Between the spring ahead of day light saving time and the global time zone changes from returning from Taipei, my watch is going on strike.
Having said that, I wanted to give a quick report from the show floor.
In just 12 months, the growth of the acceptance of e-bikes as a business model has taken hold in the booths of many more builders and brands.
Last year, there were many commuter-styled hub motor bikes making their debut with few equipment suppliers showcasing pieces and parts dedicated towards power assisted cycling.
This year the volume of high performance e-bikes were fairly evident in many more displays. What was interesting was the volume of mid-drive systems utilizing the specialty frame modifications to accommodate the drives. Fewer companies were showing innovative styling. The common theme was dedicated suspension based mountain bikes made from advanced metals or carbon fiber with batteries stuck to the frame like an appendage.
These are bikes for a different generation of riders and considering we were in Taiwan, these models were not necessarily meant for the Asian markets. Additionally, we are seeing more dedicated parts for e-bikes from suppliers who traditionally have avoided the niche. From brake manufacturers adding integrated sensors and larger discs to chain manufacturers building stronger e-bike versions.
We saw Gates with a more defined exhibit that showcased belt drive systems matched with the leading rear hub gear systems but unfortunately, not many of the suppliers showed their hubs within their own exhibit spaces. Shimano was a perfect example.
Battery companies made more of a presence including the CEO of Samsung SDI who paid a visit to their private conference room booth. The rest of us were on the floor meeting with different builders and suppliers. I ran into at least five different executives representing cell suppliers walking the show.
The mid drive motors coming from Asia seem to be migrating to integrated torque sensors and more advanced controller systems and metal cast parts manufacturers are producing the mounts for many of these models giving designers an opportunity to build new models quickly.
Understanding that like the traditional cyclist shops, marketing post sale accessories and upgrades for e-bike dealers is alive and well. More components offering enthusiasts an opportunity to upgrade their investments means dealers can continue to build a longer term relationship with the customer which brings in more revenue. Overall, for dedicated e-bike dealers, I can see a healthy growth that should build confidence for their businesses.
Posted By: Bill Moore [11-Mar-2014]
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