Intense Bikes struck an amazing deal with powersports super distributor Parts Unlimited to distribute their Intense Tazer MX E-bike to a claimed 12,000 powersports dealerships worldwide. In a word, wowzer! While we have reported how various motorcycle companies have jumped into the E-bike business, this agreement is a serious threat to these motorcycle manufacturers who distribute only through their authorized dealership network. Parts Unlimited (or Parts for short) has no such limitations.
Parts has the ability to sell the Tazer MX E-bike to any powersports retailer involved in motorcycle sales, UTV and ATV sales, motorsports repairs and motorsports accessory sales. This deal is so huge it has the potential to bury every competitor in the off-highway E-bike category (although there is an argument to be made that the Tazer MX E-bike would make a fine commuter). The deal also threatens bicycle shops who have relied on E-bike sales to help their bottom line although many of the bikes sold by Parts Unlimited will ultimately be serviced by independent bike shops.
The Intense Tazer MX E-bikes come in medium or large sizes in “Pro” and “Expert” versions, designations that will confuse motorsports customers. A “Standard” model and a “Works Edition” would have required less translation (as would travel in inches rather than millimeters). Photos show bikes expertly spec’ed for the powersports customer (and I wouldn’t expect anything else from Intense’s Jeff Steber and his crew). Intense uses a dual-crown fork, a coil-over shock and Magura 4-piston hydraulic-disc brakes on their “pro” build. Very nice. Even the Expert build gets a coil-over shock. These are specs I believe are needed for the increased speed and punishment that an experienced motorsports customer will exhibit on an E-bike.
The bikes’ suggested retails of $8000 for the Works, I mean Pro, and $6,000 for the Standard will generate sticker shock in motorcycle showrooms where many off-road bikes sell for half that amount. The other spec that will look wrong to motorsports customers is the 250-watt Shimano Steps motor. This motor assures that the bike complies with European limits, but it is seriously under powered in the bigger-is-better American motorsports market.
Intense partnering with Parts Unlimited is a major coup for the small, boutique-brand bicycle company. They have created a unique E-bike model that is tailored for the motorsports customer. The largest problem Intense faces will be keeping up with the potential demand of 12,000 motorsports retailers (Intense’s dealer network numbered around 100 bicycle shops in North America and Canada before the agreement was announced). It will also be a learning curve for motorsports retailers not used to selling size-specific vehicles. I assume that most bike servicing will be performed by bicycle shops who have the special tools and unique skill set needed for servicing bicycles. This, plus the fact that bicycle shop service rates are a fraction of what motorsports dealers charge.
Parts Unlimited is in the business of distributing products. If initial sales of the expensive Intense E-bikes are strong (or weak), they will be tempted to expand their E-bike business with lower-priced and more-powerful models from a company like CSC Motorcycles who currently sell their E-bikes directly to riders or from a company like Luna.
Electric-motorized bicycles should be restricted from use on natural surface trails intended for hikers, equestrians and human-powered cyclists. Many land management agencies have permitted E-bike use on their trails while others do not permit their use. It is a confusing situation that even a bicycle trade organization has trouble monitoring. I assume many of the E-bikes sold through motorsports shops will be operated on Off-Highway Vehicle trails (where they belong) and used as pit bikes. I hope that Parts Unlimited invests in properly educating their retailers (and their customers) on where the bike can and can’t be operated legally.
It will be interesting to watch how this partnership disrupts the current bicycle and E-bike distribution and sales model. Congratulations to Intense. I hope you are ready for the big time.