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Flywheel: Throttles and ebike classes | Vehicles from Xtracycle, Urtopia, Juiced, Himiway, & Pedal
Breaking down the secondary market by ebike class & 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 the age old throttle debate by breaking down the secondary ebike market by class. This week’s featured vehicles are an off-road longtail cargo bike, an ultra-light road ebike, and three fat-tires of various form factors.
Observation of the Week
To throttle or not to throttle?
There has long been a debate as to whether ebikes should have throttles. Many from the traditional bicycling world argue that riders should have to pedal and earn their mobility, and feel that it’s unfair and possibly even unsafe for throttled light electric vehicles to ride alongside pedal bikes. On the other hand, others argue that throttles are an essential tool to make micromobility more accessible and equitable. As Jim McPherson, former GC at Spin, put it during a past interview with Flywheel, “if my throttled vehicle goes the same speed and no faster than your pedaled bike, you have no claim on the amount of effort I give (or don't give). Just like someone on a one speed steel bike can't tell someone on a 32 speed carbon fiber missile that they’re not working hard enough.”
I think the debate ultimately comes down to the speed a throttle allows you to hit. If it’s the same as reasonable pedaling speed, it’s safe to ride alongside pedaling riders. But if it’s significantly faster than reasonable pedaling speed, it’s much easier for people to be dangerous or reckless to those around them in the bike lane.
The PeopleForBikes three class model, which is broadly the guideline for regulations in most major US markets, aims to push policy that standardizes this particular nuance around speed and what ebikes can or cannot have a throttle. The three classes are likely already familiar to most of you, but as a quick reminder:
Class-1: Pedal-assistance only, cuts out at 20mph.
Class-2: Throttle and pedal-assistance, cuts out at 20mph.
Class-3: Pedal-assistance only, cuts out at 28mph.
To understand rider preferences amongst the three classes, let’s take a look at the secondary ebike market and break it down by class:
Class-2 vehicles, aka ebikes with throttles, dominate the secondary market. They make up 46.6% of all used listings across major US regions.
They also tend to be the most affordable types of ebikes. Part of the reason this is the case is because not many incumbent/dealer-network OEMs sell ebikes with throttles. However, I also think it’s an indication of the fact that 1) class-2 ebikes are designed for utility-focused use and that 2) riders that want a throttle are looking to their ebike for their transportation needs, not just for recreation.
In fact, particularly in the cargo bike segment, people time and time again choose class-2 ebikes from the likes of Rad Power or Lectric over more premium class-1/class-3 ebikes from incumbent brands.
A breakdown of used cargo bike listings by class shows that throttled class-2 ebikes make up 57.1% of the secondary cargo bike 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 Xtracycle Stoker is a class-1 off-road longtail cargo bike that combines a mountain bike geometry with the longtail form factor to be the perfect tool to haul “the camping sink.” Its powertrain features the powerful 85Nm Shimano STEPS EP-8 mid-drive motor and a 630Wh Shimano battery pack. The Stoker is one of the only cargo bikes on the market spec’d to handle all-terrain riding. Its 24” by 2.4” tires are sufficiently fat and small to be comfortable yet still agile, and the 4-piston Shimano hydraulic disc brakes are over spec’d to provide ample off-road stopping power. Even the extra rugged chromoly frame is designed to handle the increased wear and tear of trail riding. The Stoker has a payload capacity of 400lbs despite its relatively low weight of ~64lbs (for a cargo bike), and is more than capable of carrying both a second passenger and plenty of cargo. This listing has a mileage of 1152mi and comes with front and rear lighting, cargo bags, and rear seating accessories for additional passengers. Listing can be found here.
The Urtopia Carbon One is a class-3 road e-bike crafted by the award-winning automotive designer Mathis Heller. What sets the Carbon One apart is its unique carbon fiber Möbius band frame, which gives it a featherlight weight of 33lbs and dampens vibrations when riding. Under the hood, the Carbon One features a 35Nm rear hub motor and a 360Wh battery pack. The motor is controlled by a torque sensor and is paired with a Gates carbon belt drive, which combines with the carbon fiber frame to make the Carbon One exceptionally smooth to ride. Lastly, the Carbon One is packed to the brim with cutting-edge electronics and software, from a Bluetooth speaker and turn-by-turn navigation to voice control, anti-theft GPS tracking, integrated turn signals, and a biometric thumb lock. For riders in hilly cities looking for a daily commuter, the Carbon One may feel a bit underpowered compared to others from the likes of Giant or Trek. However, for those looking for an electric counterpart to their recreational pedal road bike, the Carbon One is a perfect option with the latest ebike technology. This listing is in mind condition and has a mileage of <50mi. Listing can be found here.
The Juiced RipRacer is a class-2/3 BMX-style fat-tire ebike. It’s an extremely compact and agile form factor, which is rare for fat-tire ebikes that are often larger and more clunky. The wheelbase is only 40.3” long, making it super maneuverable and easy to store in the back of an SUV or in your garage. This nimble form factor is what makes the RipRacer an equally good commuter (given its comfortable knobby 20”x4” fat-tires) as it is an off-road joyride. Its powertrain features an 80Nm rear-hub motor and Juiced’s latest generation 800Wh G2 battery pack, and the ebike system is UL 2849 certified. In fact, Juiced actually makes it a point to reference why this is an important detail given the growing concerns around ebike fires: “Juiced Bikes are TUV certified to UL 2849, making them fully compliant with NYC regulations for battery and e-bike safety regulations.” It’s also worth noting that the RipRacer’s latest generation battery pack is UL 2271 certified and compatible with the new charging dock Juiced has been teasing over the past year. The dock will not only let you charge your battery packs, it will also let you use them as AC and DC powerbanks. This is a feature that many auto OEMs have talked about for electric cars, but Juiced is one of the first to apply the concept to micromobility. Rounding out the RipRacer are competent hydraulic disc brakes and bright integrated lighting. There’s even a hidden compartment for an Apple AirTag, which is a small yet very thoughtful theft-prevention feature. This listing is in like-new condition with ~200mi on the odometer. Listing can be found here.
The Himiway Zebra is a class-2/3 all-terrain fat-tire ebike and an update to Himiway’s previous flagship model, the ever-popular Himiway Cruiser. Likely the first thing you notice about the Zebra is that it’s big. It’s ~79” long, weighs 79lbs, and has a massive powertrain and tires. While this gives the vehicle a confident-inspiring presence and solid feel, it can be a bit intimidating for smaller riders. Its powertrain features an 86Nm rear geared hub motor (controlled by a torque sensor) and a 960Wh battery pack made of Samsung/LG cells, and is paired with a 7-speed Shimano transmission to give riders a max speed of 25mph. The Zebra’s 26”x4” fat tires and front fork suspension make it ride like a cloud, and the strong hydraulic disc brakes help stop the heavy vehicle quickly even at top speeds and even when loaded to the max payload capacity of 400lbs. Himiway is technically an e-comm brand that delivers D2C, but it has a network of 300+ dealers to help with maintenance. Ultimately, the Zebra is an incredibly great value vehicle. At a shocking <$2K price tag, the Zebra offers a remarkably large battery and motor, a torque sensor, and a large and easily-accessible maintenance network. A few riders have complained that the vehicle can feel under-geared and sometimes suffers with understeer. However, unless you’re using it for intense off-roading, the Zebra’s handling should be more than sufficient for the average rider. This listing is new, comes with a 2yr warranty, and is sold by Seattle bike store AE. Listing can be found here.
The Pedal Core is a class-2/3 full-suspension moped-esque scrambler. Its powertrain features a 750W (~85Nm) Bafang rear hub motor motor and a 672Wh battery pack. The bench seat is designed to be extra long for a second passenger, and the Core’s powerful motor and 400lbs payload capacity can certainly accomodate for one. Most notable about the Core is its full-suspension system. Modeled after the suspension typically found on motorcycles, the Core has both an inverted fork and dual coil-over shocks that combine to provide best-in class shock absorption and eliminate shock fade. As such, although the Core is primarily designed for urban riding, this sophisticated suspension system as well as the vehicle’s 20”x4” fat-tires make it a worthy off-roader. The Core’s remaining components (i.e. the transmission and hydraulic disc brakes) are fairly nondescript given the price tag, but they are still reliable parts from well-reputed suppliers. As with most scramblers, it’s impractical to do a lot of pedaling with the Core. But the comfort and performance of the powertrain make it an undeniably fun urban vehicle. This listing was purchased a year ago and is in excellent condition (Flywheel estimated mileage of 557.42mi). 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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