Czech OEMs Double Their E-bike Sales
PRAGUE, Czech Republic – According to the national statistics office the Czech Republic is still a net exporter of bicycles. In the past twelve months some 228,000 bicycles were imported while 393,000 units were exported, mainly to EU markets. These figures are pretty similar to past two monitored periods, showing the stability of the bicycle industry.
Though city bikes are not yet the game-changer, it might change for the better next year, thanks to the e-bikes. E-bike comprise about 6-10% or 20 to 30 thousand units, of the Czech bicycle consumption. Undoubtedly we saw a breakthrough for e-bikes this year in the Czech Republic.
Several local OEMs and distributors left behind the generic Chinese e-bikes and started their own product development. According to Leader Fox CEO Pavel Muller, who produces e-bikes in South Bohemia, “Our bestselling e-bike is the step-thru city model priced around €930. We expect to increase our sales by 50-70% in 2016 while we already doubled our e-bike production this year.”
Lukas Barta of Apache Bicycles claimed he sold 4,000 e-bikes this year with the city bike as bestseller. But Apache also produces high-end bikes with Bosch and Shimano Steps systems in cooperation with BPS Bicycle Industrial, who manufactures over 20,000 e-bikes for KTM and other brands in the North Moravian town of Sumperk.
BPS celebrated its 1,000,000th bicycle delivered in April 2015, after being in operation for 14 years. The Czech brand Agogs, developing e-bikes since 2007, just won the 2015 ExtraEnergy eBike test in the category ‘city trekking’ with its model Tracer. A remarkable achievement as it’s usually the German and Swiss brands that are elected number one in this category.
The e-bike is regarded a great product for rental shown by the numerous rental shops which opened this summer in the cities and on the countryside. Just in Prague one can choose from more than 10 different e-bike rental shops, some ranked highest on TripAdvisor attractions. But also on the countryside like in the South Moravia wine region and the country’s largest national park Šumava rental e-bikes are a popular way to travel.
MTB and road race remain popular
The two most popular categories in the Czech Republic are MTB and cross bikes, which sell for an average price of approximately €500. Cycling is among the most popular kind of leisure and a much-practiced workout. Thanks to the maintenance done by the Czech Tourist Club the country has one of the largest networks of marked cycling paths in Europe.
As in other MTB-minded countries the Czech Republic saw an intense debate over the 26-inch versus the larger wheel size. But also in this mountain bike loving country the 27.5 and 29 inch are now by far the majority of the bikes offered in the shops. Libor Petřvalský, CEO of the high-end local brand Pells doesn’t want the market to forget the 26-inch, saying, “The twenty-niners will rule the game, as was indicated by this year’s spring sales. However long time Giant bicycles distributor Josef Přib already stated we should not forget the cyclists of lesser stature, the ladies, and the juniors, for whom 26-inch is just the perfect size.”
This summer the road race category was rapidly increasing in popularity. Maybe it’s the results of the long time sponsoring of the Tour de France by the national car manufacturer Skoda Auto. Slovak businessman Richard Galovic recently relaunched the legendary Czech road bike brand from the seventies called Favorit, in those days a dream of every Czech boy between 15 and 50 years old.
Lacking cycling infrastructure
However city cycling still waits for its momentum, except for some rare examples in the East Bohemian towns located in the lowlands. Even Prague is still lacking an official bike-rental system despite three years of academic debating. As a result private activities pop up like www.rekola.cz who uses a smartphone app to direct you to the nearest available bike.
The lack of cycling infrastructure is the main argument for people to leave their city bike at home. According to Martin Kontra, founder of Bajkazyl, a network of DIY bike-repairs and bike bars, “it requires only small improvements of the cycling infrastructure and adjustments of the traffic laws by Ministry of Transport to make city cycling a full-fledged type of passenger transport.”
Nevertheless city cycling is alive, as shown by the Spring Critical Mass Bike Ride in Prague last summer, when some 10,000 participants completely clogged the streets.