Two of the three private bikeshare companies in Seattle are hyping their latest model — an electric bike. It would be a first for Seattle and make their bikes the best way to get around town.
Both Limebike and Spin are slated to put electric-assisted bikes on the road, adding to Seattle’s range of transportation options from rideshares to bikeshares. But if previous bike races through town have proved anything, an electric bike could become the swiftest way to get around town, having the advantage of electric-assistance.
GeekWire ran a 5-mile race from Fremont to Pioneer Square in September. The top methods of transportation were Onewheel and a bikeshare ride. The bikeshare in this case was a Spin bike — it took 37 minutes to make the trip. The Onewheel is exactly what it sounds like — one wheel, powered by an electric battery and appearing like a skateboard — took 31 minutes to finish GeekWire’s race. The Onewheel is essentially an electric-assisted vehicle akin to an electric bike. But an electric bike wasn’t available for the race in September.
The Stranger ran a similar race in 2014 between Capitol Hill and the University District. A personal bike made the trip in 15 minutes. A Pronto bikeshare ride, however, took 32 minutes, but that relied on a station-to-station system.
Putting stationless, electric-powered rides in Seattle will give bikeshares the edge over cars, transit, and regular bikes. Hills won’t be a problem and speed will be considerably greater. And best of all — no parking.
Limebike’s “Lime-E” is one such electric bike. Starting this month, the company plans to roll them out in Seattle, Miami, Scottsdale, Southern California, and the greater San Francisco Bay Area. It is unclear exactly which day the new bikes will be available in Seattle.
A Lime-E bike is a little more expensive to use than LimeBike’s traditional rides. It will cost $1 to unlock the bike, and then an additional $1 every 10 minutes after that. During those 10 minutes, however, riders get an extra boost. The bikes can travel as fast as 15 mph. The company says they can easily climb 30 degree hills that are common in Seattle.
There is no word on when Spin’s electric bike will make its Seattle debut. So far, the company has plans to first launch them in Miami, University of California San Diego, and the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Like LimeBike, Spin’s electric bike can also travel up to 15 mph. They can go up to 50 miles on a charge. According to TechCrunch, Spin’s operations teams will travel around and swap out the batteries.