BikePark Wales have introduced E-bike specific day passes from the 1st June. At which point the MTB social media frenzy began. To be honest I have held back writing anything and jumping on the bandwagon of slamming BPW as I think what they have done is brave and makes total sense.
MTB E-bikes are growing and will continue to grow. They are not just the remit of elderly or disabled riders. They are and will inevitably become more mainstream and not just because of the ageing population but because they offer something quite we all crave. We all have limited riding time, don't we? Well, I'm not here to advertise them and the concept doesn't sit well with me (yet) but I get this simple fact e-bike gives us more riding in a shorter time. As batteries get slimmer and last longer the trend will only grow (the statistics and millions purchased to date coupled with the double-digit year on year growth speaks for itself).
There is a large and growing amount of small push up downhill and bike park venues around the country. I have a choice lets say 7-8 runs in a day exhausted from the push-up or exhausted after 15? Do the maths folk. Inevitably 15 runs create far more wear and tear whilst offering twice the ride. (NB this is a generic not a BPW example, but you get the point).
BikePark Wales maybe initially had a few gaps in their pricing model and could have communicated it better which as you can see below they have now addressed but fundamentally they have been brave in setting a differential that protects what they do best i.e. continually building better progressive trails for all of us. As an organisation, they have from the start not been afraid to differentiate in trail design, the definition of a bike park, their commercial model through having a full time paid trail crew and now differential pricing for ebikes. Sometimes they may not get it 100% right but credit for always being brave and for always leading the way in the UK for our sport.
Anyway, I leave you their explanation in their own words but first a prediction: In 5 - 7 years time e-bikes could well be the norm and there will be a discount for pedal only push bikes.
We had not thought that the introduction of a charge for e-bikes would be quite so controversial; we have listened to the feedback both supportive and understanding, and negative and at times angry. Introducing this entrance fee was never about ‘driving profits’ as all of the entrance fee revenue goes into maintaining and developing trails, it was about ensuring that we can continue to do that into the future and introducing a price differential between ‘standard’ self-propelled mountain bikes and electric, ‘pedal-assist’ mountain bikes which we feel is the right thing to do and now is the right time to do so.
We have been watching the market for a few years and spent time on e-bikes ourselves both inside the bike park and outside at other venues to understand them; they offer a slightly different experience to standard bikes and open up other ways of using the bike park. Riders are generally able to ride a lot more trails using an e-bike than they would do so when climbing under their own steam. Our business model is one of continual trail evolution with maintenance, trail rebuilds, improvements and new trail developments funded by our pedal pass park entrance fees and by using profits from the uplift service. The introduction of the ebike entrance fee serves to differentiate between the users, the potential for more use of the trails in a day (and subsequent increased wear) and ensures that our business model and importantly our trail network can keep developing into a great place to ride, on whatever style of bike you may choose! Taking onboard the feedback and listening to our customers, we have chosen to adjust the pricing of the e-bike entrance fee and have added clarifications below where people have misunderstood our intentions:
E-bike riders booked onto the uplift will not be subject to the e-bike charge. Any E-bike riders not booked onto the uplift will pay the e-bike entrance fee (This includes those who purchase individual runs on the day on the uplift). Current season passes remain valid and existing holders are unaffected by the charge. They are to collect their e-bike passes in the usual way at reception. When season passes are set to renew in January we will introduce a two-tier pass – one standard season pass and one for e-bikes. Riders who can only use an e-bike due to a physical disability may contact reception and enter the park for the standard park entrance fee of £8 (or the standard uplift fee). All other ebike users will be subject to the ebike charge irrespective of age/weight etc. E-bike riders will be provided with a unique entrance band to display on the bike.
Finally, we have decided to adjust the entrance fee for ebikes from £15 to £12 with immediate effect. This is to reflect the fact this is not about profit but to ensure there is a differentiation between self-propelled riders and e-bikes for the reasons already indicated. We are excited about e-bikes and how they may continue to improve in the future, we hope to see e-bikers coming to ride at BPW and enjoying the trail network riding alongside standard mountain bikes, and this pricing differential is the model that will allow that to continue into the future. Our customers are our key concern, we have listened to feedback and hopefully the points above clarify our position.
The BPW Team