Flywheel | April 24, 2022
Featuring the top 5 used vehicles of the week and exploring the future role of bike shops
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 an electric cargo bike, an electric touring bike, a folding fat-tire ebike, and two electric cruisers. The observation of the week explores the future role of bike shops.
Top 5 Vehicles of the Week
If you’ve seen an electric cargo bike roaming the streets of your neighborhood, odds are it was a RadWagon. Rad Power has really nailed the affordable end of the micromobility spectrum, and the RadWagon is really the Dodge Caravan of ebikes given that it is by far the cheapest reliable cargo bike on the market. The RadWagon is the ultimate family ebike, featuring an integrated rear rack with 350lbs cargo capacity that riders can easily mount child seats, seat pads, and cargo carriers to. The powertrain consists of the standard Rad Power package of a 750W rear-hub motor and a 672Wh battery pack to give riders 25-50 miles of range. The frame design and 22” custom tires also give the RadWagon an incredibly low center of gravity and allow it to be extremely nimble. The RadWagon doesn’t have many of the bells and whistles of modern ebikes (i.e. GPS tracking or an app), and it’s a bit heavier and clunkier in design. But at a price point that is roughly 2 to 3 times lower than its competitors, there is no better choice for families looking for their first minivan replacement. This specific listing has very low mileage and comes with 2 kids seats and a rear seat pad. Listing can be found here.
The IZIP E3 Zuma Luxe 2.0 is a class-2 cruiser designed for relaxed neighborhood and commuter riding. Its powertrain consists of a 500W Bosch mid-drive motor and a 420Wh battery pack. Unlike most ebikes, the Zuma actually uses a CAN Bus (a similar system to those found on cars) for vehicle diagnostics. That combined with IZIP’s highly reputed customer service, the Zuma is an affordable cruiser that’s very easy to maintain. Interestingly, this listing specifies that the transaction must take place in front of a police station. This is a requirement that’s (understandably) come up quite frequently on vehicle listings. Safety when transacting with a stranger from a service like Craigslist has long been a concern, and theft during a test ride has often been reported as a major fear for sellers. There’s likely an opportunity for a 3rd party to manage and supervise a used vehicle transaction in order to ensure safety and trust for sellers. Listing can be found here.
The Ecotric Dolphin is a budget class-2 folding fat-tire ebike. Given that the bike retails for less than $1K, the Dolphin’s functionality and componentry is quite limited. Its powertrain features a 500W rear-hub motor and a 450Wh battery resulting in only 20-30 miles of range. The bike also doesn’t have a speedometer, suspension, or integrated lighting (a feature that is slowly becoming standard amongst ebikes). While the Dolpin is a perfect starter vehicle for leisure rides, its not well suited to more intense commutes or off-road riding. Most notable about this listing is how it’s being sold by the seller. I’ve spoken a few times about how ebikes can easily be customized and often use many plug and play, interchangeable components. For that reason, this seller is not only selling the bike itself, but also selling just the bike’s battery in a separate listing. There’s also another Ecotric model that the seller is selling in a similar way. Listing can be found here.
The Tesoro Neo X1 is a class-3 touring bike designed for “bikepacking.” As a trekking bike, the Tesoro focuses on providing incredibly long range for riders. Featuring Bosch’s performance line 250W motor, a 625Wh battery, capability for dual-battery setup, and an ultra light alloy frame, the Tesoro can reach up to 105 miles in range. The Tesoro also has adjustable suspension in the seat post and front fork and even has an app that monitors vehicle health diagnostics and reminds riders when they are due for maintenance. Distributors often market the Tesoro as a commuter bike, but this bike is a bit overbuilt for that use-case and there are quite a few more affordable options in that sector offering similar features. This specific listing is actually being sold by the vehicle’s second owner as the vehicle is in its third life. This is a testament not only to the quality of the Tesoro, but also to the appetite for used micromobility and the longevity of light electric vehicles. Listing can be found here.
The Electra Townie Go! 8i is a class-1 cruiser that is frequently ranked as one of the best cruisers and one of the most affordable ebikes by the likes of EBR. Featuring a 250W Bosch performance line mid-drive motor, a 400Wh battery pack, and an 8 speed Shimano Nexus shifter on an upright step-through frame, the 8i is an ebike purpose-designed for long commutes and cruises. The biggest advantage of purchasing an Electra bike is access to a wide dealer and maintenance network. Electra was recently acquired by Trek, meaning that most bike shops around the country support servicing of Electra bikes and typically have plentiful inventory of Electra replacement components. This specific listing only has 23 miles of usage and is sold by Orange County Cyclery. The LA bike shop has also conducted a 100 point inspection and full tune-up of the vehicle before listing it. Listing can be found here.
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Observation of the Week
The future role of bike shops
There was a recent article on Bicycle Retailer by Rick Vosper featuring bike retail expert Ed Benjamin’s take on how D2C ebike brands are disrupting the role of bike shops.
In this feature, Ed argues that the fundamental role of bike shops is being disrupted by D2C brands like Rad Power and Aventon. By selling at an average price point of $1500, D2C brands are able to undercut bike shops that sell ebikes are $2500 or higher. While servicing is typically the”achilles heel” of D2C brands, D2C brands are heavily focusing on designing vehicles that are as maintenance free as possible. Ed contends that ultimately, this shift relegates bikeshops to “the role of showrooms and service centers.”
I tend to agree with most of Ed’s view. So what is the future role of bike shops? In the automotive industry, car dealerships typically make more profit from used cars than they do from new cars. I contend that the same will happen with bike shops.
As reported in a previous edition of Flywheel, the median price point of used ebikes is ~$1400, and the average price point is ~$1850. Immediately from a pricing perspective, venturing into used allows bike shops to compete with D2C brands.
More importantly, even if future D2C vehicles become maintenance-free, that feature typically stops at the end of the first life of a vehicle. No major D2C brand to date has made any notable inroads in the secondary market. Furthermore, their lack of physical real estate to perform services critical to used vehicles means that D2C brands are actually at an inherent disadvantage to bike shops.
Most D2C brands don’t provide diagnostic reports and vehicle health assessments to sellers of even their own vehicles. They typically don’t extend their warranties to vehicles in their second life, and they barely service used vehicles. Buying used vehicles from riders or fleets is also mostly out of the question for most D2C brands.
Bike shops have an incredibly critical role to play in the future of transportation and the transition to alternative transportation, but it is imperative that they pivot to the reality of consumer behavior in the owned micromobility sector. The secondary micromobility market will only continue to boom, and there is a massive opportunity for credible services and distribution that bike shops are best positioned to take advantage of.
That’s it for this week. Thanks again for joining, see you next Sunday!
- Puneeth Meruva
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