New York City-based bike-sharing company, Motivate International Inc., is all set to expand its GoBike program in San Francisco, California, by adding electric versions of these Ford bikes to its existing fleet of some 2,600 standard iterations.
The electric GoBike pilot was launched Tuesday (April 24) with 250 of these electric bicycles being made available for rental in this city of undulating hills.
Anyone with a Ford GoBike membership will be able to unlock the bikes through the Ford GoBike app, or by using the Clipper card, in the same way, they are used to doing in the regular GoBike program, with no additional cost, whatsoever.
Not only is the electric bicycle environment-friendly, which is a big plus all by itself, its compact minimalist frame makes city commuting relatively hassle-free; in fact, even, pleasurable, many would argue.
The GenZe 345 Wh Lithium-ion battery powering the GoBike provides that extra boost to the pedaling, which makes it possible to reach speeds of up to a max of 18 miles per hour – a limit that makes it legal to ride them in dedicated bike lanes.
Not only that, the e-bikes will be good for 25 miles on a single charge, says the company.
A large screen on the battery will display the remaining battery life as well as the speed the bike is being ridden at.
Strikingly similar to its non-electric counterpart, this pedal-assist e-bike comes with the necessary hardware incorporated in that blacked out sleek frame, with the large wheel logo being the only colorful exception there.
The existing fleet of 2,600 conventional GoBike versions plus the 250 newly included electric iterations are currently being serviced by 262 Ford GoBike stations across the San Francisco Bay Area.
By the end of 2018, however, we’re likely to see a substantial jump in those numbers, which may increase to around 7,000 in terms of fleet strength, with some 540 stations to back them up; at least, that’s what Motivate envisages.
If that were to be achieved, it would make this Motivate venture the second-largest bike-sharing program in North America.
And, with New York City focused on creating an electric bike framework, Motivate is likely licking its lips in anticipation of launching e-bikes as part of its Citi Bike program in the East Coast city, which could well take it to the top of the bike-sharing food chain.
After the success of electric bikes in China – a seriously popular mode of transportation in the country for some years, now – Chinese bike-sharing companies started making forays into North American cities.
Their easy easy-to-ride bicycles were not without their issues though – rampant theft, sidewalk littering, and all those bike graveyards overflowing with broken and abandoned bikes being some them.
Also, in the fray is Uber-acquired JUMP, another San-Francisco-based bike-sharing endeavor that recently kicked off in the city.
While the JUMP bikes are also pedal-assist, they do not restrict you to docking stations like the GoBikes do, which is an edge in JUMP’s favor.
It’s the JUMP bike’s convenient U-Lock system that makes it possible for program members to use any bike rack anywhere.
However, Motivate is well aware of this limitation and has assured through a company spokesperson that Ford is seriously researching a dockless version of the GoBike.
What Motivate has in its favor, though, is the fact that electric GoBikes are equipped with detachable batteries, making it possible for users to take the battery away for charging instead of having to take the entire bike.
Of course, it’s a big plus for Motivate, not only in terms of customer experience but also from a business point of view, in that it increases the availability of bikes at the docks.
However, if Motivate is to be believed, we should see the GoBikes charging via their docks, thereby erasing the need to carry them away for charging.
As mentioned earlier, renting an e-bike will not attract any extra charge; it is part of the same membership plans that you have for the standard GoBikes, like the $ 10-day pass, or the annual $149 plan, to give a couple of examples.
In fact, during the pilot phase of the program, single e-bike rides will cost $2 instead of $3.