Sunday, September 03, 2017

Euro Snooze

More electronics are set to invade your "bicycle", if the Industry has its way.
Eurobike just happened, but did anyone notice? You may have seen a few oddball press releases and a couple of stories that looked mildly interesting, but for the most part, "traditional" cycling news was pretty scant. Want to know why?

Because Europe is mad for electronics in their bicycles. Specifically anything with two wheels and a motor masquerading as a bicycle is making huge inroads to the market share in places like Germany, where it is estimated that next year the e-bike sales will account for 65%-75% of the cycling marketplace. That should be about 700,000 plus units alone for 2018. For comparison, the latest statistics I could find for the US e-bike market claimed about 140,000-150,000 units were sold in 2016.

Traditional, "mechanical" cycling is on the ropes, so says the marketing and industry rags in Europe. The claim is that within the very near future all bicycles will be packed with ECU's running hundreds of codes which, if true, will radically alter cycling as we know it today.

Since the traditional cycling media isn't ready to chase electrified, ECU packed two wheeled vehicle news here, you are not going to see a lot of "news" coming from Eurobike. Not that there isn't anything in the realm of non-electrified news happening. It just isn't deemed the future anymore. To wit- a trade mag from Europe states that Germany's traditional bike market is down 8.5% for 2017, and the forecast is bleak going forward. FYI- Typically Germany is seen as the barometer of cycling for Europe, so keep that in mind.

They are going to have to work a mid drive motor into this logo for "The Future".
Interestingly, Eurobike's own page for the 2017 show has some tidbits which may point to the e-bike shedding is tyrannosaurus-like pedal appendages, which are increasingly looking like the useless short arms on the feared predator of ancient times.

Check out the following:

"The new EX1 components’ ace up the sleeve is their design that relies on one front chain ring and eight rear sprockets. The American components manufacturer uses the space that is saved by this design to invest in a broader chain and gears made of hardened tool steel that can better deal with the forces at work on an e-bike than conventional bike components can."

So, heavier components that can handle higher torque and power, eh? Okay, but there is more. Check out the following, which is a passage about a new e-bike rated suspension fork.

" The result is a suspension fork in an optically unconventional upside-down design that, with its especially robust construction, offers an alternative to the intrinsically higher weight of e-mountain bikes."

Knowing what we have learned over the years about "upside down fork" technology, it can easily be assumed that this new e-bike rated fork is not only "especially robust", but heavier than all get out. It has to be to deal with torsional forces generated by not just mountain biking, but the "intrinsically higher weight" of these electric motorcycles.

Finally, Continental, who are much bigger into automotive electronics than they are tires, has developed a combined motor and gearbox for the e-bike market. You know- like a motorcycle? Yes. Just like a motorcycle, because the efficiencies necessary for human powered movement are secondary to the design. 

I've been saying this all along, but what we are actually witnessing is the bicycle morphing in to a electrified personal transportation unit that will not be primarily human powered or have any means at all to be human powered. Basically this is the same progression of events witnessed in the early 20th Century with the internal combustion engine and bicycles. The result then was motorcycles, which then shed their useless pedals. Who would ever want to, or even could pedal, such heavy machines? So the pedals were shed. The same will happen again with electric motors. What we end up calling this machine doesn't matter, the point is, it is no longer a bicycle. 

And that is the real news out of Eurobike. 


Skidmark said...

Bye-cycles! They were so 20th century, anyway. Who knew what Mother Nature ultimately had in mind for the opposable thumbs?
Millions of years in the design of the these most elegant button pushers.

Kevin said...

Hey Guitar Ted. Cool post. One E thing I'd like on my bike would be some handlebars with integrated headlights. What do you think? Maybe 2 600 lumen LEDs on each side?

Zed F. said...

I read somewhere that an average healthy human can sustain an output of 1/4 hp, or 185W. If it were up to me, any ebike more powerful than that should be considered a moped, and have plates, insurance, full lights, a horn and a VIN.

PRBC said...

The difference is the 21st century e-tech is much more efficient, and much lighter than internally-combusted 20th century tech. Hence, pedals do NOT necessarily have to be shed. Besides, if bicycles didn't die when motorcycles arrived, why would they die now with the arrival of e-bikes? I'd prefer to see more e-bikes in big cities than I would cars. This is positive for anyone who rides a bicycle.

Guitar Ted said...

@PRBC: The differences are not that great in reality. The e-bikes we know are not done developing yet- they are in their infancy, really. Weights are going to keep going up as safety features, heavier duty parts, and more electronic integration begins to creep into designs.

That said, e-bikes are already at such a weight that most people would not want to pedal one without assist, which, in itself, is a strange irony. Adding more weight will only increase the dependency on motorized power. The pedals will become useless appendages as people discover this.

Oh, and have a good time dragging people out of their SUV's. Like that is going to happen.....

Skidmark said...

@PRBC Is PuertoRicoBicycleCoalition invested in selling E-motor bikes?

Smithhammer said...

Humanity seems to be on a continual quest to accommodate it's own laziness.