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Flywheel | April 03, 2022
Featuring the top 5 used vehicles of the week and exploring the tracking of micromobility assets.
Welcome to Flywheel, a weekly exploration of the used side of owned micromobility. Each newsletter will highlight five of the most interesting used vehicles being sold in the market followed by an observation of trends emerging in the industry.
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This week’s features are a moped-style ebike, three commuters, and an ebike motor controller. The observation of the week explores the tracking of micromobility assets.
Top 5 Vehicles of the Week
The Segway-Ninebot C80 is one of the first of what I suspect to be a growing class of moped-style ebikes. Technically a class-2 ebike, the C80 has a 750W rear-hub motor capable of regenerative braking and a 1152Wh removable battery pack that give riders 50 miles of range. The vehicle’s moped-style seating with a floorboard, front-wheel suspension, and a two-stage central shock absorber make the C80 extremely comfortable and smooth to ride (CNET even calls it the most comfortable ebike they’ve ever ridden). The C80 weighs close to 200 lbs, so it’s not a vehicle that you can easily carry into your apartment. However, the vehicle comes with a number of anti-theft features (i.e. smart auto-lock, seat sensor, handlebar lock, and a phone or NFC tag key) that allow you to securely park it outside. This ebike toes an interesting line in the micromobility taxonomy; it is larger and more comfortable than an ebike yet is smaller than a moped and doesn’t require insurance and registration. However, this form factor ambiguity can be confusing for bicyclists that think there’s a moped driving in the bike lane and for car drivers that don’t understand why there’s a moped on the road that can’t keep up with traffic. In fact, some C80 riders have even been pulled over by the police due to such confusion. Some may say this vehicle is a bit too early for the current state of micromobility adoption, I think (or at the least hope) that it actually ushers in a new understanding of what micromobility and small electric vehicles can be. Listing can be found here.
The Luna Stealth is a commuter designed to be a “hipster electric bike that is so stealth it will really be hard for anyone to tell you’re riding an ebike.” Modeled after fixed gear pedal bikes with minimalistic frames and cabling, the Stealth mimics the same subtle and clean aesthetic by integrating its 500W mid-drive motor and 250Wh battery directly into its aluminum frame. The stealth theme also extends to the riding experience of the vehicle, with the bike’s Gates Carbon Drive CDX belt drive and Shimano 3-speed internally geared rear hub producing a very quiet and smooth ride. The Stealth is a lot less powerful and has a smaller range than Luna’s typical high-speed ebikes, but its minimal componentry make it extremely light, affordable, and ultimately a vehicle perfectly tuned to the commuter use-case. This specific listing only has ~200 miles of usage and was bought less than a year ago. Listing can be found here.
The Nucular 24F is a motor controller that allows riders to upgrade the performance of compatible Sur-Ron bikes. It’s a fully programmable controller that can provide an additional ~2000W of power or 20%-30% increased power of acceleration. It also enables a few interesting features for a standard Sur-Ron like regenerative braking, reverse gears, and customizable power profiles and riding modes (i.e. eco, commute, and performance). The proliferation of a secondary market for components is really exciting because ebikes are like Legos that can easily be customized and modified with different parts, and custom upgraded components often drastically increase the value of a vehicle. This specific listing is in like new condition and was bought less than 8 months ago. Listing can be found here.
The EQ Silver Arrows ebike is a city-commuter by the n+ Mercedes-Benz team. There’s a few mega brands that have ventured into the ebike space, but most typically just add their branding to an existing ebike without a proper analysis of the end product’s UX. The Silver Arrows ebike on the other hand makes it clear that n+ Mercedes-Benz team thought deeply about the urban commuter use-case and designed a vehicle around it. The base frame, belt drive (Gates Carbon Drive CDX), and motor (Bafang 500W mid-drive) of the Silver Arrows ebike are actually the same as the Luna Stealth featured above, but the battery pack is upgraded to a removable 500Wh dual battery pack and the internally geared hub is upgraded to a 5-speed internal shifter. This specific listing was only ridden once and being resold because the seller’s riding needs changed. Listing can be found here.
Featured on a previous edition of Flywheel, the Magnum Pathfinder is one of the most popular ebikes amongst delivery couriers. The powertrain is composed of a 500W rear-geared hub motor and a 624Wh battery pack. It’s 20” fat tires combined with a low center of gravity step-through frame make the Pathfinder not only very comfortable to ride on urban roads, but also very easy to mount and dismount when making frequent stops. This specific listing was previously used for deliveries (~1000 miles of usage), and comes with a an insulated delivery box mounted to the rear-rack and newly installed tire tubes. Listing can be found here.
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Observation of the Week
The Tracking of Micromobility Assets
One of the biggest challenges in the secondary micromobility market is the lack of tracking and history of vehicle assets. In the automotive world, cars are registered and ownership is officially transferred. In aviation, all maintenance on an aircraft is reported and recorded in a ledger. Tracking of a vehicle’s history of ownership and servicing is ultimately a way of increasing trust between buyers, sellers, and manufacturers in the secondary micromobility market.
Let’s take a look at VanMoof’s vehicle tracking as a case-study. The ability for a seller to transfer ownership of their vehicle to the new buyer gives buyers trust in the fact that they are not buying a stolen vehicle. The transfer of ownership and historical tracking of vehicle component health and servicing gives VanMoof trust in the state of the vehicle and enables them to transfer warranties and other service subscriptions.
Unfortunately, most other vehicle brands don’t do this. So for buyers buying a vehicle on a secondary marketplace like Craigslist, they have no idea if the vehicle they’re considering is legitimately owned by the seller or if the state of health information provided by the seller (if such information was even provided to begin with) is accurate and credible. Similarly, vehicle brands also don’t want to get involved in secondary transactions of their vehicles because they don’t want to get stuck being responsible for a vehicle they have very little context on.
There is a massive opportunity to build a Carfax for micromobility, a credible 3rd party service that can keep track of the history of a micromobility asset, verify it, and check it against directories like Bike Index and other regional vehicle registries. Given how micromobility vehicles are often composed of plug-and-play sub-parts, such a service could even extend to keeping track of expensive components like battery packs, motors, and other electronics. Such a tool not only improves the buyer-seller experience during a transaction, but also enables more 3rd party services that can exist coupled to the asset as opposed to the original buyer.
My friend and former BD Manager at Superpedestrian Worth Smith recently pointed me to some of the work that Dutch used bike marketplace BikeFair is doing to build the Carfax of micromobility. BikeFair recently launched Bike NFTs, a way to digitally record ownership. When a bike is purchased through BikeFair, the company gives the buyer an NFT with the vehicle’s frame number, price, conditions, and features. This NFT can then be used by the buyer to prove ownership in case of theft or impound and can be transferred to subsequent buyers of the vehicle. Currently, these NFTs can only be edited by the BikeFair team, but the company hopes to soon decentralize the system to allow other 3rd parties that interact with a vehicle to edit the NFT and record the interaction (i.e. a partner bike shop recording a maintenance servicing on the vehicle). I’m not sure how necessary the use of NFTs is here (after all, Carfax is not an on-chain service), but it’s exciting to see a new and innovative attempt at improving tracking, visibility, and trust in the secondary micromobility market.
That’s it for this week. Thanks again for joining, see you next Sunday!
- Puneeth Meruva
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