Is the ELECTRIC Citibike any good?

Is the ELECTRIC Citibike any good?

We’ve done a lot of reviews on the different bikes that we sell in the shop but today we decided it would be a fun idea to make a review on a New York City electric Citibike! We’ll go into the specific specs and details this bike has and how to operate and rent one.

Thanks for watching and let us know what else you would like to see more of in future videos!

#citibike #electriccitibike #ebikes #NYCbike

0:00 What Citibike is and how they came to be
2:30 Overview of electric citibike
3:00 Schwalbe marathon plus tire
3:40 Double reinforced rims and spokes
4:15 Drum brake and electric hub
5:00 Docking mechanism
5:20 36 Volt 400wH battery
5:55 Frame and seat post
7:30 Custom fenders integrated into the frame
7:55 Front rack Max weight load 25 lbs
8:30 Brakes and lack of electronic cut off switches
9:30 250Wh single speed motor
10:30 Chain
10:50 Roller brake
11:39 Front headlight and rear light activated by peddling
13:30 Bells and handlebars
14:10 Lack of gears on bike
14:35 How many electric citibikes are there?
16:52 How does it work? How do you rent a bike?

Readers Comments (29)

  1. Those batteries will all be nicked in one day here (Manchester, UK). Lol.

  2. Interesting subject. In the Netherlands you mainly see rental bicycles from the railways, fairly cheap, 3.95 euros for a maximum of 24 hours. These are not e-bikes. What you also see a lot in the big cities are rental bicycles for students. Recognizable by a blue front tire. You can rent it for a year or so. Maintenance and costs
    stealing the bicycle is then included in the rental price. Also mostly regular bikes, I believe they also rent out e-bikes but I’m not sure. Couldn’t find it quickly on the internet either. You also see a lot of electric rental scooters up to 25 km / h. But I don’t know renting a e-bike like you show in the Netherlands. You can rent e-bikes in some bicycle shops, often even if you are unsure whether a certain type of e-bike is something for you and can try that e-bike for a longer period of time. And then buy or not after a certain period of time.

    What I do not understand is how do you know how far the battery is loaded? What I understand these e-bikes are not loaded at the place where you park them.

  3. mame diarra samb March 19, 2021 @ 10:51 pm

    Is it possible to lower the speed

  4. I like that they went with the drum brake on the front and the Dutch style roller brake on the rear. As long as you don’t need to go down anything more than a very gentle slope. My Batavus bike has front and rear roller brakes and even just on the pedestrian and bike bridge I ride over regularly, if I roll over the top as slowly as possible and grab two handfuls of brake it still barely stops before the bottom. Which is a blind and tight 90 degree corner. So that’s always fun.

    I also like the single speed setup and the equipment it comes with. But I can’t understand why they don’t use a full chain case to really minimise maintenance. The bike share in Brighton, which I’ve used went with the shaft drive. It looks cool and it’s great for places with salty sea air.

  5. Here’s my question… For these on site talks/reviews do you use a ebike to get there and back?

  6. Krzysztof Gubański March 19, 2021 @ 10:57 pm

    From the operator point of view, the charging system might be a challange. Charging them from the station or delivering batteries to meet the growing demand became hard. Two cities in Poland withdrawn from electric versions (Warsaw, Gdańsk) but Cracow continues to keep them.

  7. Certainly an improvement over the 1st gen design, reportedly the brake problem that has now been resolved with the adoption of the Sturmey front drum brake, was due to Uber/Jump & Motivate/Lyft bikeshare ebikes previously using the Shimano BR-C6000-F front roller brake on a front hub motor wheel without the power modulator recommended by Shimano. The Washington Post reported that Uber experienced this problem on their Jump ebikes and fixed the problem, presumably fitting power modulators, but didn’t inform Lyft source: This led to several accidents with Lyft ebikes leading them to withdraw them for a year until they fixed the problems with this NYC model and their other ebikeshare model used in their other cities. The lack of coordinated regulatory oversight, or a channel for sharing safety data between bikeshare & scooter operating companies is a problem that may still exist.

  8. You make me love the electric bikes 🥰🥰🥰

  9. I wonder how long these bikes will last on the streets? They seem well designed and having them being docked bikes should help prevent them from being dumped like the Jump and other dockless bikes suffered from. It would be great if you could set up an interview with one of the Citibike mechanics to learn more about these bikes.

  10. The "people" there need to be told that front rack is not a seat. SAD.

  11. Thanks for the walk in the weeds. I think the same way. Syracuse NY experimented with Gotcha Sync last year. From what I could tell it was a flop. Syracuse is not a bike friendly city. They were inexpensive cadence only sensors similar to the citibikes. The three speed gearing was nowhere near enough for the city hills. They pulled the bikes off the streets in October citing the weather and covid. No one was riding the bikes anyway.

  12. Peter Tuijtjens March 19, 2021 @ 11:14 pm

    Am I the only one wondering why an electric bike needs a dynamo?
    Can’t the battery power the lights?

  13. “I’m not an expert on these bikes” hahaha. One glance at the bike and you probably know more than 99.8% of the population.

  14. I can rent an ebike in NYC with Lasers on them?? Son of a bitch, count me in!!

  15. By a blinking light, it is hard to see the distance, especially as it moves. By day no problem, but ad night it is.

    No rear rack, so you can’t ride with 2 people on it. Rear fender works also as a coat protector.

  16. Riding the Citibike ebike was my stepping stone into shopping for an ebike of my own because I realized that no matter how cheap or low end my purchase would be, it’d still be more reliable than my terrible success rate in finding functional Citibike ebikes.

  17. I’m glad that you finally tried the electric-assist Citi Bikes and made this video. I was surprised that you mentioned you hadn’t ridden them before. It does make sense considering you don’t live in New York anymore. I’m glad to now know the actual electric specs on the motor and battery.

    Riding the electric-assist Citi Bike whet my appetite for electric bikes and ultimately motivated me to move on purchase my own private ebike.

    I discovered the massive improvement in quality of life ebikes can provide by renting through Citi Bike. After I realized this general potential of ebikes, the crappy experience of hunting down electric-assist Citi Bikes and frequently getting lemons with low charge batteries too often made me fed up. Eventually I realized that I needed to invest in my own ebike, ironically ultimately ditching Citi Bike.

    I’ve had a Citi Bike membership for a few years now and used it often for last-mile trips in combination with the subway, but I began using Citi Bike non-electric and electric bikes massively to replace my subway trips entirely because of the pandemic. I couldn’t stand being trapped in subway cars with people who didn’t always wear masks. It felt like I was rolling the dice every time I took the subway, and I got stressed out every time I ended up in a car with a non-zero number of inevitable delinquents who didn’t have masks or were not covering both their nose and mouth.

    Anyway, earlier this summer, using the electric Citi Bikes was great for my commute between Brooklyn and Manhattan when I managed to find one close to me that had a decent charge and wasn’t too banged up. The power, braking, maneuverability, comfort and utility of the rack are pleasantly acceptable. I think Motivate did a good job with the overall design.

    Specifically, riding the electric Citi Bikes made the trip across the East River bridges (mostly the Manhattan Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge) much more manageable and less of a chore so I could get to work without being exhausted and sweaty. The electric bikes have just enough power to handle going up and over the bridges, which are essentially long gradual hills. The single speed gearing works well enough on the bridges and general NYC terrain, which for the most part is fairly flat. More gears would help, but the electric assist does help a lot to make up for the lack of gears. I think part of the decision to go single speed was to keep the top speed of riders down. The previous iteration had gears I believe and I admittedly went irresponsibly fast. I remember when they pulled those bikes, with notes about the brake system having issues. I sort of remember it being more likely to endo if I grabbed the brakes too hard while going top speed.

    I actually take advantage of the dual bells on both grips. I ring both at the same time so it sounds like multiple bikes are coming to better get the attention of drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists who may be distracted or not watching where they are going. Increasing my audible footprint, if you will.

    However, eventually I got tired of spending time hunting down an electric-assist Citi Bike. I had to look at the Citi Bike app which shows a map of available electric-assist bikes and their supposed charge level (not very reliable charge info in my experience) use a regular non-assist bike to go from station to station, then hope that the electric-assist bike had not been taken by the time I got there which happened a lot, and that the electric-assist was working properly and that there was enough charge to make it across the East River and several miles to work/home. I had to factor this time hunting for electric-assist bikes into my daily commute, which added 15-20 minutes sometimes when I was unlucky, and too often someone would nab the sparse electric-assist bikes before I got to the dock or the bike did not have the charge to actually get to my destination. That means I had to hunt down a different electric assist bike, all the while being charged a fee each time I undocked an electric assist bike, whether it had a useful charge or not. Shitty customer experience.

    Eventually after 2 months I did the math and decided that the time to hunt down electric-assist bikes and the added money for the electric-assist option for the wasn’t worth it. I was paying $125 each month in electric bike fees on top of my standard Citi Bike annual membership because of how often I was using the electric assist bikes. Instead of continuing to lose that much money every month I decided to bite the bullet and invest in a $1500 generic electric bike. I got a 36V 350W single speed belt drive rear hub motor bike (17.5 Ah/630 Wh battery) that looks like a normal bike, except for the Hailong battery on the downtube and the rear hub motor. In retrospect I would have enjoyed the acceleration of a 48v system more, but I definitely have enough power and range to easily manage my daily commute. I would have loved to get a bike from your store instead, but I’m not far along enough financially to pull that off. Hopefully someday soon I can shop at your store.

    My commute is now more streamlined having my own private ebike, no longer hunting for bikes at docks every time I need to go somewhere, and I can customize my bike with specific handlebars, rear rack and rack bag, lights, etc to better suit my needs. The trade-off though is that I have to store my ebike inside my small Brooklyn apartment (I deliberately just moved to a first floor apartment to not have to carry bikes up and down flights of stairs), be on top of locking my bike securely to prevent theft, charging my battery everyday, and doing regular maintenance like adjusting brakes and replacing pads.

    I do miss the convenience of docking a Citi Bike and not worrying about theft or maintenance, but that’s the price I have to pay for a private ebike that I can use anytime anywhere without having to roll the dice and hunt down an electric-assist Citi Bike every time I have to go somewhere.

    I could see if there were a lot more electric-assist bikes in the Citi Bike system that most people would be happy, but the state it is in now is pretty annoying. Battery swaps don’t happen frequently enough. The problem is even worse now with winter temperatures cutting down usable battery capacity. Lately this winter, the rare occasion I don’t use my personal ebike and try to use an electric-assist Citi Bike, I end up pulling a lemon out of the dock 50% of the time.

  18. Thanks for video always wondered about these.
    Built like a $h t brick house.

  19. Leopoldo Santos March 19, 2021 @ 11:24 pm

    lisbon bike share bike is child seat ready , you just have to buy a child seat

  20. These are unique to NYC and are a bit of a Frankenstein project. They leverage Citi Bike’s existing part bin with the frame and everything except for the e-bike specific cranks, bottom bracket, rear-wheel, and battery. Reusing the Sturmey-Archer front end also allows Citi Bike to continue using their docks without modification. And yes, the second bell is basically just filling space where they removed the Nuvinci N380 shifter during the conversion.

    Check out the link below to see Lyft’s more refined version, which is in circulation in DC, Chicago, SF, and Portland. The Lyft e-bike features a 350w front hub motor, 160mm front mechanical disc brakes, Nuvinci N380 rear hub, and a different rear fender with a café lock.

  21. MacAutomationTips March 19, 2021 @ 11:25 pm

    About a year after riding a Jump bike, I purchased an e-bike. By that time, the prices for e-bikes started being more affordable. But now I kinda want to invest in a more stylish premium e-bike.

  22. Kid Wonder Bikes and Delivers March 19, 2021 @ 11:26 pm

    We exactly have those here in DC. We call our bikeshare system: Capital Bikeshare. The difference between your ebike and ours is that our ebikes are dockless and have a gps tracker. Which means the bikes are scattered everywhere outside of the docks like a Lyft scooters for example. And you could scan the bike from the back and the front of the bike. It could also track the e-bikes trails with the gps. I tried one of those bikes before when I was in New York City and to my surprise CitiBike don’t have those type of accommodations unlike our bike sharing system in DC. They’re from the same company though. I mean when we first have our ebike system in 2017 it wasn’t dockless or probably did not have GPS trail integration. It was part of the pilot program when these launched.

  23. When in Copenhagen, we used their e-bike share, Bycyklen (@bycyklen) to get around town and it was great. Especially in nippy Spring weather, the speed of an e-bike was appreciated in making 10 or 15 minutes trips from one part of town to another.  I don’t think we would have used bike share had they not been e-bikes. Bycyklen is a station bike share system, and we "rented" e-bikes to ride from station-to-station – so we never need to rent a bike for more than 15 minutes at a time. This was very cost effective compared to a taxi or even public transportation.

    A few things we learned about e-bike share. It was nice the Bycyklen bikes had an iPad sized display to see information like the state of charge (SOC) and to log in. We learned to make a quick check of the SOC, tires, seat clamp, etc. before we checked out a bike – as you would otherwise, you would need to "return" the bike and start the check-out process over.  Luckily the Bycyklen app/software was smart enough to facilitate immediate returns (e.g., due to a bike being non-operable) without charging your account, and the app/software was even smart enough to know when all the slots in the station your were returning the bike to were full and tell you to lock the bike and park it nearby.  

    The Bycyklen e-bikes were pretty basic and did the job, but it was the well developed bike share app/software that made the use of the e-bike share a pleasure.

  24. Armchair Wanderer March 19, 2021 @ 11:32 pm


  25. Paris (France) has similar regular bikes and e-bikes rental service for short trip. I haven’t tested these bikes which were set a few years ago, replacing original Velib full muscular bikes. The original Velib structure had already big troubles to have muscular bikes available in relative good status, because of thefts and degradations. New company replacing Velib intoduced eBikes along regular bikes… and have bigger issues to respect their planned budget. Now, a new agreement has been settled: rental will become more expansive for customers and involved cities will give more money too…
    I don’t think ebikes are a good choice for this kind of short trip rental service, whatever their qualities or drawbacks. This kind of service should remain cheap, and bikes must be simple and sturdy.
    Furthermore, not having battery charged automatically, when bike is attached to its base, is a total nonsense.

  26. Josh De La Rosa March 19, 2021 @ 11:41 pm

    i bought my R&M because liked the citi e-bike but got tired of hunting them down around the city

  27. MrKeyboardCommando March 19, 2021 @ 11:43 pm

    Chris, this is a great video, and it introduces a subject, the importance of which is going to be enormous: to wit, getting cars out of the city. Pollution, congestion, traffic jams, parking, are all growing problems in the urban environment. To ensure a car free, person friendly, town, you’ve got to have means of transport, and bikes, together with buses and the metro provide these.
    Furthermore, the idea of hiring your transport ( cars, bikes, yachts, planes ) when you need it, rather than owning it and having it just sitting there, doing nothing, for most of the time, is also a very important concept which will have to be considered in the near future.
    The time is arriving when the entire interrelation of transportation, employment and housing will have to be re-evaluated. We are going to be living in even more interesting times, which is really saying something given the current state of affairs‼️🦬
    Keep pushing those peddles.👍👍👍

  28. Ir would be great if San Francisco had a better bike regulation as well as better protection for bikers, they should invest more in safer bike lanes if they wants to improve the city as bike friendly, it is still far from the European major cities. They cannot be called a bike friendly city.

  29. Those city bikes is more used as an entertainment rather than a real functional usage as in Europe, it is funny to see young people use thise bikes to make short trips for fun only, the idea is maybe good but there is no campaign on stimulating people to use bikes for other usage rather than for an hour fun tour, in US the bike is more for sport and snobbism, rather than a functional usage.

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