Flywheel | January 10, 2023
Exploring ChatGPT's used ebike know-how 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 my conversation with ChatGPT about used ebikes. This week’s featured vehicles are a newly launched commercial utility ebike, an upcoming budget etrike, an ebike rental business, a scrambler, and a stealth cruiser.
Observation of the Week
Chatting with ChatGPT about Used Micromobility
ChatGPT has taken the world by storm over the last few months, and it has likely been the subject of every other post on your Twitter feed. For those that may be unfamiliar, ChatGPT is an AI language model trained on a massive amount of internet text data that can interpret your questions/commands and respond in an informed, conversational way.
I played around with ChatGPT to test its know-how of used ebikes. These are some screenshots of my conversation:
Advice for buying a used ebike under $2K:
Recommendations for the best ebike models to buy used:
A template to help you write a trustworthy craigslist post for a used ebike:
A template for an email to send to a Craigslist seller requesting information that is missing from the listing:
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Top 5 Vehicles of the Week
Recently launched at CES, the CAKE Aïk is a heavy-duty class-2 commercial ebike and CAKE’s first street legal ebike. As part of their :work series, the Aïk is optimized for work use-cases as opposed to urban commuting. This is largely in line with the CAKE ethos and the massive popularity of their Makka and Ösa utility lines. The Äik’s powertrain features a 100Nm mid-drive (reportedly a Bafang system custom-made for CAKE) and can be equipped with up to three 750Wh battery packs. In this maximum configuration, riders can hit a staggering 224 miles of range. Given its industry leading of 100kg payload capacity, the Aïk also has an Enviolo Extreme continuously variable transmission and powerful four piston hydraulic disc brakes to maintain maneuverability. Lastly, the Aïk has a highly modular frame that can be accessorized with everything from racks and trailers to fridges (which can be powered by the battery packs). CAKE’s software is some of the best in the ebike sector. Their CAKE App can handle remote diagnostics, self-service checks, maintenance reminders, and anti-theft, and all :work line bikes are equipped with a CAKE Connect module so that they’re compatible with CAKE’s fleet management app. While a first glance at the $6.5K price tag may cause sticker shock, it’s a more than reasonable price for such a high-utility commercial workhorse. A class-3 version of the Aïk is expected in the near future. Listing can be found here.
Another fascinating new vehicle recently announced is Lectric’s latest addition to their XP Line, the XP Trike. While the new model was just previewed on Facebook without the full specs (official model announcement expected on Jan 13, 2023), what little has been revealed to date is extremely exciting. Lectric has been the leader in affordable ebikes and has some of the best performance/dollar in the market, and the XP Trike seems to be no different. At a startling MSRP of $1,499, the XP Trike is the cheapest etrike on the market, selling for well below the $3.5K+ price points of other trikes from reputed brands. Assuming that the powertrain is the same as Lectric’s other XP vehicles, the motor should be a ~55Nm, 500Wh hub motor and the battery should have a capacity of 672Wh. The XP Trike’s hub motor is actually mounted centrally between the rear wheels and drives both rear wheels via a differential axle. Most other trikes typically just drive the front wheel with a conventionally mounted hub motor. The XP Trike even has hydraulic brakes (a premium feature usually not found on bikes that cost <$3K) and can fold at the middle of the frame with a hinge mechanism similar to that of other XP-line vehicles. In the race for the best affordable ebike brand, Rad Power and Lectric are the two leading horses. With the new XP Trike, Lectric has come up with a compelling response to Rad Power’s recently launched RadTrike. The XP Trike costs $1K less than the RadTrike despite having a ~200Wh larger battery pack, being a dual rear-wheel drive vs. single front-wheel drive, and being able to fold into a significantly more compact footprint. Listing can be found here.
The Super73 RX is a rugged urban class-3 ebike with off-road-esque power and Super73’s flagship, most premium model. The powertrain features a 60Nm DC rear hub motor capable of an astounding 2000W peak output and a 960Wh battery pack. While this powertrain is a bit weaker than that of other scramblers, the RX’s premium dual suspension, 5” wide fat tires, and aircraft-grade aluminum frame make it an extremely robust vehicle that feels like it can ride over anything. The RX has a few interesting software features implemented into the handle bar LCD display and app (i.e. turn-by-turn navigation), but its lack of theft protection features is challenging for urban riders. One of the main concerns that riders cite is that Super73’s replacement part availability is limited. Many of their replacement parts are sold out and key powertrain components (battery, motor, and motor controller) aren’t even available for purchase online. A contact that bought a used Super73 mentioned that when he reached out to support about replacement washers/nuts, he was directed to purchase them at a hardware store. This listing is practically new with only 37 miles of usage. As we’ve discussed in previous editions of Flywheel, recent ebike fires in NYC have led to many property managers banning ebikes altogether. This listing is an example of such a casualty; the seller is only selling his ebike because his office building won’t allow it to be stored indoors. Listing can be found here.
This unique listing is for an an already existing, successful Rad Power ebikes rental business that has been profitably operating with growing revenue since its inception. It’s a mobile-first delivery business that doesn’t require a storefront, and potential buyers would get to take over an already live online presence (2 websites with an integrated POS, Google Ads campaign, and Instagram account) and get access to the entire previous customer list. The fleet consists of 7 RadExpands, 4 RadMinis, and 1 RadWagon, all of which have less than 500 miles of usage, as well as all the required maintenance equipment, helmets, delivery trailers, etc. This listing even comes with the company’s Rad Power commercial affiliate license that generates sales commision revenue. Rad Powers are particularly popular rental ebikes because (as Reilly Brennan notes) they’re “the right blend of durability and low cost (not too high in either category, just right).” Small rental shops can typically rent out Rad Powers for ~$80/day, which gives them an incredible <20 day payback period. The original owner is only selling the business in order to pursue another career opportunity, and is even willing to assist in training the new buyer. As the seller puts it, this business is a great opportunity “for an Owner-Operator or two or more friends wanting to own a business that is low maintenance with normal operating hours.” Listing can be found here.
The DKY Retro R is a class-2/class-3 hybrid cruiser. With a sleek, stainless steel frame combined with a series of warm leather finishings wrapping the electronics, the Retro R has a stealthy pedal bike look. One of the most interesting features of the Retro R is its shaft drive, which uses rotational gears for the transmission as opposed to chains or belts. Shaft drives have gone out of style since the invention of derailleurs because they’re not as efficient as chain or belt drives, but they require less maintenance and further contribute to a stealthy pedal bike look since they can be directly integrated into the frame. The powertrain consists of a 69Nm Bafang rear hub motor and a 346Wh battery pack that is packaged in a stainless steel wine bottle. The Retro R is a beautifully artistic vehicle great for cruising, but it’s not that practical for commuting. Its powertrain is fairly weak, and the mounting of the battery and controller are not robust enough for daily usage. This listing is in New condition yet selling for less than half of the original MSRP. Listing can be found here.
That’s it for this edition. Thanks again for joining, see you next week!
- Puneeth Meruva
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