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Biggest UK Retail Chains Set Sights Firmly on E-Bikes

Sales & Trends

CRAWLEY, UK – The biggest retailers in the UK have set their sights now firmly on electric bicycles. After years of passing over e-bikes, major UK retailer Evans have launched their own electric bike brand. Evans rival Halfords have stepped up their own e-bike offering for 2017, which now includes some 70 models.

Biggest UK Retail Chains Set Sights Firmly on E-Bikes

The Evans e-bike brand is named Pinnacle Lithium Ion. It is using the Shimano Steps drive system. Evans are also now stocking e-bikes from EBCO, Raleigh, Scott and Specialized.

Broad e-bike range

The Pinnacle Lithium Ion currently retails around 2,200 euro whilst their e-bike range covers the price range of 1,079 euro to 7,435 euro and includes plenty of step-thru city style models as well as plenty of high end e-MTBs. Evans Pinnacle brand is well-known in the UK, featuring mainly stylish, lightweight and competitively priced hybrids.

Styling

“We felt that most current e-bikes were quite city-bike in their styling, step through frames and rack-batteries as well as trekking bike designs that are successful in the Europe market,” said James Booth, Evans PR manager.

“Pinnacle has seen good growth in hybrids with a distinct style, a simple look with bolder colours for example. We wanted to apply that visual style and get the ride feel right for a bike that is a very different product to a lightweight sports hybrid. The added fixed weight and ease of speed in many situations meant we took a fresh look at areas such as the wheel format (size and tyre volume) and how they work with the handling geometry, the handlebar type also, all factors that add up to get the ride experience right.”

The availability of Shimano Steps

“The opportunity to use the mid-battery mounted Shimano Steps system was a major reason for us to expand in e-bikes with Pinnacle. We had been talking about our entry into e-bikes for a couple of years previous to the launch of Steps, discussions around what our e-bike offering needed to achieve for our customers and looking for the right system to use. Shimano’s UK retail support is good and it’s a trusted name. The system is great and the main lead time factor after we had initial info on the mid-battery system was ride-testing of the development bikes rather than any difficulty with incorporating the power system. For other brands the same deciding factors will apply – the reliability and ease of use of the system, the support from the distributor and the overall product appeal.”

Halfords expands range

Meanwhile Evans rival Halfords have stepped up their own e-bike offering for 2017, which now includes some 70 models at the time of writing at a price range between 690 euro to 2,695 euro. A Halfords spokesperson said that “they believed electric bikes would be ‘the next big thing for commuters’.”

Like Evans also Halfords have their own brand model, the Carrera Crossfire-E which they describe as ‘the best value electric bike with a range of 60 miles, currently the longest in the UK within the Cycle to Work (government tax break) threshold’. Halfords say the Crossfire aims at ‘widening the audience for e-bikes to a younger, regular commuter.’

With many of the UK’s e-bikes now being imported from Europe in a market now beginning to show acceptance of high quality (and higher-priced) e-bikes, what about the effects of Brexit? Surely this will involve higher prices for UK e-bike consumers as the pound lost value against the euro? Both Evans and Halfords were a little coy, but generally confident about the effects.

Effect of the Brexit

Evans spokesman Booth stressed the company’s strength as a bricks and mortar plus online retailer, as against purely online retailers: “Brexit may in the longer-term mean price rises but relative to our market we will remain a competitive retailer with successful own-brands so I’m confident that we will remain in a good position. Our mix of retail and online sales channels is a real benefit for selling bikes like this – they are no more complex than most other bikes in reality but being able to buy online with the support of retail service or via click-and-collect is reassuring for someone looking to buy an e-bike.”

Cushioning currency volatility

Halfords clearly see their diverse range of products (including auto and leisure ranges) as cushioning them from the currency volatility the recent Brexit vote has produced: “We have seen before that when there has been volatility in the currency, that people tend to stay at home more for holidays, and Halfords are very well placed for that in terms of our product range and services.”

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