Electric bikes: Popular at Wal-Mart?

Posted by Rob Walker on November 6, 2008
Posted Under: Wal-Mart

In an interview with Fortune, a Wal-Mart honcho talking about the holiday season says in passing:

Bikes are going to be big. Electric bikes are something that we’re having a hard time keeping in stock at Wal-Mart.

I poked around a (very little) bit and wasn’t able to immediately come up with any echo of this. I’m curious about it in part because electric bikes and Wal-Mart shoppers aren’t two concepts I would have matched up intuitively. I’m not sure what to make of it.

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Reader Comments

I think they’re seen as a poor man’s dirt bike. Some of them are even styled to look like dirt bikes:
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=8467099
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=3899477&sourceid=1500000000000003260420&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=3899477

On the economic tip, people don’t have short memories when it comes to feeling ripped off. I think gas prices are informing Walmart shoppers in particular, as they’re the demographic most likely to have really been hurt by $4 gas.

#1 
Written By Steve Goodman on November 6th, 2008 @ 12:56 pm

It’s not a pairing I’d make either, given that Walmart is so closely tied to the notion of suburban life. Especially since McMillon says “if you don’t have a lot of distance to cover, an electric bike may be a good alternative.” Good alternative to what? Actually expending some calories? And the concept of not a lot of distance to cover seems more urban than not.

A little sleuthing found a number of August 2008 articles noting that sales of electric bikes are definitely on the rise (Google “electric bike sales u.s. 2008″). To quote one:

“Official sales figures are hard to pin down, but the Gluskin-Townley Group, which does market research for the National Bicycle Dealers Association, estimates 10,000 electric bikes were sold in the U.S. in 2007, up from 6,000 in 2006.

Amazon.com says sales of electric bikes have surged more than 6,000 percent in July from a year earlier, in part because of its expanded offerings.

‘The electric bikes are the next big thing,’ said Frank Jamerson, a former General Motors Corp. executive turned electric-vehicle guru.”

#2 
Written By Braulio on November 6th, 2008 @ 1:16 pm

This might sound odd, keep in mind I haven’t seen these bikes first hand….my thought was that a WM shopper might like the idea of a bike you don’t have to peddle. An inexpensive motorized bike would be just the thing for someone who doesn’t want exercise, but would like to bike around. That they are electric is unimportant. My two cents.

#3 
Written By Ken Brand on November 6th, 2008 @ 11:04 pm

Thanks for all of these helpful replies. I’m thinking electric bikes seem to cross over a few categories. I went to Target this weekend, and there they are basically positioned more as super-toys, like in those Wal Mart links from Steve Goodman. So not so much as eco-relevant at all, which seems to be more where Jamerson is coming from in Braulio’s comment. Anyway this is all great and thanks for those links!

#4 
Written By Rob Walker on November 11th, 2008 @ 11:14 am

Forget Walmart. They don’t service anything, don’t assemble it, and don’t do any warranty work either. Why don’t you guys support the small guy. Check out you local electric bike shop…or ours. http://www.ElectricBikeShopOnline.com. Give a call, we can get you a better price than whats on the site.

#5 
Written By Linda on November 15th, 2008 @ 4:34 am

Linda: Nobody asked where to get a deal on an electric bike. I asked whether people were buying them. But thanks for stopping by to advertise your store just the same. In a way, your answer actually suggests an indirect answer to the question of how the’re selling.

#6 
Written By Rob Walker on November 15th, 2008 @ 8:07 am

Walmart is carrying the EZIP line of electric bikes from Currie Technologies. Keep in mind, EZIP is Currie’s lower quality mass-production brand. Their other brand, IZIP, includes higher end bikes with aluminum frames and high quality components. Although the EZIPs cost much less, they’re much heavier, less comfortable and will have a shorter life than an IZIP. Here’s a helpful article describing the differences:

The Difference Between IZIP vs. EZIP Brand Electric Bikes

Or, find more useful information about electric bikes & scooters >

#7 
Written By eCo Wheelz on December 14th, 2008 @ 3:32 pm

I think the bikes were definitely going fast because of the gas prices and encouraged by the fact that it has less of a negative environmental impact. We’re all about being green these days.

Electric bikes don’t come cheap but if you’re a thrifty person, you will shop for the cheaper electric bikes which they have at Wal-Mart.

http://www.EZGreenBikes.com has higher quality bikes that range from $850-1200 because of the use of lithium ion batteries.

Anyway, Wal-Mart…you get what you pay for.

#8 
Written By Patricia on December 18th, 2008 @ 5:03 am

Patricia, of course, represents the web site that she says has higher quality bikes. Just to be clear for future readers who find their way into these comments.

#9 
Written By Rob Walker on December 18th, 2008 @ 6:08 am

forget wallmart-what? i just looked at electricbikes.com and the wallmart one is on that sight 4sale for double wallmarts price and of course if they have a better bike its gonna cost 3times wich allot of people wont pay-thank you wallmart for being the 1st for selling an electric bike for a reasonable price-there just gonna get cheaper in price hardy har

#10 
Written By ala riee on June 19th, 2009 @ 9:38 am

Rob walker do you have any life whatsoever?
Just wondering

#11 
Written By travis on February 1st, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

Travis: I started to mark your “comment” as spam, but it’s too good not to publish. I love someone chiming in on a random post from 2008 to ask if I have a life! I’m going to spend the rest of the week reading, and commenting on, out-of-date blog posts — so I can live life to the fullest, like you!

#12 
Written By Rob Walker on February 2nd, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

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