The Apprentice: Electric
Bikes – Our Expert Review

Raleigh Electric Bikes featured on episode 4 of the 2019 series of BBC’s The Apprentice. Candidates were tasked with designing and selling their own electric bikes, where the team with the fewest sales lose the task, and someone in the losing team gets fired!

In this article, Technical Manager Adam casts an expert eye over the candidate’s choices and final designs, looking at what they did well, and what they could do better.

Before we get started, let’s recap the brief:

The Task: Designing an electric bike

Candidates were tasked with creating their own electric bikes. When designing their bikes, both teams went down very different routes. One created an electric folding bike whilst the other produced what appeared to be an electric adventure bike. There were very different results between the two.

About electric bikes

An electric bike is like a normal bicycle, only fitted with a powerful motor that offers the rider assistance when they need it – it effectively makes it easier to pedal, meaning they can travel further, and for longer.

Looking for a leisurely ride around the park or a forest trail? Use an eco level of assistance. Big hill? Stick it in Turbo, and use the power from the motor to help you up terrain you wouldn’t normally be able to ride up.

Electric bikes still give you the freedom of a bicycle and the fresh air and exercise you’d normally get from a bike ride. The difference is, you have an extra level of assistance to help you along.

Woman standing with a Stow-e-way folding ebike near the beach coast

Bike 1: E-Fit

The Brief:

Target market: A mature rider that hasn’t ridden in a while. They want to build their fitness with the safety net of being able to turn on the electric motor to get home.

Price: £950-£1200

Strapline: “Push your boundaries, get home safely”

Expert Review:

The team intended to design and produce a bike for the mature rider, however after reviewing the final model, unfortunately it misses the mark.

In our opinion, there are three key areas that show this:

  1. Colour - the mix of orange frame and red wheels makes the bike very niche and also reduces the age of the customer likely to buy

  2. Decals - The rocket decal on the front is childish and not suitable for the mature customer

  3. Folding pedals - Not suitable for this consumer or the bike type

There were some aspects of the design that would appeal to their target audience however:

  1. Handlebars - selected for a more comfortable riding position

  2. Saddle - focused on comfort

  3. A rack - a practical touch for this type of consumer

At the moment, this bike falls between two different segments. At first glance, I would assume this is an adventure bike – designed with versatility in mind, to be used both off and on the road.

You can see this by the choice of frame and the fact it has no suspension fork, making the bike lighter and therefore easier to build up speed on.

The team decided to include mudguards - adventure bikes are often ridden on gravel or mud and therefore designed to be mudguard-compatible.

Finally, whilst the colour is quite niche, thrill-seeking customers want their bikes to stand out in a crowd. If this colour was ever going to be used on a bike, you’d see it on an adventure bike.

We’d recommend a few improvements to the design would make this a more credible adventure bike.

A sporty saddle would be more suitable for instance, and the current bike has folding pedals which are unnecessary. They are smaller, more expensive, and the ability to fold them up doesn’t add any practicality as the handlebars do not fold.

We would also swap the tyres for ones with less tread, and remove the rack off the back, to help to make the bike easier to race on.

Finally, the current handlebars are a comfortable choice, but adventure bike customers want racing style features.

Our Verdict: Far too niche and impractical for a buy in

Picture of the e-fit ebike designed on the Apprentice

Bike 2: Aphrodite

The Brief:

Target market: affluent Mum taking time out of work, riding to the park or going to the beach with the family

Price: £1200-£1700

Persona: Sophisticated Sarah

Expert Review:

Reviewing the bike based only on its looks I would assume it is a commuter bike, or for a customer with limited storage in their home. With this in mind the bike meets most of the requirements that we would look for:

  1. Frame - Good size. Also folds which is ideal

  2. Saddle - very comfortable

  3. Pedals - Folding pedals help make the bike's footprint smaller

  4. Tyres - Good for all round use, ideal for commuting

  5. Handlebars - Offer a comfortable riding position and are easy to fold when the bike is finished with

To improve the design, we would recommend:

  1. A rack - As this bikes needs to fit into small spaces a basket is not very practical. A rack would offer similar used, but is much smaller and easier to fold away

  2. More decals - The bike is one bold colour. We would suggest including a few more decals and a more neutral colour

The Aphrodite is a great attempt at creating an electric folding bike, and with some minor revisions could do very well.

Our Verdict: Would expect a reasonable buy in from stores

Picture of the Aphrodite ebike designed on The Apprentice show

Interested in your own Electric Bike? Check out the Raleigh range here.

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