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Quarter of Europeans using or likely to try an e-bike this year

Joseph Delves
16 Jul 2020

YouGov poll of over 13,000 people from 11 countries shows increasing uptake, but Brits remain most hesitant

People have been saying e-bikes are the future for a long time. But that future is increasingly looking like being the present.

A recent pan-European survey by respected pollsters YouGov has shown one-in-four people are already using, or plan to try, an e-bike this year.

With Covid-19 forcing many people to change their travel choices, this is one factor among many encouraging uptake. Around a thousand people were surveyed in each of the 11 nations polled, and the results suggested some striking differences in attitudes across the continent.

For one, just 7% of the UK sample said they were expecting to try an e-bike this year. This compares to 30% in Italy. However, this could change with demographic shifts, since in the UK it’s also people aged 18-24 who are the keenest to try one out.

Motivation

The poll also looked at the reasons given for interest in e-bikes. Perhaps surprisingly, leisure use outranked commuting as the main motivation behind people’s interest.

A total of 31% said they’d use their bike mainly for leisure or family activities. In comparison, those for whom commuting was the prime driver make up a slightly smaller 28%.

The perceived benefits of e-bikes were also examined, with a third of respondents sold partly on the ability of e-bikes to take on longer distances or steeper climbs.

Fitness also plays a big part, with 30% mentioning improving their physical health and 22% mentioning better mental health as influencing their decisions.

Overall one in five people mentioned environmental concerns as a reason to buy an e-bike, a trend particularly pronounced among younger adults.

In the Netherlands, where a huge 78% of the population regularly cycles, 39% of respondents were attracted by the decreased effort required when using a bike with electrical assistance.

At the same time, 19% of people across all countries worried that the extra assistance would minimise their fitness gains.

One recurring theme across all countries is that 11% of potential e-bike users say they currently never ride a conventional bike.

Market research

The extensive research was commissioned by Shimano.

‘Making that leap from a regular bicycle, or other private or public transport methods towards an e-bike is a decision that can be affected by many different factors,’ explains Jeroen Van Vulpen, Shimano’s Brand Manager.

‘Not least how we 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 hope anyone interested in e-bikes can learn from it too.’

The entire report is available here.

For the stats nerds, here are the figures from YouGov Plc

  • The total sample size was 13,412 adults
  • This comprised 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 and 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

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