5 Reasons Why Electric Bikes Are So Popular In Europe?

Looking back at the European bicycle market since 2014, the most dazzling product is none other than electric bikes. Take the “The Kingdom Of The Bicycle” Netherlands as an example, in 2014, the sales of electric bikes were 223,000, which had been doubled to 409,000 by 2020. While in Germany, which has a more populous population, the sales of electric bicycles had reached a staggering 980,000 in 2020, an increase of 36% over the previous year. In France, Spain, Italy, and the Nordic countries, the sales of e-Bikes have increased by about 20%.

In this article, we will summarize 5 main factors to explain the reasons for the popularity of electric bikes in Europe.

1. More Lenient Regulation

According to Regulation (EU) No. 168/2013 of the European Parliament And Of The Council, the electric-assisted bicycles with a motor power of less than 250W and an assisted speed of less than 25 km/h belong to the L1e-A classification criteria. While electric motorcycles belong to the L1e-B classification and must follow a series of strict conditions for vehicles.

We have summarized the Regulation differences between electric bikes and electric motorcycles below.

ItemsElectric BicyclesElectric Motorcycles
RegulationsL1e-AL1e-B
Helmet Requirement×
Max Speed25km/h45km/h
Vehicle Approval×
Driver's AgeNo Limited>16
Driver's License Requirement×AM
License Plate Requirement×
Owner Change Registration×
Third-Party Insurance Requirement×

To sum up, electric bikes allow you to directly ride, while electric motorcycles require you to spend time, effort, and money. Under these conditions, except for extreme enthusiasts, most consumers will choose electric bikes.

2. Lower Usage Costs

Loose regulations directly bring about lower usage costs, which further strengthens the attractiveness of electric bikes to consumers.

As a kind of bicycle, electric bicycles do not need to purchase expensive compulsory third-party liability insurance, and other voluntary insurances (such as theft insurance, damage insurance, maintenance insurance) are also much cheaper than vehicles.

In addition, European governments provide generous subsidies for the purchase of electric bicycles in order to encourage environmentally-friendly commuting.

We specially selected an electric bicycle and an electric motorcycle with the same retail price. Based on the same insurance types and insurance companies, we compared the insurance costs in the Netherlands.

ItemsElectric BicyclesElectric Motorcycles
Third-Party Insurance RequirementVoluntary, €2.7/monthMandatory, €10.08/month
Theft & Damage Insurances€4.87/month€16.39/month
Maintenance Insurance€1.81/month€8.32/month

As can be seen from the above table, the cost of electric motorcycle insurance is several times that of electric mopeds. This does not include the examination fee of €150 and a training fee of €46/h for the AM driver’s license. It also doesn’t count the expenses on electric motorcycle licenses, license changes, and vehicle inspections. In addition, the related kits for electric motorcycles are generally more expensive than electric bicycles.

3. More Friendly Infrastructure

The electric bicycle has inherited the basic structure of the bicycle. Except for the motor and the battery, other main components are compatible with the bicycle. This means that much of the infrastructure designed for bicycles in Europe is friendly to electric bicycles. The maintenance of electric motorcycles generally requires going to a designated place.

bicycle lanes
Bicycle lanes, electric motorcycles are completely prohibited
double decker bicycle racks
Double-decker bicycle racks in railway stations and shopping malls

4. Cycling Culture And Population Structure

Bicycles have been famous in Europe for hundreds of years. There is a huge cycling crowd spanning the young, middle-aged, and old, forming a very developed bicycle culture.

Although European countries have serious aging problems, middle-aged and elderly people still have great enthusiasm for bicycles. Electric bicycles just cover the shortage of lacking physical strength.

The middle-aged and elderly people are economically strong and can afford the price of electric bicycles. The perfect match between demand and supply is a necessary condition for the vigorous development of the electric bikes market.

5. Safety Concerns

Perhaps because the bicycle culture is too strong, the European people, governments, and the media have concerned more about the safety of higher-speed electric motorcycles, therefore, they support stricter regulations to restrict them. As for electric bicycles, they have an open, encouraging, and tolerant mentality.

Oss rail accident
Oss rail accident

On September 20, 2018, an electric cargo bike belonging to a kindergarten in Oss (Oss Rail Accident), suddenly failed to brake and rushed to a railway at high speed and collided with a passing train, killing 4 children and seriously injuring 2 others. (sourcing: )

This accident shocked the whole country of the Netherlands. The Netherlands government quickly banned the same model and even banned similar electric vehicles including scooters and unicycles. This objectively further hits the competitors of electric bicycles.

What is your opinion on the driving force of the development of electric bicycles? Welcome to comment and communicate.

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