It took just two years before Stefan Schlie's prognosis came true: "Normal mountain bikers will be in the minority in the not too distant future," the E-MTB pro told ISPO.com at the beginning of 2017.
In 2019, the time had come: 215,500 "bio-MTBs" were sold in Germany - and 360,400 E-Mountainbikes.
- 2016: 455,250 mountain bikes in total, including 364,500 (80.1%) organic MTBs and 90,750 (19.9%) E-MTBs
- 2017: 424,300 mountain bikes in total, including 269,500 (63.5%) organic MTBs and 154,800 (36.5%) E-MTBs
- 2018: 516,700 mountain bikes in total, including 271,700 (52.6%) organic MTBs and 245,000 (47.4%) E-MTBs
- 2019: 575,900 mountain bikes in total, thereof 215,500 (37.4%) organic MTBs and 360,400 (62.6%) E-MTBs
Source: Zweirad-Industrie-Verband e.V. (ZIV)
Will the E-MTB completely replace the non-motorized models? "That won't happen," says André Schmidt, editor-in-chief of the magazine MountainBIKE. After all, high-performance sport continues to take place mainly in the non-motorised sector, which is also Olympic. But a ratio of 20:80 is conceivable."
So if you look at the mountain bike trends and novelties of 2021, you cannot ignore the E-MTB segment. "This is where the companies put the most development work," says Schmidt. "Many organic bikers may think that's a pity - at the same time they also benefit from the innovations in components."
It's actually funny: In the e-mountain bike segment, where weight hardly played a role at all thanks to engine support, light-E-MTBs have recently been causing a stir. The trend towards lightweight construction is over for bio-mountain bikes. "This is mainly due to the fact that the bikes are becoming more and more in love with off-road and downhill," says André Schmidt.
The journalist sees the main reason for this in the professional sector, where cross-country routes downhill have sometimes reached downhill level. Schmidt explains: "In contrast to skiing or Formula 1, professional and recreational mountain bikers use almost identical equipment.
The challenge of "slightly up, stably down" just can't be solved: "If I want a stable 29-inch tire, with puncture protection and a carcass that doesn't buckle, then that weighs a kilogram," says Schmidt.
With the 2021 mountain bikesnot much. "I don't see anything groundbreaking like the click pedal, 29s, Vario seat post or 1x12 gearshifts - these innovations have changed the way people ride their bikes forever," says Schmidt. "At the moment we talk a lot about electronics on the bike and safety systems. In the E-MTB segment, the Light-E-MTB is certainly the most exciting topic".
Derived from Trend 1, the term "Down Country" has become established and demand is growing. "An art term consisting of downhill and cross country - in the end it is race bikes with an extra portion of riding fun", André Schmidt sums it up. In other words, somewhat more stable, with more suspension travel at the front and rear (120 mm) and also with Vario seat posts. "Actually a great category, because the bikes are not so heavy."
So the segmentation continues. "For us, it's not so easy to convey: Where does cross country end and down country begin?" says Schmidt and warns: "There's a danger that at some point people won't see through it and become increasingly hostile. In the old days there was one wheel for up and one for down."
But one category hardly plays a role anymore, says Schmidt: "You hear All Mountain less and less, it's a German term anyway, in English they're called trail bikes."
More differentiation in the market also means: less individualisation. "In the past, more was definitely done to the bikes and optimized," says Schmidt, "today the bike is bought and used as a whole.
On the one hand because the structure and components have become much more complex, and on the other hand "because the bikes are so well tuned by nature that it's not really worth it," says Schmidt and gives an example:
"In a 3,000 Euro mountain bike, good suspension forks are built in, not the top model, but absolutely top quality. The top model from Fox alone costs 1,000 euros - it's simply not worth it. And in case of doubt, I even worsen the riding experience, because the manufacturers now match the components very well.
In the case of E-MTBs, independent optimization is not an option anyway: "It is better not to touch anything yourself - except for the wearing parts - because that can become a legal warranty problem," says Schmidt.
"Ten years ago, I sold a mountain bike for over 3,000 euros a month, today I sell almost only in this price segment", reports a retailer from Upper Bavaria.
On the one hand this is due to the high demand for e-mountainbikes, which are naturally more expensive. On the other hand, the price tolerance among customers has increased massively, because even for non-motorized bikes the average price has risen.
"This means that the trend towards branded products and vehicles of high quality is continuing, as in previous years," reported the Zweirad-Industrie-Verband (ZIV) after the record year 2019, citing a variety of reasons: "technical innovations, high attractiveness of the vehicles, but also the increasing importance of the bicycle and e-bike for everyday mobility".
In the Corona crisis of 2020, demand rose to such an extent that bicycle dealers had to report "sold out" for many models. For the Mountain Bike Business 2021 this means: The manufacturers are tightening their prices almost more than their bikes and testing the pain threshold: Alutech recently provided snap breathing with an E-MTB for 16,000 Euros.
Even the most die-hard bio-mountain bikers have long since realized The triumph of the E-MTBs is unstoppable. "There are still some among our readers who categorically reject e-mountainbikes," says André Schmidt, "but we treat them equally. Most of the people in our editorial department ride both - and so do I."
The 47-year-old uses his e-mountain bike primarily in everyday life, for shopping and as a family carriage with a children's trailer: "I don't see the e-mtb as a betrayal of mountain biking. It gets more people on their bikes and out of the cities. And that's good."
Cycling is one of the most popular sports in Germany - and not just since Corona. This also applies more and more to mountain biking, where the E-MTBs act as game changers. "The first generation of mountain bikes has long since had children themselves, who can conquer the mountain with the e-bike as a lift," says André Schmidt.
As "Mountain Bike" editor-in-chief, he also noticed that supplements and special editions on the subject of children and mountain biking are very well received: "The industry is in the process of developing new and better things for this target group - there is still a lot of potential in this area".
This also applies to women as a target group. Special (e-)mountain bikes for women have long been standard, but bike destinations are now also specifically targeting women. "In our MTB schools and camps, women are increasingly to be found, so we are expanding our range of offers", reports Marco Pointner, Managing Director of the Saalfelden-Leogang Tourism Association.
The Epic Bikepark, 80 kilometres south of Salzburg, therefore now also offers more moderate, broader trails. Pointner is particularly proud of the practice course at the valley station: "The Riders Playground, in which we have invested massively in recent years, is perfect for young and old to learn mountain biking from the ground up. We think it's like skiing, where beginners can also slowly work their way up the mountain".
While long-haul destinations suffered massive losses in the Corona crisis, most mountain bike areas have come through the year very well. "This crisis summer in particular has shown that our focus on biking has paid off", says Pointner: "Without this specialisation we would not have experienced these good summer months".
Marc Schlüssel, Marketing Manager in the Swiss region of Arosa / Lenzerheide, even had a record year thanks to an expanded bike park offer: "By the end of October we had booked 35 percent more overnight stays - and we were almost completely closed in May and June," he reports.
With the new Bike Kingdom, which opened with a lot of bohemian flair on June 6, 2020, the region has been able to further consolidate its position as Switzerland's number one bike destination, says Schlüssel: "Summer tourism is not only gaining in importance for us, perhaps even more so with Corona. More and more regions are turning to mountain biking. I don't think we're at the zenith yet."
What do you think the mountain bike industry will expect in the coming years? Have we missed an important trend? Feel free to write us in the comments.