You are here

Bike Index: Value of e-bikes go beyond their sticker cost

Published February 18, 2022

PORTLAND, Ore. (BRAIN) — According to Bryan Hance, it's common in this environmentally conscious and cycling-friendly city for families to trade their vehicle for e-bikes. But if those e-bikes are stolen, it has a chilling effect on the city's bicycling culture.

"I'm pretty entrenched in my Portland biking scene," said Hance, a resident and co-founder of registration service Bike Index. "The number of Moms and Dads who have their first and second kids who have ditched the car, buy a Rad Power or another brand ... To see people like that get their third, fourth, and fifth bike stolen and just say (the heck with) it, we're done, is discouraging. 'We're going back to the minivan. We tried to do the right thing' and quit. We're trying to keep that from happening."

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, all bikes have become popular for socially distanced transportation, and e-bikes have become even more of a tempting target.

"I can't say how many people I know like that, who are multiple crime victims," Hance said. "People ask me why so many e-bikes are stolen, and it's exactly for the same reasons people are buying them. They are super fun; they're extremely utilitarian, and it turns out it's pretty great to go 20 mph. They open your world up so much."

They're also expensive.

"Your average top of the line Specialized e-bike cost four times what my first car cost," Hance said. "When we started seeing consumer e-bikes in the $9k and $10k range, if people don't understand that, the sheer dollar amount doesn't wake them up, I'm not sure what is going to."

Hance related a story of a Portland Police officer holding department bike theft training who drew gasps of disbelief upon relaying how much some bikes cost.

"He was a bike guy, and he put together some internal Bikes 101 training for fellow officers, and pointed out, 'Hey, this frame is worth thousands of dollars.' And some of them say, 'What? How's that even possible?' Actually, it is. He was doing this training to explain to these guys no matter what you think or what you know, these things are quite expensive, and they are all over the place."

Bike Index Executive Director Craig Dalton said no cyclist is happy if their bike is stolen, but those depending on two wheels for transportation suffer the most.

"The thing about the e-bike market is if that's how you get to work, that's your commuting mode, the economic consequence of that bike being stolen far outweighs the cost of the bicycle," Dalton said. "I've found the arrival of the e-bike has been super positive for Bike Index. It's hard for Bike Index to appeal to the $10,000 Pinarello cyclist. Yes, that guy is bummed if he gets his Pinarello stolen. But someone using a bike for commuting and has probably spent a month's salary on an e-bike desperately doesn't want that bike stolen and desperately wants it recovered."

If you are a retailer or manufacturer, Bike Index is looking to connect with you.

Topics associated with this article: Electric bike

Join the Conversation