My electric bike is finally back from the repair shop. I think it's been in the shop for about three months now. Because of the Corona pandemic, I don't go out very often, and it doesn't take much time to go out by car because there are no tourists and traffic. So I was not bothered by the absence of my electric bike for about 3 months.
This is the same model.
After about 3 years of riding, the battery suddenly stopped charging, and I had to replace it. The first time I ordered a new battery, it was done quickly, but that battery was also dead, so I had to wait 3 months for the second one.
Even before this battery problem, this bike had many problems. When I first bought it, something broke every week, and a repair person had to come back every week to get it fixed. The gears, the drive chain, and other parts of the bike can be repaired at a regular bike shop, but the electric parts have to be repaired by this company. It costs about $10 to fix it, but it was very convenient that they came to my house to fix it.
So, after having this electric bike for 4 years, let's discuss whether you should buy an electric bike in Bali or not. First of all, early adopters enjoy having something that not many people have, so they don't mind if there are some problems, and I might be one of them ;-). However, I wonder if the current market for electric bicycles meets the general public's expectations.
Firstly, the price of electric bicycles is too high compared to the rest of the world. The electric bicycle I bought cost about $600. Last year, just before the Corona pandemic, I had a meeting with the Bali government and a Chinese electric bike company wanted to enter Indonesia. I showed the Chinese businessman the local electric bicycle market. . I took the Chinese businessman to the shop where I bought my electric bicycle. This shop boasts that their bicycles are made in Indonesia. Still, in reality, they are just assembling parts made in China. Therefore, this Chinese businessman understood the actual value of this bicycle. According to him, the electric bicycles sold in this shop are two to three times more expensive than the equivalent ones sold in China. It's not uncommon for a lesser-known product to be overpriced at first. But two or three times the price seems too high to me. I researched and found that the bike I bought could be bought for around $300 on Alibaba in China.
The second reason is the low quality of the product. Even if each part is made from reliable imported products, as mentioned above, there are many cases where there are problems with inventory control and quality control. In the case of my bike, the quality of the assembly was such that the brake disc suddenly fell off when I was riding it. As for the bike's design, even though the bike is designed for off-road use, the bike's electric controller is not waterproof. The electric controller is placed in the area where mud usually hits it, so I later changed the position. Also, the battery, which cost half the price of the car itself, had to be changed twice because of the lack of quality control of the first battery. When my car is taken to Toyota for services, none of the problems mentioned above occurs. Therefore, there are no electric bicycle companies in Indonesia that can manage the quality of operation, yet.
The third reason is that there are no electric bicycles in Bali that meet our needs, there are very cheap electric bicycles in Indonesia that cost around $200, and my neighbour uses one. Still, to be honest, it is like a toy with a shopping basket, and I don't think you can actually go shopping with it. The one I own has a 250-kilowatt motor and can go shopping, but it will never be able to get to the airport 20km away (I used to ride bike 200KMs a day when I was cycling around Australia). The roads in Bali spread out like fish bones towards the sea. The road is built on the peaks between the rivers, which extend to the sea from the main road. At the same time, the division between the rivers is the boundary of the village. So if you want to get to the next village by the rice terraces without taking the main road, it's a bit of downhill mountain biking and hill-climbing. With a 250-kilowatt motor, if you have a scooter behind you, you'll be at the front of the traffic. It's a good workout, but I don't feel like doing this up and down again to get to the airport 20 km away. I would like to have a more powerful electric bike, but it doesn't exist because the need for electric bicycles is small and high-powered electric bicycles would be only bought by niche stars of hipsters who live in Canggu.
I don't think people should buy electric bicycles in Bali yet because of the high price, the low quality of products, and the lack of products that meet Bali's daily use. However, this situation could change quickly.
Last year, the Bali Provincial Government created a plan to replace 20% of conventional cars and motorbikes with electric vehicles in Bali within 10 years. This has been supported by the central government of Indonesia. There are 100 hectares of land on the west side of Bali used to build electric cars and bikes. 85% of the production process, such as batteries, can be from outside of Bali, so the hurdles are low. A few years ago, the Bali Provincial Government set aside 100 hectares in West Bali to build a renewable energy facility. It's such a fitting number and location that they must have turned this renewable energy story into an electric car. Suppose electric cars and bicycles can be produced in Bali. In that case, foreign investment could be used to introduce quality, affordable and powerful electric bicycles. The Bali Provincial Government is prepared to provide financial support and is looking for private companies to work on this project. If you want to contribute to Bali's development beyond tourism, why don't you raise your hand?
This is a bit off-topic, but Indonesians have always loved bicycles for recreation. When I came to Indonesia about 30 years ago, I already saw a bicycle shop for recreational use. Nowadays, there is a community in Niche Star, Jakarta, where they make their own electric bicycles. Since the Corona pandemic, the sales of folding bicycles have increased tenfold!!