Rejuvenating Design: Bikes, Batteries, and Older Adopters in the Diffusion of E-bikes

A. Peine*, V. van Cooten, L. Neven

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Old age is not normally associated with innovativeness and technical prowess. To the contrary, when treating age as a distinct category, policy makers, innovation scholars, and companies typically regard younger people as drivers of innovation, and the early adoption of new technology. In this paper, we critically investigate this link between age, ineptness, and technology adoption using a case study of the diffusion of electric bikes in the Netherlands. We demonstrate how, during the first wave of e-bike acceptance, old age was constructed as an arena in which important learning processes took place, and where older persons became early adopters of e-bikes. Theoretically, this paper speaks critically to the prolific literature on innovation diffusion and its treatment of adopter categories as generic concepts. Using age as a central dimension, our research highlights the situated and constructed nature of adopter categories, and thus challenges age-based assumptions about innovation and technology use by younger and older persons. These insights about what we term the rejuvenation of e-bikes help us rectify existing biases of older persons as an inherently problematic group of technology users.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-459
Number of pages31
JournalScience, Technology & Human Values
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • aging
  • diffusion of innovation
  • e-bikes
  • technology adoption
  • user representation


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