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E-bikes take over the Belgian market

Ebikes sales in Belgium

According to the mobility federation Traxio, E-bikes now account for more than half of bikes sold in Belgium, with a 51.2% share. This doesn’t quite equate with a rise in cycling in Belgium. Actually, bicycle sales decreased by 12.9% compared to the top year of 2022. Still, more than 600,000 bikes were sold in Belgium in 2023, which is higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic. If my arithmetic is correct, that means that 5.2% of the population of Belgium purchased a new bike in 2023.

Velofollies attracts thousands of cycling enthusiasts

The popularity of cycling in Belgium is also reflected by the success of Velofollies, the largest bicycle fair in the country and the second-largest in Europe (after Eurobike in Frankfurt). The 16th edition of Velofollies took place in Kortrijk 19-21 January and attracted almost 40,000 visitors. The fair showcased the latest trends and innovations in the cycling industry, from e-bikes and longtail bikes to racing bikes and everything in between.

Velofollies 2024
Velofollies 2024

E-bikes dominate the commuting segment

One of the main reasons for the rapid growth of e-bikes in recent years is their increasing importance in commuting in Belgium. More and more people are choosing e-bikes as a convenient and eco-friendly alternative to cars, especially in urban areas. The growth of the network of cycling highways in Belgium is definitely supporting this trend. E-bikes also appeal to older and less fit cyclists, who can enjoy cycling without too much effort.

Cowboy e-bikes are made in Belgium
Cowboy e-bikes are made in Belgium

Also big in the sporty segment

But e-bikes are not only popular among commuters and leisure cyclists. They are also gaining ground in the sporty segment, as evidenced by the Traxio figures. In 2023, 8154 electric racing bicycles were sold, almost double the number of 2022 (4697). Electric racing bikes offer the advantage of speed and performance, while also allowing the rider to adjust the level of assistance according to their needs and preferences.

Belgian company Ellio focuses on speed pedelecs (fast e-bikes)
Belgian company Ellio focuses on speed pedelecs (fast e-bikes)

Longtails: the new trend in cargo bikes

Another interesting trend in the Belgian bicycle market is the growing popularity of longtails. These are bikes that have a longer rear rack than normal bikes, which can accommodate up to two children or other cargo. Longtails are a more compact and agile alternative to cargo bikes, which are often bulky and heavy. They also have the option of adding an electric motor, making them even more versatile and practical. Longtail bicycles almost doubled in sales in 2023, reaching 6328 units.

Bike 43 is a longtail e-bike made in Belgium
Bike 43 is a longtail e-bike made in Belgium. But where’s your helmet Mum?

Mountain and gravel bikes

We’re not talking about e-bikes here, but I thought it interesting that sales of mountain bikes in Belgium fell sharply: 54,096 units were sold in 2023, compared with 88,943 in 2022. One reason seems to be that cyclists are increasingly opting for a gravel bike, which is a mix of a classic road bike and an off-road mountain bike. Last year, 19,225 gravel bikes were sold, compared to 17,664 in 2022.

I must admit that one of those 19,225 gravel bikes was bought by me! In October I became the proud owner of a Trek Dual Sport 3 which I purchased from my local bike shop. I love the bike. Weather permitting, I take it out every morning for my pre-breakfast wake-up 12 km ride. I’m bucking the trend as it’s not an e-bike. If I had to commute to work I’d get an e-bike, but for exercise and to maintain good health I am perfectly happy (for the moment) relying solely on muscle power.

Mind you, if any Belgian e-bike manufacturer would like me to test and review one of their bikes, I would be very interested!

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21 thoughts on “E-bikes take over the Belgian market”

  1. I admit to being a fair weather, flat land cyclist – to many ups and downs, and tight turns in the road here for me to feel safe on a bike. However, we bought ebikes during lockdown so we could get a bit further from home than when walking. They’ve hardly been used since – just standing in the porch, getting charged up regularly, and taken outside when I’m cleaning. I really must make more effort!

    1. Maybe this Spring will inspire you to get back in the pedal Annie! But I can understand the difficulty with cycling on narrow roads with tight bends. Not ideal for cycling at all.

  2. news like this makes me very happy! here in the U.S. there is a real movement towards e-bikes. we’re reaching a point now where there are a host of manufacturers and thus consumer choices. it’s a win/win for everyone.

    hope work is going well for you Denzil!

    Archer

    1. What’s the infrastructure like over there Archer? I would imagine the roads in the newer cities are broad enough for cycle lanes, but is it still heavily car-focused?

      1. The infrastructure is small but scaling nicely and gradually. In the newer cities and municipalities, there are earmarks and considerations made for wider bike lanes along with newer ones created (overpasses, bridges, etc.). even in bigger legacy cities, you have bike lanes but they are still being integrated into what is still car heavy areas – but more and more people are starting to use them. it won’t be long before we have subdivisions that incentivize the use of the bikes to get around. and, as you know, with e-bikes you don’t have to exert yourself as much as a regular bike.

    1. That’s quite a collection Anabel, and gives John a great choice depending on weather and other circumstances. I’ve never done mountain biking, but then in Belgium we don’t have a lot of mountains! But it’s popular in the forested areas here.

  3. Very interesting and informative post, Denzil. If I were a young mother, I would opt for a longtail e-bike. A young childless couple I know have one. As I don’t drive, I used a bicycle for getting around in the city of my birth. When we first moved to Los Angeles, my sons and I moved around the neighborhood on bicycles. Without bike lanes at the time, I felt insecure and stopped bicycling. Cycling highways would be a great boost for riders like me.

    1. Yes bike lanes are indispensable, and so difficult to introduce into a road infrastructure that is not designed for bikes from the start. Thankfully Belgium puts emphasis on cycling infrastructure, although the Netherlands takes some beating.

    1. Yes it would. Mind you, it’s quite an investment. I see that the price of some of the top of the range ebikes are equivalent to the price of a good second hand car.

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