Bike doesn’t always mean bike. The ebike boom is delivering incredibly diverse and innovative approaches to mobility in the cities of today and tomorrow. Bikes are increasingly turning into ebikes and aren’t just being seen as a status symbol but also a solution for many traffic, environmental, health and urban space concerns. You can find the most important trends of 2021 here!
In the context of the Design & Innovation Award 2021, the award jury, international experts and journalists took a thorough look at the trends and overarching technological developments of the new season. In this article, we take a closer look at the urban trends of 2021. You can read more about other trends at the end of this article.
In the frenzy of sustainable credentials, greenwashing and buzzwords like last mile and E-scooter, bikes and ebikes have established themselves as the ultimate solution to many urban challenges and environmental problems. Almost no other sector or mode of transport has managed to gain as much in popularity during 2020 as bikes have. Technologically and societally, we’ve reached a point where it seems that bikes, or rather ebikes, are on an unstoppable victory march. According to a recent study by the industry association, Cycling Industries Europe, ebike sales in Europe will climb from 3.7 million in 2019 to 17 million in 2030. Does that promise hopeful dreams of modern and sustainable individual transport solutions, of experiencing more nature and yields? Will 2021 be the year of the bike? We’ve summarised the biggest trends for the coming year here.
Ebikes are full of unused potential
It’s clear that our cities will, and have to, change. There’s no lack of examples to demonstrate this. Alongside the cost and time savings, environmental and health concerns are also benefited by ebikes in comparison to cars. In addition, no other urban mode of transport is as flexible, individual or can take you from door to door over mid-length distances as effectively. Space is also a growing concern in increasingly cramped cities. But what use is that if you just aren’t interested in riding a bike? Or should we say, don’t have the right bike? This is exactly where we see one of the central trends for 2021: in the future, there will be an ebike for every city-scenario that will whet your appetite to ride it.
2, 3 or 4 wheels? The classic ebike doesn’t exist anymore. Instead, there are many different mobility and transport concepts that are legally equivalent to bicycles and provide electrical assistance up to 25 km/h. In addition, there are also S-pedelecs, that provide support up to 45 km/h and have huge potential for commuters and inner-city traffic. However, in many places, infrastructure is still lacking and legal hurdles stand in the way of mass adoption. The fact is, that regardless of whether it’s a lightweight ebike to cover maximal distances that can still be taken on the train or a powerful all-rounder for whom heavily loaded panniers on steep climbs or lengthy tours don’t pose any obstacle, for every scenario, there will be the right tool, or ebike, for the job. How close will the bike industry get to the automobile industry? Very close! The latest mobility studies from Canyon, Bio-Hybrid or Citkar show that things don’t have to end with cargo bikes. That said, we don’t want to diminish how far cargo bikes have come and how widespread they are already now. On the contrary!
The bike boom 2020 and its two faces
What’s likely the biggest trend of the new year already revealed itself in 2020: bikes are as hot as they’ve ever been as adventure, transport and sports machines. The boom is bringing new people onto bikes, is allowing others to rediscover their passion for biking and ultimately has led to bike shops in many places being empty. The bike boom will continue into the new year and together with delivery constraints for dealers and suppliers, partially interrupted supply chains and delayed development cycles, it will not only lead to poor availability of many products but also rising prices. Not just bike purchases but also maintenance, servicing or even warranty claims will require a significant dose of patience this year. However, the chances are good that as a result of all these challenges, the bike industry will reach a new level of professionalism and in the long run, we will benefit from significantly better service and servicing, as well as buying experiences more similar to those in the automobile sector. If you want to find out more about the background to current developments in the industry, challenges and opportunities, you can find all the information in our dedicated article in E-MOUNTAINBIKE Magazine.
The growing number of bikers gives our passion significantly more weight in society. Studies today have already shown that more people are currently cycling than playing football. That said, we can’t yet talk about a complete transformation in transportation. Nonetheless, in urban environments, bikes offer the perfect opportunity to get away from congested roads and to enjoy the commute as a workout or mental detox, or even just to cruise past the aluminium avalanche with a grin. Bikes and in particular innovative ebikes with smart features are the perfect addition to every motor pool as a symbol of an active and modern lifestyle.
E-cargo bike rather than a second car?
You don’t need well-developed analytical skills to recognise that the boom in (E-)cargo bikes will be one of the biggest trends in the coming years for urban mobility and the bike industry. In 2019, 75,000 cargo bikes were sold in German alone, of which two-thirds were equipped with a motor. Cargo bikes won’t just change our cityscapes and improve the private lives of many people but will open up new opportunities for shops and businesses. According to the study Moving Europe Forward by CycleLogistics, around 51% of all motorised transport of goods up to 200 kg in European cities could be completed with bikes, or specifically, cargo bikes. By the way, cargo bikes aren’t just the latest hype and have existed for more than one hundred years. At a time when cars were still rare in the cities, cargo bikes, usually in the form of three-wheelers, were employed for diverse use including transport. In this vein: back to the roots!
Many bike manufacturers are reacting to this trend and are presenting ever more versatile concepts of everyday ebikes alongside new mobility solutions. Transporting heavy shopping or taking kids to kindergarten is a real challenge for bike and biker without the additional support of a motor. But nowadays, different E-cargo bike designs can fulfil many of the functions of a small family car. While E-cargo bikes are used in diverse ways and have to meet the individual demands put on them, there are nonetheless several overriding characteristics, functions and components which you absolutely must pay attention to. For a general overview of the different cargo bike concepts and a detailed buyer’s guide, we recommend reading our current cargo bike group test in DOWNTOWN Magazine.
The Design & Innovation Award isn’t about dogma. Our trend-aware jury doesn’t want to force a change in direction or plead for a total abolition of cars. Idealism is well and good, but we’re interested in reality. In what is the best solution for our everyday lives. That’s why we see cargo bikes as a potential for the expansion of mobility and horizons for many people, as an improvement for their quality of life and as new status symbols that might even surpass Porsche and Rolex – yes, you read correctly! If you want to set an example, stay trend aware and climb aboard your E-cargo bike with a Submariner on your wrist.
On the go securely and comfortably thanks to connectivity and smart bike equipment.
The connectivity of ebikes continues to develop and doesn’t just improve safety, theft security, efficiency and comfort, but also signifies a future comprising intelligent, networked mobility. Ebikes that can communicate with each other will soon be able to help contribute to solving many problems in urban infrastructure. Today, we can already be notified via smartphone if our bike is disturbed or moved without permission. Which support mode do you have to choose to arrive at your destination? Which gear do you have to change to on this hill so that the motor is running most efficiently? Is a vehicle approaching at high speeds from behind? Questions that are already answered, or even tasks that are automatically handled, by the most innovative ebikes thanks to comprehensive sensors and integrated smart technology. What a time to be alive!
But it’s not just bikes that have developed further and been equipped to handle 2021! Amongst accessories and clothing, there are also innovative products that provide added value for the urban everyday. Frontrunners amongst these innovative everyday helpers are integrated technologies. System integration is without a doubt the biggest trend for the coming year. Regardless of whether it’s clothing with integrated lights, thermal or safety features, or navigations systems and on-board computers on your ebikes, technological refinement makes bikes as user-friendly, and the wiggle room for invented excuses not to ride, as small as they have ever been. It’s no surprise that the ebike will continue its ongoing success story through 2021, not just as a status symbol but as a practical solution for the traffic, environmental, health and urban space problems that we currently face.
Words: Benjamin Topf Photos: Valentin Rühl, Benjamin Topf