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Flywheel: Power Tools x Micromobility | Vehicles from Cannondale, Yuba, Tern, Ariel Rider, & Priority
Exploring the growing number of micromobility vehicles that run on power tool batteries & featuring the top 5 vehicles of the week
Welcome to Flywheel, a weekly exploration of the owned and used 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 growing number of micromobility vehicles that run on power tool batteries. This week’s featured vehicles are an all-in-one commuter, a longtail cargo bike, a premium folding bike, an AWD scrambler, and a cruiser.
Observation of the Week
Power Tools x Micromobility
There’s been a spate of power tools manufacturers getting into the micromobility game. From EGO’s new mini ebike and Greenworks’s entire new fleet of various LEVs to Worx’s partnership with Aventon, there’s a clear trend emerging of a growing number of micromobility vehicles that run on power tool batteries. While power tools companies building ebikes and escooters may seem a bit random at first, their business model and core customer retention strategy help explain why micromobility is a natural extension to their product lineups.
The power tool industry introduced Lithium-ion batteries to their cordless tools in 2005, and that switch led to a significant revolution in the power tools business model. As per Reilly Brennan on the excellent Why is this interesting? newsletter:
“Lithium-ion is expensive, however. Those high costs necessitated battery interchangeability as brands realized that consumers would be unlikely to pay for packs for each device. The secondary effect of that was game-changing: the high cost of batteries breeds a natural lock-in habit with consumers. Once you’ve bought one Milwaukee leaf blower with an expensive lithium-ion pack, you’ll likely buy from Milwaukee again if you need a drill, sander, grinder, or any of the other 200 tools that run on its M18 system. Few customer retention strategies are more potent than the battery platform commitment you make to a power tool company. … Power tool companies have become battery-moated customer retention businesses.“
Many people already own several power tools but only own a few batteries that they use interchangeably between them as needed. In the same way people buy new power tools based on the power tool batteries they already own, power tools manufacturers are launching new micromobility products hoping that “your power tool battery commitment (and lock-in) becomes the place where you explore new vehicles.”
Batteries are usually the most expensive part of an EV. Abstracting them out of the vehicle altogether not only allows OEMs to sell vehicles for cheaper, but also helps them create a massive stickiness with their customers. While the power tools manufacturers entering micromobility are taking advantage of this, most existing micromobilty brands aren’t. Many of them use proprietary/non-interchangeable battery packs primarily to cut the COGS of individual vehicles, but doing so means that they waste batteries and ultimately have to charge more per vehicle in situations where customers want to own multiple vehicles in the same household or want to optimize for the second life of their vehicle.
One ebike incumbent that is currently taking advantage of this approach is Bosch. Bosch has a significant power tools business, and the supplier has already started to apply a similar battery-moated model to ebikes with its existing range of PowerPack, PowerTube, CompactTube, and PowerMore ebike battery packs. All of these packs are interchangeable between different Bosch-powered ebikes. As people start to buy their second or third ebike or start having multiple ebikes in their households for their family members, the interchangeability of Bosch battery packs is a significant advantage and a differentiator vs. ebikes with non-Bosch batteries. Many users keep a Bosch pack when selling their vehicle at its end of life, and many more buy spares to use them as swappable range extenders. Particularly with the growing requirements/demand for UL-certified ebikes that often have high price tags, it’s easier for customers to stomach buying a more expensive Bosch-based ebike when they know that the value of the battery extends beyond the vehicle itself. Bosch’s battery pack interchangeability also makes Bosch-powered ebikes extremely compelling vehicles for fleets. Given that fleets own their vehicles and therefore care much more about their total cost of ownership, a fleet of ebikes that all use the same interchangeable battery packs significantly reduces the costs of both maintenance and charging operations.
For more observations and resources on owned and used micromobility, check out rideflywheel.com/resources.
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Featured Vehicles of the Week
The Cannondale Adventure Neo 3 EQ is a smooth and reliable mid-tier class-1 commuter. Its powertrain features a 40Nm Bosch Active Line mid-drive motor and a 400Wh Bosch battery pack, and is paired with a 9-speed Shimano transmission. The Adventure Neo 3 EQ is extremely approachable. In addition to its stepthru frame and a dropper seat that can quickly lower the seat height to have better ground reach when stopping or getting on/off the ebike, the vehicle also has a front fork suspension and a suspension seat post to cushion rides and smoothen pot holes and bumps on the road. The Adventure Neo 3 EQ is part of Cannondale’s EQ family of ebikes. EQ (stands for equipped) is an appendix Cannondale uses in its vehicle model names to indicate that the vehicle is designed for practical urban riding, and all Cannondale ebikes with EQ in their name are equipped with fenders, a rear rack, lighting, and a kickstand. The Adventure Neo 3 EQ is a great all-in-one package for the average city commuter that combines top-of-the line parts with a large and easily accessible servicing network, all at a mid-tier price point of ~$3K. This listing was just purchased from REI (proof of purchase available) and has never been ridden, and the seller even maintained the battery’s charge while in storage to protect the health of the battery. It’s an incredible opportunity to get what is effectively a brand new Adventure Neo 3 EQ for $625 less than MSRP. Listing can be found here.
Modeled after the iconic East African boda boda motorcycle taxis, the Yuba Boda Boda is a class-1 compact longtail cargo bike. Its powertrain features a 50Nm e6000 Shimano Steps motor and a 418Wh battery pack, both of which are modest compared to recently released cargo bikes but were top-of-the-line when the Boda Boda was first launched in 2012. What sets the Boda Boda apart is its thoughtful design that caters to riders of all sizes while still providing high cargo utility. Its stepthru frame and shorter wheelbase (roughly the same as a commuter’s wheelbase) make the Boda Boda approachable and agile even for smaller riders, and its frame-integrated rear rack gives it a 220lbs rear cargo capacity. Additionally, the motor has a number of software features to make the vehicle easier to use even when fully loaded. The bike's motor is programmed to automatically downshift to lower gears at lower speeds, and it features a walk mode that allows riders to push the bike by hand. The Boda Boda has been retired by Yuba in favor of the Spicy Curry, but it’s still a reliable cargo companion for families. This listing has a Flywheel estimated mileage of 563.26mi and comes with several $100s of cargo and rear passenger accessories. Listing can be found here.
The Tern Vektron S10 is a premium class-1 folding ebike and, in my opinion, is the best folding ebike in the market. While folding ebikes often feel fragile due to an unsettling amount of flex in their hinges, the Vektron has the solid and stable feel of a non-folding ebike due to an extra tall hinge with an auto-lock system. The Vektron’s powertrain features the ever-reliable 65Nm Bosch Performance Line mid-drive motor and a 400Wh Bosch PowerPack battery. In fact, the Vektron is actually the only folding ebike with a Bosch powertrain in North America. There are several design choices around the vehicle’s frame that further cement the Vektron’s best-in-class position. Its 20” wheels make it extremely responsive and well-suited for the tight confines of urban streets, and its quick-release Andros stem lets you quickly swap the height of the handle bars for different riders or riding scenarios. The Vektron doesn’t have the same cargo capacity as its sister Tern vehicles since it’s meant to be compact, but the 60lbs payload capacity of its integrated Atlas V rack is still more than sufficient for a rear child seat or light cargo. This listing has a mileage of 2000mi and has been regularly serviced. Listing can be found here.
The Ariel Rider Grizzly is an ultra powerful class-2/class-3 scrambler that provides emoped-esque performance on an ebike form factor. It’s an upgrade to Ariel Rider’s X-Class model, and features both a second hub motor and a second battery pack. The Grizzly’s powertrain is has plenty of oomph for two adult riders or some serious high-performance riding, and features two 1000W (~80Nm) custom Bafang geared hub motors and two battery packs with a combined capacity of 1,820Wh. To abide by ebike regulations, the Grizzly is locked to a max speed of 20mph with its throttle or 28mph with pedal assistance. However, there is an off-road mode that lets riders hit 38+ mph on trails or when riding alongside cars. The vehicle can be configured using a switch on the handlebars between front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive. This is a small but neat software function that allows riders to manage their battery life and fine tune the ride to their exact needs. The Grizzly also has dual suspension (front inverted suspension fork and rear adjustable coil-over shocks), 4” wide tires, and hydraulic brakes to help tame the vehicle and give riders extra comfort and control. The Grizzly is heavy and weighs 105lb, but that’s unsurprising given that it’s effectively an emoped. While this weight makes it a hard vehicle to carry/transport, it does help plant the vehicle when riding and gives riders a bit more stability. This listing comes with an anti-theft alarm accessory, recently replaced tires, and a rear passenger accessory package. It has a mileage of 537mi and is only being resold because the seller’s building is banning ebikes. Listing can be found here.
The Priority e-Coast is a maintenance-free class-2/class-3 cruiser. Priority Bicycles is a pedal bike manufacturer that is well known for their Coast cruiser. The e-Coast is their attempt to electrify their most popular model and make a cruiser that is as “hassle-free” and convenient as possible. Just like the Coast, what sets the e-Coast apart is that it’s one of the only electric cruisers in the market with a Gates carbon belt drive. Belt drives are not only smoother and quiter than a chain drive, they also require significantly less maintenance. The e-Coast is also designed to be weather resistant like a “seafaring vessel,” and its frame and fork are both entirely made of non-corroding materials. Its powertrain features a 500W (~40Nm) rear hub motor and a 576Wh battery pack, both of which are surprisingly performant despite the budget <$2K price point. Lastly, Priority has opted for hydraulic disc brakes on the e-Coast as opposed to mechanical disc brakes because they help further lower the maintenance needs of the vehicle. This listing is in like-new condition and has a Flywheel estimated mileage of 196mi. 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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