A quarter of Europeans will use an e-Bike in 2020, says study

A 13,412 person EU-wide study conducted by YouGov on behalf of Shimano has found that a quarter of Europeans intend to use an e-Bike this year.

With interest in cycling remaining at a high, Shimano’s annual State of the Nation e-Bike report has steadily built credibility as one of the bike trade’s leading indicators for the assisted market, this year pulling on data from 11 countries.

This year the data reveals that 8% of Europeans are already owners of such bikes. Furthermore, 17% say they are more likely to purchase or use an e-Bike than this time last year. 11% revealed that they no longer ride pedal-powered cycles alone, perhaps demonstrating that the e-Bike has extended people’s ability to cycle, whether due to injury, age or other concerns.

Country and demographic data paints a varied picture

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the UK lags at the bottom of the 11 country-strong league table, with just 7% of residents here stating they intend to try an electric bike. The UK has tended to lag behind mainland Europe, in large part down to the low provision of cycling infrastructure, but factors that weigh in may also include higher pricing than UK consumers are willing to pay and a lack of opportunity to learn about and try the product.

Italy comes out as a surprise leader in fresh enthusiasm for e-Bike riding in the study, with 30% keen to sling a leg over. In Switzerland, Poland and The Netherlands it is 26%, Spain 21% and France 19%. Across the board, the younger demographic had stronger enthusiasm for a demo, running completely contrary to how sales initially tended to go to an older generation seeking new mobility.

A stubborn myth persists, according to the report. 19% stated they would prefer not to ride an electric bike as it would not contribute to their fitness. This has now been disproven by various studies into the subject.

Indeed, A recent e-bike study by the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity showed “evidence that e-cycling can improve cardiorespiratory fitness. E-cycling can contribute to meeting physical activity recommendations and increasing physical fitness. As such, e-bikes offer a potential alternative to conventional cycling.”

Why are people shifting to e-Bikes?

31% of those who were likely to use or already owned an electric bike said they would largely use an pedal-assisted bike for leisure and family activities, hinting that an e-bike’s appeal isn’t just limited to commuting (although over a quarter – 28% – would commute on their e-bike).

A third (32%) have said they would buy or use an e-bike this year to conquer longer distances or steeper climbs, and many would use one to improve their physical (30%) and mental (22%) health.

In some countries, the reasons for use differ quite dramatically. In the Netherlands – where a whopping 78% of the population ride a bike at least once a month – the main reason (39%) given by those wanting to ride an e-bike this year was that they would do because it looks like less effort.

There is also an acknowledgement by 18% of adults that a reduction in environmental impact of transport forms is required and this is a leading reason for their desire to ride an e-Bike. In young adults 26% said this was a driving factor in their decision.

“From adventurous mountain bikers to urban commuters, there is now an e-bike for everyone”, says Jeroen Van Vulpen, Brand Manager from Shimano. “We see that e-bikes will continue to become a desirable option for people who want to get outdoors and ride for fun, for fitness or for an affordable and more environmentally-conscious commute.

“Making that leap from a regular bicycle, or from other private or public transport methods towards an e-bike is a decision that can be affected by many different factors. Not least the way in which we can now travel across towns and cities throughout Europe. From buses to trains and ferries, public transport has been affected and personal space is in high demand, bringing increasing interest to the e-bike market. This report goes some way to shedding light on those factors. It will undoubtedly contribute to our own learning and we sincerely hope everyone interested in e-bikes can learn from it too.”

Total sample size was 13,412 adults in the Netherlands (1,000), Italy (1,031), Denmark (1,028), France (1,012), Sweden (1,019), Germany (2,113), UK (2163), Switzerland (1,000), Norway (1,009), Spain (1,040) and Poland (997). Fieldwork was undertaken between 30th March – 29th April 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been given an even weighting for each country to produce an ‘average’ value.