Flywheel | September 12, 2022
Featuring the top 5 used vehicles of the week and exploring the usage of D2C vs. dealer-network ebikes
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 mid-tail cargo bike, a compact utility bike, and a repurposed battery pack. The observation of the week explores the usage of D2C vs. dealer-network ebikes.
Top 5 Vehicles of the Week
1. Vela Model 1 Low-Step | $1,500 | LA
The Vela Model 1 is a stunningly designed class-1 urban cruiser. Vela was originally founded in Brazil in 2012, and recently expanded to North America with the Model 1 as its flagship model via Indiegogo. The Model 1’s color palette, geometry, and leather parts give it a classic cruiser aesthetic, and the ebike components are subtly integrated into the frame to give the Model 1 a stealthy, pedal bike-like look. The powertrain features a 35Nm rear-hub motor and 360Wh removable battery pack that neatly slides into the seat post tubing, and the vehicle’s software features include GPS tracking, theft-prevention alarm, and an acceleration boost button (à la VanMoof). This vehicle bears a few similarities to the Faraday Porteur. Both have similar frame geometries and use 35Nm 8Fun motors. However, the Model 1 is $700 cheaper and has a 110Wh larger battery pack. The Vela Model 1 has been particularly popular amongst female riders, with some reviewers and insiders indicating that more than half of Vela’s customers may be female. This is a huge accomplishment for Vela that makes it stand out in the industry, given that many ebikes have largely been optimized and designed for male riders. This listing is in good condition (Flywheel estimates ~1000 miles). Listing can be found here.
2. Envision AESC Li-Ion Battery Cells | $650 | SF - Bay Area
This listing is of an Envision AESC Li-Ion Gen4battery pack that the seller is dismantling and selling by the cell. AESC originally manufactured these packs for the Nissan Leaf, but this specific pack was “retired from high tech company projects, not from EVs.” The pack is performing at 65%-70% of what it was originally rated, and the seller is selling each 480Wh cell for ~$80/cell. Electric vehicle battery packs are composed of individual, modular cells that can easily be combined in varying configurations and capacities for many different applications. For example, the seller suggests that the cells from this pack can be repurposed for anything from an ebike to a golf cart, boat, or even home energy storage system. Given the growing demand for the electrification of every transportation mode, as well as the growing shortage and supply chain crunch of battery materials, there’s not only a massive opportunity but also a critical need to repurpose used/retired EV batteries. Check out Trucks VC portfolio company Cling Systems to learn more about building the secondary market and circular supply chain for EV batteries. Listing can be found here.
3. Tern HSD S8i | $3,000 | SF - Bay Area
The Tern HSD S8i is a premium class-1 compact mid-tail cargo bike. Tern’s HSD line is a lighter, more affordable version of their flagship GSD cargo line, and the S8i is the lightest HSD model. The HSD S8i features a number of high-quality powertrain and drivetrain components. A 50Nm Bosch Active Line mid-drive and 400Wh Bosch Powerpack battery give riders ~65 miles of range, and an 8-speed Nexus internally geared hub combined with a Gates Carbon belt drive makes the S8i smooth and quiet when riding and shifting. There’s even a custom suspension fork, which aids the small but wide 20” tires in making the S8i highly maneuverable. At an MSRP of $4,299, the HSD S8i is a bit pricey when new compared to other class-1 cargo bikes that have more powerful powertrains for cheaper prices. However, this used listing is a compelling and affordable option since it’s listed for $700 less than its Flywheel Vehicle Value with moderate usage (<2000 miles). Listing can be found here.
4. Rad Power RadRunner | $1,200 | Orange County
The RadRunner is a compact and versatile class-2 commuter, hauler, and two-person cruiser. Given its powerful powertrain (80Nm rear-hub motor and 672Wh battery pack) combined with smaller, 20” fat tires and a 300lb cargo capacity, the RadRunner is the ultimate all rounder that lets you do virtually anything you’d want to do on an ebike while still being super maneuverable. Rad Power also sells a custom Passenger Package for second rider to comfortably sit on the rear rack. As mentioned in last week’s Flywheel, the RadRunner seems to be the most popular ebike in Santa Barbara and other Southern California beach towns and suburbs. This listing specifically is a great example of the configuration that was particularly popular with younger riders who were cruising with their friends. As one Flywheel reader put it, “At first I thought the teenagers and their Rads [in Santa Barbara] were spoiled brats, but then I realized their parents didn't have to shuttle them around [in cars] and that seems pretty worth it.” This listing is in excellent condition (Flywheel estimates ~600 miles) and comes with a rear rider package (seat and foot pegs) and a center storage console. Listing can be found here.
5. Haibike XDURO Urban S | $2,000 | LA
The Haibike XDURO Urban S is a high-performance class-3 road bike. Originally a highly-reputed electric mountain bike brand, Haibike expanded into urban road bikes in 2015 and quickly became popular with traditional bicyclists looking for ebikes that replicate the road biking experience. The XDURO Urban S is built on Bosch’s 60Nm Performance Speed mid-drive motor and a Samsung 396Wh battery pack. At a remarkable 41 lbs, the XDURO Urban S is also one of the lightest class-3 ebikes in the market, despite also having an 11-speed transmission and a custom vibration dampening seatpost and stem. Although the XDURO Urban S is likely overkill for most commuters (especially at an MSRP of $5K), it’s a sporty and fun option when bought used for less. This listing only has 80 miles of usage but is selling for $3K less than MSRP and $2.5K less than its Flywheel Vehicle Value. This steep of a discount is a bit suspicious, but could be a lucky and rare find if the seller can provide verified proof ownership. Listing can be found here.
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Observation of the Week
Usage of D2C vs. Dealer-Network Ebikes
Ebike manufacturers can typically be divided into D2C (direct-to-consumer) brands or dealer-network brands, and selecting between the two is a difficult dilemma for many consumers. D2C ebikes are usually significantly more affordable than dealer-network ebikes, but dealer-network ebikes are easier to maintain due to the bike shop/dealership relationships they come with.
During a past Flywheel interview with SF bike shop The New Wheel, co-owner Brett Thurber said that “most of the D2C ebikes I see on the road are newer. The lack of comprehensive servicing from D2C brands means that their ebikes rarely last very long.” To dig into this statement, I looked at the average mileage of used ebikes at the time of listing from the top 10 D2C and dealer-network brands (across major US markets on Craigslist in 2022).
Used ebikes from D2C brands have an average mileage of 291.54 miles. Used ebikes from dealer-network brands have an average mileage of 675.80 miles, 384.26 miles more than their D2C counterparts. Below is a breakdown of the average mileage of each of the top 10 D2C and dealer-network brands:
Dealer-network brands Stromer, Haibike, Trek, and Riese & Müller lead the way here, with D2C brand Magnum rounding out the top 5. It’s interesting that Magnum has a significantly higher average mileage than other D2C brands, likely because Magnum’s primary customers are delivery couriers and other high-utility riders.
Ultimately, the data above further emphasizes how important comprehensive maintenance/servicing options and strong post-purchase customer relationships are for the micromobility ownership experience. There’s also two other factors that likely play a part in this phenomenon:
Longer lead times for new D2C ebikes has led to an interesting resale arbitrage opportunity. There are significantly more D2C ebikes being resold right out of the box than dealer-network ebikes.
Dealer-network ebikes are more expensive and therefore typically have higher quality/longer lasting parts.
That’s it for this week. Thanks again for joining, see you next week!
- Puneeth Meruva
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