Editor’s Note: This list does not include anyone who owns an e-bike company and makes a living doing e-bikes. No one wants to pick the top 10 of them… what a bag of cats that would be.
I was sad when Ron “Spinning Magnets” didn’t write his customary “Year-End Electric Bike Review” article in 2016, the most exciting year for electric bikes of my life. That’s because the e-bike industry is moving a bit fast right now, and the pace is a bit erratic, and some old-schoolers don’t know how to react. I’m Eric Hicks and I started this site six years ago in an attempt to move an industry forward that I thought was completely stagnant and I thought an honest review might help . As someone who hasn’t made a dollar from the industry in years, I’ve learned that passionate people who put in a lot of time promoting e-bikes and really care about them are often overlooked, forgotten and shunned by those in the e-bike industry. If you say a negative word in a comment, you get hated.
No matter what I write, e-bikes are still expensive, heavy, ugly, and about 8 years behind in technology. To industry people? I’m the one with the lousy domain name (electricbike.com). Who cares if I think this e-bike industry is like a bunch of old Fred Flintstones with crappy e-bikes and kits.
so i started www.lunacycle.com That way I can really breathe some life into the place and get into the e-bike industry. This happened in 2015, but none of the reputable e-bike journalists would cover it—so you’ll just have to read it here. The silence was deafening. If your favorite e-bike reviewer had nothing to say about Luna Cycles or Sondors… I’d write him and ask why?
Back in 2012, I wrote a story here “The Most Influential People in the Electric Bike Revolution”…the people most likely to actually move this thing forward. I was naive at the time, and I was really embarrassed by some of the people I put on the list. This year, I rewrote that old article to leave e-bike business owners off that list and just write about the unsung heroes…the ones who are pushing e-bikes forward because they purely believe in e-bikes.
Three people on the new list survived from the old list. I think this is a very honest list. In fact, I know at least some of the people on this list don’t like me, but their contributions to e-bikes are undeniable, personal and business differences aside.
Here’s a list of the 10 most influential people in the US e-bike revolution who aren’t industry players…meaning they don’t own an e-bike company.
Also, in order to qualify, they must own and ride an e-bike. It sounds unbelievable, but many e-bike company owners have never ridden an e-bike. Once you qualify as a “can’t own an e-bike company” you won’t believe how difficult it is to make this list.
At first I tried to make a list of people who couldn’t make a living off their e-bikes full-time, but then 3 people on the list disappeared and it became more difficult to come up with 10 names.
Am I forgetting someone? If I do, please let me know in the comments.
Dogman Dan is a throwback to the old list and is the most active poster on any e-bike forum that I know of (Nowhere near second). Dogman has more posts than anyone on ES. Read Dogman’s story about building an affordable e-bike commuter. Even though he does full-time support work for a DIY company, we figured it was just getting paid for something he loved doing, and for free anyway. Over the past 5 years, Dogman has been of great help to countless novices. Keep going, Dougman Dan.
2017 marked a new day in the e-bike world, with Facebook e-bike groups becoming as big and influential as forums. Philip Hillis founded and runs probably the most active Facebook e-bike group, Sandos Riot Owners Group Not only does it have 5,000 members, but it is very active with active members.
Whether you love this guy or hate him, you have to appreciate what he’s done for electric bikes without making a single dollar. This guy loves e-bikes and doesn’t get a salary from them and has dedicated most of his life to e-bikes, so he’s pretty cool for us. Bob even came close to joining the electricbike.com team at one point and he received a warm welcome. Bob has been organizing e-bike test rides that have grown over the years and are something every major city needs.
A survivor who disappeared from our list five years ago. He remains one of the most talented e-bike engineers in the world and his bikes are amazing. He’s never made a dime from electric bikes, and doesn’t care if he does. Just to give you an idea of who this guy is…he’s one of only two Asians to ever be on the cover of WIRED. This guy is in the unique position of saying he doesn’t care about money…and means it. He owns a lot and doesn’t care too much about profiting from his hobby… the way to get this guy to market one of his awesome bikes is to make him believe his bike is going to make the world Better.
Ben builds possibly the most elegant DIY bike ever, and the process is perfectly documented on ES. Check out the article here. It’s not exactly garage build, the man has access to some amazing tools in his workshop, but the Dogati bike shows what is possible for one to build using mostly off-the-shelf electrical components. This bike is powered by a 3220 Astro Flight engine. Expect to see this bike on the market soon, and it may be the most elegant commercial bike on the market. Courtesy of Benjamin Button Bikes.
We’re excited to see fresh young guys on this list who are blazing their own trails and showing the public how cool e-bikes can be.Micah created this site Electric Bike School From the ground up to educate people about the joys of e-bike building. His videos are down to earth and do a great job of breaking down difficult concepts into understandable terms. Micah is a pioneer in e-bike manufacturing and along with other young heroes such as Damian Rene is another budding young star making great videos that make e-bike battery building look fun .
Although Micah and Ebike School do have some Kickstarter projects…Micah doesn’t get a full-time salary from these efforts, and thus deserves a spot on this list.
Be sure to subscribe to his The e-bike school website is here.
Although Bruno does work full-time for an e-bike company, Bruno builds and runs the most active non-commercial youtube.com e-bike channel on the web. He has an exciting style that’s not standard for industry reviews and reviews (and that’s a good thing). Bruno screams “More Power!” The catchphrase has become the anthem of many power-hungry subscribers (now over 5000). Please visit Bruno’s YouTube page and be sure to subscribe.
Richard Fechter is behind the scenes Endless-sphere.com, the original and one of the largest DIY e-bike forums. He’s pretty much the builder of it, and has been running it as the main administrator since its inception. Even though it has changed ownership several times and made a ton of money, this guy has been running it and never made a dollar out of it. It’s about time the guy who built it on the DIY forum gets credit over the guy who bought it (cough).
Ron helped Eric Hicks (who recently owned lunacycle.com) build the site from a naked domain 7 years ago. Ron has put in countless hours helping electricbike.com become one of the most popular e-bike websites in the world, from a blank slate with a killer domain name. Before electricbike.com, Ron was an avid poster and moderator of the Endless Ball forum, patiently helping thousands of newbies get into electric bikes. Recently Ron and Eric started Fast e-bike facebook groupRapidly growing to 2,000 members in two months, it is a raucous group of e-bike enthusiasts.
Build and race the fastest e-bikes ever, and put the e-bikes in the limelight. Not only does he risk life, limb, and personal ruin, but he also posts profusely and generously shares his knowledge in a smart and funny way. Greatest entertainer in the e-bike world..at least once a week I think about how much the e-bike world will suffer, mourn and moan if this guy had a bad crash..let us all go back at least three years and Suck away the wind. A great community. He built the fastest e-bike ever built. (Read our story on the 10 fastest e-bikes).
Rejected by the big e-bike forums (and even banned by ES FB) for being too radical and authentic, e-bike cyclist Karl Gesslein rebelled and built from a simple WordPress site one of the foremost e-bike review sites on the planet. Few in this industry write the truth… Carl is fearless. Why?his blog www.electricbike-blog.com He does not accept advertising fees and does not sell products. It’s become more than a blog, and is as powerful a source of e-bike reviews as any other. Carl writes great stories and reviews, and they just keep getting better. He has become one of the most respected voices without making a single dollar in the industry.
I love this… the first time I spoke to Carl last year, I felt so connected. The black sheep of the forums start their own blogs…and that’s how it rolls. The way he thinks and speaks reminds me of what I did when I started electricbike.com. Talking to Carl made me nostalgic for writing and building a blog.
I’m proud to be Karl’s blogger mentor and help with his advice on how to make his blog work…in return I get a lot of life advice and bike advice. Sometimes he even helps me spell check my writing. Some people will call this friendship like the blind leading the blind, then I’d say “stop thinking in clichés, give it 6 months and see where the chips are”. Then asked Carl if I spelled “lie” correctly.
His blog keeps getting better, improved photos, improved domain name, “all in” writing style…in 2016-2017, finally, new, awesome DIY e-bike products just keep getting better , so he has the advantage of being able to write cool stuff (a blessing I didn’t have when I first started as a blogger)
ride on carl
By Eric, February 2017