Understanding the changing attitudes to e-bike use with Shimano

October 22, 2021 - by Client News

Changing attitudes to e-bike use | Shimano

Understand how Europeans feel about e-bike use in 2021 with the help of Shimano’s State of the Nation report, including in-depth research and expert insights. 

One in four Europeans say they are more likely to buy or use an e-bike compared with the previous year, reveals the latest State of the Nation report from Shimano. 

Launching this week, the third State of the Nation report commissioned by Shimano, takes a look at the place e-bikes have in our societies and how COVID-19 and the events of 2020/2021 have influenced consumer interest in purchasing or using e-bikes. 

Conducted together with YouGov the report looks at 12 European countries, specifically Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and surveyed over 14,000 people. The first report, published in 2019, was the largest e-bike consumer surveys ever conducted, subsequent reports have built on this foundation to show how COVID-19 has influenced and changed consumer attitudes to e-bike use.

Two-Fifths would use an e-bike to avoid public transport

27% of Europeans have said they are more likely to use or buy an e-bike now than they were before the COVID-19 Pandemic, with two fifths (39%) saying they would use one to avoid public transport.

COVID-19 is not the only motivating factor in e-bike use, a growing awareness and urgency around climate change is prompting more people to make personal choices about reducing their own carbon footprint. Over a third (37%) of those under 24 have said they would use an e-bike to lessen their impact on the environment, whereas two fifths (41%) of those over the age of 55 said they were looking for an alternative to a motor vehicle. 

Lack of cycle infrastructure a barrier

Whilst there is growing interest in using e-bikes there are still barriers that need to be overcome for more people to take the plunge. For the 66% of Europeans who are not ready to take the plunge, 24% say it’s a lack of safe cycling infrastructure in their towns and cities that is a reason against. This shows not only city leaderships, councils and authorities but also the wider bicycle industry still has a way to go to create a cycling environment that convinces people to switch to electric two-wheeled power.

Despite there being a ‘bike boom’ across Europe since the start of lockdowns, it’s clear that only when local authorities and national governments take steps, such as marked cycleways or clearly signed safe cycling routes, the public at large are willing to saddle up.

E-bike as car replacement 

Nearly half (46%) of those more likely to buy or use an e-bike say that they would do so as an alternative to a car. This is a win for everyone in urban areas; less cars on the road means less pollution and less traffic jams. However, despite e-bikes being significantly cheaper than a motor car or an e-vehicle 54% see the cost as a barrier. 

People are waking up to the advantages of e-cargo bikes across Europe. Of those who say they are likely to buy or use an e-bike in the next 12 months, 7% of those in Germany and 8% of those in the Netherlands say they would purchase an e-cargo bike. Even the UK, which lags behind in terms of e-bike uptake, 5% would consider buying an e-cargobike. The most likely age groups to consider an e-cargo bike are 18-24 year olds and 25-34 year olds, however this is also the group that may find a cost more significant barrier. 

Bike shops are valued

During the COVID-19 pandemic many countries ruled that bike shops were ‘essential services’ and allowed them to remain open during lockdowns, Shimano’s survey reveals the need for bricks and mortar bike shops amongst bike owners. Of those Europeans surveyed who own bikes, 25% said they will be visiting a bike shop in the next 12-months.

An e-bike bright future 

Published 18-months after the start of the global pandemic Shimano’s State of the Nation Report shows its impact on active travel. A reduced use of public transport, the need for outdoor exercise and more home working has driven high demand for bicycles throughout the pandemic, and many of the new cyclists who began cycling because of COVID-19 have continued to use their bikes, even as restrictions have eased. 

The results of Shimano’s survey show that the climate crisis is rising to the top of public concern and along with that, attitudes to motor vehicle use are changing.  It is exciting to see an increasing number of Europeans say they would use an e-bike as an alternative to a private car and whilst this report has highlighted some of the barriers yet to be overcome, such as cost and infrastructure, the future of e-biking and active travel in our urban areas looks bright. 

For the full report and more insights visit Shimano-Steps

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