The U.S. Electric Bike Expo Series will continue to drive onwards despite having fallen victim to clashes with two natural phenomenons.
Having first been forced to cancel the Portland leg due to an unprecedented surge of 1.2 million solar eclipse spectators, the organisers are now assessing the impact of Hurricane Irma on the Florida event, scheduled for October 13th to 15th. An announcement on whether the show is likely to proceed is expected within the coming days.
“Our next event location has just been struck by a 100 year storm that looks as if Florida took a pretty good hit, but they are not down,” said Ray Verhelst of the Electric Bike Association. “Our venue seems to be in reasonable shape, but the big concern is the availability of vendor equipment such as temporary fencing, often used to protect construction and off-limit sites, and the portable generators we rent to power the venue. With 6 million without power, the state has first priority over these rentals. We are just hoping to hear some good news for the community and for our event in the next week or two.”
Verhelst remains bouyant on the upcoming legs of the series, despite the setbacks and has a number of reasons to be cheerful about the remaining stops.
Brose have linked with the free to attend show to provide on site training camps to attendees, something Verhelst believes bicycle dealers should engage with.
“Our research results have shown consistently that, when our attendees leave the Expo, more than 60% of them have or plan to visit a professional bike shop within the next 30 days. The feedback is that in many cases, they come away from the expo knowing more than the staff in the shop, which leads them to turn around and leave,” explains Verhelst. “The comments have been that they don’t feel comfortable investing in a bike at $2,800 plus where they know more than the guy selling them the bike. This is why education is so critical and needed to help close the sales loop.”
Joining the likes of Specialized, BH Emotion and Bulls, among others, retailers are granted dedicated time to talk about developing their electric bike offering, as well as benefit from on site education. Over 150 models typically feature on test tracks at the expositions.
The National Bicycle Dealer’s Association has thrown its weight behind the series to bolster the education and discussion platform offered by the series. A number of B2B Dealer/Manufacturer roundtable/listening sessions are held also on Friday before the Expos open to the public.
Car giant BMW is also utilising the tour to educate their dealerships alongside the tour. Speaking on the automotive brand’s interest in the electric bike, Verhelst outlines that the brand stands to make a real impact on the market.
“Since they are marketing the bikes themselves through the auto dealerships, we have people from the sales and parts departments coming out to learn the history of electric bikes, how the bikes fit into the new e-Mobility platform BMW is promoting and what their bike is all about. We provide them with a semi-private session at each Expo and then get them out on the track as soon as we open to the public. It is important to note that BMW has more than 340 auto dealerships around the country and any reasonable deployment of their bikes into this setting will be a game changer for the electric bike market.”
Verhelst concludes that with 50% of attendees coming to the series having never tried an electric bike the opportunity is there for the taking.
“We are now going to host some introductory short sessions at the beginning of each day that will be called eBike 101: An Introduction. This will be geared towards the attendee who knows very little or nothing and will help to get them up to speed,” concludes Verhelst.
The Electric Bike Expo has succeeded in raising the profile of e-bikes in the U.S., hosting events in Tempe, San Diego, Houston, Palo Alto, Denver, Seattle and Washington, among other locations.