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Flywheel | August 29, 2022
Featuring the top 5 used vehicles of the week and an interview with Brett Thurber, Owner and Co-Founder of The New Wheel
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 emoped, a delivery city bike, and three commuters. The observation of the week is an interview about Bay Area ebike shop The New Wheel with its Owner and Co-Founder Brett Thurber.
Top 5 Vehicles of the Week
The ONYX CTY2 is an emoped/class-3 ebike hybrid. Designed to be a city friendly, affordable version of ONYX’s flagship RCR emoped, the CTY2 is capped out at 48mph (in sport-mode) and utilizes a lower-spec motor and battery pack. That being said, the powertrain is still monstrous. ONYX doesn’t reveal motor specs, but some reviewers estimate that the rear-hub motor has a torque as high as 160Nm. Paired with a 1,380Wh battery pack, the company claims that this powertrain allows you to climb 100% grade hills (45 degree angle) and gives you 60 miles+ in range. Although the CTY2 technically has a class-3 mode (capped at 28mph) that it can be limited too, how to verify and enforce that riders remain in class-3 mode when in bike lanes is a confusing challenge for regulators and fellow riders alike. This listing has less than 400 miles of usage and comes with proof of ownership. Listing can be found here.
The Zoomo Zero is a class-3 urban delivery bike. Specially designed for delivery couriers, the Zero is optimized for high durability and uptime. Its powertrain features an 80Nm front geared hub motor and a fast-charging capable 628Wh battery pack, giving riders up to 35-50 miles of range/charge. Both the battery and rear rack are neatly integrated directly into the frame to reduce maintenance, and there’s an electronic lock with GPS tracking directly mounted to the rear wheel. This listing has moderately high usage (Flywheel estimates ~2000 miles) but has been inspected, certified, and refurbished by Zoomo. It’s also eligible for Zoomo’s optional peace-of-mind maintenance subscription plans. Listing can be found here.
The Serial 1 RUSH/CTY is a class-1 city cruiser by Harley-Davidson’s ebike subsidiary brand. Featuring a Gates Carbon belt drive, continuous Enviolo hub, and built in rack, fenders, and lighting, the RUSH/CTY is designed to be the ultimate commuter with minimal maintenance. The powertrain is also built on premium componentry: a 90Nm Brose mid-drive motor and 529Wh battery pack. While the RUSH/CTY is an excellent and high quality ebike, it is ultimately a bit overpriced and undifferentiated from other premium class-1 ebikes. The design misses the opportunity of incorporating accents of Harley-Davidson’s signature aesthetic, and the vehicle doesn’t have the exciting acceleration or rideability expected of a Harley. This listing is almost brand new and likely still has a transferable warranty. Listing can be found here.
The Rad Power RadCity is a budget class-2 urban commuter, and arguably the most comfortable commuter in this price range. Unlike other Rad Power bikes, the RadCity has a slightly larger frame and narrower tires. Combined with a front spring suspension fork and cushy tires, these frame design decisions make the bike feel robust while also being nimble and smooth. The RadCity also uses a direct drive motor (no internal gears) as opposed to Rad Power’s standard geared hub motor to improve the reliability of the motor. As Micah Toll puts it, “the design is basically bulletproof and could easily last a decade or more.” This ~90Nm torque motor is combined with a 672Wh battery pack to give riders a reliable 35 mile range/charge. This specific listing has very little usage (68 miles) and comes with proof of purchase and a custom rear passenger seat. Listing can be found here.
The Cannondale Canvas Neo 1 is a class-3 urban city bike. Falling somewhere between a sporty bike and commuter, the Canvas Neo 1 rides and feels like an electrified pedal road bike. There’s a nimble feel to the Neo 1 (due to its 75Nm Bosch Performance Line CX motor, 500Wh battery PowerTube, and 10 speed Shimano Deore drivetrain) that makes it an excellent option for road biking enthusiasts. However, the Neo 1 isn’t the best commuter option when compared to others in this price range. The battery pack is a bit small, the ride is a bit uncomfortable (due to the lack of suspension or comfortable saddle), and there are really no notable software features. That being said, this specific listing is a good value option given its low resale price. For $2,500, prospective buyers can get a bike with low mileage, Bosch powertrain, and access to Cannondale’s vast maintenance network. Listing can be found here.
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Observation of the Week
Chatting with Brett Thurber of The New Wheel
This week, I had the pleasure of chatting with Brett Thurber, Owner and Co-Founder of SF ebike shop The New Wheel. The New Wheel has been an SF institution and a valuable member of the Bay Area ebike community for over a decade.
When speaking with Brett, what immediately stands out is his focus on service. He believes that what's made The New Wheel so successful (sold ~1600 ebikes last year and on track do the same this year) is their focus on providing a very hands-on, service-oriented experience for their customers. The bike shop started off 12 years ago with a focus on helping customers discover their exact needs and even building custom ebike packages for them when necessary, and it still continues to do the same today. You can see this in action when you visit The New Wheel's shop; many of their ebikes are already fitted with exact setups required for almost all customer use-cases imaginable.
Servicing is one of the most important aspects of selling ebikes. Brett says that most of the D2C ebikes he typically sees in the Bay Area are newer because the lack of comprehensive servicing from D2C brands leads to their ebikes rarely lasting very long. Ultimately, it's hard to bring down the cost of an ebike as much as D2C brands have without compromising on service quality. Servicing ebikes is expensive and difficult because it is a task that requires high finesse and fine-tuning. Ebikes haven't really been designed to be easily or quickly maintainable, and those that have (i.e. Riese & Müller) are significantly more expensive. Although this is slowly changing, with the likes of Bosch bringing automotive-grade componentry and standardization to the ebike world, there's a long way to go. For customers, this is why it's so important to think about the value and cost of owning an ebike beyond just the initial purchase price. As Brett says, "by the time you factor in the cost of servicing a D2C ebike, it basically costs the same as a more expensive ebike bought from a bike shop."
The used market is an important next phase for The New Wheel. Today, The New Wheel facilitates a peer-to-peer marketplace on their website for riders in the Bay Area to buy and sell used bikes. The New Wheel offers a certification for these ebikes, where the shop inspects vehicles and gives recommendations on what needs to be fixed. These fixes are then paid for by the seller, or the seller can distribute the report to prospective buyers to help them understand immediate maintenance costs required for the vehicle.
Brett believes that the value of a used ebike is mostly a product of its mileage, battery charge cycles, and age. The few bike valuation and trade-in services that exist today (i.e. Bicycle Blue Book) primarily index on vehicle condition, but this is not as relevant of a factor for ebikes (as opposed to pedal bikes) given how much more expensive ebike batteries and motors are than typical wear & tear bicycle components. Brett's recommendation for buying a used ebike: "Look for a vehicle where the cost of a replacement battery is factored into the resale price. And try to buy one with a Bosch powertrain, their batteries and motors are much more reliable and easier to maintain."
The New Wheel is planning to launch an in-house trade-in/buy-back program. Particularly for vehicles that were originally bought from The New Wheel, the bike shop has an incredible amount of background information (i.e. service records, proof of ownership) that allows them to determine the residual value of the ebike better than anyone else. Such a program would ultimately enable a leasing offering, which Brett believes is the holy grail to make ebikes more accessible and improve their base quality.
That’s it for this week. Thanks again for joining, see you next week!
- Puneeth Meruva
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