A new key player in micro-mobility in dense urban areas
Also called speedelec or fast electric bike, the speed bike is an electric bike equipped with a pedaling assistance allowing it to reach 45km/h. It thus exceeds the capacities offered by the classic electrically assisted bicycle (VAE) which has a maximum speed of 25km/h with the first advantage of being able to extend the distances covered.
Another strong point is that, as with all EABs, the assistance speed is variable, which simplifies slowing down, especially in dense areas. The speed bike is therefore mainly used for interurban travel and could become an alternative to the car.
The Speed Bike raises the debate about the speed of urban electric vehicles in the broadest sense, i.e. finding the right balance between safety and practicality for alternatives to the car to take hold.
Purchase price and regulations: obstacles to the acquisition of speed bikes
If speed bikes seem to penetrate the mobility market with conviction, their specificities do not allow them, for the moment, to address the whole population.
With an estimated purchase price of 4000€ for a new model, speedelecs are not within the reach of everyone. The buyers of speedelecs are mostly men (83% of the buyers), over 50 years old and living in big cities or near the Swiss border.
In addition to the price, the regulations associated with the use of speed bikes can also be a deterrent to purchase. Since they allow travel in high-density areas and at almost twice the speed of a conventional bicycle, speed bikes meet many legal requirements. Compulsory registration, riding licence and insurance, an approved moped helmet or a ban on using bike paths may seem a little too heavy for some users.
In terms of safety, the danger lies in the visual resemblance of speed bikes to conventional Ebikes. Indeed, it is difficult to differentiate them, which facilitates the drift of speed bike users who can take the advantages of speed with the comfort of cyclists, by riding on dedicated lanes for example.
What place for the speed bike in the micro-mobility landscape?
The speed bike is beginning to overshadow the car, especially for commuting, but does it have other advantages?
Although its purchase price may seem high compared to the classic offer in terms of electric bikes, the speed bike represents a lower investment, compared to the car or scooter, while promoting travel in dense urban areas.
If speedelec users have not totally abandoned their car for the moment, which they continue to use 1 day out of 5 on average, they could see a real profitability in the prolonged use and for long distances of their speedelec. To be profitable, a speed bike bought new must replace the car for trips of at least 200 km per week. A real opportunity for long, frequent trips or in congested urban areas.
Speed bikes also respond to a strong ecological approach. Indeed, the use of a speed bike allows the user to contribute to the protection of the environment while not limiting his daily travel opportunities, unlike the scooter or the classic bike, for example. Sportsmen also see it as an opportunity to combine physical activity and practicality.
However, a clear trend seems to be emerging in favor of these new fast bicycles, particularly in dense urban areas. Their purchase price certainly reduces spontaneous acquisitions, but it seems to confirm a certain inclination of users towards ecological, efficient and safe mobility.