Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Eurobike Commentary

E-bike specific clothing. Yes.....it is real.
Eurobike just happened and maybe you didn't know that. I wouldn't blame you if that is the case, since the world's largest bike show wasn't really pumping out a lot of news about bicycles. Now, if your bag is electric motorcycles, well then, yeah. There was a lot of news about that segment. So what if the bike nerds call them "e-bikes", they are motorcycles by definition.

There was one electric motorcycle deemed good for off-road use, dual suspension, by the way, that was claimed to go far beyond 25mph, and that was a good feature to write about? Hmm.... Then there were some bits of this and that. Nothing spectacular, well that is unless you are a roadie. SRAM unveiled its poorly kept secret, the wireless electronic shifting group, and there was a hydraulic shifted group debuted by Rotor. Otherwise.....ho-hum. 

And all this from the biggest cycling show in the world? So, this begs the question, what in the world could be waiting at Interbike? I'll put out a guess- not much of anything new. What will be new will be accessories, more electric motorcycle stuff, and probably some personal appearance news. Just like any other year at Interbike of late. Not much to write home about for the average cyclist. Despite what the show promoters have to say.

"What did they say", you might ask? Well, the fellow behind Interbike was quoted as saying, “I get frustrated when I hear people say that they can see everything online, or that there’s not anything new to see at Interbike by the time the show arrives,” said Pat Hus, Vice President of Interbike. “I am going to assume that many of these naysayers haven’t been to the show in many years, and haven’t seen how it’s evolved."

Well, I am quite certain that people saying they can see everything on-line from the shows is frustrating, because it is true. Just Google "Eurobike 2015" and check it out for yourself. I mean, what the heck is the media there for if they aren't pumping out images and words about what is new? Since Eurobike introductions always pre-empt Interbike showings, it isn't any surprise that Mr. Hus is upset. And by the way, I have been to Interbike in previous years. 2007-2013, to be precise. I decided not to go last year, and guess what? I didn't miss anything but Las Vegas. Oh wait........I lied. I didn't miss Las Vegas either. 

Private dealer only events have gutted the trade show for new model stories.
Consumers typically used to ask, "What's new?" after you came back from trade shows. Back in the day, you had stories galore to tell. Now the consumer can hop online and on the day the shows open, or when a dealer only show happens that media are present at, they can view and read all about the new stuff before the show goers have lunch. So, no- you don't have to go to a trade show. You just have to be johnny-on-the-spot in the morning or have had someone tell you about the stuff beforehand. (Thus all the "embargoed" stories and "non-disclosure contracts" that companies enforce these days.)  

Another thing going on which neuters trade shows is the "demo tour" style marketing that companies like Santa Cruz and Niner Bikes have been doing for years. Check out the latest blurb from Surly Bikes as an example:

If you haven’t heard yet, Surly will not be attending Interbike this year in the fashion to which many of you and your favorite LBS have become accustomed. Yes, the Surly Ziggurat will lay dormant in its crate for Interbike 2015.

We’ve decided to spread our wings a little and shift focus from the cigarette stained halls and frosted tips of Vegas to the open road of this great nation. Yes that’s right, Surly is going to be taking more road trips in the coming year so we can visit our friends and bring them beer. 

Or as that seminal 70's and early 80's band, The Doobie Brothers used to sing, they'll be takin' it to the streets. Or your devices, as the case may be. 


grannygear said...

a two-wheeled vehicle that is powered by a motor and has no pedals.

youcancallmeAl said...

As bikes reached their penultimate stage of development sometime in the 80s to early 90s, asking "what's new" regarding anything but tire development became an exercise in futility years ago.

Guitar Ted said...

@grannygear: Almost every early Harley-Davidson and other early 20th Century motorcycles had pedals. ;>) I don't think anyone would argue that they are not motorcycles. certainly they were never equated with bicycles, or called "g-bikes", for instance.

We are doomed to repeat our own history, regardless of how it is powered. Gas or electric, same thing- Motorcycle.

youcancallmeAl said...

the first harley was called a motorized bicycle. They then brought out a bigger engined cycle with a new frame design. The bigger engine and loop-frame design took it out of the motorized bicycle category and marked the path to future motorcycle designs.

Guitar Ted said...

@youcancallmeAl Motorized bicycle>>>>>motorcycle for short. Thank you.

grannygear said...

It might depend on what the pedals were for on the early Harley Motorized Bicycles. Did they function as a starter? If you stopped pedaling did they roll to a stop or did they keep going by engine only? Were they more like a moped? In any modern sense I can think of, you start the engine of a motorcycle one way or another, by push button, etc, then hit the gas and roar away shifting through the gears. That is not the way a pedal assist bike works (and I understand that not all ebikes might be pedal assist and that gets way more grey). Take away the pedals and I will say yes to the motorcycle deal.

Guitar Ted said...

@grannygear: Not sure how they all were. My best guess is that both things happened in a progression until the pedals fell by the wayside as useless appendages.

But what intrigues me most, and to me is THE gray area of all of this, is the "why" of e-bikes.

To my mind, there are three things going on here.

1: Marketing. Bicycles are a flat to declining market. "E-bikes" are something new, "easier", and make people feel good without the sweat equity. Literally and figuratively.

2: Gray area use: People that cannot drive or won't and want to "beat the man" by having motorized transpo with no licensing or insurance fees.

3: Truly disabled or health compromised individuals that want to continue, or for the first time- experience cycling with an assist to make it possible.

In my mind, I see #3 as being the only valid reason for e-bikes to exist. Give these folks a doctor recommended excuse, a handicap sticker, and let them ride wherever they want on an "assisted pedaling" bicycle platform of their choosing. Why? Because the so-called "e-assist" is a handicapping, if you will, of the bicycling experience. Without the handicapping the cycling couldn't occur.

For those companies putting out "electric motorcycles" for children under the guise of "e-bikes", (this happened at Eurobike, by the way), and the rest of the lot- It's all about pandering to people's soft, lazy side and capitalizing on that.

Everything else is just playing at being a sub-par motorcycle.

d.p. said...

Can you get an e-bike chopper with a steering wheel?

Guitar Ted said...

@d.p.- I bet Wes Williams could torch one up quick. ;>)

youcancallmeAl said...

sorry, you don't get to define things after the fact. as the post pointed out, the motorcycle incorporated a completely different frame design to handle a bigger engine that the motorized BICYCLE couldn't accomodate. You're welcome!

youcancallmeAl said...

Youre obviously a flatlander. In many cities in North America, the terrain is too hilly for older people to ride more than a block or two without running into a hill that is just too much for them.They arent health compromised, they arent handicapped. And they certainly arent lazy! Theyre just older. It happens to everyone.

Guitar Ted said...

@youcancallmeAl: Hmmm.....really Al? (Maybe we should call you "prickly?) Anyway....your Harley reference is too narrow. Here's a more rounded look at the terminologies used in this reference to a 1904 Marsh Motorcycle: http://auto.howstuffworks.com/1904-marsh.htm

NOTE: I did not have anything to do with this site referring to this contraption as a "motorcycle", thus my point in the post, which is to say that it is a commonly done thing to refer to a two wheeled vehicle with a motor as a "motor-cycle" type vehicle. (Moped, scooter, etc, all could be lumped into this common view, all which have variants more or less human powered.)

The site does mention that it is pretty much "nothing more than a "motorized bicycle", referring to it's vestiges of humanized motivation, (pedals and separate chain drive), and that most of its design is highly derivative of a bicycle's design.

And if you care to look, this motorcycle is a 100 year old version of where we are with the "e-bike"- Mid-mounted motor, capable of higher speeds if modified, and pointing to a different design path than bicycles have. All these are evident today in "e-bikes". My opinion is we're going down the same path with these, and eventually they will become the electric motorcycles that the old "motorized bicycles" became in the early 20th Century. Motor + bicycle = motorcycle.

And as far as your other comment goes- "Youre obviously a flatlander"- I welcome you to come ride in Iowa at any time and tell me afterward we have "flatlander" terrain. Your assumption is the erroneous one many make when visiting our fair state, so I'll excuse your ignorance.

Now, as for "aging". Is this a reason to have an "e-bike"? My comment on that is that not everyone can ride a bike all their life, or maybe ever. Riding bicycles is not an inherent right.

Your assumption that aging can deter folks from riding bicycles could be an assumption used against any physical activity one might aspire to do. Basketball, football, tennis, or even golfing. Walking up hills? Yes, we all age, that's obvious, and physical limitations due to aging or just how we are as individuals will preclude us all from certain activities. So, should we handicap those activities by applying non-human powered resources? That's the ultimate question you pose.

My opinion is that if you live in a hilly area, and walking or other human powered modes of transportation are difficult to the point of deterring said movement, or make it impossible to do, due to "aging" or disability, then maybe cycling isn't the right answer. Perhaps a motorcycle is. Street legal, can carry speeds to keep up with urban traffic, and can have a range and carrying capacity far more than an "e-bike's" with, in many cases, equal to or less cost than a typical "e-bike".

Of course, that's but one solution to your posed circumstance, but in my opinion, an "e-bike" is an economically and practically challenged solution where better ones exist. At least for now until these things evolve to their ultimate format- electric powered motorcycles which will rival gas powered motorcycles for performance and cost.

youcancallmeAl said...

youre the ignorant one buddy. my point was that a CITY dweller in a hilly city cant go more than a couple of blocks without finding difficult hills. Ive lived on the plains and am well aware that I could find hills if I wanted but I could also ride all day on the flats if I wanted to. I can google your little town anytime and see just how easy it would be to ride for hours with nothing more than a 2% grade. And you suggesting that its all or nothing and an aging rider shouldnt have the opportunity to ride the flats and use some electric aid to get them up a hill to the next riding area is absolutely unbelievable. what an elitist attitude. rights have nothing to with it. they want to ride a bike, who the hell are you to suggest they shouldnt have that opportunity because it offends your purist ideals?

Guitar Ted said...

@youcancallme(prickly)Al: Whoa dude. Your comment comes off as being a bit "pissed off" and may I also add that it isn't very helpful.

Anyway, rage on, dude Sir rage on.....

I still would love for you to experience Iowa and see for yourself. Your reliance on Google for your information on our terrain is really kind of silly. But you're probably set in your opinion, by the way it reads there, so whatever.

I know "who the hell I am" and what I wrote up there isn't "elitist", it is reality. Not everyone can ride a bicycle. That's a fact, not an "attitude". Or whatever you want to call it.

Unless you have something constructive to add to this conversation, I am not going to post further comments from you.

Ben said...

I see e-bikes becoming more and more popular in my area. I live in north NJ and commute daily 20 miles to midtown NYC. It's a bit too much for most people, and will be for me someday. But with e-bikes, it becomes a viable, pleasurable, commute for almost anyone. As fast or faster than public transit. A person from my town now does this e-bike commute regularly. Another person from a town a bit farther out does a 25 mile (1-way) commute regularly on a e-assisted Brompton. He has a normal Brompton, but has to drive about half the commute when he rides it. I don't have to slow too much to have a conversation when I see him on my road bike. An e-bike lets you ride with road-bike speed without getting sweaty; very nice in an urban environment. I'd much rather ride an e-bike than take the bus or drive. My only complaint is the occasional (pretty rare still) rude e-biker riding too fast and too close while passing. Making e-bikes e-assist with a reducing assist based on speed seems like a good compromise.