Inquiry | Deconfinement or the revenge of the little queen

    Inquiry | Deconfinement or the revenge of the little queen

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    Angel Bike electric bike Marc Simoncini (Seb)

    TWO WHEELS | If the bicycle is the big winner of deconfinement, French companies are taking up the challenge of innovation and high-end products, between the hyper-growth of the market and production difficulties.

    It provides a simple pleasure, like that of letting yourself be intoxicated by a soft feeling of freedom or of feeling the wind slip by on your cheeks … The velocipede marketed in 1886 by Peugeot is not limited to the Tour de France, the first edition of which in 1901 was widely encouraged its use, but to millions of people – nearly two in five French * – who use it every day. The click occurs on the occasion of an unexpected gift, a need to let off steam, a family tradition, too long journeys on foot, or more recently, a search for an alternative to public transport. Its use, which had increased during the strikes, exploded with the covid-19 epidemic putting new customers in search of social distancing on the saddle. A comeback on the hats of wheels for manufacturers, in particular those of electric bikes, big winners in order books (+ 12% in 2019, 388,100 units). But this “velomania” which is gaining the country, encouraged by the communities with significant aid – its amount of up to 500 euros in Ile de France – now comes up against the lack of producers in France. However, French manufacturers do exist, but none can claim to be 100% French … ” The assembly of French brands is done in Europe even if the majority of parts come from Asia like the steel frame. The world’s largest bicycle manufacturer today is Taiwanese »Explains Olivier Roche, founder of Probike Shop, leader in online sales of bicycles and equipment in France, which has just recorded a turnover of 100 million euros. Staying in the peloton is the goal of French brands like Mustache, Cycle Lapierre, the Manufacture Française du Cycle and the latest new ones like Angell, Bike or 1886 Cycles… which must produce at the same price as the competition. ” My starting point was ” made in France ”, but I arrived at a selling price that was twice as expensive as the competition. I took the problem the other way around by dealing with the import while maximizing local production to achieve the same selling price. »Says Benoit Richard, founder of 1886 Cycles, whose retro-curved collections appeal to customers in search of simplicity. ” after having revamped a lot of bikes during my free hours, I wanted to create a bike that once again becomes a beautiful, reliable object, and easy to use, but above all that does not change every 100km »Explains the young entrepreneur from Saint Etienne. A return to his roots for the Saint-Etienne who has set up his workshops in the historic cradle of cycling: ” Saint Etienne was the market place where all the manufacturers came to buy their spare parts »He specifies.

    Innovation and know-how, the two breasts of France

    But then what to do with this heritage when most of the industrialization is in Asia? ” Design, quality and even innovation are our tricolor assets with an increasingly demanding clientele. »Clarifies Olivier Roche. It is aimed at demanding cyclists ” that we help to cross a course by buying high-end. Probike starts off where Decathlon leaves off. “. In short, to resist, you have to innovate, a motto adopted by Marc Simoncini, co-founder of Angell Bike, whose brand is exploiting a new segment, that of the intelligent bicycle: its connected handlebars serve as a “cockpit” to guide the bike. user, protect him and help him navigate the urban jungle. ” We have extremely advanced technology to respond to the problem of passenger safety but also that of the bicycle ” he explains. A victim of its own success, the smart bike with its sleek design stamped “Ora ïto” has tripled its number of orders even though it has not even been delivered yet. The entrepreneur had to review his copy in order to increase his production by forging a partnership with the French household appliance group Seb: “ The electronics are developed in France as well as the frame, but it is today beyond the reach of fully making a bike like Angell Bike in France. »

    French know-how as a guarantee of quality represents new opportunities for manufacturers, particularly for export, such as in the United States where the number of cyclists has also increased considerably. Like Zéfal, a company founded at the end of the 19th century based in the Loiret, manufacturer of bicycle pumps but also bottle holders or repair kits for inner tubes: ” We like to manufacture from A to Z in our factory. Our company has gone through the ages by adapting to market developments, by diversifying. For example in recent years we have made water bottles and mirrors. ” says its managing director Aurélien Brunet. After a period of complicated confinement with the closure of factories, the company had to respond to an explosion of orders from mid-May. Because it continues to produce 60% of its activity in France, the small company of a hundred employees has been able to tackle its competitors. The 40% increase in its turnover in June even made it possible to compensate for the losses: “ these weeks have been incredible, we hope to retain the loyalty of the people who have turned to our products “. A challenge to be taken up with their distributors to deal with private labels (private labels) which are also growing in importance: ” Innovation is part of the DNA of the France. Zéfal continues to adapt its offer, particularly around urban mobility. »He concludes.

    Urban mobility, when the challenge of the future is combined with the present

    Supported by the government with its PDM (Mobility Plan) which intends to triple the share of bicycles in daily journeys by 2024, urban mobility is a crucial issue for manufacturers and the economy more generally. To the question of optimizing the development of metropolises for cyclists, Marc Simoncini answers to tackle it in his way of entrepreneur of Tech: ” by manufacturing bicycles our first objective is to improve the quality of life in cities, 5% of our turnover is devoted to financing innovative start-ups via our ” Angell Lab ”. »Secure bicycle parking, integrated GPS sensors, smart accessories, or collaborative rental… so many start-ups that are leading in their path to the creation of new jobs. An economy that thrives as cycle paths grow longer but still too limited to large cities. ” There is no not enough greenways in the countryside »Deplores Olivier Roche of Probike Shop, himself very practicing. The 21st century will be the century of sustainable and ecological mobility or it will not be…

    Some numbers

    66% is the increase in bicycle traffic compared to 2019.

    400,000 subscribers is the number of Vélib ‘subscriptions.

    45.2% is the share that electrics represent in the bicycle market in terms of turnover.

    840,000 is the number of bicycle trips in France.

    5% is the first drop in Ile-de-France in bicycle trips.

    45% is the share of European bicycle parts imported from Asia

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