While the e-bike industry has witnessed impressive growth over the past few years, 2020 has witnessed rapid gains in the industry unlike anything we have seen before. But what does the e-bike industry have in store for us in 2021? Here are my top five predictions for this year.
Wave of affordable mid-drive e-bikes
Mid-drive e-bikes, which have a mid-mounted motor that powers the e-bike through its bicycle gears, have long been dominated by industry heavyweights like Bosch.
Popular mid-drive e-bikes have offered high-quality drivetrains and mid- to high-end components. But that has traditionally kept prices high, often in the $4,000+ range.
However, 2021 will likely see a new wave of affordable e-bikes. There are many mid-range Asian vendors that are increasing their market share and helping to bring prices down.
In fact, we’re already starting to see this trend come to fruition with new entries from companies like Ride1Up, which just unveiled the Ride1Up Prodigy e-bike. This is probably the most affordable Brose mid-drive e-bike on the market at just $2,195. (And for the record, I made this prediction weeks ago before the bike was unveiled). I expect to see more e-bikes like this unveiled in 2021, and the inclusion of non-European motors will only intensify that trend.
There are already some interesting low-cost e-bikes on the market, but I expect 2021 to see a new wave.
More e-bikes with large, small-diameter tires
I think 2021 will be the year the smaller diameter fat tires really catch on.
This trend largely started with the 2020 wave of electric mopeds, where large, small-diameter tires became a popular way to deliver moto-style handling and design.
Other e-bikes like the popular $899 Lectric XP have adopted these big, small-diameter tires in the company’s folding bikes, forgoing expensive suspension in favor of cheaper air bags in the form of fat tires. .
Even one of the most famous e-cargo bikes, the RadWagon, recently switched to wider, smaller diameter tires.
Not only do the big tires provide extra cushion for the ride, but the small diameter 20-inch versions minimize the extra bulk that comes with big tires.
They prevent the e-bike from becoming too heavy and bulky. They also help designers reduce standover height, making e-bikes more accessible to a wider range of riders.
Apartment dwellers and anyone with a crowded garage will also enjoy the benefit of a more compact e-bike.
Large, small diameter tires will not replace the traditional 26″ and 700c tires found on many e-bikes. But for anyone who doesn’t care about extreme efficiency, their benefits are too numerous to ignore. This means that e-bike manufacturers are going to find growing demand for this style of e-bike.
Electric Bike Battery Breakthroughs for 2021
This will be the year when the price of electric bicycle batteries drops by 50% while doubling their capacity.
Nothing new will happen to e-bike batteries in 2021. Nothing major, at least.
I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news here, but you can pretty much take this prediction to the bank.
Other than small, incremental capacity increases, there won’t be any major breakthroughs in e-bike batteries in 2021. And incremental capacity increases won’t be due to technological advancements – they’ll simply be the result battery manufacturers. grow in a few more cells.
The most popular battery cell format for e-bike batteries, the 18650, hasn’t seen a significant increase in capacity beyond 3.5Ah in years. Some e-bikes use the slightly larger 20700 and 21700 format cells, but these are much rarer and don’t offer much of an advantage for packing more capacity.
The biggest innovations in e-bike batteries actually happened years ago and were made possible by other industries. Popular 18650 cells like the Panasonic 18650b were developed to cram more capacity into batteries like those used in electric cars, and then the cells ended up in e-bike batteries as well.
High-powered 18650s such as Sony’s V-series were widely developed for cordless power tools and then began to find their way into batteries designed for high-powered e-bikes.
But without any major battery breakthroughs in recent years, the e-bike industry currently has nothing to inherit from other industries.
That doesn’t mean we won’t zoom in on e-bikes with solid-state batteries in the next 5-10 years, but it won’t happen in 2021.
Long wait for e-bikes
This is another bad news prediction. Unfortunately, you can expect to wait a bit for new e-bikes in 2021, especially in the first half.
The COVID-19 pandemic has positively destroyed e-bike supply chains, most of which start in Asian countries like China and Taiwan that experienced devastating lockdowns in 2020. As those countries got back to work more sooner than much of the West, they were hit by unprecedented problems. peaks in demand as soon as their factories reopen.
Supply chains are slowly starting to catch up, but the imperative word is “slowly”.
Many e-bike manufacturers still have lead times of a year or more for components such as brakes and handlebars.
Popular e-bike companies have struggled to keep e-bikes in stock, causing the second half of 2020 to become the year of e-bike stockouts.
Although this will improve in 2021, it will take several months, if not most of the year. So while some companies will be able to keep some semblance of stock in their warehouses, you should still expect many e-bike manufacturers to continue to work pre-sale or out of stock.
And unfortunately, you’re going to have to live with that. I know it’s hard to pay for something in full and wait several months for it to arrive. It’s even harder when you’re talking about a multi-thousand dollar e-bike. But if you’re waiting for the bikes to be in stock, you could be waiting most of the year while every container of e-bikes is sold out before it even arrives in port.
More e-bike startups
I think 2021 will likely see a boom in new e-bike startups, especially from Asia.
I’m not talking about giant manufacturers. I’m thinking more of random Indiegogo campaigns and “let’s see if this business works” type startups.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some very interesting e-bikes have come out of these types of companies. And need I remind you that some of the most successful e-bike companies like Rad Power Bikes got their start on Kickstarter? But we’ll also likely see a lot of weak sauce attempts.
I think the massive increase in demand for e-bikes will be the main driver for a wave of new e-bike startups. It will be difficult for many entrepreneurs to see the market demand and not think, “Maybe I should start an e-bike brand.
There will likely be some interesting entries, but also likely a number of regurgitated models that have been branded white by the same giant e-bike factories in China.
A whole new year for e-bikes
All in all, 2021 should be an interesting year for e-bikes.
We may not see massive breakthroughs in batteries, but prices should continue their slow descent, and we should have plenty of exciting new additions hitting the market.
Do you have your eye on a new e-bike this year? Let us know which one in the comments section below!
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