On Monday, July 29, Nice Ride launched its electric-assist bike or “ebike” pilot. The press release gushed about how riders could “supercharge” their rides, and also highlighted Nice Ride’s new “Nice Ride for All” program for low-income riders. The program gives annual memberships to Nice Ride to people on either nutrition assistance (SNAP) or transit assistance (TAP) for $5 per year.
From the release: “We are proud to build upon Nice Ride’s legacy as a national bike share leader with this ebike pilot,” said Caroline Samponaro, head of bike, scooter and pedestrian policy at Lyft, the operator of Nice Ride. “The extra boost from ebikes makes it easier for more people to complete trips on two wheels rather than four, helping to make our streets more livable across Minneapolis. Along with our new Nice Ride for All equity program this year, Nice Riders are having the best season yet.”
On Thursday, August 8, I test rode one of the new black, electric-assist bikes. I was impressed with the performance and ride comfort compared to a classic green bike and the electric-powered scooters out there.
The ride is similar to the green classic bike, but it is important to remember to turn on the power to the electric-assist system. There is a power button on the top of the handlebars, but some riders have missed turning on the system.
Bike share tip: I forgot to press the power button on this electric bike and for at least five minutes I was the kid with fake drugs convinced he was high. pic.twitter.com/hkOPBnVC8l
— Wedge LIVE!™ (@WedgeLIVE) August 7, 2019
Below the handlebars is a small LCD screen that displays battery level, current speed, and some kind of total number of trips or odometer. In my riding, I was able to get up to 17 mph with the assist. Nice Ride says in their press release the top speed is 18 mph. Both are as fast or faster than what you can reasonably do on a rental electric scooter, and much faster than the classic green bike experience.
The ride comfort was equal to or better than a classic green bike. I had a few rough patches and holes on my ride, and the wide-diameter pneumatic tires give it a great cushion against the road. Riding on an electric scooter can be game of dodge the ever-so-small pothole, but I thankfully didn’t have that experience with the black bike.
The bottom line: I love the electric-assist bikes! If I am my local park and there are classic green bikes, black electric bikes, and Lime scooters, I will in the future choose the black electric bikes if my trip lines up with Nice Ride dock stations. However, if there are just classic green bikes and Lime scooters, I will still choose the scooters because they are still faster and I can park a scooter anywhere, even though I am paying out-of-pocket. I have a Nice Ride annual membership.
What has been your experience with Nice Ride black electric-assist bikes? How fast have you gone? Share your electric dreams and your hopes for tomorrow in the comments.