Two very interesting launches are announced in this week’s news. First off Giant will be a familiar name to many readers and have chosen a US launch for a new lightweight series of e-bikes in a market perhaps better known for inclining to power and speed over lightweight e-bikes.
Secondly, probably less well-known outside Asia, and perhaps promising to break the e-bike mould even more is the Chinese moped king Niu. Despite being listed on NASDAQ and having $300M in revenue in 2019, November 2020 figures showed 98% of its sales were in China. All this could be changing with the announcement of its first conventional style e-bike – one of several innovative looking electric vehicles Niu announced that may welll be heading to the USA and Europe in 2022 – and allegedly at ultra competitive prices. Watch this space and EBR will keep you up to date!
In this week’s e-bike news:
Giant’s lifestyle brand Momentum has two new lightweights
China’s electric moped specialist Niu announces double battery model
Would a 1.3lb e-bike battery be useful?
Prices rises and shortages; more detail
GIANT’S 2022 MOMENTUM E-BIKES GET SLEEK NEW DESIGN
Momentum is Giant’s ‘lifestyle’ bike brand launched back in 2015. 2022 sees a couple of svelte looking new e-bikes from them and they certainly look to be some of the lightest e-bikes Giant / Momentum have produced – possibly the lightest.
The Voya range uses a very discreet rear hub motor rated at a very modest 250W with 25 Nm of torque but with the upside being a 39.7lb (18kg) claimed weight. The frame integrated battery is also modestly sized at 250 Wh (apparently a custom bottom bracket mount makes it possible to remove the battery ‘for service’ i.e. not a quick remove design that would allow you to take it easily indoors for charging separately.)
The two models in the range are both class one e-bikes i.e. 20mph assist pedelecs with no throttle control.
The Voya E+1 is a drop bar bike and the E+3 flat bar. Both feature hydraulic disc brakes and frame-routed cabling. The sleek, minimalist design means a single button on the top tube is all you need to control the bikes’ settings, though there is an app for those who want more in depth feedback and control. Racks and fenders can easily be retrofitted.
North American availability it touted for this spring with the E+1 at $2,800 and the E+3 at $2,300.
WILL NIU’S NEW CITY MODEL SHAKE UP THE E-BIKE MARKET?
Niu are a very sizeable Chinese company known for designing and manufacturing their own ‘smart’ electric mopeds and they also have a strong presence in North America and Europe as well as Asia.
Now they are making a move on the e-bike market in the shape of a step thru city bike called the BQi, featuring dual batteries and a belt drive.
The bike has only just premiered at CES 2022 but early indications are that there will be both a 15.5mph EU version and a US one with programmable 20mph and 28 mph assist limits. Some internet reports suggest the price might be as low as US $1,705, which, if true, looks like a great price for a dual battery belt drive machine.
NIU have an interesting range of other light electric vehicles due for 2022 release too, including the EUB 01 full suspension speed pedelec and, for possible future release, the TQi ‘self balancing’ electric three wheeler.
WOULD YOU USE AN E-BIKE WITH A TINY BATTERY?
A couple of intriguing snippets of information appeared about an Italian e-bike branded DOB that also appeared at CES 2022. It features a tiny 1.3 lb / 600g battery with a quick-remove magnetic attachment system and very compact Mivice rear hub motor.
Still, it will be interesting to see if the very minimalist design appears more widely in future.
GOCYCLE TO RAISE PRICES FOR 2022 AND PEDEGO EXPLAIN SHORTAGES
E-bike makers are increasingly taking to the columns of respected financial journals to explain the price pressures and continued shortages that look like they will be a feature of the e-bike world in 2022 and possibly beyond.
Karbon Kinetics, the company behind iconic folding e-bike Gocycle, recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal to give an explanation of their 2022 price rises. To give just one example from the article, Richard Thorpe, the designer and head of Gocycle says he is competing with auto manufacturers and online automated bots in ordering the computer chips used in the bike. With 2022 price rises factored in, the Gocycle range will now cost from $4999 to $6999 in the US with similar price rises in the UK and EU.
Pioneering US brand Pedego – one of the first on the nascent US e-bike scene – took to the columns of the UK’s Financial Times to explain in detail the problems they are facing in the global supply chain.
‘Like many other companies struggling to weather the supply chain crisis, Pedego has had to try to keep its bikes rolling as it contends with a tight market for lithium-ion battery cells, suppliers in Malaysia closing factories due to Covid-19, the skyrocketing cost of shipping, containers trapped in log-jammed ports and a semiconductor shortage. It has employed a range of tactics to cope, from shipping batteries and bike frames separately to quickly switching suppliers when there is a shortage of parts. Yet feeding the growing US demand for electric bikes is still a challenge’ explains the article.
In total Pedego ordered 37,000 bikes for 2022 but when it tried to increase that number by 10,000, it was unable to do so because the parts were unavailable. Mirroring Gocycle’s experience, Pedego’s costs have increased dramatically – the article says transport spending alone has increased from $4,000 per shipping container to $23,000.
Interestingly the article also comments ‘Throughout the industry, lower-profile brands have prospered during the pandemic and supply chain crunch due to substitution’ – i.e. largely due to the fact that for a low cost bike it is easier, and perhaps more acceptable from a customer point of view, to switch component brands. Hence Pedego’s priciest product, the $5,495 Elevate, will be out of stock throughout all of 2022.