LimeBike will likely be the first to launch e-bikes in Seattle, saying in a press release that the bikes will be available “starting in January 2018.” The company is currently planning 300-500 bikes for Seattle. Spin is launching their first e-bikes in smaller markets where they are exclusive operators.
Seattle has hills. That’s an unchanging fact. So the potential for a well-run, dependable and approachable e-assist bike share service is immense. It could make bike share more accessible to more people and make more kinds of trips possible for everyone. A trip from downtown directly to First Hill? It’s possible on a non-assisted bike, but it’s a tough grind that only a handful of people are going to choose to make. But with a little boost, it could put a huge number of homes and jobs within an easy bike ride of downtown transit service, for example.
Of course, how an e-assist bike share system without docks (and, therefore, regular charging stations) is mostly unexplored territory. Social Bicycles operates the Jump e-assist system in San Fransisco and Washington DC, and there are a couple e-assist bike share systems in a handful of cities around the world. But it is still a very new concept, and having bikes with higher capital and maintenance costs raises a lot of new challenges for the operators.
Both companies say their bikes will remain dockless, sending staff to swap out batteries as needed to keep them juiced. I am especially interested in how these more valuable bikes (with likely valuable batteries) can prevent theft. Jump, for example, might not have docks, but the service does require users to lock the bike to a bike rack or pole when completing a ride.
Unlike many e-bikes on the market, pedal-assist bikes do not have a throttle to activate the motor. Instead, you have to pedal and keep pedaling to get the motor to kick in. It’s not a motorcycle or scooter. The motor doesn’t do all the work, it just flattens the hills a bit.
Both Spin and LimeBike also say they are setting the assisted speed limit at 15 mph, meaning the motor will cut out past that speed. You may still be able to ride faster, but only by using human power like any other bike.
The other change is in pricing. Lime-E bikes will cost $1 to unlock plus $1 per ten minutes of use. So unless e-bikes are used for much longer trips than the existing bikes, the cost for most trips should be comparable to transit fare.
More details from the LimeBike press release:
Called Lime-E, these bikes will be available in existing LimeBike markets including Seattle, Miami, and greater San Francisco bay area starting in January 2018.
Lime-E bikes will cost riders $1 to unlock and an additional $1 per every 10 minutes of riding time. The pricing allows Lime-E to be one of the most affordable modes of transportation, and offers upgraded technology and faster speeds for riders. LimeBike is committed to making bikesharing affordable and will continue to provide discounted pricing for students and low-income riders. These new fleets will require larger local operations teams to ensure prompt maintenance of the bikes, leading to the creation of more jobs in target markets.
The addition of Lime-E bikes to LimeBike’s existing fleets positions the company as a key player in the future of mobility. The faster bikes enable riders to get to their destinations more quickly, but still more affordably than driving or using traditional rideshare services. The maximum speed on the bikes is 15 MPH and the power will smartly adjust to adapt to the users’ natural pedal experience. Riders can easily climb up the 30 degree hills in Seattle and San Francisco.
“2018 is shaping up to be a landmark year for the global bikeshare movement,” says Toby Sun, CEO and co-founder of LimeBike. “As the fastest growing smart mobility solution company, LimeBike is evolving to respond to the limitations of traditional, docked bikeshare services based on cost, accessibility and overall aging infrastructure. Our electric-assist bike, Lime-E, will provide cities a fast, efficient, equitable source of first-and-last mile transportation at absolutely no cost to taxpayers and minimal cost to riders.”
Here’s the Spin press release:
With a new year comes new innovations. Spin is thrilled to announce its next innovation in urban mobility — the dockless electric bicycle! Orange is now electric.
We have spent 2017 designing this new product and cannot wait to provide it to cities and campuses across North America. Electric bicycles, or e-bikes, have been shown to break down barriers to biking including hills, disabilities, age, and distance. The result? A larger population choosing to go by bike. Spin has already made waves across the US in advancing urban mobility, and it’s time for another boost.
In the long-term, we see e-bikes as a key component of Spin’s 21st century multimodal mobility network made up of traditional bikes, e-bikes, and accessible vehicles.
About the bike
Spin’s e-bike is designed to make your ride easier and more comfortable, while still providing the convenience of dockless bike share technology. The bicycle can go 50 miles with a full charge and has batteries that can be easily swapped by Spin crews. The 250W motor provides riders with pedal-assist power, meaning you have to pedal to get the motor-assist, up to 15mph.
Plan for launch
Spin plans to launch our e-bike with select partners, and we are always on the lookout for communities that want to amplify their community’s transportation options.