Fresh off a pandemic bike boom, sales of electric bicycles are skyrocketing. Accessible, affordable, and enjoyable, e-bikes are a no-nonsense alternative for the modern eco-conscious consumer and adventure lover in need of a lift alike. Now, this once niche category of transportation is becoming an everyday staple for the American consumer thanks to innovative companies like Seattle-based Rad Power Bikes.
Founded in 2007, the success of Rad Power Bikes really took off at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when Americans of all ages decided to take up the fun and healthy habit of biking to work and around their communities. According to market research firm NPD Group, sales of electric bicycles surged 145% in the first year of the pandemic. Traditional bicycle sales also rose by 65% from 2019 to 2020–much less than their electric counterparts.
Electric bikes are now by far the most popular mode of electric transport, at least in Germany, according to a recent Deloitte study published in June which found that of the nearly 40% of respondents using some form of e-transportation almost half of those (or nearly one in five respondents total at 18%) use battery-powered bikes. The remaining participants who rely on e-mobility drive electric cars (7%), electric scooters (7%), electric mopeds (3%), electric motorcycles (2%), and electric micro-mobiles (1%).
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For already successful companies like Rad Power Bikes, the public health crisis offered an opportunity to accelerate investment and convert more consumers to the net-zero emissions cause. Between 2019 and 2020, the company nearly tripled sales of its best-selling electric vehicles. Additionally, the company secured two major multimillion-dollar investments in funding rounds led by Fidelity Management and Morgan Stanley. In April 2021, Rad Power Bikes was featured on TIME’s 100 list of most influential companies for its role in democratizing motorized bikes and spearheading the direct-to-consumer e-bike movement. Total financing since the firm’s inception is a staggering $329 million, the company reports.
“I built my first ebike in my garage 15 years ago. Since then I’ve been on a mission to get as many people on ebikes as possible because of the countless ways they improve people’s lives,” CEO and Founder of Rad Power Bikes Mike Radenbaugh said in a press release. “This record-breaking investment from some of the world’s most respected late-stage investors accelerates our efforts to redefine transportation and mobility, offering car-replacement solutions to people from all walks of life that are energy efficient, enjoyable and accessible.”
Rad Power Bikes offers something for everyone at competitive prices. The industry-leading e-bike brand sells dozens of bikes variegated by model and style, from sleek two-wheelers designed for long-distance city commutes to electric bikes built with fat tires for off-road and all-terrain trail riding. The company’s carbon-free rides can reach speeds up to 20 miles per hour, according to its website.
One of the company’s top sellers is the RadRunner 2, which is priced at $1499. Boasting a 750-watt motor, a low-step frame design, and a 300-lb passenger payload capacity, this e-bike can travel up to 45+ miles per charge, depending on the type of surface a rider pedals through and how much weight or cargo is being carried. The battery pack can be removed and charged in any standard household outlet and only needs six hours to get a full charge.
All of the company’s bikes range from $1,199–$1,999, making them excellent alternatives to owning a car. Radenbaugh says the low price point is possible because the company sells directly to customers–no wholesalers, third-party retailers, or middlemen are required. This competitive pricing means that there are now more than 450,000 ‘Rad’ riders worldwide.
E-bikes are a critical tool in the fight against climate change. According to a National Household Travel Survey, about 60% of car trips are five miles or less. If everyone in the U.S. ditched their car in favor of a bike for just half of their trips under one mile, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates we could save up to 2 million metric tons of CO2 per year–equivalent to taking 400,000 cars off the road! In addition to significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, commuting by bike has been proven to improve users’ mental and physical health. A study from the British Medical Journal found that people who regularly commute via cycle have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all-around mortality.
Cheaper and easier to maintain than your average vehicle, these next-generation climate solutions are claiming a soaring share of consumers who care about the environment, their wallets, and their health. E-bikes are a no-frills, budget-friendly alternative to your conventional gas-powered ride.
Nathalie Voit is a freelance content creator and a graduate of the University of Florida. She is an alumni of The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders Program.