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General Motors starts taking orders for its electric bicycle (cnbc.com)
38 points by prostoalex 58 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 43 comments

I can't help but feel as though they ignored the huge range of existing examples of electric bicycles and instead assumed they were entering a greenfields market.

They are positioned very poorly. It's an unattractive folding bike that doesn't fold and costs too much. People who buy that style of bike do it because it folds, which is also the reason why it compromises on tire size and aesthetics. Anyone wanting an e-bike in that price range has a lot of much more interesting and practical bikes to choose from.

As a person who would be the target market for one of these, here's why it's worse than the competition:

a) if you're going to have a full length bike that doesn't fold, use something resembling a fat 29er (700C) mountain bike frame. It'll be much more rigid. And the user can do things like put a water bottle cage or two on it.

b) 700C gives a much, much wider choice of good quality tires for road, cyclocross type tread pattern (like 700x32), and crosscountry mountain bike type width and tread pattern.

c) the totally nonstandard crankset and crankset ring size mean that you can't easily find parts for it, compared to the cranksets and ring sizes you would see for a suspensionless 700C city bike based around a drivetrain like 2x10 or 2x11 in front, and 11-34 cassette in rear. crankset rings for use with 20" size wheel folding bikes are much more rare than normal size rings.

edit: more:

d) no specification on what derailleur it uses, what shifters/brake levers, no specification on what disc brakes it uses. which in the "serious" bicycle market ($2000+) usually mean junk. I want to see specific shimano or sram part numbers there.

And of course there are already bikes that meet your specifications on the market, electric mountain bikes are already refined as a consumer product. Like you said as well, the bicycle industry has parts standards and some trusted parts manufacturers that hold considerable sway for a consumer. GM may be able to catch some new riders off guard but they won't be breaking into the bicycle market with this offering.

The Uni Moke is a bike that GM should pay close attention to:


I'm all for putting function before form but man is that bike ugly! It looks like something a bunch of first year mechanical engineering students slapped together.

My back hurts just looking at it. It's feels like a Ryanair seat.

I figure its the same reason Harley Davidson [1] is entering the market. To get their name out into an area not normally associated with the brand. It gets them positive spin an area where they are either ignored and ridiculed for their other offerings.

Plus it also comes down to throwing as many options at the wall to see what sticks. Harley has a large accessory and clothing setup already and dealers will need more than just sales of motorcycles. Rumor has it the corporate level is forcing dealers who want to carry the EV motorcycle; separate from the EV bicycles whose availability isn't quite known yet; nearly a hundred thousand for specific charging stations and layout.

[1] https://electrek.co/2019/01/07/harley-davidson-livewire-e-mo...

It is weird that HD are targeting the electric mountain bike market as well. There are already incredible offerings from almost all the incumbent MTB manufacturers. It's a pretty established market, and HD has zero experience in making a good mountain bike whereas the incumbents have almost all had decades of it. It is a very nuanced field of engineering and their prototype looks 10x bulkier than existing products. Most E-MTBs look like normal bikes with a slightly thicker downtube, they are already that refined. I would almost say E-MTBs are the best offering from any range of e-bikes currently.

Maybe they were just dabbling with prototype sketches.

In regards to your comments main focus, it's facinating how much they lean on selling their brand versus their product. It almost seems as though they treat their dealerships like gym franchises.

Yes with new products emerging every day that are much better designed and full-featured, like: https://www.tillerrides.com/features


That shot went wide:

> GM is launching the bikes in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands

Apart from that: Riding an E-Bike is still more exercise than riding a car. It's a good way to start for people that are not trained well enough to make a 10km commute by bike every day. It's also a good way to commute for people that want their commute to be relaxed and not too sweaty. Or people that have climbs on their way.

Granted, no true Scotsman would ever use an electric bike or any of those newfangled aids like gear shifts and light steel frames. Hammered iron piping is the only way to ride.

Chinese managed to achieve parity with 50cc mopeds in mass market mopeds, the plank now has to go to 150cc. Once 150cc is taken, the whole of South East Asia will fall for it.

China for example managed to switch to electric motorcycles long before gasoline motorcycles were banned in big cities. People chose electric moped over gas powered ones for their maintenance free nature, even when switch meant a downgrade.

More importantly, Chinese mopeds with smaller engines were borderline undrivable, and in that category, going electric was an actual upgrade.

There are very few electric bikes or pedelecs that don't look awful.

Here's a great counter-example, though: https://www.coboc.biz/en/products/one-soho/

Wow they're beautiful !

I also like (and own a) https://www.vanmoof.com/en_us/

$3200 - $3800 for an electric bicycle?

That seems crazy expensive to me. Can someone in EMEA explain if it seems worth the cost?

First, I think this bike is likely a little overpriced. Right now, you can get a good mid-drive e-bike with a reasonable battery for low $2k. However, I'm guessing that $2k also seems expensive to you (frankly, it does to me as well, but more on that later). Yamaha has a new ebike (the CrossCore) which I think is probably a better value at $2,399.

I think a lot of people have that reaction to ebike (and regular bicycle) pricing at first. It's important to remember that decent entry-level bikes really start around $500. Many people have a conception in their head of something from Target or Walmart that's very low quality and doesn't hold up well. You might also want to get some better components given that you're adding a motor and battery to it so the bike might really start at $700 or $800. The Yamaha has Shimano Sora components which you probably don't tend to find on regular bikes below $800. So, there's a regular bike starting point right there. Often times you want better tires because you'll be riding faster than regular bikes tend to get ridden, a better chain because you'll be putting more stress on it, etc. Often these bikes come with lights that add to the cost. It's also important to remember that weight plays a big role in bikes while cars can pile on weight without as much concern.

Most importantly, they come with a motor and battery pack. The battery pack can be a very expensive part of the bike, often costing $700+. Add the motor into the mix and it's easy to see how one can break $2k.

However, there are certainly ebikes that can be had for cheaper. Rad Power offers options for $1,500 that are quite good. They don't have quite as much range and they're rear-drive rather than mid-drive bikes, but they're quite good.

It's also important to remember that we're kinda in the infancy of ebikes. Bosch just introduced new motors aimed at lowering the entry-level price point of mid-drive bikes. Yamaha is just entering the market now. GM is just entering the market now. Prices will likely come down a bit as they become more popular and as companies put more investment into them.

Also, ebikes are often subject to import taxes and, in Europe, VAT included in the quoted price. Trump's trade spat with China raised the price of ebikes in the US by hundreds of dollars in many cases. In fact, the tariff was going to be 25% which really shook the ebike industry (https://www.radpowerbikes.com/pages/rad-pricing-returns). The prices in the article might be including VAT which is a bit unfair to compare to American prices. As they noted, the bike will be cheaper in Germany which indicates that VAT is likely in play. It's easy to see how VAT and tariffs might have a large impact of 20-40%.

To close, even at $3k, an ebike can be an awesome purchase. I live in a city where parking is expensive and a car won't get you to your destination at more than 20MPH. Heck, the speed limit in the city is 25MPH. So, an ebike becomes a car and even public transit replacement. With more range, flexibility (on your schedule, to exactly where you want to go), and speed than public transit, an ebike can be amazing. Parking at my work costs $250/mo for cars or $3,000 per year. Insurance on that car would probably be another $1,000+. Let's assume a $20,000 car that needs replacing every decade. Another $2,000/year.

If you live 10 miles from work and your option is to drive and sit in miserable traffic and pay $6,000/year for that, an ebike starts to look pretty awesome. You get exercise and stimulation while the assist is there to handle any fatigue - and these bikes can really provide assist to the point that you don't have to worry about fatigue.

Heck, even if you're replacing public transit, an ebike can be reasonable. A transit pass might cost $100/mo which becomes $1,200/year. After two years, you've spent the cost of a Yamaha CrossCore. After 15 months, you've spent the cost of a Rad Power Rad City. You get to go where you want, when you want, with more speed than a car or public transit can offer. Again, that's going to depend on your city and its traffic.

Yes, the bike "seems expensive". Bikes seem expensive to me too (ebike or even regular). C'mon, it's just a bike? Wheels, pedals, chain. $500-800 for that? Heck, I have enthusiast friends that spend several thousand on a regular bike. However, cars can have some huge costs and I think a lot of people are pretty miserable in traffic - especially as traffic continues to get worse in our cities.

Plus, they're amazing for the environment. 1kWh of electricity can get you 100 miles of range - and more if you're putting in decent effort. 1kWh of electricity in an electric car can get you 4 miles. Plus, parking has a huge environmental cost. Parking garages use a lot of steel and concrete which are terrible for climate change. Surface parking means mowing down trees and turning open space into an asphalt wasteland. Bike parking takes up space, but not nearly as much space and it's often space that can be less impactful on the environment around it because bikes can be lifted and maneuvered in ways a car can't be.

It certainly depends on where you live, but if you find yourself driving 2-8 miles around the city a lot, a bike lets you avoid traffic and parking hassles and an ebike lets you do that faster and with less physical effort - they open up biking to more and more people.

> It's also important to remember that we're kinda in the infancy of ebikes. Bosch just introduced new motors aimed at lowering the entry-level price point of mid-drive bikes. Yamaha is just entering the market now. GM is just entering the market now. Prices will likely come down a bit as they become more popular and as companies put more investment into them.

Yamaha been in electric bikes, and mopeds for an eternity. When it comes to electric 50cc analogues, Chinese makers steamroll all competition.

Imho, nobody can take on Yamaha in electric 150cc analogue market (Yamaha is the king in 150cc). Yamaha will simply take its existing mopeds and put electric engines into them. A very good 150cc will make you around 10 horsepowers. That's something you can easily achieve with a very light hub motor.

I've paid that much for an ebike, but it's a high-end machine that will go 25 MPH and lasts forever if maintained properly. I expect GM to get creamed in the market here, this bike looks very cheap for that price range. (You can buy ebikes that cost $10,000, if you have infinite money there's always someone who will take it.)

Just curious: when spending that amount of money is it specific materials/features you're looking for that the lower end bikes don't have or the reputation (quality/durability/other) that makes it worthwhile to you?

I knew a few people into old school (i.e. manual drive) bikes that would pay that much for competition-grade bikes made from state of the art materials to shave every last ounce off the bike's weight. Just trying to understand what it is about the e-bikes that makes this kind of pricing worth it to enthusiasts.

There are a few things that quickly drive up ebike prices.

1) Battery size. Look at JuicedBikes' CrossCurrent S vs CrossCurrent X. While the X does have a slightly different motor, the big difference is the battery going from 614Wh to 998Wh. That 384Wh improvement is $600. Yea, part of that is probably the 750 vs 650 watt motor, but given what battery packs often cost, I'd say most of it is the batteries. We're talking around 63% more range, but it costs you.

2) Components. Low-end (but still reasonable) ebikes tend to use Shimano Altus/Acera components which are what you'd find in a $500 Trek/Specialized/Fuji. Higher-end bikes often upgrade to Alivio/Sora/Deore components. Likewise, hydraulic brakes might be an upgraded component.

3) Mid-Drive vs hub motors. Cheaper ebikes often use hub motors in the rear wheel. They're often a bit easier to do and cheaper than mid-drive models. Mid-drive motors can be nice because the motor can take advantage of the gearing as you shift and seem to be a bit more efficient (better range for the battery size).

For example, a RadCity goes for $1,500 while the Yamaha CrossCore is $2,400. The Yamaha has Sora components rather than Altus, hydraulic brakes, a mid-drive motor, better range, better pedal sensing (the RadCity doesn't have a torque sensor), considerably lighter weight (43.5lbs vs 63lbs which is a huge difference). The non-electric part alone might be $300 of the difference.

Ultimately, what's the difference between a Honda Civic and an Acura ILX? The Acura is a third more expensive.

I don't want it to seem like I'm disparaging the RadCity. There are certainly cheap/crappy ebikes out there and I don't think Rad Power is making cheap/crappy bikes. There are definitely ebikes out there that come with really small batteries and a poor motors and some really low-end parts. Those aren't really worth looking at. However, I think the RadCity is a good example of the best bike at $1,500 and I think the Yamaha is a good example of a great, affordable mid-drive bike. You get better range, significantly lower weight, better pedal sensing, better breaks, better derailleur, better shifters, 3-year vs 1-year warranty, top torque of 70 newton meters vs 40nm from the motor, etc.

I think there are certainly upgrades that both cost money and can be worth the money. However, I think there are cheaper bikes that certainly have some good points.

High-end e-bikes are pretty awesome. The power output is surprising.

They can do things you wouldn't expect, like go up a flight of stairs or go 25 mph or pop wheelies.

Think of one like a light motorcycle with a high-torque 1HP motor.

They are divided into different 'classes' - I don't know which class these GM bikes are:


The one I have has very smooth pedal-assist (you don't even really notice there's a motor), a big battery for longer trips, and high torque at lower speeds which is critical in SF. I'm out-of-shape and I have no trouble biking ten miles to work every morning, so the utility for me is very high.

It's not. For that kind of money, one buys the Brompton electric. The Brompton engineers know what they're doing. They basicly created the folding bicycle as it exists now.

Seems high to me as well, but some googling suggests that that's in the mid- to upper-range of current e-bike pricing, with entry level being around the $1,000 mark.

Not too crazy if someone is going to use it as a car replacement. Think some place like Manhattan where $4k won't even buy you a year's worth of parking.

That doesn't seem too expensive especially considering that they have a folding bike. Folding bikes tend to be expensive. I have a Brompton that cost somewhere close to $2000 with the options I chose and accessories. Looking at their website their folding bikes currently start at $1200. It looks like they're also coming out with an electric model but I didn't see any pricing.

I ride a road-worthy electric moped (Unu) that cost $1800. This GM thing seems ridiculously overpriced and I don't see it succeeding, personally. The competition in Europe is just too good already - and nobody well-informed is going to buy a GM bike for the expense of the brand, at least not here in Europe.

I feel like the answer is the same why is a Vertu phone $10K. Because people don't really need one, and who can afford it can afford an expensive item.

> With ride-hailing companies and similar businesses spreading, some industry watchers wonder whether broad swaths of future generations will even consider car ownership at all.

So, a future where most of the people with extractable value only use robot taxis and e-scooters.

I'm curious why there aren't more "nontraditional" transportation options somewhere between a full-size car and a bicycle. I'd love a small/efficient single-seat vehicle with temp-controlled cabin for under $5000.

The Renault Twizy fits your description more or less: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renault_Twizy.

Ah, very cool. Sadly, it's Europe only and I live in the US. Looking at related links, it seems all the best options are Europe only.

Except for the temp controlled cabin

> The Twizy may be winterized with winter tires and adding flexi side windows to enclose the cabin. Heating would be provided by plugging in electric blankets to keep the driver warm

The twizy is horrible for that.

I've always wanted a velomobile, which is about that price although you still have to pedal. Electric ones are available though.

You may not be the market.

Solo vehicles run to motorcycles; weird podules are a third-vehicle choice after a full-featured car or two.

Is GM actually building these bikes or are they just slapping a label on an OEM product?

I will be super surprised if it's not the later. GM can't make toasters themselves these days.

It looks like a horrible bike if you have to actually pedal it, the wheels are tiny! You might as well get a moped or something instead of that, which would stick out like a sore thumb and be a good target for thieves. Also where do you lock it up if you have to? Or do you just fold it up and take it inside? For some reason it doesn't seem like it was made by a person who's ever ridden a bike.

Foldable ebikes have to have small wheels, so they can be carried easily when folded up. For a non-folding bike, I think they're just being dumb.

Smaller wheels are stronger and less likely to go out of true with abuse. That translates into fewer support issues.

Wheel size doesn't make that much difference to how easy or hard it is to pedal a push-bike. Notice the front gear on the bike is rather large, this compensates for the smaller wheels.

Larger wheels do have slightly less rolling resistance.

Larger wheels are also slightly more comfortable on roads with small irregularities.

This GM bike is hilariously over priced.

My city is swapped with these things, at half the price, with cheap and plentiful corner repair shops.

I was once shown a Chinese B2B site, with a dashboard mix-n-match for various e-bike configurations. $500-$1500/bike wholesale price range.

If someone knows of anything like this, please post the URL.

Are there any specs on this? Seems expensive, unless the specs are amazing.

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