Ask the trade: Will smart bikes create new consumer demand?

It’s safe to say in the past few years the pace of change in bike design has begun to accelerate, but have we hit full speed yet? We ask four very different retailer’s thoughts on technology’s place within so called ‘smart bikes’ and what opportunities may come to be…

We’re seeing a lot more mentions of ‘smart bikes’ lately. What springs to mind when you hear this? 

Mark Almond, Revo Bikes
It seems that many things are being labelled ‘smart’ these days when in reality some are mere enhancements on current products. However, whenever genuine innovation is achieved it has to be applauded. Integrating smart features to bikes is going to become more and more commonplace and where this enhances the rider experience or safety it has to be a good thing.

Spotted at Eurobike: Schindelhauer‘s now integrated chargeable lighting inside handlebars and seatposts

David Barnett, Tring Motion
My first thought was Daimler Benz’s electric bike, however there are certainly avenues for exploration with technological integration.

This could span from using body and telemetry sensors to integrate with either on board electronics and/or an app. Electronic shifting could be mapped to maintain heart rate or cadence goals. Route planning could be calculated by an app, based on current fitness and targets. Secure bike parking could be mapped and guidance supplied, with alternatives available based on live capacity; this could apply to cafes and commuter parking. Integrated security systems could record camera data and provide location services. Lights could have an auto switch function based on ambient light and form part of the security system if the bike is stolen. Tyre pressure monitors too; customers don’t check this often, so they could get a warning about a slow puncture.

Neil Holman, George Halls Cycle Centre
I tend to think of built in brake lights, a homing beacon to help you track your bike, fish eye cameras and a built in motivational aid with Jens Voight’s shouting “Shut up legs”!

Paul Corcoran, Pennine Cycles
It will be good to see what direction smart bikes take. Unfortunately, it’s going away from the simplicity of a bicycle. The majority of people don’t need this. I ask the industry, are customers asking for this; is it needed?

Do you think integrating more technology into bicycles will be a greater draw for the consumer – particularly in urban environments?

Mark Almond, Revo Bikes
I’m not sure that it will further increase the appeal of cycling per se. People still have to pedal and deal with traffic after all. However, I do think that any technology that enhances safety and rider enjoyment can only help in overcoming some of the more commonly known barriers to people cycling. Where I believe this will be particularly apparent is in accessories, as opposed to bikes. For example, smart locks, backpacks and visibility aids. Anything that makes people feel safer, particularly in the commuter market.

David Barnett, Tring Motion
If it can be proven to the customer during the sales process then it will add value to the sale for both the dealer and the end user. So, for a more advanced sale like this a proper, structured sales process needs to be in place first. Some buyers will be switched on and really want to buy the product, but the majority of customers would have to be sold to, having it explained to them why it will be useful. An example would be connecting a heart rate monitor to automatic shifting; the savvy would get it (at a price), while the average consumer would truly buy in after a demonstration and test ride.

Neil Holman, George Halls Cycle Centre
For the Billy Techno’s yes. If a bike comes fitted with a GPS unit, why buy a Garmin.

Paul Corcoran, Pennine Cycles
No, I can’t see it myself. Surely simplicity is the way forward.

To hear from the experts in ‘smart bike’ design, check in with our earlier article “Welcome to the age of the i-Bike

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