- Flywheel: Zoomo's UL Certification w/ Alan Wells | Vehicles from Cowboy, Yuba, Rad Power, Lectric, & Jack Rabbit
Flywheel: Zoomo's UL Certification w/ Alan Wells | Vehicles from Cowboy, Yuba, Rad Power, Lectric, & Jack Rabbit
Exploring Zoomo's UL certification journey & 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 Zoomo’s UL certification journey with Alan Wells. This week’s featured vehicles are a tech-forward commuter, two longtail cargo bikes, a rugged SUV of ebikes, and a mini escooter-ebike hybrid.
Observation of the Week
UL certification has recently become a hot topic of discussion, particularly in response to the series of ebike battery fires that have been reported around the country. The UL certification process is still somewhat of an opaque mystery to most people in the sector, and, to date, there’s still only a limited number of brands that have gotten their vehicles certified. One of the earliest companies to work on UL certification is logistics-focused ebike brand and rental-provider Zoomo. On this week’s Flywheel, I interviewed Zoomo’s VP of Product Alan Wells about their UL certification journey. Please welcome Alan:
“What prompted Zoomo’s decision to get the Ul certification, and what was the tipping point where you realized this was something that Zoomo had to do?”
“It seems like, at least at the beginning, Zoomo’s product was built on bikes from other OEMs. Now it seems like the company has started to design their own vehicles. What's the current distribution of the fleet in terms of custom designed ebikes and ones bought from other suppliers?”
“Has Zoomo already received any UL Certification? If so, how many of the Zoomo-designed bikes out there today already have it?”
“Could you dive a little deeper into what the UL certification process looks like and talk about some of the steps involved?”
“From the steps that you mentioned, it seems like a lot of the certification work is front loaded before manufacturing the vehicles. Is there any kind of testing that UL does with the final product either before you start selling it or maybe after it’s on the road for a while?”
“For those initial sample batches, what kind of testing are they doing? For example, are they testing the product under certain vibrations or conditions, cycling the batteries, etc.?”
“In Zoomo’s case, did you use an OTS battery pack that was already UL 2271 certified and just did the Ul 2849 system level certification, or did you do the battery certification work as well?”
“How much leeway do you have to change something on your product before its certification is no longer valid and you need to get re-certified? Does Zoomo just need to indefinitely have a team that constantly works on UL re-certification every time you refresh the product?”
“What were the most challenging parts of going through UL certification? What were things that maybe you thought would be more straightforward than they ended up being?”
“It sounds like you're asking a lot of your suppliers in this process. How do you incentivize them? If these suppliers are only getting certification requests from one customer, why would they even bother going through the process?”
“That’s a good segue to my final question. I think the biggest argument I've heard against UL certification is the cost, and that it'll bias the industry towards more expensive bikes that are likely from the incumbent brands. How expensive was it for Zoomo, and how did you justify that cost internally? Do you think it's a feasible course of action for smaller brands, or do you think that the whole industry and the average price of a new bike will just end up jumping significantly?”
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Top 5 Vehicles of the Week
The Cowboy C4 is tech-forward class-1 commuter that seamlessly blends software and electronics to create a highly sophisticated and comprehensive user experience for urban riders. Enabled by its vertical integration, the C4 has several state-of-the-art software features, ranging from theft detection and GPS tracking to an integrated cockpit that lets riders dock their smartphone and use the Cowboy app as the hub for vehicle controls, native navigation, and ride analytics. The software even has crash detection functionality, which is a notable safety feature that no other leading ebike has. The C4’s powertrain features a 45Nm hub motor and a swappable 360Wh battery pack, and is combined with a belt drive. While these components are modest compared to those on the powertrains of other commuters, they are sufficiently powerful for the average commuter and provide arguably more utility than other urban ebikes when combined with Cowboy’s software. In the wake of rival ebike OEM VanMoof’s recent bankruptcy, the C4 is now the clear choice for riders looking for an ebike that pushes the envelope on technical functionality and provides an Apple or Tesla-like integrated experience. This listing has only been ridden for 40mi and is being sold because it’s too big for the seller. Listing can be found here.
The Yuba Spicy Curry AT (all-terrain) is a highly-comfortable class-3 longtail cargo bike and an upgrade to Yuba’s flagship Spicy Curry model. The original Spicy Curry became extremely popular because of its low center-of-gravity chassis where the rear wheel is smaller than the front wheel, which simultaneously gave riders exceptional maneuverability and one of the highest cargo capabilities in the market (440lbs). With the Spicy Curry AT, Yuba has managed to release a vehicle with even more performance and comfort. The Spicy Curry AT’s powertrain features an 85Nm Bosch Cargo Line Speed mid-drive motor and a 500Wh Bosch PowerPack. This is an update to the original Spicy Curry’s Bosch Cargo Line Cruise mid-drive motor, which gives riders a higher class and max-speed (28mph vs. 20mph) and ~10Nm more torque. The new model also features a front suspension fork and hydraulic brakes, giving riders similar stability with significantly improved rider comfort and off-roading capabilities. This listing has a mileage of 468mi and was bought at local bike shop SloHi Bikes (proof of purchase available upon request). It has been routinely maintained by SloHi, and comes with a rear child seat and panniers. Listing can be found here.
The Rad Power RadRover is a class-2 fat-tire ebike and Rad Power’s off-roading SUV equivalent. Its powertrain features an 80Nm rear geared hub motor and a 672Wh battery pack, and is paired with a front suspension fork and knobby 26" by 4.5" fat-tires. These features give the RadRover an extremely comfortable and powerful ride, making it a great choice for anything from pavement cruising to off-road/trail riding. In fact, the rugged nature of the RadRover is why it’s a particularly popular vehicle for tour companies. However, given its weight of 71.4lbs and a length of 75.25", the RadRover can be cumbersome to maneuver and store/park. This listing has a mileage of ~1000mi and has recently replaced brakes. It’s only being resold because the seller’s building is banning ebikes. With the recent spate of ebike fires, many buildings and regulators are cracking down on ebikes by requiring UL-certified vehicles or banning them altogether. While ebike fires are certainly a big issue, they’re primarily a concern with cheap knock-off ebikes as opposed to vehicles from reputable brands like Rad Power. Its a shame that a lot of people will be forced off great and reliable bikes, or off ebikes altogether since UL-certified ebikes currently skew towards more expensive brands, because of building managers and authorities throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Listing can be found here.
The Lectric XPedition is an economical class-2/class-3 longtail cargo bike and arguably the best budget cargo bike available today. Its powertrain features an 85Nm rear hub motor and a 672Wh battery pack with an optional dual-battery configuration. Whether riders plan to use its industry leading 450lbs payload capacity for hauling cargo or a second adult passenger, the XPedition has more than enough power and torque to be a competent minivan-replacement. While the XPedition doesn’t have suspension, it’s still smooth and comfortable to ride due to its 20” by 3” street tires. This smoothness is also further improved by Lectric’s “Pedal Assist Wattage Regulation" control system, which replicates the intuitive pedal assistance of a torque sensor by modulating pedal assistance based on power rather than speed. Lastly, the XPedition comes standard with a rear rack, rear cushions, running boards, lights, and other accessories required for urban riders, all at a shockingly low MSRP of $1,399. Given the amount of utility Lectric ebikes pack per dollar, the brand’s meteoric rise is no surprise. Since 2019, Lectric has grown more than 18X and sold over 150K vehicles last year alone. This listing is brand new and is sold by a compelling seller. The seller is actually an approved Lectric reseller, and operates a Lectric rental business. However, given that Lectric doesn’t have a retail store in the Bay Area, the seller offers rentals as an alternative to test rides and rental fees act as a deposit towards buying a new Lectric if bought through the seller. As more D2C brands try to figure out how to grow their physical customer presence, this rental reseller approach that empowers local advocates for the brand is one worth considering. Listing can be found here.
The JackRabbit is a seated electric scooter tailored for short urban trips. Though it resembles an ebike, the JackRabbit is technically classified as an escooter because it has no pedals and is only controlled by a throttle. Its powertrain features a 300W (~30Nm) rear-hub motor and a 158Wh battery pack. While this allows riders to hit 20mph, the modest motor only gives riders a 12% grade climbing capability and the low capacity battery pack results in <10mi of range. That being said, one advantage of such a small battery pack is that riders are technically allowed by FAA regulations to fly with the vehicle as a carry-on. The JackRabbit is optimized for portability. Aided in part by its light powertrain, the vehicle only weighs 23lbs and can be folded entirely flat. The JackRabbit is a unique hybrid of an ebike and an escooter. Given that pedals wouldn’t be that practical on such a small vehicle anyway, the JackRabbit gives up the pretense of pedals altogether and fully leans into the utility of a throttle. It combines the best of both form factors; it’s as portable and light as an escooter but has the improved comfort of an ebike due to its seat and 20” ebike-size tires. Escooter-ebike hybrids are slowly growing in popularity, and I think their raw practicality will resonate with riders new to micromobility. This listing has <100mi of usage and come with upgraded tires that are flat-proof and off-roading capable. 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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