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Eurobike Shows Bike Sector is Reinventing Itself

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FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany – The new realities of the bike sector were clearly reflected at the Eurobike show of 2017. These realities are triggering huge changes as well as an unprecedented dynamism. At the base of all this stands the electrification of bicycles. This opens new frontiers in particular as the e-bike significance is growing in all markets. However, there’s also a downside.

Eurobike Shows Bike Sector is Reinventing Itself
26th Eurobike drew a crowd similar in size to 2016 with 42,590 industry visitors (2016: 42,720). – Photo Bike Europe

The downside of the e-bike trend is in the fact that it is  triggering a massive invasion. For instance, the number of e-bike brands currently active in Holland stands at about one hundred; all fighting for their share of a relatively small market of some 300,000 units annually. And some of these new brands come with big money from serious investors, who also focus on new ways of doing business. Consumer- direct and online in particular.

Switch to omni-channel

The competition from these relatively new players selling online is rapidly growing. Their intensive and aggressively advertised discounted offerings have a destructive effect on the competitiveness of IBDs, resulting in their demise. In addition, it harms the renowned brands, triggering them to switch to omni-channel distribution strategies.

Virtual shopping carts

Already last year’s Eurobike signaled the first schemes for the switch to omni-channel. The past year they have turned into concrete changes taken up by many companies and brands. Virtual shopping carts are popping up at more and more websites of renowned brands. This trade journal organized a conference at Eurobike on omni-channel and the challenges that come with it. More on that is elsewhere in this edition.

Market volume decline

Another downside arriving with the strong focus on e-bikes is in the fact that the total volume of the market in Europe continues to drop. The 2017 first half-year sales on Europe’s biggest market, which were presented one day before Eurobike Show opened its doors, reflected that. These sales in Germany showed a big growth in e-bikes, which stand out against a sharp fall in regular bikes.

Taiwan’s export

Taiwan’s bicycle export underlines this trend. The country’s export of regular bicycles dropped by 25% in the first half of 2017; its e-bike export rose by 27%. However, in absolute numbers it shows a nearly 400,000 unit drop in regular bikes against an increase of only some 20,000 e-bikes.

Switch from volume-production

The trend towards ever growing e-bike sales cannot withstand the total market decline. This brings profound consequences across the industry – from parts makers to OEMs. It means the bike sector in Europe has to reinvent itself. It has to switch from volume-production to speed-production, along with adding values like customization.
The drop of the total market volume brings another downside. It results in a wait and see attitude of many players and in the fact that “distributors are ordering like retailers” as one of the Eurobike exhibitors stated strikingly.

The e-bike promise

But apart from the above noted downsides, the e-bike trend is also revolutionizing the cycling sector. That’s happening as more and more companies believe in the promise of what e-bikes can bring to (urban) mobility, and recreation, as well as the environment. By the way, Bosch eBike Systems CEO Claus Fleischer hung a number on that ‘promise’. He said at Eurobike that he was amazed about the development of the e-bike sector and that he had to adjust his earlier expectations upwardly. He now expects that some 65% of the total bike market will get electrified.
All this culminated in an Eurobike 2017 show that brought an unprecedented amount of new products and services in the field of e-bikes. For new e-bike products like drivetrains; see the separate report.

Full show house

The 26th Eurobike drew a crowd similar in size to the year before. A total of 42,590 industry visitors (2016: 42,720) were in Friedrichshafen while 22,160 bike fans visited the show’s last day, Eurobike Festival Day. All these visitors came from 101 countries, to the world’s largest bike trade show at the sold-out fairgrounds, where they got information from 1,400 exhibitors from 50 countries about the global bike industry’s newest products and services.

Eurobike 2018

Next year’s Eurobike will be different as the show is to take place from Sunday, July 8 to Tuesday, July 10, 2018. Due to its early date Eurobike 2018 will only be open to industry visitors. Eurobike Media Days, the innovations test event for all manufacturers of complete sports bikes, will take place right before Eurobike, from July 4 – 6, 2018, in the Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis region of Tyrol, Austria. The day in between, July 7, will be filled with individualized events that appeal to target groups, such as conventions, test events, media launches, and closed door meetings.
Bike Europe’s September print & online edition will feature a comprehensive Eurobike 2017 show report.

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