Flywheel | August 01, 2022
Featuring the top 5 used vehicles of the week and exploring the role of electric scooters in owned micromobility
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 three commuters, a long-tail cargo bike, and an all-terrain ebike power station. The observation of the week explores how the safety, reliability, and perception issues of electric scooters have prevented them from playing a bigger part in the owned micromobility conversation.
An interesting opportunity for Flywheel readers this week: If you’re in SF over the coming weeks and are interested in test riding initial production units of an electric scooter that replicates the rideability of an ebike and is truly the first scooter I want to own, reply to this email.
Top 5 Vehicles of the Week
The Ride1Up Prodigy XR is a class-3 commuter and the best affordable mid-drive commuter on the market. Mid-drive motors are often preferred by riders over hub motors because they feel like a more natural extension of pedaling. However, given that mid-drives are also often more expensive, you typically need to spend well over $3K to find a mid-drive ebike with a high quality motor. Featuring a 90Nm Brose TF Sprinter mid-drive motor and a 504Wh battery back, the Prodigy XR offers a budget mid-drive option with a premium powertrain. The Brose TF Sprinter motor is a particularly impressive addition that further extends the smooth rideability of the Prodigy XR. It uses a torque sensor instead of a cadence sensor to provide pedal assist in an intuitive way and has an internal belt reduction system (instead of gears) that make the motor so quiet that it’s virtually undetectable. This listing is being sold with only 13 miles of usage because the seller decided to upgrade to a larger cargo bike. Although the vehicle is still within its return window, Ride1Up actually asked the original owner to try and sell the vehicle locally on his own. In fact, they even offered him a $350 Ride1Up credit (that the seller is including with the vehicle) and are allowing him to transfer the warranty to the new buyer. Returns are one of the largest issues that D2C ebike brands face. Shipping and handling costs are typically hundreds of dollars, so it’s often cheaper for manufacturers to just pay the customer a portion of the MSRP to keep the vehicle instead of taking an even larger loss by processing the return. Listing can be found here.
The VanMoof S3 is VanMoof’s flagship model and arguably the best class-1 commuter in the market. VanMoof is frequently referred to as the Tesla of ebikes because of its exceptional suite of integrated software and electronics. Everything on the S3 is vertically integrated and developed by VanMoof, from its motor (59Nm hub motor) and motor controllers to its firmware and battery pack (504Wh). This enables VanMoofs to have the best software features on the market: over-the-air updates, automatic shifting, anti-theft alarm, Apple Find My tracking, seamless stealth lock, boost button, and extremely granular vehicle metrics and health data tracking. VanMoof’s control over vehicle software and access to vehicle data also makes it one of the best bikes to sell in the secondary market. When selling a VanMoof, sellers can transfer ownership of the bike via the VanMoof app. When ownership is transferred, all vehicle data, maintenance records, and subscriptions to peace-of-mind services are also automatically transferred to the new owner. This specific listing has never been used and the vehicle is still in its original packaging. Brand new, in-package vehicles like this have quickly become a common trend with harder to find D2C ebikes that have long wait times. For example, there are currently 4 other new in-package VanMoof S3s available in NYC alone. If you can verify that the vehicle is actually still in its original packaging, confirm its proof of purchase, and make sure that it hasn’t already been registered, these types of listings are great options to find brand new bikes with zero wait times at prices that are often hundreds of dollars cheaper than MSRP. Listing can be found here.
The Cowboy 4 is another tech-forward class-1 commuter and the closest competitor to the VanMoof S3 or X3 in terms of software and electronics functionality. The software features of the C4 (also enabled by Cowboy’s high-level of vertical integration) include crash detection, theft detection, GPS tracking, and an integrated cockpit where a smartphone can dock onto the vehicle to charge and provide an interface for navigation and ride analytics via the Cowboy app. Crash detection is a notable difference between Cowboy and VanMoof that improves the safety of the vehicle. Other key differences include Cowboy’s swappable/removable battery, slightly less powerful powertrain (45Nm hub-motor and 360Wh battery pack), and a belt drive. This listing is virtually new at less than 10 miles of usage. As an extension to my previous comment about there being an increasing number of in-original-packaging ebikes from D2C brands in the secondary market, there’s also several brand-new Cowboy 4s in NYC selling for ~$1,400 less than MSRP. Listing can be found here.
The Magnum Payload is a class-2/3 long-tail cargo bike. Magnum has quickly become a popular brand amongst delivery riders and couriers, particularly because of the reliability of Magnum ebikes. There’s also a number of features Magnum has added to the Payload to make it an excellent choice for cargo haulers. The motor is a powerful 90Nm hub-motor specifically designed for fat-tire cargo bikes, and the large 624Wh battery pack gives riders an estimated range of 50 miles. The Payload even comes standard with a built in front-rack, a long rear cargo deck, two lower side decks, and a suspended seat. Selling at a competitive $2,500, the Payload comes with a lot of premium components and accessories despite firmly being in the budget price range for long-tail cargo bikes. This listing is a certified refurbished vehicle from Zoomo that used to be a part of their courier-rental fleet. Listing can be found here.
The Mokwheel Basalt is a new class-3 all-terrain ebike designed for long outdoor adventures. The vehicle on its own is an excellent trekking ebike, featuring a powerful 90Nm, 960Wh battery pack, full suspension, fat-tires, and hydraulic disc brakes. However, what’s most interesting about this vehicle is that it’s designed to be “the world’s first power station ebike.” The Basalt battery pack can be connected to a Mokwheel 1000W inverter and is compatible with 18V-48V solar panels. Given these features, the Basalt is an effective independent energy storage system to power camps and other outdoor setups. The ability to use your vehicle as power storage is a feature that is available or will be available soon on most electric cars (i.e. Ford F-150 Lightning and its onboard generator), but this is one of the first times its been actively designed and marketed for on ebikes. This is a very new product that just recently completed its Indiegogo campaign, so the jury is still out on how effective this ebike is as a power station. However, the Basalt is a fascinating exploration of how ebikes can be used beyond their utility of moving a-to-b. This listing is in new condition yet is selling for ~$1,150 less than its MSRP. Listing can be found here.
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Observation of the Week
The role of electric scooters in owned micromobility
Electric scooters have been a bit absent in the owned micromobility conversation, with much of the public interest in owning a micromobility vehicle being focused on ebikes. However, scooters have a huge role to play in the sector and make a lot of sense for the urban commuter. Scooters have a much smaller form-factor than ebikes, which plays really nicely in urban transport. They are harder to steal because they can easily be carried indoors, they are more compatible with intermodal trips because they are portable and require very little space when brought onto a public transit vehicle or stowed in the back of a car, and they are much more approachable and accessible for new riders who are afraid of not being able to easily mount and dismount an ebike. There’s a case to be made that scooters are perhaps even better commuter vehicles than ebikes, yet they still feel somewhat anonymous in the owned micromobility landscape. I believe this is due to a couple of key reasons:
Safety: Scooters have smaller wheels than ebikes, which reduces their stability and ridability. This is a particularly big concern for US cities where infrastructure and road conditions tend to be poorer.
Reliability: Most scooter options today really feel more like toys. They break easily and feel rickety. Some scooters frankly feel like they would snap in half if you accidentally drive them over a pothole.
Perception: There is still a negative stigma around scooters of being a toy. They aren’t perceived as cool products that people aspire to associate themselves with.
There’s a massive opportunity to bring the rideability and reliability of an ebike and a compelling user brand to the versatile and portable platform of a scooter. If you’re in SF over the coming weeks and are interested in test riding initial production units of an electric scooter that tackles this opportunity and is truly the first scooter I want to own, reply to this email.
That’s it for this week. Thanks again for joining, see you next week!
- Puneeth Meruva
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