Each year, we reflect on the world of bikes and look for clues as to where the industry may be headed in the coming year. Here are our best bets for bikes in 2022:
Prediction 1: Bikes will be the next Silicon Valley darlings
Over the past year, we’ve seen large influxes of cash flow to various bike industry initiatives, starting with the recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. Although some claim the bill is tone deaf to our climate emergency, there are some big funding wins for bikes, including:
$1 billion for reconnecting communities cut off from opportunity by highways
Countless small buckets of funding that should result in more/better bike infrastructure
Then there’s the private sector, where bike startups 1) exist(!) instead of being offshoots of large rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft and 2) are raising some serious VC cash.
For example, take Zoomo, an e-bike subscription service targeting last mile delivery drivers, that just raised $60 million in Series B funding. Zoomo’s CEO, Mina Nada, told TechCrunch: “We really see ourselves disrupting Rivian…We think that it doesn’t make sense for 90% of deliveries in the United States of two kilogram burgers to be done in two-ton vehicles.” (Rivian builds electric SUVs and trucks and IPO’d the last week in November at an initial valuation of $66.5 billion).
Zoomo isn’t the only startup with impressive fundraising this year. There’s also Dance, another e-bike subscription service co-owned by the founder of Soundcloud, that launched in Berlin after raising €15 million in Series A funding. And Cowboy, which debuted in March after raising $46.1 million in venture capital. Cowboy is largely competing with VanMoof, a more established e-bike startup, that was recently eclipsed by Rad Power Bikes. With a new $154 million in funding, Rad can now lay claim to the “most funded” e-bike company in the world.
And then finally, bike sales remain up, even if not at the historic levels of 2020. According to The NPD group, for June, July and August of this year, the overall 2021 market was down 18% compared to 2020, but 15% greater than the same three months in 2019.
From our vantage, it looks like bikes are moving with some serious cash behind them. We expect many more innovations, “disruptions” (looking at you Zoomo), and whimsical, if not practical, designs to come.
Prediction 2: E-bikes will begin to replace cars
While we’ll likely never get there fully, growth in the e-bike space has been exceptional. Worldwide, people are buying more electric bikes than electric cars at a rate of about 2 to 1. E-bikes are also outpacing pedal bike sales: The pandemic bike boom boosted e-bike sales 145 percent from 2019 to 2020, more than double the rate of classic bikes, according to the market research firm NPD Group.
We’re also seeing a crop of e-bike subscription services spring up, like Zoomo and Dance (mentioned above). And Time, the keeper of American culture, named Lyft’s new e-bike one of the best inventions of 2021. Not best bike, but invention! Alongside a supersonic jet and the COVID vaccines!
Given how busy the e-bike landscape is already, what can we expect in 2022?
Subsidies. The House just approved the Build Back Better Act, which includes a30% tax credit over five years for the purchase of an e-bike. Plus three states have already adopted generous e-bike incentive bills, including California, Colorado, and Vermont. We expect other states to follow suit, and eventually (fingers crossed here) e-bike subsidies should mirror those for EVs.
Infrastructure specifically for e-bikes, like charging in bike rooms and designated cargo bike parking. As part of the Build Back Better bill, the House recently passed a tax credit for installing micro-mobility charging, so we expect that e-bike and e-scooter infrastructure will continue to gain ground in the new year.
Maybe not next year or the year after, but at some point, we believe people will begin to replace one of their cars with an e-bike, as they see how affordable, useful, and flexible e-bikes are for the many short trips we take daily.
Photo: Getty Images
Prediction 3: Micro-mobility will gobble up more of the transportation pie
While the numbers for 2021 aren’t yet available, by the tail-end of 2020, micro-mobility ridership was well on its way toward meeting pre-pandemic levels. As the world continues to re-open we expect this trend to continue and for micro-mobility ridership numbers to reach new heights.
What else can we expect?
Micro-mobility will become more equitable and sustainable. We expect that shared micro-mobility systems that offer reduced rates and adaptive vehicles to become more and more common in 2022. Many cities already require that companies offer reduced rates for low-income riders, and locate their devices in underserved areas. And enabling micro-moblity use by differently-abled individuals has become a point of emphasis in many locations.
Little vehicles will become more durable. The average lifespan of shared bikes and scooters (currently at 2-5 months) is a key factor in improving profitability. But more importantly, it is also the primary factor influencing environmental impact. In order for e-scooters to have lower global warming potential than modes they replace, it has been found that an average lifespan of 9.5 months is needed.
Lastly, shared micro-mobility will be an increasingly important component of cities’ overall transportation systems and goals. Many North American cities are already playing an active role in the management and governing of shared bike and scooter systems operating in their jurisdiction. We believe this trend will continue and expect to see increased integration of public transportation and micro-mobility, especially as research into the potential symbiotic relationship between these two modes continues to emerge.
We hope everything we predicted above comes to pass (after all, we really do believe that bikes make life better). But one thing that could hamper the bike revolution is our mucked up supply chain. Many bikes, products, even bike racks, are sold out with wait times ranging up to six months (and sometimes more). Even Rad Power Bikes, the “most funded” e-bike company hasn’t been spared shipping delays.
Given most bikes and a significant amount of bike parts come from China, and given strained US-China relations, we wonder if we’ll see a resurgence in domestic bicycle and parts production in the future.
The past two years have taught us to expect the unexpected and not to count our chickens. Even so, we’re feeling pretty hopeful about bikes in 2022!
Bikes Make Life Better is dedicated to helping employees at large organizations use bikes for healthy sustainable transportation. We’ve designed bike programs, facilities, and fleets for Airbnb, Facebook, Kaiser Permanente, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Netflix, Salesforce, Stanford, Walmart and others.