Following our recent partnership agreement with FreeGo we have caught up with FreeGo’s Business Development Director Richard Davies to find out more about FreeGo and the growing trend in electric bicycles (ebikes). Here at cycleplan we’ve noticed more and more ebikes are being insured with us every day, so we thought it would be brilliant to speak with an industry expert to understand why this is and what the future for ebikes is.
Can you tell us a bit about Freego and when did you set up?
FreeGo have been selling bikes since 2008. Our office is based in Southampton where we have a team of sales, admin and service staff. We probably sell more Electric Bikes in the UK than any other manufacturer.
7 years ago, it was realised that there was a massive growth in Electric Bikes in Europe which was yet to take off in the UK. With the battery and motor technology advances, these bikes became more reliable, affordable and they became more attractive to the user.
Is the popularity of eBikes rising, and if so why?
It is hard to judge exactly how many are sold in the UK but estimates are that 20,000 units were sold in the UK last year. We are currently 40% up year on year and believe we will sell close to 2,500 bikes this year.
Why should you own an ebike over a standard bike? Who do they appeal to?
Owners of Electric Bikes are far more likely to use them more frequently than they would a normal bicycle. They have the benefit of having exercise and fresh air with the addition of assistance when they need it without being exhausted and arriving at their destination perspiring.
They appeal to a wide range of people, from the commuter who does not want to exhaust themselves prior to getting to work. Also many cyclists that are finding it more difficult to go for their rides due to stamina or injury problems.
Of all your brands which eBike model is most popular and why?
All our models are very popular. The Folding bike is probably our best seller - appealing to motorhome and caravan owners in particular or to those where storage space is an issue. The step through models of the other bikes are also very popular as the main part of our market is the over 50’s.
Which of your bikes is best for commuting and why?
Last year we brought out the lightweight Raptor model. Weighing under 14 kg, it is more of a City/ town commuting bike appealing to a younger market. It is simple, single gear bike with a range of 10 – 15 miles (which could be doubled with the addition of a second battery).
There’s an impression that ebikes are heavy, hard and expensive to maintain. Is this true?
Bike servicing is per a normal bicycle. The motor is brushless and a sealed unit requiring no maintenance. All electric components are easily unplugged for ease of replacement (this includes the rear wheel motor meaning that puncture repair is no more difficult than a standard bike).
All our bikes have purpose, handmade aluminium frames to keep as light as possible – of course you are carrying around the extra weight of a battery and motor but with a good range of gears, this does not affect the riding.
How long does the battery last?
All our bikes come with a choice of battery sizes giving a range from 20 – 45 miles (apart from the Raptor). They will fully charge in under 4 hours and will last (on average) around 4 years if maintained properly.
What do you think the future for ebikes is?
In many Countries in Europe, E-Bikes now account for nearly 50% of annual sales and rising. While the sales of normal bikes is fairly stagnant in the UK, the sales of E-Bikes have been soaring ahead. The future can only get better and FreeGo have been at the forefront of this technology.