Every year I attend the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show, which caters to the automobile aftermarket product industry. It’s the second-largest annual convention in Las Vegas behind the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). In all, SEMA takes over all 4.5 million square feet of floor space, with about twice as much space taken up outside with even more car displays.
One of the current trends I’ve seen is the incorporation of e-bikes into custom car builds there. Overlanding—that is, rugged, cross-country camping—is a big thing, and quite a few manufacturers and car builders have embraced e-bikes for the sport. There was even a fully electric Rivian SUV outfitted as an overlanding truck mounted with two Cake electric motorcycles and two electric mountain bikes mounted on a charging trailer that had enough juice to keep the bikes going for weeks at a time.
I’m not saying everyone should customize their e-bike paint job to match their vehicle—not by a long shot. You should be looking for the bike that lets you have the most fun doing whatever activity you love doing, whether that’s mountain biking, commuting or just going for long rides to enjoy the scenery and fresh air. If you want to spend tens of thousands of dollars raising or lowering your vehicle, putting on crazy wheels and tires, modifying the engine to double the horsepower, doing a custom pearl wrap, then getting your e-bike and rack wrapped to match, that’s up
While at the show, I went to an awards breakfast, and Borla was given an award for their new audio system. If you are a car person, you might know Borla for making exhaust systems. Why on earth would they be making a sound system, you ask? The executives at Borla explained it perfectly: “We make products to make your car sound better.” A particular exhaust note does certainly have great appeal, especially those who like a loud, growly-sounding one. Borla has now started making audio systems to put out an exhaust note for electric vehicles.
I haven’t seen or heard it yet, but one would have to think that it might allow users to make their vehicles sound like all kinds of different vehicles. It probably sounds better than me on an electric motorcycle riding by pedestrians on the street yelling, “Vroooom!,” as I go by, trying to be funny. Judging by the looks I get, it’s more likely they think I’m not all right in the head.
FASTER ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER
I recently read a great article in the bike industry rag Bicycle Retailer and Industry News that had a story on certain threats looming for the e-bike industry. Not too dissimilar to the car industry, a growing number of e-bike riders want their bikes to go much faster. This is dangerous in many facets. First, many people who buy e-bikes are not veteran riders with the skill to handle bikes and the many situations where you need more than just a modicum of control. Riders need to be able to handle themselves in surprise situations, especially around cars and other riders.
We need to come up with education and skills training program for riders, especially new riders, where they can learn to handle these situations and the speed and forces involved with e-bikes. This training will help the entire industry. Although our YouTube channel already has a few “how-to” videos, we realize the importance of producing more of them to reach out to new riders with some basic skills and help them ride smarter and safer. Hopefully, bike shops and manufacturers will also join in the effort to help educate new riders to be safer and make life on two wheels safer for all of us!