trend upward over time, forcing families and businesses to explore alternatives to gas-powered vehicles.
2. eBike technologies (including batteries) are advancing steadily.
3. The push in metro areas to get people out of cars and onto bikes (as evidenced by "build it and they will come" Bike Share programs and introduction of bike lanes in cities) is driving new interest in bikes as a transpo option, and making bikes a (shall I say?) "less objectionable" presence on roads among drivers.
4. Federal mandates placed on agencies, DOD, GSA contractors, etc. to reduce their carbon footprint should soon result in recognition that eBikes represent a logical part of the solution.

Beyond innovative application ideas, any perspectives, suggestions, words of warning, etc. would be appreciated as I try to help this company formulate strategy to open up the market for eBikes. I'd also appreciate introductions where that makes sense, to explore areas where demand is "ripe". This is, for now, primarily a research mission, though it could evolve into a sales mission at some point. So (as I mentioned earlier), I hope this isn't taken as an overly commercial solicitation.

One more point I should make: While I can appreciate that some may view eBikes as an affront to all the things that traditional bicycles represent, an unwelcome (and in many cases illegal and dangerous) addition to area trails, and a potential risk to the public perception of bicyclists in general, I'm very hopeful that eBikes - on the whole - will come to be seen as providing great hope for the future of biking in the U.S. I can foresee a future where bike lanes become commonplace; where bike trails are widened; where new trails are added; where bike sharing programs are commonplace; and where car drivers become much more respectful of bicyclists (and more careful around them). If eBikes can help drive such changes, then we will all benefit!