Shredding expectations.

KISKA CrossTalks | E-Bikes | Industry Collaboration | Watch full video

The e-bike industry is growing. But into what? KISKA CrossTalks 2017 was a chance for a cross-industry exchange about the future of e-bikes.

“You have to be brave to create a successful brand.”

Before tackling the future, it’s important to understand how far e-bikes have come. Originally targeted to active Boomers, e-bikes are now an important mobility solution. In China in 2017, 150-200 million were on the road. In 2019, up to 40% of bike sales in Germany and the Netherlands were e-bikes. North America is on-board too, with e-bikes rising in popularity amongst urban commuters. 

PEXCO’s Susanne and Felix Puello illustrated the evolution even further, covering the brand and business of e-bikes. The power couple shared the building of e-bike venture Haibike, which paved the way to the entirely new e-performance industry segment. With rapid product development and keen brand marketing, they ensured Haibike’s dominance. With PEXCO, they translated their success and satisfied many rider segments with three new brands: Raymon, Husqvarna and R2R. 

“Think about what the rider is doing on the trails.”

To keep riders happy, the e-bike industry was under increasing pressure to deliver on brand and performance. To deliver the goods, they needed to get on the trails and into riders’ heads. Downhill racer, turned engineer, turned founder of Cero Design Studio, Cesar Rojo knew. He had a clear approach that had nothing to do with price point: “Be closer to customers.” On the topic of performance, he foresaw recreational and professional segments blending together. The results have been seen in new geometries, improved engine integration, and introduction of 29-inch wheels. 

“Proprietary apps created by brands, that are not open-source, are complete bullshit.”

Komoot co-founding CEO, Markus Hallermann insisted the next e-bike evolution will come from data – bringing better and branded rider journeys to the forefront. But the world doesn’t need another app. The next step? Maximising rider-generated info and cross-industry partnerships to integrate e-bikes into rider lifestyles even more. Thinking beyond the bike isn’t just the responsibility of brands. Industry standards must be set. A visionary proposition for an industry with an abundance of local and niche brands.

“Much more Patagonia than Kawasaki.”

Upping the vision ante was entrepreneur Stefan Ytterborn’s presentation about CAKE. As CEO, he’s taken on the inevitable blend of the motorcycle and bike worlds. Sound impossible? For him, “There is not much difference between pedalling and not pedalling”. Riding on the fact that the EU will be combustion engine free in mere decades, CAKE fills the gap some motorcycle brands are failing to appeal to. The result is an approachable, electric, zero-emission off-road vehicle. Perfect for the lifestyle market. Just the kind of mobility solution you’d expect from the former founder and CEO of POC.

So, where are we riding to?

Ultimately, the conversation circled back to Susanne Puello’s powerful comment: “You have to be brave to create a successful brand”. Especially in a fast-paced and innovation-driven industry, like the e-bike business. All of the speakers agreed on three essential elements. First, identify a need and make a promise to satisfy it. Then, dare to create a different and defendable asset. Finally, be consistent at every possible turn to create whole experiences.

“Get real about future trends –and shred.”

Sébastien Stassin I KISKA CCO


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