The future of e-bikes seems murky in America when compared to other locations such as China and Europe, where the car and motorcycle are quickly taking a backseat to the electric-powered bicycle.
Consider this situation in China, where Zhou, a regular family man uses his e-bike to travel the city streets and pick up some groceries at the store. Along the way, he meets and joins up with hundreds of other commuters who are riding on e-bikes, too. His wife also uses the electric bike to do some errands, and his son has bought another one to use for work.
Now compare that scene to this one in America. Paul uses his e-bike to ride around town, buying supplies and doing some errands. He does this every day, but it’s a rare thing for him to see another e-biker on the road. What’s more, the strange guilty feeling of using an e-bike forces him to start pedalling every time he passes somebody else, just to hide the fact that he’s on an electric bike.
It should be safe to say that the e-bike has replaced the moped in terms of popularity in China, where more than 20 million are expected to be sold this year alone. There is a similar phenomenon being observed in Europe as well.
One advantage of being an e-bike user is riding in the knowledge that your vehicle is more environmentally-friendly, as compared to a car or a motorcycle. Aside from being green, there are also other benefits such as being able to tackle steep streets easier than just using pure legpower. With the e-bike, the option of being a lazy pedaler is always available.
However, the notion of exchanging their steering wheels for bicycle handlebars has never really gotten the approval of Americans yet. Cycling is still viewed in the U.S. as recreation, not transportation, and the thought of riding on a bicycle for getting to work or shopping at the local supermarket is simply alien. And the e-bike? For the Chinese and Europeans, it is a viable replacement for the automobile. For Americans, it remains a pricey novelty.