The demand for bicycles is booming in the corona crisis. There are several reasons for this. And the technologies they use are advancing all the time. Visitors will be able to experience all these trends and other exciting innovations for all aspects of mobility at the IAA 2021.
The Germans love their cars. That is shown again and again by the statistics. But second place goes to bicycles. Germany boasts 100,000 kilometers of cycle paths. The number of two-wheelers in this country has grown steadily and in 2019 the number of new bicycles again exceeded the 4 million mark. According to the Zweirad-Industrie-Verband e.V. (ZIV, the German bicycle industry association), sales totaled 4.23 billion euros, which was a rise of around 34 percent. If this is combined with the business in components and accessories, turnover in the bicycle industry comes to seven billion euros. The ZIV estimates that the total number of bicycles in Germany has reached almost 76 million. E-bikes in particular are booming and are now an everyday sight in road traffic around the world – in San Francisco just as in Bei Jing or Tel Aviv. With their quiet operation and zero emissions, electric bicycles are providing a steady boost to the sector. In addition, bicycle technology is advancing all the time, for example with voice control and GPS. Modern batteries based on lithium technology give e-bikes ranges of up to 100 kilometers. Manufacturers like BMW and Skoda, and suppliers like Schaeffler, Bosch and Brose, are producing high-quality components such as powertrains, or entire bicycles.
While many sectors were suffering under the worldwide measures to contain conronavirus, bicycles and e-bikes soared in popularity. Since bicycle shops have reopened, there has been a real run on two-wheelers. The sector reckons that 3.2 million bicycles and e-bikes were sold from January to June of this year. That is about nine percent up on the same period last year. Experts say there are many different reasons driving this trend: the avoidance of public transport in many places, the personal urge to take exercise with sufficient social distancing, and altered vacation plans resulting in more bicycle tours in the home country. A study by Shimano involving 13,000 respondents from eleven countries found that the main reasons for switching to e-bikes were to travel longer distances and to get fitter. Furthermore, one in four Europeans either already owns an e-bike or will very probably buy one this year.
Connectivity provides e-bikes with more and more advancements. As part of the ‘Internet of Things,’ e-bikes can take advantage of software and connection to the internet. An intelligent route planner helps users arrive at their destination quickly and without stress. Solutions connect e-bikes with smartphones and support cyclists while they are on the road. Displays and apps show 2-D or 3-D maps to guide cyclists reliably to their destinations – using voice output if desired. There are also digital solutions to complement the mechanical bicycle lock. The Bosch “Lock” involves removing the on-board computer to deactivate the support from the electric motor. That makes the pedelec less attractive to thieves because without the motor the machine is much less fun and they are far less likely to sell it.
E-bikers can install new functions from the internet, just as with cars. For example, Shimano customers can optimize motor performance by applying a Wi-Fi update without having to visit a garage. Smart on-board computers are also available to optimize training. During a journey they measure the torque applied and the pedaling frequency, to calculate power output and energy consumption. The user’s results and progress can be analyzed at the end of the trip. Manufacturers offer online portals or apps for these functions. And connectivity also stimulates dialog within the community. Cycling enthusiasts use the Komoot platform to swap recommendations for hikes and routes. They can share information with other users while on the road.
(Stage photo: © Shimano)
The IAA MOBILITY is transforming itself from a pure car show to an international mobility platform with four pillars: the Summit, the Conference, the “Blue Lane” and the downtown Munich Open Space. Under the slogan of “What will move us next”, it stands for the digital and climate-neutral mobility of the future. From 7 to 12 September 2021, the car, bike and tech industries come together at IAA MOBILITY in Munich.