Lyft just built a better e-bike for urban sharing

www.fastcompany.com
5 min read
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The company's first in-house e-bike aims to be more comfortable, reliable, and safe—all without feeling too dissimilar from the previous model.
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In pre-COVID-19 times, I worked in downtown San Francisco and was surrounded by people pedaling around on Lyft e-bikes—and never paid them much attention or gave serious thought to getting on one myself. Then a funny thing happened: I bought my own e-bike to help me shake off pandemic lethargy, and found that I loved it. And since I live too far into suburbia to consider commuting to my office on two wheels, I started looking forward to using Lyft's bike-sharing service once I returned to the city.

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While I was getting intrigued by Lyft's e-bikes, the company was busy creating its next-generation model—the first one it's designed itself, after previously using e-bikes from a company called GenZe. I got to take a spin on one of the new bikes last week; more will hit the streets of San Francisco this week in a beta test, with the official rollout starting in Chicago this fall. Over time, this model will gradually replace Lyft's current e-bikes, which comprise anywhere from 20% to 100% of its fleet depending on the market. (Between electric and conventional bikes, Lyft is the largest bike-share operator in North America.) For Lyft, designing its own e-bike started with assembling the necessary talent, which operates out of a workshop—warehouse in San Francisco and uses the environs as a proving ground. "We built this really amazing world-class design team that is passionate about micro-mobility and has a wide background from consumer electronics and everything with wheels," says head of industrial design Oli Mueller, whose own résumé includes four years of experience working on smart-home products at Nest. The goals of this team did not include reinventing the experience of using one of its bikes in a way that might flummox current happy customers. So even though the new bike is new from the ground up, it doesn't feel that new. "When you take a step back, it looks kind of the same, kind of different," says…
Harry McCracken
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