At Really Good Electric Bikes (aka Really Good Ebikes, aka Really Good Bikes), we're all about excellent customer service and satisfaction. These are not just cliches or marketing copy - we work closely with every customer to ensure that they are completely satisfied with their new ebike. Thank you.
But wait, there's more. Now that we've been in business for a little more than a year, we've come to learn a lot about the ebike business, and we want to take a moment and share some of our discoveries with you, our loyal fan base.
A lot of what we believe and strive for everyday was covered in a Treehugger interview about electric bikes we conducted last summer. We really appreciated the time that Derek Markham took to learn about the ebike industry, and the platform he gave for us to share our knowledge.
He started our conversation by rightly noting that the electric bike market seems to be rapidly expanding right now, with a lot of new brands, a lot of different styles of ebike to choose from, but also a lot of confusion about what to look for in an ebike.
We started by noting that the e-bike market in the US is much different than in Europe, with different brands and models offered, and different categories of consumers. You could say the European market is a little more mature than here, but we are focused on the US market because we are in the US. We have seen the popularity e-bikes grow nationwide in the last few years, even as interested in conventional bikes has waned a bit.
Especially in hotbeds of ebike activity like southern California, New York City, and all over Florida, ebikes have evolved to a place where they are literally replacing cars as a viable alternative form of transportation.
What we think is that the market is simply maturing, with retail channels becoming clearer to the general public. For instance, you have dedicated stores that sell a range of models under one brand banner, such as Pedego and Rad. And you have a few speciality stores in larger cities that may carry as many as 10-15 models of ebike.
But if you really want to know what your options are, and get a much broader range of brands and models to choose from, than we believe that shopping at a dedicated ebike store is the way to go.
We have over 35 brands of ebikes to choose from, as well as a well-curated lineup of electric skateboards, electric scooters, convention bikes, kick bike style scooters, and more. We even have a 6-foot unicycle, to remind us of our teenage years when we went to the International Jugglers Association (IJA) convention in Los Angeles and learned to ride.
In the year we've been in the ebike business, we have come to know the customer "demographic" quite well, and find that most of our customers are actually in their late fifties to early sixties.
These are people who have been around for a while and are not neophites to the world of online shopping or just buying things that are a higher price point. I suppose it’s true that whatever you’re going to buy, whether it’s a new refrigerator an e-bike, if you buy the cheapest one, a no-name brand, you’re going to get something that may not be as good as if you bought a high quality, well-reviewed product.
I myself try to only carry brands that I think pass the tests -- that are well reviewed online, that look like they're really well built, companies that have been around for a while. You mentioned all these Indiegogo and Kickstarter e-bikes, and many of these are companies that are just like okay, let's make an e-bike, its popular, let's do it. Other ones have been around for ten-fifteen years or more and they iterate -- they refine their designs based on input from their customers. That's one of the benefits of Pedego is that they've got a lot of customer feedback, and they go and they improve the design, so every year, every iteration is going to be a refinement, and they have the capital to be able to do it.
We believe that the benefits of e-bikes are amazing. If you ride an ebike on a regular basis, you get all the benefits of regular bicycle riding – exercise, cardiovascular health, the mental health aspects of getting out in the world and being physical.
Everything you can imagine that is beneficial with riding regular bikes is also true for e-bikes, because, in their essence, e-bikes are bikes. The benefits go beyond just regular cycling benefits, however, because e-bikes helping people get back into riding again. A lot of people who get into e-bikes, they used to ride bikes and they love being physical, yet they're getting a little older, and maybe have some arthritis or had a knee replacement.
A lot of my customers are in the situation where they want to be physical, they want to stay active, and yet they live in a place where it’s hilly, or they’re worried that they won’t be able to make it back just pedaling. Or they want to keep up with a spouse who likes riding, but they’re concerned that they won’t be able to keep up, or family members that want to go for a ride with everyone else. Having the extra help of an electric bike is just amazing. It changes people’s lives, and if you’re really dedicated to it, it can get you out of your car.
So it’s not just the physical benefits of getting on a bike and breathing fresh air and all that, it’s being able to cut your connection to the car, and not have to sit in traffic and not have to pay for parking and registration, insurance, and maintenance. If you’re able to hop on your e-bike and go to work without sweating, or to the store, it’s transformational. I think a lot of people are discovering that they can live without a car, and I’ve had several customers tell me that at after a few months, they said they didn’t even really need the car anymore, or they got rid of one of their two cars.
It’s incremental movement toward a higher awareness of environmentalism and lowering one’s carbon footprint. I think you see similar trends with respect to eating habits. We’re not all going to stop eating meat, but maybe we eat less meat or less sugar or less refined carbohydrates because we know that even those small incremental improvements in our diet will have benefits, and we start exercising a little more, maybe we go for a walk every day, and then maybe a jog. And it’s the same with e-bikes, which can contribute to improving how we live in this world, which is in such need of more awareness. It’s like mindfulness, in that it’s thinking maybe I don’t drive the car today. Sure, it’s convenient to hop in the car to go to Trader Joe’s, but I can do that with an e-bike with a basket on it.
One of the first things that someone who is considering an e-bike should do is think about how would they use it? Is this for cruising around town, is this for going off-road, do they want to be able to carry stuff like cargo? And then choose between form factors -- do they want to a step-through frame, do they want a fat tire model, do they want it to be folding so they can stow it in the back of an RV or on a plane or whatever. The electric aspect aside, I think that shoppers should start by thinking about its use, and then once they’ve thought through, we can talk about if they should go for a rear hub motor or front hub motor or mid-drive, and what kind of brakes and battery. I think what happens is a lot people say I want a new bike, and then they go right to the motor wattage or how big the battery is, without all of these preliminary questions that are helpful to discuss.
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