AIMExpo 2023 Recap Part 1: The Rise of E-Bikes

This year, e-bikes dominated the floor and conversation.

With the pandemic well and truly behind us, AIMExpo roared into the new year with a huge turnout. The expanded show floor was sold out, with 330 exhibitors showcasing their wares to a steady stream of dealers and industry professionals over three days, from Feb. 15-17, 2023.

This year, the AIMExpo drew a tremendous amount of interest from original equipment manufacturers (OEM), with representatives from Kawasaki, Suzuki, Triumph, Moto Morini, GASGAS, MV Agusta, KTM, Husqvarna, Yamaha, Piaggio Group Americas, Kayo and more attending. The floor even hosted a 4-Wheel Showcase that put many of these OEMs’ ATVs and UTVs on display next to one another as well.

Of course, the big bike and powersports manufacturers weren’t the only ones with a massive presence on the floor this year. E-bike manufacturers dominated the scene, and one of AIMExpo’s biggest draws for 2023 was the brand-new E-Bike Demo Area, where everyone was allowed to come over and test out a multitude of electric vehicles on display, from bicycles to scooters to skateboards and more. The MPN team took a few rides as well, and here’s what we learned.

A Range of E-Mobility

For the past few years, e-bikes have been subtly sneaking their way into the industry, but this year really proved how important they may be to manufacturers and dealers moving forward. According to research firm MarketsandMarkets, this additional category within powersports is set to grow from $49.7 billion in 2022 to $80.6 billion by 2027.

AIMExpo announced last year that it would be “expanding the powersports trade show experience with its largest-ever e-bike pavilion and indoor demo course,” and that wasn’t an exaggeration. A significant portion of the back corner of the trade show floor was dedicated to the area, with barriers set up in tight angles and corners to allow riders to test the maneuverability of each vehicle.

The MPN team got a sneak peek of Tucker Powersports’ e-mobility offerings prior to the show opening on Wednesday, and we were pleasantly surprised with how many were available to demo. E-bikes were not the only vehicles on display; a few electric mopeds, scooters and even an electric motorcycle were available.

Land District, AIMExpo 2023
The Land District

The Land District, an electric motorcycle (or e-bike/e-moped, depending on what throttle mode you use) was one of our favorites to ride. The District is manufactured in Cleveland, just 40 miles north of the MPN headquarters in Akron, Ohio, which makes the local brand even more endearing to the team.

It was apparent that the District was designed for use by everybody and anybody. Yes, it is technically a motorcycle, and motorcycles by design are a hard sell to newcomers, but with its lightweight, 180-pound body, top speed of 70 mph and twist-and-go nature, it becomes easily accessible to newbies. And while it is classified as a motorcycle and requires a license or endorsement to be ridden on the road, the small frame almost makes the ride feel more like you’re on a bicycle than a motorcycle. Assumedly, that was the point of the design.

It appeared to be a favorite for quite a lot of other AIMExpo attendees as well, as there wasn’t one time we passed the E-bike Demo Area without somebody trying out the District. That isn’t to say that the Land District stole the show from other manufacturers though.

UBCO Adventure 2x2 Special Edition, AIMExpo 2023
UBCO Adventure 2×2 Special Edition

The MPN team also enjoyed UBCO’s Adventure Bike 2×2, as did many other showgoers. The unique all-wheel-drive, lightweight and whisper-quiet characteristics made it unique to some of the other vehicles. The UBCO 2×2 seems like more of an off-road moped or scooter of sorts, with a comfortable upright seat position and top speed locked at around 30 mph thanks to a 1-kilowatt motor in each wheel.

It could definitely be used as a commuter vehicle, but with the various mounts and alloy frame guards, UBCO is begging consumers to use it as a utility vehicle. We stopped over at the New Zealand company’s booth, which was conveniently located next to the E-bike demo area, and saw a few different 2x2s displayed with fishing gear, a hunting bow, and other outdoorsy materials and equipment. The company also debuted its 2×2 Special Edition, complete with carriers and straps for more utility use, at the show.

Segway Ninebot GoKart Pro, AIMExpo 2023
Associate Editor Evan Laux on the Segway Ninebot GoKart Pro

And while it’s not an e-bike, we would be remiss if we did not point out how much fun we had zipping around the track like Mario on Segway’s Ninebot GoKart Pro. At 115 pounds, this little go kart (which can expand in length for those of us with longer legs) might only get up to 23 mph, but it feels so much faster when you can take those tight turns like a pro (though we were warned to beware of tipping at that speed).

For the Pedal-Assist Audience

Of course, there were also a bunch of pedal-assisted e-bike models from various manufacturers that were available to ride the following day as well. The Yamaha YDX Moro 07 was one of the MPN favorites.

E-bikes like the YDX Moro 07 might better help to clear up confusion on whether e-bikes should truly be considered “powersports” vehicles. The YDX Moro 07 is a mountain bike meant primarily for the trails. Again, it could be used for commuting, but people willing to drop $6,399 on it are more likely buying it for racing through a forest or down the mountainside.

The bike is powered by a Yamaha PW-X3 Class 1 motor that is rated at 250 watts nominal, with a maximum output of 500 watts. As it is a Class 1 e-bike, the max speed support is locked at 20 mph. Other high-quality parts round out the Moro, like a Rockshox Lyrik Select fork with 160 millimeters of travel, Shimano XT SL-M8100-R shifters and Magura MT5 four-piston rotors.

Our takeaway from the show was that e-bikes present an opportunity for powersports dealers to sell to a different type of customer. For instance, one exhibitor told us a story that a husband and wife came into a dealership so the husband could buy a new motorcycle. While both wanted to ride together, the wife appeared too intimidated by a motorcycle to want to get one herself. However, she was immediately drawn to the e-bikes on display, and so the customers ended up leaving with both a motorcycle and an e-bike. With the variety of e-bikes on the market — from commuters to utility workhorses to pedal-assisted mountain and adventure bikes — there is truly something for everyone, but it’s up to you to research your market and take advantage of this new trend.

In the next portion of our recap, we’ll be covering some of the important industry concerns discussed in the education sessions at AIMExpo, so stay tuned!

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