New Nice Ride Electric-Assist Bikes are Rare Finds

nice ride electric bike riding

Photo: Nice Ride

This year, prior to COVID-19, Nice Ride Minnesota promised to release 2,000 new electric-assist bikes. Those bikes arrived a few weeks ago, and we got a chance to test ride them.

The new blue-wheeled bikes are on a promotional pricing right now, so all of my rides have been less than a dollar. During the promotional period, Nice Ride members pay $0.05 per minute of use. My recent 2.34-mile, 16-minute ride cost a grand total of $0.86 with tax.

nice ride electric bike unlocking with phone QR code

Unlocking the electric bike with a QR code and mobile phone app. (Note the bike is not locked.) Photo: Nice Ride

After the promotion ends on July 27, 2020, Nice Ride members will pay $0.10 per minute. Non-members will pay $2.00 to unlock and $0.15 per minute, and Nice Ride for All (the nonprofit’s equity program) will pay $0.05 per minute with no unlocking fee.

Given this affordable promotional pricing, I have been riding the electric bikes everywhere. It seems that many other Nice Riders are doing the same. Today, July 15, I went to three different parking locations, two docks, and a blue electric bike parking rack and couldn’t find any available electric bikes. I contacted Nice Ride, and their customer support said that even with about 1,000 electric bikes in the system right now, only 141 were shown as available across all of Minneapolis. So either they are very popular, or they are breaking down at high rates.

Promotional pricing ends on July 27, 2020. However, under normal non-member pricing, my 16-minute ride still would have only cost about $4.75 with tax.

Have you tried the electric experience yet? What kind of bike do you normally ride? Share your hot takes and cold servings in the comments below.

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15 Responses to New Nice Ride Electric-Assist Bikes are Rare Finds

  1. Melissa Wenzel July 16, 2020 at 10:13 am #

    Jealous in Saint Paul. Especially in SE Saint Paul where hills are unavoidable.

  2. Sheldon Gitis July 16, 2020 at 11:18 am #

    $5 for a 20-minute bike ride, restricted to to and from wherever the bikes are parked and locked, doesn’t sound like much of an affordable option to me.

    I would think, if someone wants to use a bicycle for daily commutes, the sensible, affordable option would be to buy a bike, not rent one.

    • Ian R Buck July 16, 2020 at 4:20 pm #

      Correct, these aren’t intended to be a daily commute solution. But they work very well as spontaneous “I need to go a few miles but didn’t bring my own bike” solution.
      And note that these ebikes don’t have to be left at a charging dock; they have a cable lock built in that you can use to lock them to any bike rack. I think you are charged a little extra if you don’t leave it at a dock, though?

      • Sheldon Gitis July 16, 2020 at 9:05 pm #

        Work very well for whom? Who are these people who happen to be wherever these charging stations are located who are going to “need to go a few miles but didn’t bring (their) own bike”? I can see a lot of people just wanting to take an electric bike, or even one of the old clunkers, for a spin just for the novelty of it, but as a practical transportation alternative, I think the Nice Ride vend-a-bikes are just goofy. Didn’t they disappear from St. Paul? If so, I would guess that’s why.

        • Ian R Buck July 17, 2020 at 6:30 am #

          They aren’t in St Paul this year because our city signed an exclusive contract with Lime.

          The distribution of charging stations is absolutely critical for this to be a viable transportation solution, yes. And also don’t forget that the bikes can be left anywhere, so you can find them in places where there aren’t any charging stations.

          • Sheldon Gitis July 17, 2020 at 10:01 am #

            If you get an electric bike somewhere where there’s no charging station, how do you know it has enough charge to get you to your destination? Do the bikes have a visible battery gage that can be checked before you activate the service with a credit card or however you do it? Is the service only for those wondering around with an Internet connected phone? Believe it or not, some of us old farts haven’t been sold on the intelligence of sticking your nose in front of a little screen for hours each day.

            • Melissa Wenzel July 17, 2020 at 10:09 am #

              Every ebike I’ve owned since 2008 has had a charge gauge on it just like a gasoline car or an electric car.

              • Sheldon Gitis July 17, 2020 at 10:15 am #

                The gages on my car don’t work until the ignition is turned on. Do the electric bike gages work before some sort of switch activates them? Can you activate the gages on the vend-a-bikes before paying Nice Ride?

                • Melissa Wenzel July 17, 2020 at 10:19 am #

                  Yes. The batteries on my bike have an indicator for how full/empty the battery is. Then when I turn on my bike, there’s a second, digital gauge on my display screen.

                  I have not seen the Nice Ride ebikes yet. Again, I live in SE Saint Paul and we have NO bikes or scooters (or buses) near us.

  3. Sheldon Gitis July 16, 2020 at 11:28 am #

    And for those of us who are not enamored with the idea of spending time and money dicking around with phone apps, the $5, 20-minute bike ride appears to be no option at all.

    • Melissa Wenzel July 17, 2020 at 10:10 am #

      Cheaper than my $3,500 electric bike; cheaper than a Lyft.

      Note: I live in SE Saint Paul, where I don’t even have access to routine bus service and I don’t own a car.

  4. Ian R Buck July 16, 2020 at 4:23 pm #

    Anyone who doesn’t believe that bikes can be a serious form of transportation needs to get out there and try one of these ebikes. They reduce so many of the barriers to biking that I have heard people cite! I should drag my family out to Minneapolis to find some of these.

    • Melissa Wenzel July 17, 2020 at 10:24 am #

      Right?!? I have severe exercise induced asthma and arthritis. Most days it’s the asthma that does it for me….I remember trying to bike from Lowertown Saint Paul to Lunds and Byerlys via a non-motorized Nice Ride bike. Got an asthma attack. 6 blocks….not the steepest of hills/inclines.

  5. Peter Vader
    Peter Vader July 25, 2020 at 12:39 pm #

    Thanks for the article, Conrad. Good stuff and I’ll add a couple of terrific innovations I’ve noticed this year. First, allowing ebikes to be left at any public bike rack. This has resulted in bikes available miles from the nearest official NiceRide docking station. Second, NiceRide is servicing these bikes in place, so they’ll come out and swap in a new battery, rather than sweeping them up nightly to charge and relocate to some central location.

    • Melissa Anne Wenzel July 25, 2020 at 12:47 pm #

      I had my 2nd restaurant meal yesterday; lunch at the Longfellow Grill (YUM!!). Not only did I see several of the Nice Ride ebikes, we saw a technician test out a couple to make sure they were fully charged, brakes were working, etc. He took 2 away that presumably didn’t meet their standards. I had ebiked from SE Saint Paul to meet a friend for lunch. I meant to take photos of the bikes (3/5 regular Nice Ride, 2/5 ebikes), but forget when I have my own ebike. I’ll be back to that Nice Ride station because I’ll go back, soon, to the Longfellow Grill. Good times!! P.S. On hot, humid days, using more assist than usual is a real treat!! (26 mile round-trip bike ride)

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