A boom in the popularity of electric bikes has prompted a specialist Edinburgh retailer to expand to create the UK’s largest such shop.
It follows an increase in cycling following the Covid lockdowns and e-bikes being added to the capital’s cycle hire scheme last year, enabling more people to try them out.
The Scottish Government sees e-bikes as an important part of boosting “active travel”, particularly among older and less fit people.
A total of 830 e-bikes for public hire schemes and community groups across Scotland have been funded so far through nearly £2 million of grants from its Transport Scotland agency.
E-bikes are also available to rent in areas including Glasgow, Dundee and the Falkirk and Stirling areas, with Aberdeen and Inverness among other places considering following suit.
The 15-year-old Electric Cycle Company today opens a new 4,000 square feet e-bike shop and maintenance workshop, projecting it from Scotland’s biggest to the largest in the UK.
The store in Crewe Road North in the north west of the city is more than four times larger than its previous shop.
Staff numbers have increased from two to ten.
The company’s former premises in Granton Road are to become the base for new “community interest company” Urban Initiatives, which will focus on e-bike and e-cargo bike hire, bike maintenance and training, and local guided e-bike tours.
Managing director Neill Hope said: “E-bikes make the whole physical process even easier and more joyful than traditional cycling, despite the larger initial investment.
“Edinburgh, with its many hills, substantial cycle path network, and ongoing council backing, is the perfect city for an electric bike.
“We have also benefited from the recent revolution in cycling and the requirement for bike maintenance that resulted from the Covid-19 lockdown and extended travel restrictions.”
Mr Hope recalled that when his father launched the business in 2006 as an offshoot from his plastering company, it was “frowned upon by the purists within the bike industry who couldn’t see past 100 per cent pedal power”.
Edinburgh Northern and Leith SNP MSP Ben Macpherson, who represents the area, said: “It’s great there’s so much local demand for sustainable transport”.
Official development body Cycling Scotland said a variety of grants and loans were available to help people afford to buy e-bikes.
Its spokeswoman Denise Hamilton said: “Shops specialising in electric bikes demonstrate the increasing demand for cycling.
“Reports show sales of all bikes, including e-bikes, increased massively last year, amidst a big surge in cycling.
“Interestingly, the largest reported increase was entry-level bikes, reflecting that people new and returning to cycling are rediscovering cycling as a form of transport and source of freedom.
“Many people can buy an e-bike through their work ‘salary sacrifice’ scheme, and grants and interest-free loans are also available to help more people access both e-bikes and regular bikes.
“In the Netherlands, e-bikes outsell regular bikes and they can be popular amongst older people in particular, helping to make cycling easier and more enjoyable for even more people.”
A message from the Editor: