Between 70-and-90 percent of electric bike owners and shoppers in the United States are 45-years-old or older. These mature, mostly recreational riders are helping to encourage bicycling, fitness, and growth in the popularity of electric bikes.
There are, of course, many factors contributing to the interest in and excitement for e-bikes in the United States.
For example, some would say bicycling is in vogue. Americans concerned about the environment, health, or just saving money are turning to bicycles, including e-bikes, for transportation and recreation. One can see this trend played out in the form of new bike lanes, trails, and similar infrastructure.
Electric bikes are also becoming the mainstay of popular bike-sharing services popping up in cities and towns across American. These services — like Uber’s Jump or Lime’s pedal assist bikes — allow “for longer rides, [assist] users who may have disabilities or other physical limitations preventing extended cycling, and [provide] a car-free way to navigate hilly and steep terrain,” wrote Patrick Sisson in a 2018 Curbed article.
Finally, there are the Baby Boomer and Generation X cohorts. In 2019, there are approximately 73 million Baby Boomers and around 66 million Gen Xers in the United States. Taken together these Americans represent as much as 40 percent of the nation’s total population.
These mature adults may already have an affinity for bicycles. Many of them grew up riding to school or cruising their hometown’s streets and lanes. Collectively, they may also have the time, financial wherewithal, and interest for recreational bicycling.
A Majority of Electric Bike Enthusiasts are Older than 45
A 2019 survey of more than 1,000 electric bike owners and consumers interested in purchasing an e-bike showed that 90.61 percent of respondents were 45-years-old or older.
Baby Boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1964, make up the largest cohort of electric bike owners or interested consumers. These adults, who are between 55 and 73 years old in 2019, represented 79.43 percent of those surveyed.
Generation X describes adults born between 1965 and 1980. These Americans, who are between 39 and 54 years old in 2019, made up approximately 15.44 percent of the survey’s respondents.
The survey’s findings regarding the age of a typical electric bike owner or interested shopper are consistent with the results of earlier research. As an example, a 2017 survey from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), estimated that 67.2 percent of electric bike owners were age 45 or older.
The difference between the two surveys is noteworthy, but consistent enough to show a trend. The NITC data puts about 70 percent of e-bike owners older than 45, while the more recent EVELO survey places that figure at 90 percent.
The NITC survey included respondents who follow industry organizations on social media, and, as such may include a greater percentage of industry insiders who could be somewhat younger than electric bike consumers more generally. The EVELO survey focused on consumers more specifically. But both surveys indicate Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are behind the majority of the consumer demand for electric bikes.
The affinity for electric bikes among mature American adults makes a lot of sense. The pedal assist and throttle systems on these bikes give riders the confidence to ride more often, to ride relatively long distances, and to ride in groups with friends or family members.
Electric bikes are “hill flatteners” that enable riders to pedal up even steep slopes that would have otherwise required them to dismount and push a conventional bicycle.
“With an electric bike…elderly or inexperienced cyclists can confidently head out on rides knowing that if the terrain becomes too difficult, or if they start feeling tired or worn out, they can rely on the motor to help them get back home. Similarly, an electric bike can be helpful to a person trying to get back into shape, allowing them to gradually transition from lighter, primarily motor-assisted workouts to more intensive workouts that rely less and less on motor-generated power,” wrote Boris and Yevgeniy Mordkovich in “The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide.”
The electric bike riding experience the Mordkovichs describe is consistent with the reasons respondents to the EVELO survey cited for purchasing or wanting to purchase an electric bike.
Given the opportunity to select multiple reasons for riding or wanting to ride an electric bike, some 78.89 percent of respondents to the EVELO survey said “for recreation” and 76.79 percent of those surveyed said to “stay active.”
These responses may indicate that riders and consumers see electric bikes as a fun way to stay engaged with friends, families, and activities.