E-bikes are the online education of the cycling world.
Just as online programs enable students to earn their degrees without quitting work or moving, e-bikes allow ordinary people to climb hills and go on long rides.
Electric bikes are proving to be the savior of the biking industry. While sales of traditional bikes in the US fell by 8 percent last year, sales of e-bikes grew by 73 percent. About 400,000 electric bikes will be sold this year.
They are more profitable for bike stores than traditional bikes, both in initial sales and in after-sales service.
Last year, when my older daughter took our second car to college, I purchased a Trek Verve+ (~$2,300) from our local bike store, Omer and Bob's. Since buying my e-bike, I've ridden it about 2,300 miles.
Court Rye is the founder, website developer, host, and CEO of ElectricBikeReview.com. Armed with a digital camera, a laptop, and YouTube - Court has been able to build a one-person e-bike media empire.
With an education in business and a work background in technology, along with some postgraduate training in film, Court has been able to create the world's most influential e-bike destination.
The mainstream press completely missed that there is a passionate and rapidly growing community of e-bike enthusiasts. The media world did not understand that the e-bike manufacturers would need to build awareness of their offerings.
I look at what Court Rye has done with ElectricBikeReview.com as an early signal of the jobs of the future. Ten years ago, nobody could have predicted that his job would be creating video and text reviews of electric bikes. It is a job that did not exist.
The range of skills that Court needed to launch and run his site are varied. They involve the ability to write, create video, and program a website.
Court also needed to have resiliency and perseverance. The first two years of ElectricBikeReview.com involved living out of his truck, as he traveled around the US and Canada to do e-bike reviews and build his audience.
The best jobs of the future will be those that don't exist today. Even our graduates that go to work for established employers will need to create their jobs within these organizations.
The worrying part of the success of ElectriBikeReview.com, and electric bikes in general, is what all this says about the future of inequality. Electric bikes are life-changing, but only for the segment of the labor force in jobs that allow them to spend thousands on an e-bike.
Court Rye has created a compelling platform and community around e-bikes, and along the way, invented a new type of job. One that combines the skills of a reporter or reviewer, with those of a programmer and videographer.
However, he is only one person. The digital economy does a great job of creating a very few number of wonderful jobs. But it does not seem to create a large number of pretty good jobs.
What do you think that e-bikes, and ElectricBikeReview, say about the future of work and higher education?
How many of us in higher ed are using e-bikes to swap driving for riding?