How to choose the right e-bikes and keep costs down

Side view image of the Wunder e-bike and the uplifted battery, and basket in front.

The bike is back. Over the past 2 years, one particular bike has accelerated faster than others – the e-bike, of course! Today, many shared mobility operators are adding e-bikes to their fleets, but before you choose an e-bike model for sharing, here are 6 things you should consider.

The rise of the e-bike

During the pandemic, the combination of social distancing, sustainability, and accessibility has helped accelerate e-biking. In fact, according to a report from the NPD Group, sales of e-bikes grew 145% in 2020. It’s no wonder, then, that they’re fast becoming the new must-haves for bike and multi-modal shared mobility companies.

What makes e-bikes popular for shared mobility?

As cities continue to push out cars and people rediscover the joy of cycling, e-bikes are fast emerging as the perfect solution for inner-city mobility. However, while sales for private e-bikes are up, e-bikes are ideal for bike-sharing businesses because they are still relatively expensive for the user to buy upfront.

E-bikes are also attractive for shared mobility because they are a much more familiar concept than e-scooters, for example. Most people know how to ride a bike, and the e-bike has even lower access barriers as riders don’t even have to work or sweat hard in order to travel long distances quickly. The lower the barriers to use, the more users you can attract and the more revenue you can make!

Unlike the bicycle which is a rather complex object to offer for sharing with its relative fragility and multitude of parts – e-bikes require minimal maintenance and are designed to be robust enough to stand up to intensive use.

Thanks to the development of light e-motors it is now possible to build a very sturdy bike that allows a user to move around town nimbly with all the fun of riding a bike, while requiring a lot less effort and sweat, making them the perfect solution for commuters and hobby cyclists alike.

6 things to consider when choosing an e-bike for your fleet

1. How long is the battery range and the battery life?

When choosing an e-bike it’s really important to consider the battery as this is fundamental for guaranteeing low-cost operations. You need to think about the battery range and the battery life. The shorter the battery life, the more often you will have to replace them, and the shorter the range, the fewer trips the bike can make on one charge, both of which mean you will have higher operational costs.

Opting for batteries with a longer range also means you don’t have to keep so many batteries in your warehouse, which impacts your insurance costs, for example. As batteries are classed as dangerous goods, the fewer batteries you have to keep onsite the better and the cheaper it will be for you. You should also check the charging time too, as the shorter the charging time, the quicker your operations will be and the fewer spare batteries you need.

Here’s a quick example of the difference that the battery range can make on your operational costs. On our e-bike that we co-developed with Yadea, we extended the range from 60km to over 100km. Not only is this a good 30% more than the other sharing e-bikes on the market, but we also estimate (based on our in-field experience) that this results in the number of spare batteries needed decreasing from 0.5 spare batteries to just 0.3. This means that, if you have a fleet of 1000 bikes you only need 300 extra batteries instead of 500 and, with a cost of €250 to €300 per battery, that means a saving of about 50 to 60k just in spare parts!

2. How easy is it to update your e-bike?

Many e-bike models still require manual updates, which means that you have to go out, collect all your e-bikes and plug them in in order to update the software. With this in mind, we recommend looking for e-bikes that can be updated remotely.

Our own co-developed e-bike with Yadea for example is 100% updatable over the air. This means that you can avoid having to disassemble components to plug in cables and it allows you to update the e-bikes while they’re out on the street so there is no interruption in service.

3. How easy is it to add more e-bikes to your fleet as and when you need them?

Shared mobility is seasonal. As the weather gets warmer, you will get a huge demand for your e-bikes, so you need a supplier that you can trust to be able to get you the e-bikes as and when you need them, and integrate them seamlessly into your fleet.

Should you choose to use our sharing-ready e-bike we can take care of all supply and logistics discussions and processes for you. And you can benefit from our strong relationships with our suppliers which means that we can get e-bikes and spare parts to you quickly and easily.

4. How easy is it for the e-bike to be vandalized or the parts stolen?

When choosing an e-bike you want to choose a bike with an integrated design. You don’t want anything to be exposed like wiring etc. and you don’t want to have too many things mounted on your bike as this will prevent vandalism or theft of your bike’s components. The e-bike should have a design that visibly covers all of the components and makes it look impossible to break into or steal the parts. Our e-bike has been designed with these things in mind. The wiring is completely hidden and the mounted parts – like the basket, lights, and lock – are kept to a bare minimum and secured.

5. How attractive is the bike for the users and the cities they will be used in?

In order to attract as many users as possible, your e-bike should be as attractive as possible. The design should resemble that of a classic bike as this will lower the barrier to using your e-bikes and encourage more users to try it out. Bikes are also very fun to ride, so your bike needs to be comfortable, easy to use, and attractive to the user and for the city in which it will be used. You also want to choose an e-bike that is customizable so that you can add your own colors and distinctive branding – you can do this with our e-bike.

6. How easy is it for users to adjust the e-bike?

When it comes to choosing between adjustable e-bikes and robust e-bikes, it’s all about making a good compromise because the more adjustable parts you have, the more moving and therefore vulnerable parts your bike will have. Therefore, it’s important to find an e-bike with a good balance of both. For our bike, we thought about the rider position a lot and decided to have a fixed handlebar and an adjustable seat, both of which make the bike as comfy as possible while ensuring that you have less movable (easy to break) parts to worry about.

Ready to climb into the saddle and go? Check out our co-developed e-bike and get in touch to find out more about how our software and e-bikes can help you accelerate even faster.

If you want to know more about choosing the perfect e-bike watch our webinar (below) with Stefano Niero, our Technical Product Manager Vehicles at Wunder Mobility.

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