The last few years have been transformative for the e-bike industry. The accounting firm Deloitte predicts that more than 130 million e-bikes will be sold between 2020 and 2023, and last year saw a 144-percent increase in sales compared to the same 10-month stretch in 2019, likely owing to the circumstances of the pandemic. To learn more about the state of e-bikes, we spoke with Nina Baum, a project manager at Cannondale, who helped design the company's new Adventure Neo e-bike, which launches on March 16.
Though many of the other Cannondale models are designed for a specific purpose, such as biking across the city to work or through rough terrain, the Adventure Neo offers versatility that works just as well on streets as it does on dirt trails. "We were really focused on keeping it simple from the user standpoint," Baum tells Mental Floss. The goal was to make biking easier for users who aren't seasoned riders, with Baum explaining that the team wanted it to feel "as though [riders] have superpowers."
Cannondale's e-bikes might be aiming for you to feel like you have superpowers, but it's still up to the rider to pedal, albeit with some help from the Neo's built-in Bosch Performance Line motor. This provides a battery range of 160 kilometers and increases a rider's effort by 300 percent seamlessly. The bike is designed to breeze through most terrains riders will face, stopping just short of being able to navigate proper mountain bike trails.
Baum stresses that there are no throttles on the Adventure Neo, but the convenience of having a battery-assisted bike means that you won't have to worry about being too tired to get home when riding through hilly city streets or trails out in nature. "We have big tires and a suspension. It's actually really comfortable to ride this bike on bumpy surfaces and dirt roads," Baum says.
In addition to these features, the bike also sports a Garmin rear-facing radar to alert you of cars coming from behind. "[That's] a really useful thing for getting out on the road," Baum says. "It'll make you aware of any cars that are coming up behind you, so you don't have to be constantly looking over your shoulder, and you don't even need to put one of those silly mirrors on your handlebars."
The Adventure Neo is also in an upright position, so users with mobility issues will have a more comfortable experience in a natural seated position.
Sustainability is another factor Cannondale keeps top of mind. "We've implemented a lot of very sustainable packaging in our bikes. Our European assembly, especially, has gone all recyclable, [with a] minimal use of plastic, minimal use of foam," Baum says. "We recycle all the [sample] frames when we're finished with them [...] There are so many places [to go with sustainability] and we're constantly working to improve on all of them, but we still have a ways to go."
And with e-bike popularity ballooning, it could actually lead to lower prices across the board. "As we sell more, [and] as more e-bikes are in demand, then there are a lot of ways that the manufacturing process can get more streamlined and things can get less expensive," Baum says. "[There are] a lot of power companies and governments [that] have been giving subsidies to people for purchasing e-bikes."
Government interest in e-bikes was evident on February 9, 2021, when Congressman Jimmy Panetta of California and Congressional Bike Caucus Chairman Earl Blumenauer introduced the E-BIKE Act to the United States Congress which would give consumers a tax credit of up to $1500 (or 30 percent) for purchasing an e-bike that costs under $8000.
If all of this is making you think about trying an e-bike for yourself, Baum suggests going to a trusted bike shop to learn more and strongly cautions against getting an e-bike assembly kit online that might not be reputable. "It's really hard without actually getting to try the bikes to know what exactly you want," Baum says.