- Flywheel: The Aftermath of VanMoof's Bankruptcy | Vehicles from Specialized's Globe, Rad Power, JupiterBike, Yuba, & Sondors
Flywheel: The Aftermath of VanMoof's Bankruptcy | Vehicles from Specialized's Globe, Rad Power, JupiterBike, Yuba, & Sondors
Exploring the aftermath of VanMoof’s bankruptcy & 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 aftermath of VanMoof’s bankruptcy. This week’s featured vehicles are two utility ebikes, a mini folding ebike, a longtail cargo bike, and the all-roader SUV of ebikes.
Observation of the Week
The aftermath of VanMoof’s bankruptcy
A saga that’s likely already familiar to Flywheel readers, VanMoof was declared bankrupt by the Court of Amsterdam on July 17, 2023. It’s news that shook the micromobility industry, and its effects are already starting to become visible in the secondary market.
The average resale price of a VanMoof ebike listed before July 17 was $1,687.08. The average resale price of VanMoofs listed in the period since is $1,499.67, a drop of $187.41.
Most of the listings posted after July 17 make some mention of VanMoof’s bankruptcy, but try to spin the situation into a positive by portraying the bikes as rare-to-find collectibles. While this may be a reasonable position to take for pedal bikes that often require much less maintenance (or at the least much less complicated maintenance), its not one that makes sense for ebikes, particularly for VanMoofs that have faced their fair share of servicing and reliability issues.
The number of VanMoofs listed hasn’t necessarily yet skyrocketed, but the internet has been stormed by concerned customers wondering about the future of their vehicles. Concerns range from a fear of being locked out of their bike because of the app going down (check out Cowboy’s cheeky response) to servicing challenges given that most parts are proprietary and can only be repaired/installed/replaced by technicians at VanMoof’s stores.
VanMoof released an official statement that tries to quell some of these worries, but these concerns largely still stand. Technically, only VanMoof’s Dutch entity was declared bankrupt, so many maintenance centers outside of the Netherlands are still open (i.e. I was able to book an appointment for my S3 in San Francisco). However, as reported by Claire Moses at the New York Times, “at company locations that remain open, like its shop in Brooklyn, repairs can be done only if the parts are in stock.”
Some local bike shops have tried to shoulder a bit of this weight and help the ebike community. I’ve spoken to several bike shops that are willing to try and service a VanMoof even though they don’t typically service ebikes not bought at their stores, but there’s only so much they can do when replacement parts are custom and in very limited supply.
Similarly, French pre-owned ebike retailer Upway launched VanMoof Revive, a repair program for VanMoof owners. From Upway CEO Toussaint Wattinne: “we put our know-how and reconditioning centers at the service of VanMoof bike owners, offering them dedicated repair slots. The goal: to keep each bike on the road as long as possible, and avoid throwing thousands of e-bikes at the slightest glitch.” Upway will offer 500 repair slots over the next ~12 months in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and New York City. More may follow soon.
So whats next for D2C ebike brands and the micromobility sector? I think we’ll see a bit of a shift back towards dealer-brands with large and reliable service networks, and I think we’ll see a regression towards commonly found/standard parts and thereby very similar looking and performing vehicles. I think it’ll be some time before we see new ebike brands being as committed to the vertical integration design strategy as VanMoof. That being said, I still think that the price point for mass adoption of ebikes lies somewhere in the $1.5K to $2.5K range, and the recent struggles of D2C brands doesn’t mean that customers will magically be able to afford spending more on their ebikes. I think dealer-network ebike brands and incumbents would be wise to start releasing simplified vehicles that are more affordable and not just catered to enthusiasts (like Specialized’s Globe Haul ST). Until others follow suit, I think one of the brands best poised to service this segment of the market is REI’s Co-op Cycles. Vehicles like their <$1K Generation e1.2 are no-brainers striking the perfect balance of a massive service network and mind-blowingly affordable prices.
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Top 5 Vehicles of the Week
Launched this past March, the Specialized Globe Haul ST is an exceptionally priced class-3 utility ebike from Specialized's revived Globe brand. Globe is Specialized’s stab at creating a lineup of affordable, urban utility-oriented ebikes that take advantage of Specialized’s experience and scale in the sector. The Haul ST stands as Specialized's most economical and practical ebike to date, and combines a commuter-style wheelbase with an impressive 419lb payload capacity to give riders both ample cargo-hauling capabilities as well as agile handling. Its powertrain features a custom 700W rear hub motor that is regulated by a torque sensor and a 772Wh battery pack. Combining hub motors with torque sensors is starting to become more common amongst more affordable ebikes, as it allows you to minimize motor costs while still giving riders some of the smooth and intuitive pedal assistance of mid-drives. By default, the Haul ST is a pedal-only class-3 ebike. However, those seeking maximum convenience and utility can buy Specialized's $50 plug-in throttle accessory. One of Haul ST’s best features is its rack system, which has versatile mounting points and rails on both the front and rear for Globe's wide array of cargo accessories or even their Passenger Kit. Rad Power’s RadRunner is the most common vehicle in the utility ebike segment. While it may be a bit cheaper of an option, the Haul ST is still quite affordable, has better quality parts, and has access to Specialized’s massive servicing network. The Haul ST is the clear choice for those that can afford it. This listing has only been ridden four times and is being sold because the seller doesn’t have appropriate parking for it. It comes with ~$650 in additional accessories/services. Listing can be found here.
Speaking of utility ebikes, the Rad Power RadRunner is a class-2 utility ebike and likely the most popular vehicle in the segment. It’s the Swiss Army Knife in Rad Power’s vehicle lineup, and it’s the perfect one-vehicle-fits-most solution for riders. Its powertrain features Rad Power's standard 80Nm rear-hub motor and a 672Wh battery pack. The RadRunner is agile yet highly practical; its 20” tires and short step-through frame give it a low center of gravity while its strong frame give it an impressive cargo payload capacity of 300lbs. Rad Power even offers a Passenger Package accessory kit, which comes with a rear seat, retractable footpegs, and a protective wheel skirt to accomodate a second adult passenger with ease. This listing has a lot of upgrades, featuring upgraded leather grips, side mirrors, a front rack, a milk crate basket, an extra gel padded seat, fenders, an upgraded Rad Power LCD display, and Tannus Armour Inserts that prevent flat tires by adding a 15mm foam layer for extra protection. It has also been immaculately maintained. From the seller: “We baby our Rad bikes and batteries. I clean and maintain all on regular basis. Always garaged and batteries always stay between 55%-75% when storing. Before posting it got a detailed cleaning, full maintenance, and replaced brake pads and tires.” Listing can be found here.
The JupiterBike Discovery X5 is a compact class-2 folding ebike. There’s a lot of folding mini-ebikes in the market, but the Discovery X5 stands out for its unique sturdy yet lightweight magnesium alloy frame and overall sleek design. The JupiterBike Discovery X5 prioritizes portability, and its stable folding mechanism that lets you fold the vehicle in <10 seconds, 16" wheels, and 40lbs weight facilitates easy transportation. Its powertrain features a 60Nm rear hub motor and a 187Wh battery pack. This powertrain is comparatively weaker than most folding bikes and even other larger models by JupiterBike, but its an interesting compromise JupiterBike made to make to the Discovery X5 as portable as possible. In fact, the battery pack Wh is small enough for riders to be able to take their Discovery X5 with them on flights. In this size and performance category, opting for a scooter might be a wiser choice for most individuals. Scooters offer even greater portability and often deliver more power, enhancing safety and overall performance. This listing is about a year old with a Flywheel estimated mileage of <100mi. Listing can be found here.
The Yuba Kombi E5 is a class-1 longtail cargobike and Yuba’s most affordable ebike. It’s an electrified version of their original pedal Kombi, and is designed to be the entry-level vehicle in their lineup. Its powertrain features a 40 Nm Shimano STEPS E5000 mid-drive motor (a popular option amongst more value priced ebikes that want to include a mid-drive) and a 418Wh battery pack. The Kombi E5 has a 440lbs payload capacity, which is managed by a strong frame, 24” wheels for added maneuverability and stability, and a modular rack system compatible with Yuba’s great ecosystem of cargo accesories. Frankly, a new Kombi E5 doesn’t have the componentry to justify its price (i.e. no suspension). Not to say that the components aren’t good, but they’re more akin to those you’d find on a $1K cheaper vehicle. That being said, a used Kombi E5 can be a great way to get a cargo bike with a mid-drive at a more affordable price range. This listing has a mileage of <500mi and was purchased just last year. It comes with ~$440 worth of add-ons (mostly rear passenger accessories like a seating deck and sideboards). Listing can be found here.
The Sondors LX is a class-2/3 hybrid all-terrain powerhouse and is frequently hailed the SUV of ebikes. Its monstrous powertrain boasts the ultra-high performance 95Nm Bafang Ultra mid-drive motor, controlled by a torque sensor, and a custom 1008Wh battery pack made of LG cells. To ensure smooth and reliable gear shifting, the LX has a 7-speed Shimano transmission with shift detection - an essential feature given the Bafang motor's high torque and the higher wear-and-tear often seen with mid-drives. The LX has a maximum speed of 28mph out of the box, but there’s a 35mph off-road mode. Its extra-large 26" by 4.9" fat-tires, complemented by a front fork suspension and a suspension seat post, help the LX effortlessly glide over any surface you choose to ride on. This vehicle is a popular choice for adventurous ebike off-roaders, due to its surprisingly affordable price, massive powertrain, and exceptional rider comforts. This listing is unopened and in its original packaging. If the seller can transfer the vehicle’s warranty and proof-of-ownership, this listing for a brand new LX selling for $700 less than MSRP is a steal. 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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