2018 Will Be The Year Of The Ebike

The Market Urbanism Report called it last year – electric bikeshare is already becoming a thing in U.S. cities.

Asher Meyers | January 15, 2018 | |

As I previously predicted for The Market Urbanism Report, 2018 is rapidly shaping up to be the year of electric bikeshare. As of today, there are now five companies angling to offer electric bikeshare in San Francisco and elsewhere: Scoot, Limebike, Jump, Motivate, Spin.

Background: Limebike is the leading dockless firm in America. Spin is another dockless bikeshare startup similar to Lime but with less funding and fewer bikes and markets. Motivate operates some of the largest legacy dock-based bikeshare, including NYC’s Citibike, and will be operating Ford’s GoBike in SF. Jump is part of the established bikeshare/bike-manufacturer Social Bicycle – which are actually dockless, but require users to lock the bike to a street fixture. Lastly there’s Scoot, which currently operates a shared electric moped service in SF.

Jump is the leader right now, as their bikes are already available in DC, and on a trial basis to invitees in SF. Their bike costs $2/half-hour, and has a 19mph max speed. They must be locked to something after the ride, but that’s helped minimize vandalism.

Ironically, Scoot is partly owned by Mahindra, which will be making e-bikes for both Scoot and its rival Ford GoBike. The Ford bikes will have a top speed of 18 mph, pricing is unknown. Scoot has said its e-bikes will be cheaper than its mopeds, which are currently $3-5 per 30 minute ride. Ford’s use of e-bikes is smart, because it will be the only player to have docks in the public right of way, which will make e-bike management easier.

Limebike’s e-bike offering is surprisingly weak. It will cost $1 + $1 per 10 minutes (i.e. $4 for a half hour, double Jump’s cost), with a maximum speed of 14.5 mph, which is in keeping with European e-bike speed limits. They’re also only planning 4-5k e-bikes, compared to 1m non-electric bikes for 2018. My guess: they wanted something that was available for quick deployment and ended up with a weaker product. Limebike also doesn’t require that the bike be locked to anything, which has meant higher rates of vandalism – that may explain their pricier but lower-speed bikes. I bet that Limebike will have a new e-bike iteration within a year, if not 6 months. On the plus side, Limebike may have the most geographic reach, by touching many markets with its e-bikes.

Spin’s bikes will also have a top speed of 15 mph, and a lower price of $1.50 per 15 minutes.

Both Jump and Limebike e-bikes have ~250 watt motors, which is on the low end of retail e-bikes.

The Chinese giants ofo and Mobike can’t be counted out, not least because their size and connections can give them priority in e-bike manufacture. They haven’t announced clear plans on e-bikeshare.

Did you enjoy this article? Read others by signing up now for The Market Urbanism Report's weekly email newsletter.