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Flywheel | November 22, 2022
Exploring micromobility subscriptions and their relationship with the secondary market 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 micromobility subscriptions and their relationship with the secondary market. This week’s featured vehicles are an etrike, a scrambler, two commuters, and a fat-tire cruiser.
Observation of the Week
A breakdown of micromobility subscriptions and their relationship with the secondary market
Micromobility subscription services have boomed in the last year, especially in the wake of market validation brought on by the rapid spike of ebike sales during the pandemic. At Trucks VC, we’ve seen 9 new micromobility subscription companies in the last year alone.
Subscriptions have a huge role to play in increasing micromobility adoption because they make multi-thousand dollar purchases like ebikes (often the second or third most expensive item a person owns) more accessible and affordable. From a contact at a major German ebike OEM commenting on the startling growth of ebike adoption in Germany: “The rise of financing, leasing, and subscriptions is a huge reason why ~13% of German households now own at least one ebike.”
There are two major types of micromobility subscription models: the all-in-one subscription and the Peloton model.
All-In-One subscriptions are recurring payments that give you access to a vehicle, and are fundamentally vehicle leases with some services wrapped around them. As such, knowing the residual value of vehicles in these subscription fleets is critical for the provider because it determines the monthly pricing they can charge and the payback period. It’s also ultimately what lenders need to know before they’re willing to help you finance the fleet. Given that there isn’t yet a mature secondary market with established residual values for ebikes, subscription companies often end up needing to rely on their own balance sheet or equity investments. Alternatively, retailers trying to offer financing sometimes use Buy-Now-Pay-Later services like Affirm. However, these services treat micromobility vehicles like all consumer products and determine repayment structures mostly based on the buyer, so they’re on less than ideal terms for both the buyer and the seller. Notable examples of all-in-one subscriptions:
Lug+Carrie: All-inclusive subscriptions of Tern cargo bikes for families
Zoomo: All-inclusive subscriptions of utility ebikes for last-mile delivery couriers
Unagi: Escooter OEM that also offers their vehicles via subscription
Dance, Swapfiets, and Zygg: All-inclusive subscriptions for commuter ebikes
The Peloton model, like the viral spin bike, is one where buyers pay for the vehicle upfront and can pay a recurring subscription for some sort of value-added service. In this model, the residual value is a bit less important than for all-in-one subscriptions since it’s a one-time sale of the vehicle, but the added services need to be absolutely necessary for customers to actually keep paying for the subscription. Retailers will sometimes charge for a predetermined time-period’s worth of services (most commonly 2-3 yrs) upfront to reduce churn out of the subscription service, but this obviously makes the initial sale more difficult. Some add-on services that have proven to be things that customers are willing to pay for on a recurring basis are maintenance plans, theft protection, and batteries-as-a-service (buying a vehicle without the battery and leasing the battery). Notable examples of micromobility companies with a Peloton subscription model:
VanMoof: Sells ebikes outright and offers subscriptions for maintenance and theft protection
Gogoro: Sells emopeds outright without batteries and offers subscriptions that give riders access to a battery-swapping network
From a product perspective, the best ebikes for subscriptions are the ones that are easiest to maintain, have the longest life/health, have the lowest degradation per mile, and are software connected (for tracking, immobilizing the vehicle for theft/missed payments, vehicle health monitoring, and predictive maintenance). Based on these criteria, some excellent candidates for a subscription fleet are:
Tern or Cero: Affordable MSRP, high residual value, extremely easy to maintain, versatile use-cases
VanMoof: Good software connectivity, good tracking of maintenance and record-keeping of failures, decent servicing coverage in cities with a brand store
Stromer: Remarkable longevity and health, low degradation per mile, excellent maintenance network
Specialized or Cannondale: Semi-affordable MSRPs, robust and reliable for high-mileage commuters, easy to maintain, wide service network
Urban Arrow or Riese & Müller bakfiet cargo bikes: High-demand form factor but an expensive MSRP that can be made accessible via subscriptions, easy to maintain, great residual value
For consumers, ebikes that have been retired from subscription fleets are some of the best used ebikes to buy. Although they typically have a higher mileage, they’re better and more frequently maintained since the fleets that owned them are highly incentivized to service them well and maximize their lives. Fleets are also often better sellers because they can provide more credible and more detailed vehicle health and condition data.
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Top 5 Vehicles of the Week
The Mod Easy SideCar is one of the most fun cargo bikes and etrikes I’ve ever seen. The Easy SideCar is actually a modified version of Mod’s class-3 cafe racer-style Easy that has a sidecar attached to it. Although the sidecar’s 120lb payload capacity means that it’s too small to carry an adult passenger, it’s the perfect space to carrier to transport a child, pet, or just general cargo. There’s also a built-in rear rack that you can attach a child seat to, so the Easy Sidecar could theoretically carry up to three people at once. The powertrain is built on a strong 69Nm rear hub motor and a 720Wh battery pack. While it is a class-3 ebike, it’s probably best to keep your speed under 15mph when riding with someone in the sidecar given that trikes are prone to tip when turning. But you can always disconnect the sidecar to enjoy just the core bike at its max 28mph. The Easy SideCar is a great cargo option for shorter/lighter adults carrying children or cargo. The short frame lets you easily rest your feet when stopped, the trike configuration improves balance, and the cargo area being on your side is an added layer of comfort when carrying a child or pet. This listing was bought for a photo shoot that happened just a few days ago, so it has <20 miles of usage. Listing can be found here.
The Zugo Rhino is a class-2 moped-style scrambler. Since the launch of Super73, the scrambler style has taken off in the ebike world, and it can be difficult to differentiate between the many brands and models that use this form factor. The Rhino however is one that stands out as a powerful and high-utility option in this segment. It’s one of the few scramblers to be offered in a step-through frame, giving riders improved stability when mounting/dismounting and accelerating/decelerating, and the pedals actually feel functional and easy to use. The powertrain features a high torque 85Nm rear-hub motor and a long range 750Wh battery pack, and the vehicle even comes standard with rear foot pegs so that you can carry a second adult passenger. This listing is practically new with less than 20 miles of usage. Listing can be found here.
The Diamondback Union 1 is a premium class-3 urban commuter. Although Diamondback is fairly new to the ebike world, it borrows from the design and servicing expertise of its mother company Alta (operator of three other well reputed ebike brands). The powertrain is a classic premium commuter combo of the 85Nm Bosch Performance Line mid-drive motor and an integrated 400Wh Bosch battery pack. The Union 1 doesn’t have many of the theft and software features that competing commuters from the likes of VanMoof or Cowboy have, but it does have an extremely smooth and intuitively handling and can be easily serviced by its vast maintenance network. This listing is a new, pre-assembled vehicle sold by Bay Area bike shop Cardinal Bikes, and comes with one year of free servicing and warranty. It’s an excellent option to get all the perks of a brand new ebike at $1K less than MSRP. Listing can be found here.
The RideScoozy VeeGo 750 is a class-3 fat-tire cruiser designed for comfort with a punchy drive. The VeeGo 750 is a particularly popular ebike with seniors. From its Cloud 9 cruiser seat (big foam padding suspended by a spring) to its front suspension fork, 4” wide fat tires, and low center of gravity, the VeeGo 750 has one of the most cushioned and stable rides and truly feels like a cloud to ride on. On top of that, it has an extremely powerful powertrain (80Nm geared hub motor and 910Wh battery pack) that make it one of the most agile and performant cruisers out there. Although it’s a bit more expensive than competing fat-tire ebikes like Rad Power’s RadMini or Lectric’s XP 2.0, this significantly more potent powertrain is more than worth the extra cost. This listing is four years old and is in excellent condition (Flywheel estimated mileage: 586.03 miles). Listing can be found here.
The Orbea Vibe H30 is an ultra-light class 1 commuter. Orbea’s heritage is in bicycle racing, and this history is clearly apparent in the design and component selection of the Vibe H30. The sporty, forward leaning frame is made of a special aluminum composite that brings the Vibe H30 to a feather-light 34lbs, and the brakes, transmission, and tires are all premium components usually found on road bikes. The powertrain features the highly reputed 40Nm X35+ Mahle hub motor and 250Wh Ant+ Mahle battery pack, both of which are stealthily integrated into the frame. The Vibe H30 is mainly meant for people that want to maintain most of the rideability of a pedal bike but complement it with a bit of an extra push for hilly terrains, hence the light weight and weaker powertrain. At this price range, there are better ebikes out there for casual riders looking for a practical commuter. But for seasoned road bicyclists that are starting to transition into ebikes, this is a great option. This listing is less than a year old with ~500 miles of usage, and comes with proof of purchase and warranty. 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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