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Netherlands - ebikes & declining sales

  • 14-04-2022 12:58pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1,483 ✭✭✭

    Not exactly a very uplifting article but interesting enough. Bike sales have fallen by 75% in last 20 years and rising ebike sales won't compensate.

    He makes a good comment that in current fuel price inflation era that governments should be doing more to incentivise a switch away from motor vehicles.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 47,810 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    interesting to note though that the distances people cycle has not changed;

    The reported distance cycled per year by an average Dutch person has remained constant for decades at just under 900 km per year

    but he's worried about the loss of health benefits of cycling an e-bike vs. an analogue bike. i wonder if there's much of a factor of the average staying steady being down to people taking up cycling again, on an e-bike, vs a potential drop in cycling in other demographics? i.e. what are the stats for how much younger generations cycle?

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,190 ✭✭✭CantGetNoSleep

    Could also be a sign of more durable / repairable bikes which would be a good thing from an overall sustainability perspective?

    Selling a total of a million bikes per year in a country of 17 million or so is still quite significant. Particularly as I imagine that most people are not like me and many others on this forum who chop and change several times per year and expect to get 5 years or more out of a bike.

    The main thing for the Netherlands is that they have already faced the inevitable transition and safe infrastructure exists in so many places which can't be said about anywhere else.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 19,154 Mod ✭✭✭✭Weepsie

    Id just assume it means they already all have bikes, and look after them and are not looking to change them constantly

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,759 ✭✭✭cletus

    That was my first thought too, but there should be a constant flow of kids who are becoming adults, and need adult sized bikes. Maybe that's accounted for in the 25% of sales that remains, I don't know. Probably the reality is there isn't enough data there to extrapolate any meaning from. They haven't mentioned car sales, or, maybe more impactful, escooter sales

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 47,810 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    He briefly acknowledges the supply chain issues at the start of the article, but does not attempt to quantify this, and it does not merit a mention in the 'things which do not explain this situation' at the end.

    Also he says bike shops reported record sales in 2020 but this doesn't seem to be reflected in his graph?

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  • Posts: 25,611 ✭✭✭✭[Deleted User]

    I'd imagine it's partly supply chain and partly holding money. Few mates lived in Holland for a while, none bought a new bike at any point.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,932 ✭✭✭✭Wishbone Ash

    ....and a constant flow of adults who are dying or becoming infirm or generally giving up cycling. Maybe their population is declining? Perhaps they are just better at 'recycling' cycles?

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,759 ✭✭✭cletus

    Yep, all of those are things not shown in the supplied data, and may very well account for a large proportion of the decline.

    Essentially his report says "A thing happened" 😁

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,483 ✭✭✭hesker

    Given the decline is fairly linear since 2000 I doubt supply chain is a cause

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 24,190 Mod ✭✭✭✭CramCycle

    He makes quite a few leaps of faith in his interpretaions, that are nothing more than wishful thinking, the most obvious one would be the ebike km is not as good as humna powered km, which misses the obvious the ebike km is far better for health than the km in a motorised vehicle. The same with durability, he just makes the leap that modern bikes are not durable and cannot be long term. The same for the general population, that he presumes unless a fetishist you cannot possibly keep or maintain a bike for many years, yet my workplace has several people who are cyclign the same bikes they got in college 20 years ago. I'm not saying he is wrong, and theories like this are needed to test if there are issues but he presents them as a deal done, they couldn't possibly explain things, therefore the system is failing, rather than, these might not explain things. The one stat he provides, is the average dutch person cycles 900km/year. This is nice but only useful if compared to the number of people cycling, which is the real stat that should be there. Are the number of cyclists declining, this question alone would answer or give in sight into his theories.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,698 ✭✭✭Mefistofelino

    "Person who sells bike parts and accessories upset at decline in customer base"

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    If I want a good bike I go to classified adverts and buy one secondhand for small money. Only new bikes I have owned were a Yamaha BMX as a kid, an indestructible Puch bought with confirmation money and then in College a BSO which was rubbish. The current bike is a quality Swiss commuter bike which is high spec but is over 10 years old. People on this forum are not typical of the cycling pubic.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 47,810 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    we're generally not typical of the dutch too. they tend to go for much more functional and sturdy bikes than irish people in general, AFAIK.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,626 ✭✭✭irelandrover

    Living in the Netherlands we have bought one new bike in 13 years. In that time I have bought 8 bikes for myself, 5 bikes for my wife and 4 bikes for my daughter.

    I think we've more or less reached critical mass in relation to the amount of bikes. People have more time at home now and are willing to fix bikes rather than scrapping and buying new.

    The only bikes that people buy new are leisure bikes or ebikes. And I presume in a few years that the second hand ebike market will also be a lot bigger.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,726 ✭✭✭✭tomasrojo

    I saw him on Twitter talking about his theory. He seemed to be extrapolating pessimistically with a certainty beyond what the data merited.

    I have bought stuff from his shop, which I like, but I wasn't all that convinced of his argument here.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 47,810 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    he does mention that the actual number of bikes sold is below replacement rate; but i would be curious that if dutch people generally tended to have more than one bike (and i don't know the stats here); could they be consolidating based on the extra investment required to purchase an e-bike?

    e.g. someone who may have had two bikes five years ago (a beater they use in contexts where they're not worried about theft), and another bike, they may have replaced both bikes with one e-bike?

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,726 ✭✭✭✭tomasrojo

    Not sure whether the replacement rate can be nailed down that accurately. Bikes don't actually die.

  • Registered Users Posts: 733 ✭✭✭Roadtoad

    A bit off topic, but when did that ever bother Boards:

    Just spend four days there, in two cities. Didn't spot a single stand-up e-scooter.

    My personal opinion has not crystallised yet, about the machines or operators, but they do deserve to be part of the narrative.

  • Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators, Regional South East Moderators Posts: 28,418 Mod ✭✭✭✭Cabaal

    One thing about dutch style bikes, they are built to last when compared to the avg bike you'd buy in Ireland.

    This very easily could be a big factor in how sales have gone, the bikes are seen as practical rather then stylish like you get here.

    Most Irish teenagers wouldn't be caught dead on the style of bike dutch teenagers use

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,572 ✭✭✭✭breezy1985

    Also the massive in flux of rental bikes from various companies means some people didn't need to buy a bike these days.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,098 ✭✭✭sprucemoose

    this is the explanation in a nutshell tbh. the 'standard' dutch bike will outlast most of us if maintained any bit

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 47,810 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    however, they've been like that for decades, no? so the steady state on retirements and replacements should have been reached long before now.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,572 ✭✭✭✭breezy1985

    E-scooters and bike shares are surely the biggest impact in recent years.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 24,190 Mod ✭✭✭✭CramCycle

    Population growth, growth in disposable culture for some generations that has faded out, there are literally loads of reasons why he is seeing the numbers he is seeing but he doesn't touch on any of them. I still see his claims, without expanding on the real world of how many people are cycling, as very refutable, in fact easily refutable until more appropriate data is provided. The average distance per person, per year, on a bicycle appears to be the same but the population is bigger, so are the same people cycling more, is everything as a % of population remaining the same, are more people cycling but covering less distance. Maybe I missed it but this is the point that need to be addressed.