By on February 6, 2020

People who make more money and go on far more vacations than yours truly tell me it’s important to never drive. Lower your carbon footprint by hopping on a bike, they say. Yes, even in January — it’s popular and the people who do it, well, they love it!

While I’ve no qualms with pedalling on a nice warm day, toss in snow and ice and face-paralyzing cold and I’ll politely tell these cheerleaders, “No thanks, I’d sooner be dead.”

But what if ditching four wheels, crumple zones, 10 airbags, and a heater meant not having to give up on my beloved automotive brand?

You read yesterday about Jeep’s collaborative effort to bring a fat-tired electric e-bike to market emblazoned with the brand’s go-anywhere badge. Jeep is hardly the first automaker to lend its name to a bike. It’s a growing movement, with numerous auto manufacturers collaborating with bike makers or bikeshare startups as they chase that great mobility pie, eager for a fat slice.

Will it pay off? Meh, if done correctly, with little expenditure, it might be good for a revenue trickle. For now, fleets of real vehicles bought by real retail and fleet customers are what butters an automaker’s bread.

A bike that does some of the work is an appealing proposition for the non-hardcore rider; paired with a do-anything vehicle, the urge to hit the trails in a Jeep-branded bike only grows. Manufacturers are counting on that emotional connection to spur sales.

Question is, are you feeling that emotional connection? Would you be more likely to buy, or possible spend more on, a bike — even an electric mountain bike — if it came wearing a certain badge?

[Image: Fiat Chrysler]

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45 Comments on “QOTD: Enticed by Two-wheeled Branding?...”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Only 2 wheeled car branded devices I’m interested in are motorcycles… and neither Honda nor Suzuki make a 3 banger, which is a real shame. This year I am looking to build up a road bike around a carbon frame from China (sorry Baruths).

  • avatar
    RangerM

    You could slap an Apple logo on about anything and people would buy it. Don’t think that’s where Jeep is.

    The key is the product, and if it provides enough value over alternatives (or the competition).

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I think Jeep is the automotive equal to anything Apple, it’s all about lifestyle

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      That particular bike for that price, no. It’s kind of a let down to me that they chose sort a not particularly off-roadable bike to for this foray. If they’d partnered with a more off-road worthy bike partner and packaged it with the gladiator, I could see some appeal. The Gladiator is already showing up quite a bit at mountain bike trail heads so it seems a natural – with the right (i.e. real capable, modern equipment) bike.

  • avatar

    Related (but not): this weekend, as I was walking across a parking lot into a store, I saw an aftermarket gas propelled 10 speed wheeling along in front of said store. It passed by quickly enough that I could not determine where the motor was mounted, but it appeared to be a direct drive setup – i.e. roller propelled tire. Somewhat noisy, but no more so than an older car with exhaust leaks. Wanted to ask the rider what kind of range he gets per how much gas the tank would hold. Guessing the motor cost as much as the bike more than likely.

    To the question at hand: not for the money that an e-bike would cost and only as a novelty if the bike was a standard human powered conveyance – cost still being a factor. I wouldn’t pay more than a token amount regardless of branding.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I can see this being a huge success with the “woke” (no judgement) urban hipster who insists he’s doing his part by biking it every day no matter the weather. I can even see it being an alternative to owning a car in places like Chicago or NYC

    Plus the “cool factor” will be right up there with owning the right puppy/iphone/skinny jeans/beard/tats… you get it ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I don’t see why they (we?) would buy this over a cheaper non-car branded bike. A single speed with gravel tires is enough for most city weather.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        I think the point of this article was branding. Jeep has the rugged, outdoor adventurer cachet that a bike like this could benefit from. We can always do something cheaper with the no name equal, but where would iphone, Rolex, BMW, etc. be without branding status?

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          Frankly, brands are a detriment in the city. A branded bike just screams “steal me!”

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            TMA1,

            good point. My x-boss was riding 12 mile trail to work on his $5000K bike. He was able to park it inside the building. If you can’t take it inside, it is a no go for a good bike

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            I biked to work in good weather when I lived closer, and that was only because I could lock it up in an interior courtyard with no access to the outside.

            Last time I locked it up in public, I came out to find a guy prying open the U-lock with a crowbar. The bike was saved, but the lock was ruined. The fire dept. ended up having to cut through it so I could take my groceries home. And the bike I had before that was successfully stolen. So I hope the car-hating crowd will forgive me for not having much faith in bikes as viable transportation.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            I wouldn’t say so. A smart bike thief can tell an unbranded bike with high end parts apart from a cheap Trek. Slapping Jeep on an otherwise mediocre bike doesn’t make it more valuable to thieves.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @SportyAccordy: The fact that it’s a Jeep bike with ELECTRIC drive automatically makes it more valuable.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            You must live in a world of Ocean’s-11 class bike thieves. I don’t give them the credit to be intelligent enough to view one set of components as being better than another. But they are smart enough to choose to steal the Trek over the Huffy, and ride it right down to whatever pawn shop that will give $20 instead of $5 for the cheap Target bike.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            There are two kinds of bike thieves.

            The first is just looking for a drug fix. They will steal any unlocked bike, remove seat posts and wheels, cut chain locks, etc. They may or may not know anything about bike components but they really don’t care. Speed and easy marketability are the name of the game.

            The second is looking for stuff they can chop and turn around for serious money, and they absolutely know what is what. They target what they want over time and are prepared to defeat serious locks and/or the things the locks are attached to.

            You can pretty much eliminate your risk from the first type of thieves by using the right locks and anti-theft hardware. There is nothing you can do about the second type of thieves, and they are a big deterrent from riding non-crap bikes for transportation.

          • 0 avatar
            Sloomis

            “brands are a detriment in the city. A branded bike just screams “steal me””

            And the average bike thief is probably dumb enough to think slapping a Jeep badge on a bike means it’s valuable. When I lived in Chicago some rocket scientist broke into my garage and literally moved my wife’s new $450 Trek hybrid out of the way so they could steal my old, beat-to-heck Schwinn mountain bike that was worth about $20. Because…Schwinn? Mountain bike? Still can’t figure out the thought process to this day. Then the dummy realized real quick the Schwinn wasn’t worth stealing and abandoned it down the street, where I found it the next day…

  • avatar
    bobmaxed

    As a life long bike rider I would Never buy a bike without knowing who actually made it. And if Jeep actually did make a bike I wouldn’t trust it. Just as I would not buy a truck made by Trek.

    • 0 avatar
      loner

      Agree. When I see this sort of thing, I think, “marketing gimmick used to sell a generic product”.

      If I’m going to buy a bike based on brand name, it will be a brand name associated with building great bikes.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Hard to disagree. But this is only if you put some pride in your purchase. If you don’t care who makes it, as long as it is a product with the logo, then… like would a person care that their iPhone was made by a Foxconn worker who later committed suicide?

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      QuietKat made that. It’s about 6k. It has very much less than premium parts and it’s the kind of bike that would be sold out of a bass pro shop.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        6K? You mean dollars? I could buy two new Honda Scooters for that price! Or an actual motorcycle.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Bikes get very expensive. They are high tech and have a rich customer base.

          • 0 avatar
            MrIcky

            Yes, bikes get very expensive. You could get something like a Trek Rail or Specialized Turbo Levo with high-zoot carbon fiber frames that weigh 20lbs less than this quietkat with good suspension and components for about the same price.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Mricky: Does that include electric drive and batteries?

          • 0 avatar
            MrIcky

            @vulpine, ya both of those are “e-mtbs”. They’re pedal assist to make them legal in more places but the motor basically does 4x the work of your legs.

            They’re pretty impressive.

          • 0 avatar
            MrIcky

            I got curious and looked it up- the Trek uses Bosch motors and batteries. The Specialized uses house brand but probably also Bosch or Shimano.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Mricky: Methinks I might just buy one of these. I need the exercise of pedaling but when it comes to taking on hills, I need all the help I can get. Even as a kid I had to walk my bike up hills simply because I couldn’t get up them otherwise. Lifelong asthma sufferer and not doing any better now that I’m retired, but I still want to ride and pedal where I can.

          • 0 avatar
            MrIcky

            All the major bike mfg make em now- some are quite a bit cheaper than 6k, btw. Those I mentioned were just in the 6k range and highly off-road capable (like bike park/drops/jumps capable).

            Hope you find one that suits, have fun.

          • 0 avatar

            European luxury bikes? They can sell them for $60,000.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      In the 90’s there was the cross marketed VW Jetta Trek edition. You got the bike, roof rack and the trim package all together. Apparently it was popular.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Considering how many other things carry the Jeep brand, from luggage to baby carriers and who knows what else, I’m not surprised that Jeep is backing an electric bicycle. At least this one has some possible off-road chops, too.

  • avatar
    lifino

    About the only Auto/Bike collaboration that ever made as much sense as the effort put into making it happen was Lotus type 110 and more recently the project with Hope Technology. True to the Lotus brand these are/were track focused engineering projects which had significant impact (in the case of the 110 – new bike will be at 2020 Summer Olympics) on the sport.

    Any other Auto branded bike is just that, a branding exercise; a bike with a Jeep logo on it. Chrysler will turn more profit by putting the Jeep logo on water bottles than they will see in a bike. But the bike isn’t going to detract from the brand, and brand awareness is more valuable than a couple dollars they might squeeze out of the sale of a few bikes.

  • avatar
    dont.fit.in.cars

    It didn’t sell BMW’s…so no. What do I know, I’ve cross the geezer threshold working the backside. Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    The answer is, a resounding NO. I’ve seen these bikes in various dealers and in people’s garages. Probably got the bike free with purchase of the car. My friend had a Peugeot bike. But I never seen anyone ride one on the street. Here is a website for this http://www.mtbtreks.com/which-car-companies-make-mountain-bikes-bikes-from-car-brands/

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      Peugeot has been making bikes for 200 years, before they were making cars. They won the tour a lot in the old days, but you don’t see them much anymore. A peugeot tie in would make a lot of sense, particularly in Europe where they still talk about Eddy Merckx.

  • avatar
    lstanley

    Hilarious. I actually own a Jeep branded mountain bike. My wife won it for me at a drawing at Applebees.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    I had a Peugeot bike in college. Now I have an Electra, but it’s not electric, nor is it a Buick.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    Why do some people think $2,000 for a carbon mirror option is ok but $500 for a bike is too much?
    As a serious bike rider, the cost of leather or AWD upgrade is about the right amount to spend on a bike to be ridden daily.
    High end $10,000 bikes are mechanical jewellery in the same way as $1M supercars are except they can be ridden hard without going to jail.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Interesting piece of psychology here
      – I want red paint on my car. – $500. – Ok
      – here is $1000 bike for you. – no thanks. – do you have something for $300?

  • avatar
    dal20402

    This appears to be a pretty mainstream e-fatbike. Bafang motor and controls, what looks like low-midrange Shimano non-brake components, hard to tell what the brakes are beyond being 180 mm hydraulic discs.

    But, no, the Jeep badge does not make me more likely to buy it. (And I don’t want a fatbike anyway. My next bike purchase will be an endurance road bike upfitted for commuter duty.)

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    If you can make Ferrari a clothing and laptop brand, making Jeep a bike brand isn’t too ridiculous.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Peugeot made bikes LONG before they made cars, and peppermills long before they made bikes. There hasn’t been a connection between the bicycle company and the car company in nearly 100 years.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycles_Peugeot

    I had two Peugeot bicycles long before I had a driver’s license. They were quite popular in the US in the 70s and 80s.

    I also have a very nice Peugeot salt shaker and peppermill.

  • avatar

    “Question is, are you feeling that emotional connection?”

    Absolutely! It just has to have the brand name “Ford”. Oh wait, Ford already makes bicycles.

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