08
Nov 2010
by don

Year of the electric cargo bike: 2011

Today I was eagerly searching for a Trek dealer in the Seattle area who might have the new Transport+ cargo bike available for a test ride.  I knew I was being a little optimistic, but several months ago a Trek marketer told me the bike would be available by November.  Trek’s web site continues to say “Available late fall”, and there’s even a brief video review from ElectricBikeReport.com.

But no luck.  The best I could hope for at local bike shops was late February of 2011.  The marketer that gave me the more ambitious date is now out of the country and apparently not answering email.

Perhaps I’ll just need to be patient for the next 4 months, but I find this a little discouraging.  It reminds me of the glacially slow rollout of the Electric Ute, and I expected something different from Trek.  Instead, the introduction of the Transport+ is looking just as cautious as the Ute, and I’m wondering why.

Then I found this blog entry from the president of Trek, asking his customers to help him make the case to his market forecaster that this is a bike that will generate interest.  What the #@%!?  Maybe this is a clever ploy to increase buzz, but it’s not the approach I hoped the company would take to build this market.

I found another review of the Transport+ that looks encouraging, but in the details it trimmed 100W from the power of the motor, and nearly $500 from the price.  If these specs were true it could make the Transport+ even more attractive to the mass market (if a bit less attractive to us hill dwellers).  However, since these details conflict with Trek’s web site, I suspect they are not accurate.

In any case, the clock is ticking.  Unless competitors slip their schedules, there will be other interesting bikes to consider in 2011, such as those from Onya and Urban Arrow.  I’m excited to see this race heating up, but I’m disappointed if the starting gun has actually been delayed for a few months.

P.S.  If anyone at Trek is listening, I would be happy to present your side of the story if you would like to tell it!

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  • http://mark.stosberg.com/bike Mark Stosberg

    Trek’s non-rollout is one more reason to support some smaller companies that have helped build the market this far: Clever Cycles, Yuba, Surly and Cycle 9.

    I doubt any of the Trek dealers within 50 miles of Richmond, Indiana will stock it anyway. Clever Cycles and Cycle 9 give great personal customer service remotely. I don’t see how could
    Trek could match that until they sell their own dealers more on the idea of electric cargo bikes.

    • http://mycargobike.net Don

      I agree with you. I was hoping that the somewhat dismissive attitude my local Trek dealer displayed toward the notion of assisted cargo bikes was an anomaly. At this point, Trek has some work to do. Their web site still declares the bike that “will change your life and the world” will be available in “late fall”. Technically, they still have 3 weeks to make good on that claim, but things are suspiciously silent at the moment.

      As I alternate between optimism and reality regarding the future of cargo biking in the U.S., I’m pondering the fact that the “year of the electric cargo bike” coincides with the “year of the electric car.” I’m happy that both of these represent a step forward in our efforts to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. Cargo biking is so much more efficient (when it’s feasible), but I fear that many people will be satisfied with a more efficient car, and will continue to move tons of metal to accomplish short errands by themselves. Those short solo trips are an ideal scenario for a cargo bike, but without big companies like Trek pushing forward in this market, it’s not going to become a common sight.

      While I love the small companies that have pioneered this market, I’m still hoping Trek will succeed in a big way.