E-bike predictions for 2021: What to expect in the electric bicycle industry this year

E-bike predictions for 2021: What to expect in the electric bicycle industry this year

While the electric bicycle industry has been showing impressive growth for the last several years, 2020 witnessed rapid gains in the industry unlike anything we’d seen before. But what does the e-bike industry have in stock for us in 2021? Here are my top five predictions for this year.

Wave of affordable mid-drive e-bikes

Mid-drive e-bikes, which have a centrally-mounted motor that powers the e-bike through its bicycle gears, have long been dominated by industry heavyweights like Bosch.

Popular mid-drive e-bikes have offered high-quality drivetrains and mid to top-shelf components to match. But that has traditionally kept the prices high, often in the $4,000+ range.

However, 2021 is likely to see a new wave of affordably priced mid-drive electric bikes. There are plenty of Asian mid-drive suppliers that are growing their marketshare and helping drive down prices.

We’re actually already starting to see this trend play out with new entries from companies like Ride1Up, who just unveiled the Ride1Up Prodigy electric bike. It is likely the most affordable Brose-powered mid-drive e-bike on the market at just $2,195. (And for the record, I made this prediction weeks ago before the bike was unveiled). I expect to see more e-bikes like this unveiled in 2021, and the inclusion of non-EU motors will only intensify this trend.

There are already a few interesting low-cost mid-drive e-bikes on the market now, but I expect 2021 to see a new wave.

Upcoming Ride1Up Prodigy e-bike

More e-bikes with small diameter fat tires

I think 2021 will be the year that smaller diameter fat tires really catch on.

This trend began largely with the electric moped wave of 2020, where small diameter fat tires became a popular way to provide motorbike-style handling and design.

Other e-bikes like the popular $899 Lectric XP have adopted these small diameter fat tires in the company’s folding bikes, forging expensive suspension in favor of cheaper air cushions in the form of fat tires.

Even one of the most famous value-oriented e-cargo bikes, the RadWagon, recently shifted to smaller diameter, wider tires.

See my RadWagon review here

Not only do fat tires provide extra cushion for the ride, but the small diameter 20″ versions minimize the extra bulk that comes with fat tires.

They prevent the e-bike from growing too heavy and unwieldy. They also help designers reduce the standover height, making the e-bikes more accessible to a wider range of riders.

Apartment dwellers and anyone with a crowded garage will also enjoy the advantage of a more compact e-bike.

Small diameter fat tires won’t replace traditional 26″ and 700c tires found on many e-bikes. But for anyone not worried about extreme efficiency, their advantages are too numerous to ignore. That means e-bike manufacturers are going to find a growing demand for this style of e-bike.

Lectric XP Step-Thru
The Lectric XP is one of my favorite affordable fat-tire e-bikes

E-bike battery breakthroughs for 2021

This will be the year that e-bike batteries drop 50% in price while doubling their capacity.

Just kidding.

Nothing new will happen to e-bike batteries in 2021. Nothing major, at least.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news here, but you can pretty much take this prediction to the bank.

Other than small incremental increases in capacity, there will be no major breakthroughs in e-bike batteries in 2021. And the incremental increases in capacity won’t be due to any technological advances – they’ll simply be the result of manufacturers of battery packs shoving in a few more cells.

Some e-bikes like the Pedego Element feature semi-integrated batteries

The most popular format of battery cell for e-bike batteries, the 18650, hasn’t seen a meaningful capacity increase beyond 3.5Ah in years. Some e-bikes use the slightly larger 20700 and 21700 format cells, but these are much more rare and don’t offer much advantage for packing in more capacity.

The biggest innovations in e-bike batteries actually came years ago, and were thanks to other industries. Popular 18650 cells like the Panasonic 18650b were developed to cram more capacity in battery packs like those used in electric cars, and then the cells found their way into e-bike batteries as well.

High power 18650s such as the Sony V-series were largely developed for cordless power tools, and then began finding their way into battery packs designed for high power e-bikes.

But without any major battery advancements in the last few years, there’s currently nothing for the e-bike industry to inherent from other industries.

That doesn’t mean we won’t be zooming around e-bikes sporting solid state batteries in the next 5-10 years, but it won’t happen in 2021.


Long waits for e-bikes

This is another bad news prediction. Unfortunately you can expect to wait a while for new electric bikes in 2021, especially the first half.

The COVID-19 pandemic positively wrecked e-bike supply chains, most of which start in Asian countries like China and Taiwan that saw devastating lockdowns in 2020. While those countries got back to work sooner than much of the west, they were smacked with unprecedented spikes in demand as soon as their factories reopened.

Supply chains are slowly starting to catch up, but the imperative word there is “slowly.”

juiced scorpion ebike
Juiced Bikes has done a pretty good job keeping their e-bikes in stock

Many e-bike manufacturers are still being quoted lead times of a year or more on components such as brakes and handlebars.

Popular e-bike companies have struggled to keep e-bikes in stock, leading to the second half of 2020 becoming the year of the e-bike backorder.

While that will improve in 2021, it will take many months if not most of the year. So while some companies will be able to maintain some semblance of stock in their warehouses, you should still expect many e-bike manufacturers to continue working on a pre-sale or back-ordered basis.

And unfortunately, you’re just going to have to live with that. I know it’s tough to pay for something in full and then wait several months for it to arrive. It’s even tougher when you’re talking about a several thousand dollar e-bike. But if you wait for the bikes to be in-stock, you could be waiting most of the year while each container of e-bikes is sold before it ever arrives in port.

More e-bike startups

I think 2021 is likely to see a boom in new e-bike startups, especially from Asia.

I’m not talking giant manufacturers. I’m thinking more like random Indiegogo campaigns and “let’s see if this venture works” type of startups.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some very interesting e-bikes have come out of these types of ventures. And need I remind you that some of the most successful e-bike companies out there, such as Rad Power Bikes, got their start on Kickstarter? But we’ll likely see a lot of weak-sauce attempts too.

Without Kickstarter e-bike campaigns, heavyweights like Rad Power Bikes might not exist

I believe the massive increase in demand for e-bikes will be the largest driver behind a wave of new e-bike startups. It will be hard for many entrepreneurs to see the market demand and not think to themselves, “Maybe I should start an e-bike brand.”

There will likely be some interesting entires, but also likely a number of regurgitated designs that have been white-labeled from the same giant e-bike factories in China.

A whole new year for e-bikes

Overall, 2021 should be an interesting year for e-bikes.

We may not see any massive battery advancements, but prices should continue their slow crawl downwards and we should have plenty of interesting new additions to the market.

Do you have your eye on a new electric bicycle this year? Let us know which one in the comments section below!

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How Does Audi’s New RS7 Compare To The Old RS7?

When it came out, there were a few cocked eyebrows about the C8 RS7 because the horsepower figure wasn’t actually much bigger than the old one’s. Was that skepticism warranted?

Throttle House has decided to find out, comparing the 2021 RS7 to a 2016 RS7 Performance. That tips the horsepower battle in the old one’s favor, but what about everything else?

Well, neither is exactly a track day bruiser. Both value a good time over a track time, but the old RS7 Performance does actually hit 60 mph a tenth quicker than the new one. That despite the new one making nearly 50 lb-ft of torque more.

The old one sounds better, too. Don’t listen too closely if you hate hearing cars bounce off the rev limiter, but it is admittedly a good sound. Besides japery, too, the new one is muted somewhat. Still a good sound, but just a bit less raucous than the old RS7.

Also Read: ABT’s Power Boost Gives Your VW Group 1.5 TSI 190 Horses In Return For €1k

So where does that leave the new car? Well, in just about every way the new C8 RS7 has been improved or updated. The word updated is important here, though, signifying things like a preponderance of touch screens and a dearth of buttons. That certainly looks more modern, but might turn away some hot blooded enthusiasts.

But, as host James puts it, the modern direction of cars that has taken some of the soul out of BMWs hasn’t affected Audi in the same way. Audi always wanted to be heavy and comfortable, so modern muscle car trends just play to its advantage.

It’s whisper quiet when it’s relaxed, it tackles corners with relentless stability, and it will absolutely demolish a highway cruise. The old RS7, meanwhile, lacks a little of that refinement. It suffers from an interior that’s even older than the model year would suggest and is, frankly, a little loud inside.

In the end, the hosts are split. The old lacks some refinement but the new one lacks some craziness. The old one is fast, but the new one’s steering is better. The old one does have a trump card to play, though, and that’s being on the better side of depreciation.

2021 Ford Super Duty gets Roush styling, suspension upgrades

2021 Ford Super Duty gets Roush styling, suspension upgrades

Roush is offering a line of upgrades for the Ford F-Series Super Duty, but nothing as extreme as what the tuning company and race team has done for the smaller F-150.

Mechanical upgrades include a coilover 2.0 Performance Suspension System by Fox, front slotted brake rotors and pads, and a Roush exhaust system with dual stainless-steel tips.

Roush didn’t mention any powertrain upgrades forward of the exhaust system. For 2021, the Super Duty comes with a 6.2-liter V-8 making 385 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque, but is also available with the “Godzilla” 7.3-liter V-8 (430 hp and 475 lb-ft), and the 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel (475 hp and 1,050 lb-ft). The base engine gets a 6-speed automatic transmission, while the other two get a 10-speed automatic gearbox.

Roush 2021 Ford F-Series Super Duty

Roush 2021 Ford F-Series Super Duty

Styling changes include a Roush grille with integrated LED light bars, a new bumper cover, and color-coded fender flares. A graphics kit adds Roush logos and the American flag. The truck rides on 20-inch satin black wheels with 35-inch General Grabber A/TX tires.

The package costs $14,900 after the cost of a donor 2021 Super Duty, and comes with a three-year/36,000-mile warranty.

The Super Duty is a popular subject for the aftermarket, with no shortage of lift kits, wheels, and other parts available for the heavy-duty truck. Tuscany Motor Co. offered a Harley-Davidson Super Duty, albeit with a $111,000 price tag and a production run limited to 250 units. Even Ford has gotten in on the action with the Tremor off-road model.

2021 Lexus RC

What kind of vehicle is the 2021 Lexus RC? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Lexus RC is a sports coupe with two powertrain choices in rear- or all-wheel drive. The segment thins more every year, but the remaining competitors range from the Audi A5 to the Ford Mustang. 

Is the 2021 Lexus RC a good car?

Review continues below

It’s a good sports coupe with good standard features and good performance upgrades, but is it good enough? It’s heavy weight tends to drag it down. It earns a good TCC Rating of 6.0 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2021 Lexus RC?

Lexus added blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts and heated side mirrors as standard equipment, and it introduced a limited-run Black Line Special Edition based on the F Sport grade. 

Once past the brash and busy front end, the 2021 Lexus RC strikes a handsome profile that’s especially toned in RC F Sport and the RC F. The top RC F model enhances the muscular look of the sports coupe with large 19-inch BBS wheels and side air curtains and a hood vent to help cool the big V-8. 

The 472-hp V-8 is one of three engine choices and two transmissions for the rear-wheel drive coupe that’s available in all-wheel drive. A pedestrian 241-hp turbo-4 resides in the base model, but we’d nudge shoppers to the 311-hp V-6 and the adaptive suspension in F Sport models that ease the stiffness for daily driving but firm it up during more demanding inputs. The RC 350 F Sport is marginally more expensive and only marginally less efficient, trimming 1 mpg to 23 mpg combined from the RC 300. 

Technically a four-seater, the Lexus RC best fits two and those rear seats are best folded down to increase the meager 10.4 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk. But Lexus decks out the RC in quality touches, such as synthetic leather upholstery, wood trim, and myriad buttons and switches for the infotainment and climate controls. 

Good standard safety equipment such as automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitors offset the narrow side and rear vision, and the RC fared well in crash tests performed by the IIHS.  

How much does the 2021 Lexus RC cost?

For $43,245, Lexus equips the 2021 RC with power front seats, a 7.0-inch display screen with smartphone compatibility, a good warranty, and a CD player. The RC F performance model and its V-8 engine cost $68,450, but Lexus offers a track-star version costing just under $100,000.  

Where is the 2021 Lexus RC made?

In Japan. 

Legal fears led Nissan exec to flip on Ghosn

TOKYO — A top Nissan executive indicated he copped a plea deal to testify against ousted Chairman Carlos Ghosn because he was worried about possibly getting snared in the legal swoop.

Hari Nada, a star government witness and the executive running Nissan’s legal office at the time of Ghosn’s arrest, said internal investigations into Ghosn’s alleged misconduct began as early as January 2018, at least 10 months before Tokyo authorities arrested Ghosn on Nov. 19 of that year.

Nada, testifying last week before the Tokyo District Court in the case against former Nissan director Greg Kelly, offered his first public explanation for what made him turn on Nissan’s longtime boss.

The initial probe into Ghosn, he said, was launched by Nissan’s statutory auditor, Hidetoshi Imazu, to look into questions about Ghosn’s billing of personal air travel to the company. That investigation expanded to look into suspicions about some $80 million in deferred compensation allegedly owed to Ghosn.

On trial now is Kelly, a 64-year-old former Nissan human resources executive from suburban Nashville. Kelly, who had preceded Nada in his job, maintains that he is not guilty of the charge of financial misconduct.

But Nada, who also was head of the offices of the chairman and CEO, asserted he worked closely with Kelly for years on a scheme to pay Ghosn more than $80 million in undisclosed compensation after he retired from the helm of Nissan. In 2018, Nada said, Ghosn was expected to retire the following year, triggering the imminent execution of the plan to pay him that money.

Nada said misgivings about the legality of the arrangement caused him to raise a red flag.

“The train was about to leave the station, and it had to be stopped,” Nada said. “I was as sure as I could be that Mr. Ghosn would retire in 2019, and I felt we should stop this scheme.”

After Ghosn and Kelly were arrested in November 2018, Nada stayed on as head of the company’s legal department and led Nissan’s continuing internal investigation into the scandal. But he was sidelined in October 2019 amid mounting concern about conflict of interest, since he was essentially investigating allegations of activities he admitted having a hand in. Nada remains a senior vice president at the automaker with a role as “adviser.”

Nada said he raised concerns in May 2018 about Ghosn’s deferred compensation to Hitoshi Kawaguchi, the executive then in charge of government affairs, who relayed it to Imazu.

Nada said he advised Imazu to launch an internal investigation, with the help of external law firms, including Nissan’s outside legal counsel, Latham & Watkins.

The strategy at the time, Nada testified, was to collect evidence against Ghosn, confront the company’s leader at a board meeting and compel him to resign. If Ghosn refused to step down, the company planned to turn over its findings to prosecutors, Nada testified.

“If he did not resign, the file would be placed in the hands of the authorities,” Nada said.

But before things got to that stage, unknown to Nada, Imazu made contact with the Tokyo prosecutor’s office to discuss the matter. Once the authorities had been tipped off that something was amiss at Nissan, Nada was apparently spooked into taking action of his own.

“I recognized prosecutors at least knew Nissan was involved,” Nada told the court. “I was concerned my own involvement would be misunderstood. … I was involved in carrying out many of the things Mr. Ghosn was under investigation for. My involvement could be mischaracterized.”

Nada said he consulted a lawyer in July 2018 who advised him of Japan’s newly adopted plea bargain law. In September, Nada had his first meeting to talk with Tokyo prosecutors.

But he was not guaranteed a deal when he first approached them, Nada testified. He finally netted a plea bargain Oct. 31 after cooperating with them to gather evidence. Ghosn was arrested two and a half weeks later.

Nada’s testimony in the Tokyo courtroom sheds light on why the close Ghosn aide flipped on his boss. It painted a picture of a man waffling on getting authorities involved until his hand was forced to save his own skin.

Nada said he knew removing Ghosn, who saved Nissan from bankruptcy in 1999 and forged its alliance with French partner Renault over nearly two decades, would trigger tumult at Nissan and the alliance.

“It would be terrible for the company,” said Nada. “When the company’s CEO is found to do bad things, it’s the company that has done bad things.”

But in the final analysis, he said, “the priority was to stop these things from happening.”

Nada’s testimony also painted the fullest picture yet of the allegations against Kelly. Nada asserted that Kelly instructed him to help devise ways to pay Ghosn the millions in postponed remuneration.

Prosecutors allege Ghosn and Kelly conspired to hide more than $80 million in deferred payment owed Ghosn after retirement. The money, prosecutors say, should have been disclosed in the company’s annual reports. But they charge that Ghosn wanted to avoid public scrutiny of his supersize salary in Japan and France and conspired with Kelly to hide the tens of millions from public view.

Kelly and Ghosn were arrested the same day after landing in Japan on separate flights. Both deny the charges. But Ghosn fled Japan in December 2019 to seek refuge in Beirut, beyond the reach of Japanese law. Kelly, left alone to stand trial, could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.

Prosecutors allege Ghosn’s underlings began scrambling to hide his pay in 2010, the year Japan changed its corporate reporting rules to require companies to disclose individual executive pay packages of more than ¥100 million ($962,000) a year.

The trial began last September, but Kelly won’t have a chance to speak in his own defense until he takes the stand this spring. The trial is expected to end in July.

Kelly’s defense maintains that he was not directly involved with many of the remuneration discussions. Moreover, the payment methods Kelly pursued were framed as incentives to compensate Ghosn for future services to the company, not work already rendered. The goal, the defense says, was to retain Ghosn’s talent after he retired so he wouldn’t defect to a competitor.

Kelly’s defense also rests on the argument that those payouts were never decided. Thus, any agreements were not legally enforceable and there was no obligation to report them.