Electric bikes and GPS an existential threat?

I think that by 2025 most bikes sold will have some form of electrical assistance and GPS. The club will have to adapt or cease to be. Ebikes mean that most people will be able to ride longer distances and at an average speed of around 12 MPH. This means almost anyone will be able to ride one, two and possibly 3 star rides.
This vision combined with greater uptake of GPS will result in seismic changes to our club. Rides will be defined not by fitness but by expected average speed and distance. We may need a category of “traditional” rides. I also think many riders will want to ride independently using GPS, only meeting at lunch stops. We could see a renaissance of 3 wheelers and recumbents. We are at the beginning of a revolution and how we adapt will determine how our club will prosper.


  • I don't see the threat.  Much of what you discuss is already here and isn't adversely effecting things.  I think it increases choice and fulfillment.

    Just about everyone who wants GPS already has it on their phone and there's free and cheap navigation software available.  Some sort of clamp to attach the phone to the bike costs around £30 or less.

    Occasionally someone turns up with a battery assisted bike at the moment.  I noticed it being used for getting up hill rather than increasing speed and distance.

    In these times of social distancing and reduced rides I have done the morning half of a 2* ride, stayed for lunch, and then done a 3* solo ride in the afternoon.  On rides I have led some people have finished at lunch and other people have added 10 miles at the end by cycling back in to inner London rather than getting the train.  Some sort of splitting of rides, meeting at lunch, fine tuning the social and physical components has been going on for a while, pre-covid.

    Something I was thinking of doing when things get closer to normal is some sort of flexible ride: a 65 mile ride for those who want it but with bale in/out points for those who want  40 miles.  I like a hybrid, flexible approach, sometimes moving at a 3* pace, sometimes enjoying a bridle path.

  • edited on 13 Dec 2020 at 15:12
    I don't think it's necessarily a threat, I agree, it all depends on how you use technology. Many of us have been using GPS for many years, yet like to join a group ride and led by a leader, I often like to set my brain in to "follow" rather than "lead" mode. Surely I'm not the only one who still hangs on the beloved OS maps where you can see a bigger picture and be more creative in planning a route, rather than let a computer decide for you.

    I must confess, an 50 000 OS map in not much use, when you lose your way in South London, trying to follow a Sustrans route and then you ask locals to point at where you are on your map, they inevitably point to places, which you can immediately see that it cannot be right. That was the point for me to decide to buy a phone with a GPS, but it's not my main navigation tool.

    The only way I can see an electric bike a threat on a * ride, if people turn up on them and expect a faster pace and pressurise others. If you use it to get you up the hill and you can then wait for the rest, even better, give me a tow, it shouldn't be a problem. In fact, it is nice that someone using an electric bike can be included on a ride, who otherwise wouldn't be able attend.

    I think COVID is a bigger threat to our rides, with places being booked up, problems with lunch and people fearing longer travel on public transport, hence being confined to their own areas. For me what made this group different from other groups is the fact that we were riding anywhere, rather than just in our neck of the wood. 
  • Also, when I lead rides BC (Before COVID), I always found it reassuring to have people on my ride with map skills and/or my route saved on their device, in case the group had to break up for whatever reason. This way you don't end up being stuck in the middle of the countryside with a group of people being completely dependent on you, which I had also experienced.

    On some rides with lots of twists and turns, I may not remember every single junction by heart and had friends helping me with the navigation, so I could concentrate on keeping the group together.

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