Bicle goes Eurobike 2017: Major brands lead the industry to integration
From August 30 until September 2, Bicle reports from Eurobike, the leading international bicycle show.
In 2017, the show based in Friedrichshafen counts more exhibitioners than ever before, over 1400 companies in total. During the event, Bicle offers updates on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and reports on bicle.com.
The perfect look and feel
The first day was all about the major brands. Bicle spotted the latest industry trends, new products and this years unique selling points amongst the key players in the industry, like Continental, Riese & Müller and Bafang. The word that is buzzing around at every stand is integration. There is an increasing demand for integrated e-bike systems on the consumer side of the industry, and manufacturers are responding to this demand in a rapid pace.
For example, Shimano’s system is completely integrated into the bike: the battery is hidden in the downtube and the engine has become so tiny that it neatly fits underneath the bike. This fits perfectly in Shimano’s philosophy that includes harmony between human and nature, an engine does not seem to fit in.
For Stromer, integration has always been a part of their designs. Batteries are not interchangeable with other brands, displays are integrated in the tubes and right now they are working on cable integration.
Leading companies as Bafang, Continental, Panasonic and Bosch all believe firmly in this concept of integration. The newest integrated systems can be found in every stand.
Distinguish from the rest
Although most companies follow the same industry-wide trends, they do have their own unique selling points to differentiate from others. New products which are displayed at Eurobike 2017, show a different focus for every company.
Bafang is currently focussing on products in the lower price segment. However, Jack Brandsen, General Manager Europe, explains his future plans are on the mid-segment. There they will find new opportunities. Their new product is a great start: a 120Nm mid-engine, the most powerful in the industry. The battery can be completely integrated in the downtube, which makes the e-bike system completely integrated. Moreover, the bash guard underneath the engine can be customized accordingly. Another powerful aspect of Bafang is their white label strategy. Flexibility stays the overarching focus.
Continental distinguishes itself by introducing a new e-system, which focusses on low maintenance, efficiency and conveniency. This takes shape is a new 48 volt e-bike system and includes stepless automatic gear-shifting, which offers a brand new riding experience. According to Nils Niederheide, chief of marketing, this is a world novelty. Niederheide also argues that this makes riding more convenient: ‘eventually, the rider doesn’t have to take care of shifting anymore, and can focus on safety instead.’ Jörg Malcherek, responsible for Bicycle Systems at Continental, states that the new 48V eBike technology combined with an integrated motor and fully automatic stepless transmission is a logical and necessary step in the e-bike’s evolution.
Riese & Müller
At Riese & Müller, they believe that customers expect an e-bike not to look like a regular bike. According to Timo Gührer, head of international strategy, an e-bike should be something different. This vision on e-mobility is what makes Riese & Müller special. Therefore they will keep producing e-bikes with batteries visible on the outside, integration is not the main focus. Yet, the new Charger and Supercharger models do have integrated Bosch Power Tube DualBattery systems. Two 500 watt batteries are built into the frame. Moreover, Riese & Müller aims to differentiate by producing a great line of E-cargo bikes. The newest models are like riding a regular bicycle, but with the advantages of a cargo bike.
‘If you look at Stromer’s mission and vision statements, it's all about creating an innovative product that changes the way people actually commute and the perception of this phenomenon’ says Liam O’Brien, head of new business development. The core focus for the coming year, despite the fact that a new management board was assigned, stays focussed on this innovative premium product portfolio. The focus still is on the S-pedelec, and the improvement and development of more disruptive technologies, but also on slightly broadening the product portfolio. Right now, Stromer only offer products in the higher segment, but in the coming year they want to expand downward.
Shimano is one of the market leaders when it comes to groupsets, but have also made name with their e-mountain bike systems. According to Pieter Vincent, brand-manager at Shimano e-bike, this has another advantage, namely that the mountain bike looks and performs like a mountain bike: ‘what you often see is that the bike becomes much more stretched out than it normally would, that is what we have successfully have been trying to avoid. Shimano wants to match the mbt with our e-mountain bike system, which means that the performance can’t decline. This definitely differentiates us from other brands.’ His vision on integration ‘is that more customers want an integrated system just because they don’t want to be associated with an e-bike.’ Shimano will be one of the brands that will push for smallers e-mountain bike systems.
Bosch is very well known for their e-bike systems: the active-line, the performance and performance cx line have almost become standardized and will probably stay that way. But what is actually new, is their novel ABS-system. This is the first ABS-system that will come to market in the bicycle industry and is especially developed for s-pedelecs. Dr. Christoph Zemelka, brand-management and sustainability, argues that ‘due to this new development it will be possible to prevent the pedelec’s front wheel from locking up and also to limit the lifting of the rear wheel – thanks to an intelligent and innovative system.’ Bosch’s new ABS-system is a big step towards a safer pedelec and a safer cyclists environment.
Whereas major brands lead the industry to integration, they also have to differentiate. Shimano takes the lead in small and neatly integrated systems which lead to extremely high mountain bike performance and Riese & Müller tend to focus more on the unique high end e-bike look and feel. Will these interesting developments trickle down? The future will tell.