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Flywheel | December 14, 2022
Exploring the reasons behind Bosch’s dominance in the ebike sector and featuring the top 5 vehicles of the week
Welcome to Flywheel, a weekly exploration of the used side of owned micromobility. Each newsletter will highlight an observation of trends emerging in the industry and feature five of the most interesting used vehicles being sold in the secondary market.
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The observation of the week explores the reasons behind Bosch’s dominance in the ebike sector. This week’s features are used batteries from the Jump shared ebike fleet, a long-tail cargo bike, two high-performance urban cruisers, and a folding fat-tire ebike.
Observation of the Week
Bosch’s dominance in the ebike sector
Bosch launched their ebike systems in 2010, and in a little over a decade has come to dominate the ebike powertrains space. The automotive Tier 1 supplier provides powertrains for a majority of the market, and it’s almost a prerequisite for a vehicle to have a Bosch drive system if it wants to be considered a premium ebike.
The key to Bosch’s dominance is the massively vast servicing network they’ve built across bike dealerships around the world. Via a combination of reliable, high performance components and an easy and comprehensive technician training and certification program, Bosch has been able to onboard most incumbent ebike OEMs and almost all bike shops in North America and Europe onto their network. In fact, many bike shops exclusively sell ebikes with Bosch powertrains. From a contact at a premium ebike brand: “I took a version of my bike with a cheaper powertrain to one of my top dealers, and they refused to sell it because of how much they’ve committed to the Bosch ecosystem.”
Another reason why OEMs, bike shops, and buyers prefer Bosch powertrains is because of their readily and reliably available replacement parts. Due to their large manufacturing scale producing everything from auto parts and ebike powertrains to home appliances, Bosch is able to guarantee replacement parts for most of their components even if they’ve been discontinued. Availability of parts even after End of Life is common in the automotive sector. Given that Bosch thinks about their ebike system like they do their car components, it’s only natural that they’ve brought this this practice to their ebike business. As Joshua Hon (Founder and CEO of Tern) recently pointed out to me, a great example of this is Bosch’s batteries: “Bosch guarantees replacement batteries for at least 6 years after they End of Life a battery SKU. So that gives a lot of reassurance to a second-hand buyer and is a big reason we use Bosch systems.” This availability of replacement parts as well as the ability to have a used vehicle serviced at virtually any bike shop is ultimately why Bosch ebikes retain such a high residual value.
One area in which Bosch could improve is its vehicle software. The supplier only just launched their smart system earlier this year, which provides a new app called Flow for OTA, ride mode customization, and navigation features. They also recently announced that they will be launching the ConnectModule in 2023, an add-on hardware device that connects to Flow and enables theft prevention functionality like locking the motor via smartphone, an automatic alarm, and GPS tracking. Some additional features I believe Bosch should consider incorporating into their software offering:
Ownership Tracking: Riders should be able to register ownership and transfer ownership via the Bosch app. Given that most bike shops already recognize Bosch bikes and work with their software systems, Bosch is in prime position to launch a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) registry à la the automobile VIN database run by NHTSA.
Improved State of Health Reporting: Certified dealers can do a diagnostic of Bosch batteries and get a full report on charge cycles, operating temperatures, mileage, etc. It should be easier for riders to access and verify this kind of data about their own vehicles.
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Top 5 Vehicles of the Week
This is a unique listing for used Jump ebike batteries that can be repurposed for second life ebikes or backup energy storage use-cases. When Jump (one of the original shared ebike services) was transferred from Uber to Lime in 2020, thousands of their older ebikes were scrapped. Thankfully, many of these ebikes were eventually rescued, and some of their batteries have made it onto the secondary market. This listing is for lightly used 460Wh Jump battery packs that, as per the seller’s testing, still have 90%-95% of their original capacity remaining. They are made up of LG MH1 cells that aren’t glued together, which makes these packs “perfect for harvesting cells.” They can also be used as full packs with a little bit of hacking, either by controlling their default BMS by using a DIY Dongle CAN Controller or simply waking up the BMS by shorting one of its pins. This listing is sold by Jag35, an online used battery store started by DIY battery YouTuber Jehu Garcia. Jehu runs a fascinating YouTube channel where he repurposes all kinds of used batteries and demonstrates various DIY power electronics hacks. Check out this video where Jehu discusses this listing and shows off the powerwall he built for his shop using these used Jump ebike batteries. Listing can be found here.
The Xtracycle Edgerunner 27D is a class-2 long-tail cargo bike. Xtracycle is a Bay Area based cargo bike OEM, and their bikes have a long history of being thoughtfully-designed, high-quality vehicles. The Edgerunner 27D is their first electric cargo bike, and is an Xtracycle 27D pedal bike upgraded with a 40Nm BionX PL hub motor and a 422Wh battery pack. While BionX is not as premium as Bosch or Bafang, it is one of the more reliable budget powertrain systems and is capable of regenerative braking. One of the most notable features of the Edgerunner is that its rear wheel (20”) is smaller than its front wheel (26”). This significantly improves the handling of the vehicle since its lowers the center of gravity and gives you a mechanical advantage when pedaling, and makes it easier to load cargo or children in the rear rack. This listing is in excellent condition with moderate usage (~1000 miles), and comes upgraded with all the accessories required to transport children. The Edgerunner 27D was released almost a decade ago, and Xtracycle has since come out with a number of new Edgerunner models with Bosch or Shimano powertrains. However, a listing for a high-quality long-tail cargo bike like this selling for less than $2K is a rare find and a compelling option. Listing can be found here.
The Riese & Müller Charger4 GT Vario is a high-end class-1 commuter. R&M’s Charger Line has been around for 10+ years, and is optimized to be the ultimate utility city vehicle. The Charger4’s powertrain is as premium as it gets, featuring the 85Nm Bosch Performance CX mid-drive motor, a 750Wh Bosch PowerTube, and an Enviolo gearless continuously variable transmission with a Gates belt drive. Additionally, the Charger4 also includes a number of accessories critical to the commuter use-case: a built-in rear-wheel lock, a suspension seat post and fork for smoother rides, and a high capacity (~55lbs) rear rack compatible with a vast ecosystem of cargo add-ons. Although its app isn’t quite as sophisticated as the rider apps from VanMoof or Cowboy, it does provide basic ride history and the ability to customize the torque provided by different pedal assist modes. The Charger4 is arguably the highest quality commuter ebike in the market, but its ~$7K MSRP is unaffordable and 2-3 times as expensive as that of its competitors. However, this listing for a floor model vehicle sold by Bay Area bike shop Current eBikes is an incredible way to get a low mileage Charger4 in new condition for only $4K (~$3K less than MSRP). Current eBikes is even offering a full warranty, unlimited lifetime tune-ups, and 12 months no interest financing with the listing. Listing can be found here.
The Sondors Smart Step is a budget class-2 folding city cruiser. Sondors is a D2C brand that became hugely popular through a series of highly successful crowdfunding campaigns, and a folding version of their affordable yet reliable vehicles has long been requested by riders. The Smart Step is popular with first time riders because of its approachable step-through frame and small form factor. It has a modest powertrain that features a 40Nm Bafang rear-hub motor and a 375 Wh LG battery pack, and the front fork suspension and fat tires give a smooth ride on city streets. Apart from those components, the Smart Step is fairly bare bones and doesn’t come with any other accessories like fenders or lights that are becoming commonplace amongst commuters. Sondors is one of the easiest to maintain D2C brands. Although Sondors bikes aren’t sold through dealerships, they have an excellent build quality and use powertrain components from common brands (i.e. Bafang) that many bike shops are comfortable dealing with. This listing is in like new condition and has recently been checked and tuned by a local bike shop. Listing can be found here.
The Haibike Sduro Trekking is a class-1 hybrid trekking bike that brings Haibike’s mountain bike expertise to city roads. The Sduro is Haibike’s mid-range ebike line, and is affordable while still having a number of high-quality components and accessories. The powertrain features a 70Nm Yamaha PW-ST mid-drive motor and a 500Wh battery pack. While the PW-ST is not as performant of a motor as a Bosch or Bafang mid-drive, it does have a unique four sensor pedal assistance setup that measures wheel speed, pedaling speed, pedaling torque, and incline to apply the most intuitive amount of pedal assist. Despite the Sduro’s relatively low MSRP, it even comes standard with a number of accessories required for urban riding, such as fenders, a rear rack, integrated lighting, and hydraulic brakes. Given that the Sduro is a hybrid mountain bike repurposed for roads, it incorporates design elements from mountain biking (wide tires, front fork suspension, upright riding position) that give it cushioned and agile handling. This listing only has 700 miles of usage and is in excellent condition. Listing can be found here.
That’s it for this week. Thanks again for joining, see you next Monday!
- Puneeth Meruva
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