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Flywheel: Takeaways from Micromobility America 2023 | Vehicles from Trek, Rad Power, Gazelle, Blix, & Gen3
Takeaways from Micromobility America 2023 & featuring the top 5 vehicles of the week
Welcome to Flywheel, a weekly exploration of 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 my takeaways from Micromobility America 2023. This week’s featured vehicles are a premium endurance road ebike, the workhorse Hummer of ebikes, two commuters, and a cruiser.
Observation of the Week
Takeaways from Micromobility America 2023
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at Micromobility America 2023, a yearly conference on all things light electric vehicles and a great way to get a pulse on what’s happening in the world of micromobility. I’ve had a chance to attend every year since 2019, and it has been exciting to see the progression of both the event and the state of the industry since then. Some takeaways and observations from this year’s conference:
Micromobility gets bigger:
Many of the new vehicle releases that happened at previous conferences were for smaller and smaller vehicles, from compact folding escooters and eboards to even motorized rollerblades. But this year, many of the vehicles announced were larger. Escooters had bigger motors and tires, ebikes got greater cargo capabilities, and there were three-wheeled and four-wheeled pod cars galore. This makes sense given the growing emphasis on safety and utility as more people use micromobility vehicles for more than just recreation.
A greater focus on maintenance and Total Cost of Ownership:
Maintenance and reliability concerns have plagued some of the leading brands in the sector, particularly those that sold D2C. In response to the pandemic-era bike boom, many manufacturers flooded the market with ebikes and just focused on pushing volume out the door without setting up the required maintenance infrastructure. This understandably left a sour taste in customers’ mouths, and many brands now find themselves needing to do damage control to repair their reputations. For riders new to micromobility, they often don’t realize how much goes into keeping their vehicle up and running. But as these riders graduate to their second or third ebike, they are much more aware of the total cost of ownership and they’re not willing to buy ebikes where maintenance and servicing options aren’t readily available.
Many of the ideas discussed at the conference on how to better maintain owned ebikes and escooters took inspiration from shared micromobility: Regularly scheduled and proactive maintenance, connectivity to measure vehicle health, and companies taking more ownership over the condition of their vehicles as opposed leaving it up their customers.
A growing focus on the secondary market:
The residual value of micromobility vehicles was a big talking point at the conference. Knowing that an item has a meaningful residual value helps customers justify paying more for that item. As such, given that manufacturers are currently needing to raise the prices of their vehicles to keep up with growing expenses around the supply chain, maintenance infrastructure, etc., brands are looking for secondary market solutions to help justify higher MSRPs.
Similarly, given that customers and manufacturers are now focusing more on lowering total cost of ownership and thereby maximizing the lifetime value of an ebike, there’s now a greater need to find a home for vehicles after their first owners.
Trek’s recently launched Red Barn Refresh program also made a huge splash at the conference. Seeing one of the bicycle industry’s big 3 embark on such a significant effort in the secondary market clearly seems to have stirred the rest of the industry into motion and motivated them to begin planning their own secondary market programs.
Connectivity and defining ebikes beyond their basic moving parts:
With maintenance and reliability being the new focus for manufacturers, many at the conference began to look to connectivity solutions to collect vehicle data and build services on top of it. I think VanMoof’s excellent connected service offerings also served as an inspiration for manufacturers looking to learn from VanMoof’s recent bankruptcy/acquisition.
One of the ideas that came up several times is the need for a trusted data source on vehicle ownership and health. Tools like a CARFAX and a vehicle title/provenance registry for micromobility solve several of the major problems that the sector faces today: maintenance, theft prevention, financing, and the secondary market.
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 Trek Domane+ SLR 9 is an ultra-premium class-3 endurance road ebike. Its powertrain features a smooth and quiet 50Nm mid-drive motor and a 360Wh battery pack integrated into the frame, and there’s also mounts for a 160Wh range extender that sits in the bottle cage. These components are all made by TQ, a Bavarian powertrain systems supplier that specializes in high-end sport bikes. As one would expect given a $13K price tag that’s more in the ball park of car pricing vs. ebike pricing, the Domane+ SLR 9’s rideability is impeccable. Its SRAM 12-speed drivetrain and narrow road tires give it a sporty, high-performance feel, and the frame that is mostly made of carbon fiber makes the vehicle incredibly light (<27lbs) and dampens shocks and vibrations while riding. This listing is sold by Trek’s recently launched certified pre-owned resale program called Red Barn Refresh. All bikes sold through Red Barn Refresh go through a 151-point inspection by Trek technicians and come with both a warranty and a 30-day return policy. Trek is one of the big 3 bicycle brands, and they’re the first of their peers to launch their own certified pre-owned ebikes program. As adoption of ebikes grows and we move beyond the pandemic-era demand boom, I expect more OEMs to follow suit and explore ways to own/control the secondary market for their own vehicles. Listing can be found here.
The Rad Power RadRover is a class-2 fat-tire e-bike often referred to as the Hummer of ebikes. It’s the most popular ebike model in the secondary market, and has become a rider favorite due to its versatility, robustness, and reliability. The RadRover’s powertrain features an 80Nm rear geared hub motor and a 672Wh battery pack. Paired with 26" by 4.5" fat tires and a front suspension fork, the RadRover has an incredibly plush ride that eats up bumps and potholes on any terrain. That being said, while the RadRover’s powertrain and suspension are highly performant, its traditional bicycle components are cheaper, more basic parts. Additionally, its 71.4lbs weight and 75.25" length makes it less than convenient to store in places other than a garage. Check out last week’s Flywheel for a full supplier breakdown of the Rad Power RadRover. This listing was purchased in 2019 and has <25 mi on the odometer. It has always been stored indoors. Listing can be found here.
The Gazelle Ultimate T10 is a premium class-1 step-thru commuter by a 130+ yrs old brand that received the “Royal” title from the Dutch monarchy for its incredibly high-quality vehicles. The Ultimate line has long been a popular series of pedal bikes for Gazelle, and the T10 is the first electrified vehicle in the lineup. Its powertrain features an 85Nm Bosch Performance Line mid-drive motor and a 500Wh Bosch PowerTube battery pack, and is paired with a 10-speed Shimano Deore XT transmission and hydraulic disc brakes to give the vehicle smooth and responsive handling. The vehicle also has a small mono suspension fork. While it’s not the smoothest suspension in the market, it combines with the classic Dutch step-thru frame geometry to make the T10 very comfortable for city riding. The Ultimate T10 even comes with integrated lights, a rear rack, fenders, and a kick-stand, all of which are rare on dealer-network brand ebikes. Gazelle is not as popular in the US as it is in Europe, but the brand still has a significant retail presence and service network stateside. This listing is in like-new condition with mileage of only 19mi. Listing can be found here.
The Blix Aveny is a class-2 urban cruiser and the Santa Cruz-based brand’s most popular model. Although the Aveny has a step-thru frame, its double downtube gives the vehicle the strength of a more traditional high-step bike and reduces frame flex. The Aveny’s powertrain features a 50Nm Shengyi rear hub motor and a 614.4Wh battery pack made of Panasonic cells. Pedal assistance is determined by a higher resolution cadence sensor, which provides pedal assistance in a much more intuitive and responsive way than other ebikes with cadence sensors. Other ride-elements include strong hydraulic disc brakes and a Shimano Acera 7-speed transmission. Additionally, as a bike designed for city riders, the Aveny also comes standard with integrated lights, fneders, a kick stand, and a rear rack. Blix bikes are great value, and are built well with high-quality components despite their low price tag. This listing has a mileage of 1307mi and is in like-new condition. As the seller specifies, the “Bike has been tuned up by a professional mechanic and all electronic components have been tested and are in great working order with lots of life left on them.” Listing can be found here.
Gen3’s The Stride is an affordable D2C, UL certified class-2 commuter. Its powertrain features a reliable and zippy 55Nm Bafang rear hub motor and an integrated 500Wh battery pack, and is paired with a 7-speed Shimano Tourney transmission. The stiff step-thru frame helps make the vehicle more responsive and improves cornering capabilities, and the vehicle’s front suspension fork helps smoothen out potholes and rough city roads. Lastly, as a city-focused vehicle, The Stride also has an integrated security/theft alarm and a rear rack. Gen3 went out of business last year so the company is no longer offering customer support for their vehicles. That being said, many of The Stride’s components are readily available off-the-shelf components so you should be able to find some local bike shops that are able to service the vehicle. This listing is in like-new condition with a Flywheel estimated mileage of 186.70mi. 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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