- Flywheel | September 19, 2022
Flywheel | September 19, 2022
Featuring the top 5 used vehicles of the week and exploring my takeaways from the Micromobility America 2022 conference
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 a series of commuters, ranging from budget riders to trail tacklers and luxury cruisers. The observation of the week explores my takeaways from last week’s Micromobility America conference.
Top 5 Vehicles of the Week
The Flluid-1S is a class-3 commuter ebike designed by iconic motorcycle designer Erik Buell’s micromobility brand Fuell. Unsurprising given its price point, the Flluid-1S is packed to the brim with high-end components. The powertrain is built on top of a custom 100Nm Bofeili mid-drive and a dual battery set up with two 504Wh packs. There’s also a Gates Carbon belt drive, front fork and seat post suspension, and a torque-sensing pedal assist to give the Flluid-1S a smooth rideability akin to that of the motorcycles designed by Buell. From Electrek’s Micah Toll: “it’s just so smooth and planted that I feel like I’m riding more of a roadster motorcycle than an e-bike sometimes.” Unlike many premium ebikes that compromise on software features, the Flluid also has a number of software-enabled anti-theft features (PIN code start, GPS tracking, and rear wheel kick-lock) that feel similar those found on VanMoofs or Cowboys. This specific listing is in like-new condition (Flywheel estimates <200 miles) and is only being sold because the seller is too afraid to ride it and damage its luxurious look and feel. Only four Flluid-1Ss have been sold in major US markets this year, making this an extremely rare find. Listing can be found here.
The Juiced RipCurrent S is a powerful class-3 fat-tire trail bike. With a 80Nm, 750W Bafang motor, 1000Wh battery pack, spongy 4” wide fat-tires, and front fork suspension, it’s immediately obvious that you can ride the RipCurrent S anywhere. The suspension and tires in particular, designed for sporty trail riding, make riding the RipCurrent S on a city road feel like you’re floating. Juiced actually used to be a high-capacity battery manufacturer before they started making vehicles, and the packs on all their ebikes are well known for their reliability and longevity. Juiced’s latest battery packs are also compatible with their docking stations (set to release over the next year) that allow you to easily charge/swap the battery and reverse the battery’s current to power other devices. My favorite comment in this listing is the seller describing the vehicle as “a super awesome turbo-charged Citibike.” Citibikes have been the first exposure to ebikes for many New Yorkers and has contributed tremendously to the adoption of ebikes in NYC. Using Citibike as a way to contextualize the performance of an ebike being sold in NYC is a smart and intuitive way of communicating the listing’s capabilities. This listing has 200 miles of usage and has only been stored indoors. Listing can be found here.
The VanMoof X2 is a class-1 commuter that helped establish VanMoof as one of the leading, most technologically advanced ebike brands in the market. The X2 is a smaller framed urban vehicle that introduced a lot of the software features that VanMoof is now known for: stealth-lock, anti-theft tracking and alarm, boost button, over-the-air updates, and a firmware to hardware vertical integration that makes it easy to diagnose and maintain an X2. Although modest in comparison to more recently launched ebikes, the X2’s powertrain features a fairly punchy 20Nm hub motor and 504Wh battery pack. Compared to the more recent X3, the X2 has a smaller 2-speed transmission without an e-shifter, a weaker hub motor, and slower acceleration. However, VanMoof brand stores still offer maintenance for the model. Most noteworthy about this listing is the clear love this seller has for the vehicle: “I truly love this thing … These guys are reinventing the e-bikes space … I don't know about you but this bike is life changing.” This type of brand enthusiasm and loyalty is the result of a truly great product combined with a thorough design of the user experience, and it’s what brings customers back to VanMoof even though the brand has had its fair share of maintenance/reliability growing pains. This listing has less than 10 charge cycles and 200 miles of usage. Listing can be found here.
The Aventon Level is an affordable class-3 commuter ebike. Known for making ebikes that feel and ride nicer than they cost, Aventon continues to maintain its reputation with the Level. As a class-3 ebike with a 60Nm rear-hub motor and 672Wh battery pack, the Level is much more powerful than its budget competitors that are typically only class-1s or class-2. The chassis is high-quality and feels like one singular frame, and the premium hydraulic brakes and front fork suspension give the Level the rideability of a $3K+ ebike. Combined with the fact that Aventons are easy to maintain due to brand’s vast dealer network, the Level is quickly becoming a popular option for delivery couriers. The only negative aspect of the Level is its cadence sensor, which has an unusually long delay when providing pedal assist. This listing is less than a year old and is only being sold because the seller is relocating. Listing can be found here.
The ST2 is a high-performance class-3 ebike designed by Stromer, a Swiss ebike brand synonymous with high-end, luxury ebikes. The ST2 features a 42Nm hub motor and a 814Wh battery pack, and is actually the first Stromer bike to use a Gates carbon belt drive. This belt drive integrates nicely with a 5-speed internally geared hub transmission to give riders a low maintenance and silky riding experience. Stromer specifically built the ST2 to be a commuter vehicle, which is reflected in the bike’s sophisticated lighting system (integrated low-beam and high-beam headlights and brake light) and fairly advanced software features (over-the-air updates and GPS tracking). The ST2 was actually launched by Stromer as its affordable vehicle line, but it still has a steep price tag at $6.2K. However, this listing is a much more accessible option given that it’s being sold for $3.7K less than MSRP while being well maintained. It also has an upgraded front fork suspension, seatpost suspension, and 983Wh battery pack. It’s interesting that the seller makes a point to mention that the vehicle was bought at Bay Area bike shop The New Wheel even though it’s being resold in Portland. Really speaks volumes regarding the brand recognition and respect The New Wheel has earned across the West Coast. Listing can be found here.
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Observation of the Week
Takeaways from Micromobility America 2022
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the Micromobility America conference. Hosted by Micromobility Industries, the go-to authority for all things micromobility, it’s the best event focusing on light electric vehicles and is always one of my favorite conferences to attend. If you haven’t gone before, I cannot recommend it enough.
Some of my observations from the event:
The focus shifts from shared to owned in a big way: The MM conference, and the industry as a whole, was really kick-started by shared services and operators. But this year, most of the programming, attendees, and general sentiment seemed to focus on the owned segment. My thesis has always been that shared services played a key role in exposing the public to micromobility, but the biggest opportunities in micromobility lie in owned. It was exciting to see this in action and meet the incredible volume of companies and founders that have started to build in this segment. Micromobility Industries even launched Ride Review during the conference, a discovery and distribution tool for owned micromobility. Micro vehicles are great at customer acquisition; people fall in love with these vehicles as soon as they ride them. But finding the right vehicle to test or buy is incredibly challenging due to the sheer volume of brands and models in the sector. Ride Review is the best search and exploration tool for micromobility vehicles I’ve seen to date, and I think it will have a massive impact getting “new butts in seats.”
The growth of subscription services: There has been an increasing number of micromobility subscription services over the last two years, and there were a lot of companies at the conference building their businesses around subscription models. It was great to see that many of these companies focused on a specific use-case first, and then built/selected vehicles specific to the task at hand and designed the surrounding infrastructure and services (i.e. maintenance, fleet management, distribution, financing) that best address these use-cases. Great examples of this were Lug+Carry and its family oriented cargo-bike offering, Beyond and Zoomo’s delivery specific vehicles, and Unagi’s vehicle package focused on the urban commuter. Talking to some of the founders of these companies, it seems like they’re looking to subscriptions for the following key reasons:
Make the product more affordable and accessible for customers.
Have more recurring touch points with the customer to strengthen the user experience/relationship.
Reduce maintenance costs by proactively fixing problems as soon as they’re identified so that they don’t become more severe or damage other, more expensive components.
Own the secondary market for their own products, which in turn opens up new revenue opportunities and gives them better residual value data to improve the rental/lease terms they can provide to customers and improves their own access to more favorable debt/credit financing.
That’s it for this week. Thanks again for joining, see you next week!
- Puneeth Meruva
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