“He really likes it,” says Vincent Wever when he comes cycling on the test sample speed pedelec from the bicycle shop. Wever is a great lover of train travel; for years he wrote about public transport as a journalist. This week he exchanged the train for the extra fast e-bike for the first time.
Train ‘less pleasant idea’
Going to work by public transport is not an option for him for the time being. “One and a half meters cannot be performed properly. People are talking about face masks. I don’t like the idea of sitting on the train.”
Weaver is not the only one who thinks that way. 20 percent of people who went to work by public transport before the corona outbreak want to exchange public transport for another mode of transport. The largest group – 63 percent – opt for the car, the Knowledge Institute for Mobility Policy researched. Almost one in five sees a great alternative in the bicycle.
The bicycle can also be an alternative for longer commuting distances. The fast speed pedelecs are ideal for this. These bicycles go up to 45 kilometers per hour. Wever, who lives in Zwolle and works in Deventer, is on his bike in about an hour at work.
Cycling is healthy
“Then I will be on the road just as long as when I cycle to the station, take the train and then walk to the office.” And then cycling is also healthier.
Sellers of e-bikes and speed pedelecs often hear that argument too. “Friday was a typical Amsterdammer here. Maybe a bit too heavy. He wants more exercise and he feels like a risk group. He therefore no longer wants to use public transport and really do something about his health,” says Odette Oostenieniën from the Amsterdam store CicQ. She sells high-end speed pedelecs.
Corona nudge for sellers
She does not want to give sales figures, but she can confirm that the interest in fast bicycles has increased in recent weeks. “At the beginning of the corona crisis, we saw a negative effect. Now we see a positive effect. Corona is a nudge to purchase. We hear that public transport is less desirable,” said Oosteniën.
Manufacturer Stella, market leader in e-bikes, agrees with this. In addition to an alternative to commuting, marketing manager Johan Makaske sees that people see the e-bike as an alternative for the summer holidays.
Because it is uncertain by corona whether we can go on holiday, and if so where, people use their holiday money to buy an e-bike. “We are seeing a significant increase in interest.”
Ask from abroad
If you want a hip e-bike from the Dutch brand VanMoof, you have to be patient this summer. The waiting times are up to three months. “That is much longer than we want, we are doing everything we can to reduce the waiting time,” said spokesperson Karlijn Marchildon.
The latest model, launched in late April, is a much greater success than expected. “It is going twice as fast as expected. We are now far beyond 10,000 orders.” Not only in the Netherlands. Because of corona, the bicycle is also very popular in foreign cities. More than half of the orders come from Germany. “We are also seeing an increase in cities such as New York.”
Gym closed, then cycling
The closure of gyms is another reason that corona is boosting bicycle sales. Sports bikes are popular in order to get enough exercise. So popular that the Utrecht branch of road bike builder Trek has run out of the complete stock of entry-level models.
Wever will soon be cycling forty kilometers a day on his new e-bike. With that he has his daily recommended amount of exercise. He is enthusiastic, although there is one more thing to do: a larger battery. Because on the way out today he had to cycle a few kilometers with an empty battery. And then it suddenly becomes a lot harder.