It’s been a wild ride in the e-bike world these last couple of years, with a whole lot of companies entering the electric bicycle space, what seems like a metric boat-load of new models being introduced to the market, and a slew of bargain-priced e-bikes flooding Amazon and other retailers. That can be both good and bad for consumers, as choice and availability and price can help get more people on e-bikes, and yet low quality components or builds, lack of support, and things like the danger of e-bike battery fires can really compromise people’s trust in this new-ish mobility trend. And most recently, some of the leading e-bike companies, at least in terms of media coverage and brand recognition, have gone through some major changes, and the dust hasn’t settled yet.
One of the non-traditional players that entered the market just a few years ago was Harley-Davidson, which launched its Serial 1 brand of e-bikes to both fanfare and criticism alike. Some people really rallied behind the idea of an iconic motorcycle company getting into the micromobility industry, maybe because of brand loyalty or brand recognition, while others, like our own Jo Borras, had some pretty harsh criticism for the reveal of the initial Serial 1 e-bike, calling it bullsh*t in his op-ed.
What was initially an idea born “as a skunkworks inside Harley-Davidson’s Product Development Center” in 2018 was eventually spun off into an independent brand a few years later, but the brand never really seemed to take off like it was expected to. That could be chalked up to a number of different issues, such as the crowded e-bike market, the relatively higher prices on production versions of the company’s MOSH/CTY, SWITCH/MTN, and RUSH/CTY SPEED models, and maybe even just the challenges of a legacy fossil fuel vehicle manufacturer trying to cater to an entirely different demographic. In any case, it seemed that the e-bikes from Serial 1 weren’t exactly ticking all the boxes for potential customers, and now Harley-Davidson has sold off the brand to another electric mobility company.
According to a press release from Serial 1, the company has been acquired by LEV Manufacturing, Inc. (formerly Life Electric Vehicles), which plans to bring the production of the bikes to Florida, where it aims to reduce production costs and thereby lower retail pricing.
“With the acquisition, Serial 1 will establish E-Bike assembly in the USA seamlessly aligned with the company’s growth strategy. Serial 1’s partnering with LEV Manufacturing ensures its commitment to quality and Serial 1’s premium E-Bike offerings will be upheld by a dedicated in-house production team in the USA. The addition of new USA based service and support teams is great news for consumers who will see lower bike prices throughout the Serial 1 dealer and sales network.”
In other e-bike news, one of the e-bike brands that really caught the attention of the media in the early days of the mainstreaming of electric bicycles, VanMoof, has been in financial difficulties for some time, and declared bankruptcy this past summer. The demise of the company as it existed before raised a bunch of questions about support and parts for those who had purchased e-bikes from VanMoof, which is a potential concern for just about every e-bike owner as all the various brands vie for profitability (and continued existence).
VanMoof was recently acquired by scooter manufacturer Lavoie, which plans to further invest in the brand and relaunch it, although details of future plans are slim. However, in an article in Verge today, it appears as if the new owners are actively looking at a relaunch of the brand, with author Thomas Ricker writing the following:
“The launch of VanMoof 2.0 involves a staggered rollout of replacement parts to retailers with in-house repair shops, a resumption of e-bike sales, and a new VanMoof-branded e-scooter in the first half of 2024… in that order, if all goes as planned. Key European markets are the initial focus.”
So stay tuned, as VanMoof may yet rise again, perhaps to even higher heights this time.