By way of high quality and ease of use, the most recent Gen4 Lime e-assist bike is highest-quality mannequin of shared bike but to hit Seattle streets, and an indication that the corporate has no intention of abandoning bikes in favor of scooters. The most important factor holding it again stays the unchanged value, with per-minute charges including up on the sorts of lengthy rides this new bike begs for and the $1 unlock payment limiting its use for brief errands.
At this level, the shared e-bike design is generally discovered. The earlier mannequin of pink JUMP bikes demonstrated the advantages of a powerful, sturdy bike over lower-cost fashions that extra shortly fell into disrepair underneath out of doors circumstances and heavy use. Lime acquired the Uber-owned JUMP in spring 2020 as Uber invested in Lime in lieu of working its personal bike share service. The brand new Gen4 bikes undertake the usual white, black and inexperienced of Lime’s scooters. The bikes are a mashup of an improved JUMP bike design that takes the identical battery as Lime’s Gen4 scooters, which ought to make it simpler to service Lime’s blended fleet.
The most important development of the brand new mannequin is its ease of use. Just like the scooters, the bikes are locked and unlocked utilizing the app. They not have the awkward retractable cable lock just like the JUMP bikes did. The bikes additionally auto-shift, so there is no such thing as a gear shifter. Folks can simply hop on and journey as if it’s a easy single-speed bike, although one that may simply climb steep hills and preserve 15 mph on flat floor, its prime assisted pace underneath Seattle’s bike share rules. Although there may be a whole lot of tech and design enabling such easy operation, it’s well-hidden from view. The brakes are robust drum brakes encased inside the entrance and rear hubs. The cables, motor and wiring for the lights are all hidden inside the body and hub. For somebody who has by no means ridden an e-bike earlier than, it could really feel like this bike is magic.
In fact, the true check of any bike share mannequin is longevity underneath harsh out of doors circumstances and vandalism. We should wait and see.
Nonetheless, the factor that holds this service again is the worth, which has not modified very a lot for a fairly some time and will use some updating. It’s $1 to unlock plus 36¢ per minute (plus tax). The $1 to unlock pricing scheme dates again to very starting of this entire personal bike share factor, again when bikes had been pedal-only and price a mere $1 for half-hour. However because the electrified providers added a per-minute value, the $1 unlock payment is feeling increasingly outdated. Why are we hanging onto this relic of a motorcycle share period that’s lengthy over?
The $1 unlock payment limits the comfort of chaining collectively quick journeys, like working errands, as a result of it’s exhausting to justify the fee simply to go a handful of blocks. The $1 payment additionally limits one in every of Lime’s largest benefits: Their mixture of scooters and bikes. I personally choose the bikes, however usually solely a scooter is close by. I’d be way more more likely to hunt down a Lime scooter if I knew I might swap it out for a motorcycle if I handed one. However paying an additional $1 doesn’t make sense, so I don’t ever do it. More than likely, I’ll simply stroll or catch a bus as a substitute. The entire different scooter and bike providers on the town cost the $1 unlock payment as effectively. I believe it’s time for an organization to shake up the market. Ditching the $1 would additionally simplify the pricing construction, making it simpler to elucidate and promote to potential riders. Pay when you journey, plain and easy.
And whereas I perceive that that is the best way the so-called micromobility trade works now, it’s a bummer that lengthy journeys get so costly. These are firms, not charities, and I’m unsure even these costs are very worthwhile. At one level, app taxi providers like Lyft and Uber had been aggressive with micromobility for a lot of journeys, although latest will increase in app taxi costs make bikes and scooters a good bit cheaper as they need to be. However nonetheless, it could price one thing like $17 to bike from Ballard to downtown Seattle, after which one other $17 to come back again. Which may make sense on a special day, however not as a daily factor to do. Clearly, the factor to do is to bike to an categorical bus like RapidRide. However typically you simply wish to bike. I don’t actually have an answer right here. I assume I’m simply lamenting that issues price cash. If you wish to journey longer distances frequently, you’re undoubtedly finest off getting your individual bike (keep tuned as a result of I’m engaged on one thing of a bike-buying information for Seattle).
UPDATE: I ought to have talked about that Lime does now promote passes along with the common charge. So if you realize upfront you’ll be driving lots, it can save you some cash:
Have you ever tried the brand new Lime Gen4? Share your ideas beneath.