Electric bicycles have fundamentally changed the bicycle business in America. Europe has a mature e-bike business and country markets, compared to the embryonic business and market in the U.S.

Everything continues to change rapidly in America as the market matures, including e-bike design and micromobility electric propulsion systems, consumer preferences, regulations and standards, options for safe storage and use of micromobility lithium-ion batteries, techniques for sales staff and service technicians, as well as consumer education and awareness.

And fire departments are changing the way they fight micromobility lithium-ion battery fires, and their hazmat protocols for clean-up and disposal.

New York City has a unique critical mass of delivery gig workers on e-bikes and other micromobility devices powered by lithium-ion batteries. In 2022, the Fire Department of New York City (FDNY) reported 191 fires attributed to micromobility devices, including e-bikes, resulting in 140 injuries and, sadly, six deaths.

In the first two months of this year, lithium-ion batteries for micromobility devices, including e-bikes, were believed to be responsible for 22 fires, leading to 36 injuries and two deaths.

On February 27, Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN) published an article about 25 FDNY fire protection inspectors, fire marshals and sheriff’s deputies inspecting bike shops, and finding “hundreds of battery charging, storage violations at shops.”

This was followed on March 1 by publication in BRAIN of an interview with Consumer Product Safety Commission Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric with the headline: CPSC: The industry’s 3-class e-bike framework is not part of our statutes.” HPS has offered the same opinion for months, but the industry has paid little attention until this interview.

The BRAIN article goes on to state: “When asked about regulating Class 3 e-bikes and e-MTBs, and “out-of-category” e-bikes, Hoehn-Saric said in a February e-mail exchange with BRAIN that, “I know there have been questions and confusion around jurisdiction of these products, so I want to take this opportunity to provide some clarity about where CPSC stands. First of all, the Class 1, Class 2, Class 3 framework is not part of CPSC’s statutes, so any assertion about our jurisdiction over an entire category is not accurate.Decisions about agency jurisdiction over e-bikes are made on a case-by-case analysis of the products.”

On March 2 BRAIN announced: “NY City Council passes lithium-ion battery safety package.” The subhead states that: “E-bikes now need to meet UL 2849 or similar certification: batteries UL 2271.”

The city lithium-ion battery regulation is part of a package of five bills, and goes into effect six months after being signed into law by the mayor. Included is a requirement to develop a public education campaign on fire risks of e-bikes and e-scooters, and specific educational materials for delivery workers to be distributed by third-party delivery apps.

March 4 BRAIN published an article titled: “What New York’s e-bike law will mean to retailers,” quoting an interview and letter sent by Heather Mason, president of the NBDA, to members about the NY city lithium-ion battery safety package.

This is an insightful article that, among many other things, quotes Chris Nolte, a NY City bike shop owner, who has sold UL certified e-bikes exclusively for the last two years as stating: “… the new regulations will have a huge impact on the sellers of thousands of low-cost e-bikes used by food delivery workers in the city.”

Charlie McCorkell, owner of three Bicycle Habitat bike shops in NY City, is quoted as saying (among other things), “…to improve fire safety in the city, the federal government will need to enforce safety regulations at the import level.”

What is generally agreed on is that New York City is a trend setter, and the FDNY and City Council will be followed by other fire departments and municipalities, closely watched by the federal government, while changing the game.

Contact Jay Townley:


It’s Wednesday, January 11, and I am walking down an aisle of the CABDA West Expo with my long-time friend, and editor of this newsletter, Fred Clements. It’s the second day of the West Expo, and attendance is actually good for the second day. I ask Fred, “…what do you think of this first trade show of 2023?”

Fred’s response, “It is a sign of life!” I ask what he means. He responds, “It is a sign of life for bike shops after the pandemic.”

As I am getting ready to travel to CABDA East at the Meadowlands, just outside of New York City, I thought about this, and reflected on what I considered to be a well-attended CABDA Midwest Expo in February. I found myself agreeing that the CABDA trade shows, held during the first quarter of this year, are a strong sign of life for the bike shop channel of trade in the U.S.

They are a clear statement that independent bike shops are open for business, and whatever 2023 has in store, bike shops will be there to sell the latest in bicycles, e-bikes, parts, accessories, kit, and to provide professional service.

I believe the big bike brands and major industry trade association are short-sighted in not exhibiting or otherwise supporting the CABDA Expos.

The Bike Shop Count chart shows that approximately 27 percent of the estimated total number of American bike shops are totally independent, or “pure” independent, and that approximately 67 percent are “authorized” dealers of one or more of the big bike brands. Many make the decision to attend a CABDA Expo in their region of the country, as they feel it is in the best interests of their business to do so.

You might well ask if I am going out of my way to promote the CABDA Expos? The answer is a whole-hearted yes. We as an industry need to socialize and share ideas, and more importantly interact as a community of common interest.

I know one of the primary purposes of a trade show is for retailers to buy from suppliers, but in these times of uncertainty and turmoil, there is also the need to seek knowledge and ideas to survive and grow.

The National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA) is collaborating with the CABDA Expos in providing educational content, and will continue to produce and present webinars and educational programs through the rest of the year for bike shops.

Joe Marcoux, in my opinion one of the best sales trainers and educators specializing in the bike shop channel of trade, does multiple presentations at the CABDA Expos. I encourage bike shops to each out to Joe as a resource for their employee training needs.

Joe often refers to Peter Drucker, who warned that the greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence. It is to act with yesterday’s logic.

This is another sign of life from the CABDA Expos, providing the information attendees are sharing about what’s new in consumer wants and needs, and how to provide the products and services to satisfy them.

Contact Jay Townley,


This is the slogan of the Pew Research Center that refers to itself as a nonpartisan fact tank: Good Decisions Demand Good Data.

In our corner of the world, the National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA) provides two examples of good data — one covering adult cycling consumer habits, and another about bicycle shop financial metrics.

The consumer research is an invaluable planning reference guide for suppliers, brands, associates, and bicycle retailers as they shape their strategic and business planning around understanding consumer bicycle and e-bike buying habits over the last two years.

The report contains detailed data, analysis, charts, and actionable information about the demographics of the American consumers that purchased which brands from what retail sources, at what retail prices, and with what accessories during the last two years.

With the report, readers will be able to study the clusters of adult purchasers, including the 33.4 percent of women who started cycling, and the 22 percent who returned in the last two years, including what style they purchased, from what retailer, for what kind of cycling. It also reveals what it is going to take to retain them, and what they plan to spend on cycling going forward.

Key study highlights:

  • What are the key cyclist segments in today’s market?
  • How do these segments buy? How do they interact with IBDs?
  • How have buying channels changed? What channels are the most important for each segment?
  • How have bicycle buying habits changed?
  • Will the changes be long term?
  • How can we take advantage of the changes?
  • Is the new cyclist segment significant? How big is it? What is the long-term potential?
  • What are the most important buying factors in each segment?
  • How does my brand perform in each segment?
  • What messages resonate with each segment? How do I reach them?

Associate members of the NBDA may purchase the report for $3,000. Retail and mobile members of the NBDA may purchase a special retailer version of the report for $199. Retailers who are not members of the NBDA can purchase the special retailer version of the report for $399.

The second research study is the latest version of the NBDA’s Cost of Doing Business study. Specialty bicycle retailers were surveyed in early 2022, with most answering based on the full 2021 calendar year.

This unique research effort represents the most up-to-date comparative financial performance information available anywhere. This study is designed to serve as an easy-to-understand tool for specialty bicycle retailers to evaluate their own company’s operating results, in order to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses, and improvement opportunities.

In early 2022, the National Bicycle Dealers Association mailed a strictly confidential survey questionnaire to all NBDA member firms, as well as a random sample of non-member firms.

The survey collected detailed financial and operating information from industry operators by sales revenue size, store type, geographic region, and number of locations.

The NBDA Cost of Doing Business Survey was compiled, tabulated, and prepared by Industry Insights, Inc., a professional research and consulting firm which specializes in industry operating surveys, compensation studies, educational programs, and customized research services. Completed surveys were returned in confidence through early 2022, to Industry Insights, Inc. All company identification was removed from each questionnaire, and only a confidential identification code remained. The data was then coded, keyed, and edited by Industry Insights’ financial analysts for validity. Computer processing was performed on all data to insure statistical validity, and to produce the financial and operating ratios contained in this study.

Using this information, bicycle retailers can compare their own figures with other firms in their revenue category, with other single or multi-store operators, with stores of similar size, with stores of a particular geographic region, and with the high-profit firms (i.e., those in the upper 25% based on before-tax return on assets). Spotting significant differences between your own store’s performance and the industry composites can be the first step toward improving performance. However, deviations from industry norms do not automatically call for some action.

To use this report, determine which of the above data groups pertain to your operation so that you can compare your own store’s results to retailers that are comparable to your own. Be concerned only with those sections of the report that are relevant to your business.

Price: $399. NBDA member price: $349. All reports delivered as a PDF file only.

For information on both reports, visit


At the CABDA Midwest Expo Awards Ceremony February 7, Jim Kersten, CABDA show director, presented a special award to 66-year industry veteran and founding partner of Human Powered Solutions, Jay Townley, for dedication to improving the bicycle industry.

In presenting the award, Kersten said, “CABDA doesn’t give out special awards often, but in this case Jay Townley has been a supporter of our expos from the beginning, and he has written articles and conducted webinars for the NBDA, and made presentations at CABDA Expos, including for our education sessions today, and will be making a presentation at our East Coast Expo March 7 and 8 at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.”

In accepting the award, Townley said, “I am surprised and honored. Being in the bicycle business as long as I have I no longer expect awards, but when there is recognition like this for continuing to do the best I can for this business, I am very grateful. My thanks to Jim Kersten, the whole CABDA family and crew.”

Jim Kersten, left, recognizes Jay Townley for industry service.