Older residents help drive rise in electric bike sales

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Electric bicycles are increasing in popularity, Dunedin bike shop owners say.
Dunedin Electric Bikes co-owner Nathan Parker said while he had first ridden an electric bicycle in 1999, the interest in the motorised bicycles had been noticeably growing over the past few years. He said his main clientele were older Dunedin residents, many of whom still wanted to be mobile but did
not necessarily have enough strength to bike long distances on normal bicycles.
Avantiplus Dunedin store owner Steven Dyet said the “ease of use” for riders and “sustainability” factor were two big benefits for the bicycle owners.
He said while he had been selling the bicycles for more than 15 years, the interest in them had fallen away for a while, only to increase dramatically over the past five or so years.
More than 60% of his electric bicycle customers were older residents buying commuter models but there were also younger cyclists buying electric mountain bikes.
He said the one thing people needed to be aware of when looking at buying an electric bike was the fact the bicycles came in a variety of models – just like normal bicycles – including commuter, mountain bikes and trikes.
Cycleworld Dunedin logistics manager Nick Roe said its customers were “definitely all spread out” when it came to age and ability, but they did have a large number of older cyclists buying the bikes.
He said the bikes had become more and more popular over the past year.
The mountain bike model, especially, was “still a nice bike to ride” but allowed you to “go and see” tracks further away than a usual bike might, as you had extra assistance from the motor, Mr Roe said.
Bike Otago mechanic and salesman Ethan Glover said they had been selling the bikes for about four years and expected they would continue to become more popular over the next few years, especially as the technology became cheaper and the price dropped .
An electric mountain bike sells for more than $5000 at present.
Mr Parker said he was pleased to see the popularity of the bicycles increasing, especially if it meant there was “one more car off the road”.
Several locations hire out electric bicycles, including Acorn Cafe, in Albany St – in partnership with Gallery on Blueskin – and Glenfalloch. Glenfalloch Electric Bikes manager Glenda Bruce said they had been hiring the bicycles for almost four years. They decided to offer the alternative means of transportation
for tourists going to the Albatross Centre at Taiaroa Head.
Mrs Bruce said their 12 bikes were often hired by groups of cruise ship passengers, many of whom cycled the hour-and-40-minute return trip to the albatrosses, while other young visitors visited Sandfly Bay and other nearby beaches.
“We wanted to create another way of people being able to get around,” she said.