In the past several months, bikes have rolled into the spotlight as both an alternative form of transportation as well as an option for filling free time. But in 2020, we aren’t just talking about a traditional man- (or woman-) powered bike. E-bikes, or electric bikes that have a battery-powered motor, have become a topic of interest as sales surged. As a result, CivicScience asked more than 2,600 U.S. adults about their experience with both manual and electrically-powered bikes.

As the data show, 6% of U.S. adults have purchased a pedal-driven bike in the last six months, with 9% intending to do so. And among bike buyers and intenders, there is a clear interest in new bikes, with the largest percentage of shoppers opting for a bike fresh from the factory, as opposed to one found secondhand.

Given the sizable amount of interest in bikes at large, where does the interest fall with regard to e-bikes? Forty-two percent of U.S. adults would be willing to give an e-bike a try. 

And while 8% of respondents have used e-bikes, 17% have plans to take them for a spin. 

So who are the e-bikers? Those between 24 and 35 had the largest percentage of e-bikers (15%) but the interest was highest among those 18 to 24. It’s also worth noting that intent to try an e-bike is strong in all other age brackets (between 15% and 18%). While Gen Z shows a greater inclination, the appeal of e-bikes spans generations.

People who say sports is a passion of theirs are more interested than less dedicated fans to plan to try out e-bikes.

In fact, NASCAR fans show the highest rate of usage compared to fans of major sports leagues (NFL, NHL, and MLB). And whether or not someone has played fantasy sports certainly indicates an interest in e-bikes.

Transportation or a Cure for Boredom?

Some electric bikes are known to boost speed to up to 28 MPH, certainly faster than a pedal-driven bike making carless trips more feasible for some. And the data show that, for people without a car, have made the same realization. U.S. adults who do not own or lease a car are at least four times more likely than those that own one or more to have used an electric bike already.

At the same time, car owners and non-car owners alike share the same level of intent to use (15%). Furthermore, recent data indicate those who have already used an electric bike also happen to be working from home as a result of the pandemic. This suggests that the purchase of an e-bike has a good chance of being either a means to get from A to B, or a way to just have some fun.

While e-bikes likely already found a home with people who don’t own a car, they have clearly been gaining popularity among a niche group of Americans. The greatest opportunities for growth seem to be those with the financial means and the time to invest in this technology.