ExtraEnergy wants to thank readers for their overwhelming and quick response to the statement regarding test reports in the latest issue of “aktiv Radfahren” magazine. Since the statement appeared on ExtraEnergy.org on 3 July 2009, it has been making waves among consumers and in the industry. ExtraEnergy would like to take this opportunity to add to the original statement.
Since publication of the statement regarding test reports in the July/August issue of the German bicycle magazine aktiv Radfahren, ExtraEnergy has received a lot of positive feedback. Among others, there were offers from various publishers and publications interested in taking over the aktiv Radfahren job and publish the test reports – on conditions which are considerably better.
ExtraEnergy would like to answer some questions here which have surfaced repeatedly in discussions in the past days:
Range and assistance factor are linked
ExtraEnergy started testing electric bikes in 1992 to give interested parties test results – especially about range – obtained under conditions which made the results comparable. It is important to recognize the fact that range is not the be all and end all – the assistance factor plays an equally significant role. What does one have from a bike with a range of 150 kilometer, if one almost doesn’t feel the motor and still has to push the bike up the hills? The truth is: the stronger the support, the quicker the battery empties and the shorter the bike’s range. It is, therefore, important to always look at these two factors in combination. This is only possible, if the tests are all conducted according to the same method, on the same test track and using the same test procedure. These are the testing principles of ExtraEnergy. The organization views tests as unacceptable, which have been conducted using different methods and criteria, because these results are not comparable.
Judge for yourself:
· ExtraEnergy’s test results of the Sparta Ion (page 80) and the almost identical Batavus Padova Easy Glamour of aktiv Radfahren (page 103)
In the July/August 2009 issue of aktiv Radfahren, ExtraEnergy reported a range of 36 kilometer on the tour track and 13.5 kilometer on the hill track for the Sparta Ion (on page 180) – and judged the bike to be “Very Good”. In contrast, aktiv Radfahren tested the Batavus Padova Easy Glamour, which is an almost identical bike, and mentioned (on page 103) a tour track range of 60 kilometer. On the hill track the Pedelec apparently managed 24 kilometer and, in savings mode, more than 125 kilometer. The test evaluation: “Good”. However, in the aktiv Radfahren test no mention is made of the assistance factor, which requires expensive technology and lots of time to measure.
· TransX systems in the test of aktiv Radfahren
The magazine aktiv Radfahren tested a number of bikes with the TransX system. What caught the eye, was that the ranges measured, differed tremendously from bike to bike. For example, the Union Swifty was measured at 37 kilometer and the Sachs Elo-Bike at 72 kilometer.
In its 2009 Test, ExtraEnergy had two bikes of every model to be tested, and managed to determine that the way the system was calibrated had a major influence on the assistance factor. That is, apparently, why the aktiv Radfahren tests ended with major differences between the bicycles, which were not balanced out by pre-calibration. With the TransX system such a calibration should be done after every test ride. The fact that it wasn’t done, is more proof that experience and expert knowledge is required for reliable test results.
How does ExtraEnergy e.V. finance itself, without putting its independence at risk?
It goes without saying, that even a consumer protection organization such as ExtraEnergy needs money to fulfill its mission, namely to conduct and publish independent product tests. ExtraEnergy e.V, which was established after market research done in 1992, does everything in its power to find and maintain a neutral position and to prevent manufacturers from influencing results. Among others, the legal form of the organization helps to make this possible: The registered non-profit organization has a democratic structure, with an elected board, members and articles of association which is open to the public. Any private individual may become a member, but companies are excluded. There are also no sponsored memberships, or anything of the kind, for manufacturers.
ExtraEnergy finances itself from activities such as the organization of symposiums (since 1995), supporting programs at bicycle trade fairs (since1995), banners on the portal, that are partly booked directly and partly via the agency Veloads, staging test ride events for third parties (such as cities or shopping malls) and, of course, product tests. When it comes to the tests, the participants have to pay in advance. That means, manufacturers must pay before the test results are released, to prevent manufacturers from influencing the results by withholding their money. In the Spring 2009 Test, manufacturers paid €4,522 per bike for the test. Publication of the test report in the magazine aktiv Radfahren cost them another €714 per bike (prices incl. of MwSt; see the registration form for the 2009 Test). Since not all manufacturers wanted to pay for publication of their test reports in aktiv Radfahren, only 25 of 28 test reports were included in the magazine.
Maximum neutrality and clarity of the ExtraEnergy tests
Here are the mechanisms introduced by ExtraEnergy to ensure the highest possible independence of its test results:
• The manufacturers participating in the test, had to deliver their test bikes in duplicate to ExtraEnergy. For each bike they had to complete a questionnaire, with the manufacturer’s description of the model (eg. prices etc.)
• All tests are conducted in public. At the 2009 test all manufacturers were invited to be present for the duration of the test. Interested people could also come and observe the testing and ride the test bikes themselves.
• At the ergonomics test in Lorsch and the mass test in Germersheim, more than 300 test riders were able to test ride all bikes in the test extensively.
• The over 100 volunteer testers conducting the ergonomics tests in Lorsch, had to sign that they were not connected to any bike manufacturer, or trader and were impartial.
• All tested bikes remain in the bike collection at the head office of ExtraEnergy in Tanna, which is open to the public.
• The sale of the test places and the writing of the test reports were done by different people inside ExtraEnergy. The sales were concluded by Sonjy Glauert, the testing were headed up by Melanie Wiederkehr and Frieder Herb, and the summaries were written by Hannes Neupert, based on all test data and the statements made by the test riders.
• All results were documented as they were created and are transparent in their understanding. They are the result of a team working together.
Experience has shown that only hard, but honest, test results have real value for the manufacturer. Also when the indignation is sometimes big, there is almost nothing worse for a manufacturer than selling a lot of bikes which he has to recall later for repairs. In the meantime, many manufacturers who were initially angered by bad test results, are now thankful, since the results have prevented them from having to recall.
The meaning and goal of the tests are, among others, also to test models on their suitability for daily use, before releasing them on the market.
To Part 1 of the statement
Copy: Hannes Neupert
Translation: Christoffel Volschenk
Published: 9 July 2009
Last changed: 16 July