Why this business is at the forefront of Norfolk's e-cycling revolution

Tom Thornley, managing director of Pauls Cycles ,which has opened a dedicated e-Bike Centre in Dereham

Tom Thornley, managing director of Pauls Cycles ,which has opened a dedicated e-Bike Centre in Dereham - Credit: Archant

A Dereham firm has adapted its shop space to cope with increasing demand for electric cycling. 

Pauls Cycles, off Yaxham Road, has opened a dedicated 'e-Bike Centre', showcasing some of the finest products on the market. 

Pauls Cycles has opened a new e-Bike Centre at its store in Dereham

Pauls Cycles has opened a new e-Bike Centre at its store in Dereham - Credit: Archant

While e-bikes have taken off in Europe in recent years, the UK remains slightly behind the curve. 

However, their popularity on British shores is rising dramatically, as people look to reduce their carbon footprint, improve fitness and embrace the great outdoors. 

Pauls Cycles has been selling e-bikes for five years, but managing director Tom Thornley revealed demand had skyrocketed since the dawn of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Tom Thornley, managing director of Pauls Cycles, at the firm's new e-Bike Centre in Dereham

Tom Thornley, managing director of Pauls Cycles, at the firm's new e-Bike Centre in Dereham - Credit: Archant

He said: "We got to a point where we had so many customers asking to see e-bikes that we decided to create an e-bike centre, so they can go straight in and see everything we have to offer. 

"This trend has been a real explosion. In Europe you are looking at 50pc of sales being e-bikes, whereas in the UK it's more like 20pc.

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"There's still a long way to go but, if we can get the product in and raise awareness, we think this is a really exciting market."

E-bikes work using a small motor, which is engaged by pedalling lightly

E-bikes work using a small motor, which is engaged by pedalling lightly - Credit: Archant

E-bikes work using battery-powered assistance, meaning users must simply pedal lightly to engage a small motor which gives them a boost. 

They are flying out the door at Paul Cycles, with around 30 being sold every week during the peak season. 

At times, Mr Thornley said, a significant majority of customers coming into the store were looking specifically for electric bike products. 

Some of the products on offer at the new e-Bike Centre at Pauls Cycles in Dereham

Some of the products on offer at the new e-Bike Centre at Pauls Cycles in Dereham - Credit: Archant

"The most exciting thing for me is the number of non-cyclists entering the market," he added. 

"It's a really accessible way into cycling as a leisure pursuit. And, because of the cost of living, a number of consumers are moving away from using their cars, but still need speed and reliability to get to work."

George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, visited the new e-bike centre last week and was enthusiastic about the growing enthusiasm for cycling as a whole. 

Tom Thornley, managing director of Paul Cycles, with George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk

Tom Thornley, managing director of Paul Cycles, with George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk - Credit: Archant

"Cycling is really taking off, partly due to the pandemic and partly families thinking it is much healthier and often much quicker. 

"More and more people are cycling and I think we've got a particular opportunity to utilise that here in Norfolk."