August 22, 2023

🍼 Motorcycles for Kids? Maybe Not a Bad Idea

Plus, micromobility news from Yamaha, ElectraMeccanica, McLaren, Onewheel, Kymco, and more.

What You Need to Know Today

To start us off, we’ve got an unpopular opinion alert: Parents should want their kids to ride motorcycles. To be fair, when we say “motorcycles” in the context of kids, we’re not talking rip-roaring Harley’s, but balance bikes, a growingly popular tool to teach tots as young as three years old how to ride. For background, a balance bike is basically a tiny electric bicycle with no pedals. To get moving, the rider simply pushes off the ground and glides forward, using a throttle or a button on the handlebars to propel the motor and keep the bike going at low speeds. Many parents prefer electric balance bikes to traditional training wheels because the battery boost can help kids build confidence and acquire skills, such as balance and steering, faster and with fewer falls. Naturally The New York Times, which is dead-set against motorized bikes in all forms, is concerned about safety. But before you get all worked up about “motorcycles for kids,” remember that balance bikes are basically an upgraded form of training wheels, not tiny choppers for future Hell’s Angels. (PS If you want to get your family riding together more, don’t miss our guide to buying ebikes for young riders)

Electric bikes are so popular in Colorado that the government webpage that opened for rebates last week was immediately overloaded because of high traffic volume. 

On the latest episode of Ride On! James and Julia are joined by Kyle Doerksen of Onewheel, the category-defining electric unicycle company, to discuss the collision of recreation and transportation in micromobility. 

Yamaha goes D2C. The Japanese manufacturer recently revealed a new online sales platform that will allow customers to compare and purchase ebikes directly from its website.

The Royal Dutch Touring Club (ANWB), the Netherlands’ largest cycling association, has declared that it will cease providing insurance coverage for fat tire bikes due to their significantly elevated risk of theft. “According to the ANWB, ‘In Amsterdam, the chance of your fat bike being stolen is 90 percent.’ ANWB currently insures around 10,000 fat tire bikes and claims that the damages for fat tire bikes have risen to 800% of the premiums.”

In order to meet their commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2035, U.K. parcel delivery service Evri is rolling out more electric cargo bikes, with a goal of tripling the number of parcels delivered by pedal power within the next year. 

ElectraMeccanica, known for their compact EV trikes, is merging with Tevva, a U.K.-based trucking company, in a deal intended to increase the latter’s production capacity for electric vans and trucks in the U.S.

Avera AI Mobility, an electric moped manufacturer based out of the Indian city of Vijayawada, is gearing up for global growth. The company has just raised over $12 million to increase production from 25,000 to 100,000 units per year, and hopes to begin selling in Australia, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka.

Through a new partnership with moped maker Blueshark, the superapp Grab is hoping to encourage delivery workers in Malaysia to make the transition to electric. The company currently employs 80,000 couriers. 

Estonia’s Verge Motorcycles is aiming to grow its international business, especially in the U.S, following the addition of former Aston Martin EVP and CFO Mark Wilson.

Lavoie, the electric scooter unit of Formula One engineering and technology firm McLaren Applied, is apparently in advanced talks to buy bankrupt Dutch ebike maker VanMoof. And wouldn’t you know it, we just had Lavoie’s leadership on the podcast the other week ago to talk about their strategic relationship with McLaren…

What kind of electric scooters and bikes are more likely to cause fires? For a long time, reliable data eluded researchers. But now the London Fire Brigade has revealed that nearly 40% of fires in the U.K. capital are caused by low-quality DIY conversion kits, which typically include a hub monitor, an electrical system, and a battery pack, calling this the “fastest growing fire trend.” 

Related: A Connecticut company says it has developed a unique fire-suppressing material that can wrap li-ion batteries during shipping to prevent accidents. 

Why urbanists should learn to stop worrying and love robotaxis: James just released a provocative new interview with author, analyst, and all-around AV expert Ed Niedermeyer about San Francisco’s landmark ruling to allow Waymo and Cruise to operate 24/7. Listen in.

In Cornwall, new AI-enabled traffic cameras caught nearly 300 drivers breaking the law in the first three days after the system launched in the U.K. The most common offenses were motorists using the phone or not wearing a seatbelt. (Our take: AI cameras should literally be everywhere.) 

After 18 months of research and development, shared scooters in the U.K. will now notify visually impaired pedestrians of their presence by using a universal sound alert.

This mountain town in Switzerland banned all cars, except for tiny electric ones that are the size of old milk carts. 

Taiwanese motorbike maker KYMCO is taking its battery-swapping platform global, expanding to Thailand through a partnership with the Thai company Arun Plus. 

For watchers of ebike sales, here’s an updated stat from one of America’s largest manufacturers: Rad Power Bikes says it has now surpassed more than 600,000 units sold.

Are you a biker who was recently hit by a car? McSweeney’s published a wickedly funny guide to help you understand why it was your fault: You were riding during rush hour, you were riding at night, you were riding in the middle of the workday…maybe you were riding on a back road, or you were riding on the main road…you didn’t signal properly, your bike isn’t an SUV… get the point? 

Jobs to Be Done

Browse the best jobs in micromobility—and post your own—on our Jobs to Be Done board.

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