Now there are over 40 companies situated and selling (or getting ready to) e-bikes in the US:
Specializing their products
The competition is growing and with it, differentiation. Appearance, performance and capability matter now. US consumers are becoming more discerning regarding e-bikes and manufacturers are stepping up to set them apart. Targeting commuters, baby boomers, extreme riders, green enthusiasts, and more, e-bike companies have started specializing their products to appeal to specific groups, and people are noticing.In an age where you can easily change the color of your cell phone, laptop, tablet, etc. the US electric bike market has woken up to the fact that consumers are demanding customization and personalization. Instead of shopping for an electric bike, todays consumers are shopping for color, style, graphics, and fun accessories in order to project their own uniqueness out into a world that has become very busy.Gone are the days of all e-bike manufacturers using generic bicycle frames, you know the one: not quite a mountain bike, not quite a cruiser, not quite a road bike. E-bikes are finally showing some personality, like the people who own them.
Performance will always be a key factor for US consumers when considering the purchase of an ebike. Unfortunately, e-bikes in the USA have had a notoriously bad reputation for poor function. Good ones are available now, but they are mixed in with products that are still under performing and unreliable.
The problem has been that the US consumers (and bike brand buyers) demand for a low, low price continues to pull junk into the e-bike market. And theres not much to be done about that. There will always be a market for a cheap, poorly made products (as it is with virtually every other product on the market). The good news is however, there are plenty of well-made, good-performing e-bikes to choose from and plenty of ways for consumers to find them.
Rules & Regulations
The laws governing the power and speed of e-bikes in the US (HR 727) have not wavered since being adopted in 2002. Motor power in the USA can be as high as 750 Watts and most brands have found that this is more than is needed. So e-bike motors range from 250 Watts to 750, with the bulk being 500 Watts or less. And the majority of e-bikes have a top speed of 20 mph (32 kmh), since the law prohibits anything faster.
Some ebike functionality has definitely seen improvements over the years. For instance, the computer display has evolved into a smart display. They can calculate not only speed and distance, but heart rate, calories burned, and carbon emissions saved, etc. With some, you can download your trip information to your computer and have a record of all of your rides.
Several brands in the US are also now offering two different methods of power: pedal assist as well as throttle on demand power. These options give consumers more flexibility in the way they ride as well as the possibility to increase their range. There are usually two types of riders of e-bikes those who pedal and those who do not. This feature satisfies both needs.
US distribution of e-bikes has stayed fairly constant over the years, with the majority of product being sold through IBDs and online. There is also a good amount sold through LEV specialty retailers and big box stores.
But be prepared for other channels to open up in the next few years, as e-bikes find space in ATV/UTV stores, auto dealerships and other transportation outlets.