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  • Craig Messenger

Electric Bikes Are Building Niches

A new breed of electric bikes is emerging from the industry that has been booming for the past few years with utilitarian designs. Companies like Onyx and CAB are producing ebikes dressed in their very best motorcycle Halloween costumes, boasting suspension and styling reminiscent of Walmart’s X-Games bike.

The ONYX RCR

Now these external imitations do not completely undermine the features packed into the bikes, namely their unbelievably long battery life and headliner top speed. These characteristics, and the outer skin they are packaged in, point to a conscious strategy by these manufacturers to transcend the utility transport market populated by electric bikes of before. And beyond that, these companies are then hoping to bridge the market gap between traditionally technical mountain bike riders and their more casual motorcycle counterparts that stick to paved roads.



The path that Onyx and CAB are following may have been carved in the oceans first.

 
If you haven't seen one of these this summer, you probably can't swim | Photo: Mike Blake

A similar kind of market revolution has occurred in the surfboard industry over the past ten years, with hobbyists trading in fiberglass rides for softened

boards of foam. Wavestorm, and its imitators, capitalized on the compromising middle ground of surfing – that ground lying between the large, technical waves shortboarders paddle into, and the flowing, tiny wakes longboarders trim upon. Wavestorm fashioned a medium size board (originally – they come in every shape and size now) and crafted it out of essentially indestructible foam to sell casual surfers on a low maintenance, middle ground experience. And people bought in.

 

It seems like these electric bike companies are looking to alter the two wheeled continuum in a similar way. Their bikes are far too heavy and clunky to survive on truly dynamic MTB trails, and they don’t have the range or road-comfort of purpose built motorcycles. Yet, these bikes can still operate in both of these disparate worlds, albeit with compromise – and their riders don’t have to worry about changing engine oil either. Or peddling.