Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York City
Brooklyn e-scooter company Revel is launching a new e-bike rental subscription service this month, adding a new subscription service to meet New York’s bicycle market surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the company’s chief.
“We’re going deeper into the two-wheeled space,” Revel co-founder and chief executive officer Frank Reig told Brooklyn Paper. “If you look at where cycling has gone, it’s completely boomed since COVID last summer, and that trend is only going to magnify.”
The company known for its omnipresent blue scooters will offer battery-powered bicycles by Big Apple manufacturer Wing Bikes for rent at $99 per month for residents of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan.
The waitlist to order the two-wheelers opened Tuesday, and Revel will deliver its stable of buzz bikes to subscribers early March.
“We’ll roll out with a few hundred, but we anticipate demand to skyrocket, so we expect to scale pretty quickly,” said Revel’s head of mopeds Anne Emig.
The e-bikes come with a classic U-lock and a removable 36-volt battery, which can last for 45 miles of riding. They can speed up to 20 miles-per-hour (the legal limit for electric bicycles is 25 miles-per-hour) powered either by throttle or pedal-assist.
The company also offers subscribers a 70 percent markdown on a Revel-branded helmet by Fend, which can fold to half its size and retails for $119, along with free 24-hour maintenance “normal bike issues,” according to the firm.
The City Council legalized throttle-powered e-bikes in the Five Boroughs last summer, following a law change at the state level, but the two-wheelers have been the mode of transport of choice for delivery workers since well before they became lawful.
Pedal-assist bikes also became more of a common sight last year when Citi Bike brought back its stable of docked battery-powered bicycles — which max out at 18 miles-per-hour and don’t have a throttle — after an almost year-long hiatus because some of the blue bikes had a penchant for sending riders flying over the handlebars and bursting into flames.
Wing also sells their bikes for $1,298 and in 2019 tried to get a similar rent service going at $108 per month, pitching the program as cheaper than a monthly unlimited MetroCard, Streetsblog reported.
Revel’s new program is slightly cheaper but substantially more expensive than a Citi Bike membership, which is $179 for a year, or $15 per month. However you don’t get to keep the e-bike and there is a 10-cent-per-minute surcharge while riding.
E-bikes is the second new venture for Revel within a month, after the company unveiled its new “superhub” electric vehicle charging station at the former Pfizer factory at the Williamsburg-Bedford-Stuyvesant border on Feb. 3, and Reig said these moves were a “continuation of our vision to electrify cities.”
The startup first rolled out its scooters in Bushwick in 2018 before spreading to more parts of Brooklyn and other boroughs during the following years.
Last summer, amid heightened popularity of the scooter sharing service, three riders crashed and died, leading to Revel deactivating its New York fleet for a month, before returning with a slew of new mandatory safety measures, such as a helmet selfie and a 21-question multiple choice test about the rules of the road that riders must complete before riding the two-wheelers.
When asked whether the company was moving away from its flagship scooters, Reig said “absolutely not,” and added that their 3,000-strong fleet will remain a vital part of their business.
“As New York City comes out of this lockdown, that option that we’ve had since 2018 is only going to be more valuable to New York City,” he said.
This story first appeared on our sister publication brooklynpaper.com.