- Flywheel | September 06, 2022
Flywheel | September 06, 2022
Featuring the top 5 used vehicles of the week and exploring micromobility adoption in Santa Barbara
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 two commuters, a vintage motorcycle converted into an ebike, a folding bike, and the food truck of ebikes. The observation of the week explores micromobility adoption in Santa Barbara.
Top 5 Vehicles of the Week
The Aventon Level is a class-3 budget commuter bike. Aventon has made its name making ebikes whose quality well surpasses their price point, and the Level is no different. Unlike other commuters in this price range, the chassis is excellently assembled and feels like one singular frame, the battery is integrated into the frame, and there’s high quality hydraulic brakes and front fork suspension. Additionally, while most commuters in the $1.5K-$2K range tend to be class-1s or 2s, the Level is a class-3 ebike powered by a 60Nm motor and a 672Wh battery pack. The app also integrates well with the vehicle computer, and there’s even an active rider community that can be accessed via the app. The main negative feature on the Level is its Cadence pedal assist sensor. Cadence sensors typically have a delay in providing pedal assist, but the Level’s sensor feels even more laggy than most. This listing has very low mileage (Flywheel estimates 200 miles) and is sold by Portland non-profit Bikes for Humanity PDX, a bike shop that provides low-cost maintenance and financial aid/grants to make biking more accessible. Listing can be found here.
While there has been a growing number of ebikes that look like motorcycles, this vehicle is a motorcycle that looks like an ebike. This listing is a 1971 Honda CB 500 that has been converted into what is technically an ebike. After gutting all original powertrain components, the seller fitted the chassis with a 112Nm 8000W mid-drive motorcycle/Go-kart motor, a custom 1.776kWh battery pack with Samsung cells, functional bicycle pedals for pedal assist, and a number of safety-focused power electronics. While this ebike can go up to 70mph, it does have class-2 (throttle) and class-3 (pedal assist) modes that make it legally compliant with most US ebike classifications. The motor controller is easily programmable, giving users even more customizability with how the vehicle rides. This listing has less than 100 miles of usage, and really pushes the limits on the concepts of a motorcycle Bobber (stripping superfluous parts off a motorcycle) and DIY ebikes. Listing can be found here.
The Juiced CrossCurrent X is a class-3 urban ebike and Juiced’s commuting focused model. The CrossCurrent X is like the muscle car of ebikes, and features a monstrous powertrain with an 80Nm, 750W Bafang hub motor and 994Wh battery pack. Powertrain components of this size or quality are extremely rare at this price, which is even lower than that of many class-1 commuters. The CrossCurrent X can be ridden in class-2 mode with a throttle, class-3 mode, or an unlimited sport mode that lets riders go up to 30mph. Many class-3 ebikes with motors of this torque tend to be jumpy when pedaling from a stop, but the CrossCurrent X uses both a cadence and torque sensor to smooth out the acceleration and provide intuitive pedal assistance. This listing has moderate usage (~1000 miles) but is selling at its Flywheel Vehicle Value. Listing can be found here.
The Fiido D11 is a class-2 budget folding commuter. Compared to other folding bikes in this price range, the D11 has a unique frame geometry that neatly integrates most of the cabling, battery pack, and other electronics directly into the frame. The frame in particular has a higher quality build than most budget folding bikes, which combines with a simple but secure folding mechanism to make the D11 a robust intermodal commuter. The powertrain is modest yet zippy, featuring a 35Nm motor and 418Wh battery pack. While this is not as powerful as other commuters, it is an adequate package that allows riders to climb moderate hills and reach a range of ~30 miles. There’s also a Shimano 7-speed transmission and throttle-enabled cruise control to further improve the rideability of the D11. Fiido is a popular Chinese D2C brand that recently began to sell in the US and Europe, but has unfortunately struggled with properly servicing vehicles in these new markets due to a lack of physical presence outside of China. This listing is brand new and still in its original packaging. Listing can be found here.
A true testament to how far DIY ebikes can go, this listing is a street food cart built on top of an electric cargo tricycle. The seller unfortunately doesn’t provide much information on this ebike’s vehicle parts, but it looks like it has a 7-speed Shimano transmission and a solar panel to recharge the battery pack. There’s also a number of cooking appliances built into the vehicle, such as a flattop grill, freezer, sink, and dry storage. Given how heavy and energy consuming these appliances must be, I suspect that the powertrain uses a Go-kart or motorcycle style motor and battery pack. The maturation and commoditization of the light electric vehicle supply chain is really opening up a world of amazingly creative DIY vehicles for all sorts of imaginative use-cases. Cue Ed Niedermeyer’s “I’m not sure how much more mobility innovation I can take.” Listing can be found here.
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Observation of the Week
Micromobility Adoption in Santa Barbara
I spent my Labor Day weekend in Santa Barbara and got to witness an amazing level of micromobility adoption. I’ve never seen as high of a density of ebikes and scooters in a US city as I did when visiting Santa Barbara. There’s a few interesting (but nascent) data points that lend some credence to this sentiment: Google Trends shows that the Santa Barbara metro region has the 5th highest Google search interest for ebikes in the US (ranking higher than SF, Seattle, LA, and NYC), and the city has four season biking weather with decent hills.
Micromobility was everywhere in Santa Barbara. Many streets had more ebikes and scooters than cars, there was a highly utilized bike share program with excellent, Bosch-drivetrain ebikes, and many city officials (i.e. police officers) seemed to get around by ebike. It was also exciting to see the different age groups of riders. In addition to the usual demographic of adults commuting or cruising on ebikes, there were a lot of teenagers riding to and from the local high school on ebikes during the week and kids cruising around the city during the weekends, often with a second passenger on the rear seat. Particularly for these younger riders that seemed to not have a driver’s license yet, it was clear that micromobility vehicles offered them a freedom and mobility to explore their city without needing to drive/be driven somewhere. It felt like more than half the bikes I saw in Santa Barbara were Rad Powers, and the most popular model seemed to be the Olive Green RadRunner with the Passenger Package.
Surprisingly, Santa Barbara’s bike infrastructure wasn’t actually that great. I only came across one slow street where cars were banned, and many streets didn’t even have bike lanes. The fact that so many people were riding micromobility vehicles despite the lack of exceptional infrastructure goes to show that micromobility has a natural, intrinsic product market fit. The utility of an ebike or scooter is almost immediately obvious to riders, and is in fact so strong that many riders will use these vehicles even when the infrastructure isn’t there. Generally, as soon as someone rides an ebike or scooter, they quickly get it, love it, and want to use it for many of their trips. Paul Graham sums this up well:
That’s it for this week. Thanks again for joining, see you next week!
- Puneeth Meruva
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