August 2018. Davis, California.
I took my first spin on an eBike this week. The JUMP eBike sharing program showed up in the Sacramento/Davis, California area 2 months ago. JUMP was bought by Uber earlier this year, and this eBike sharing program is currently operating in Atlanta, Austin Texas, Washington DC, New York City, Providence RI, Santa Cruz, San Francisco and the Sacramento region. You can use JUMP ebikes at a rate of $1 per 15 minutes, and 7¢ per minute after that. To join the program you put the app on your phone (there’s no fee to join), link to a credit card for any charges and choose a 4 digit PIN.
Each bike has a basket for carrying goods, fenders to keep you clean, front and back lights that come on automatically when it’s dark, a loud bell, standard brakes on the handle bar for front and rear wheels, and GPS so you can find nearby JUMP eBikes with the phone app.
To use a JUMP eBike just open the app on your phone, find a nearby bike, reserve the bike you want, and then enter your PIN on the keypad located on the back of the bike. Don’t forget your helmet! Ride the bike to your destination, lock it up, and you’re all done. The bike then becomes available for somebody else to use.
I took a test ride on a JUMP eBike last night after noticing one locked up near my house. If anyone else had reserved this bike it would not have been available in the phone app. I reserved the bike on my phone, entered my PIN on the bike’s keypad, the bike unlocked, the front and back lights came on, and I rode off to test the bike around my neighborhood. The process was very easy.
This was my first time riding an eBike and it was actually a lot of fun. The bikes are solid, appear to be well constructed and have decent components. The JUMP bikes are comfortable to ride. They have 3 gears and a 250W motor that provides a nice boost. The pedals are responsive to touch. A light touch on the pedals and the bike rides like a normal bike. These bikes weigh in at 70 pounds, but the lowest gear makes it easy to ride as you would any other bike. But press harder on the pedals and the electric motor kicks in to assist and maintain speed. With the electric motor boost the bike was very easy to ride around flat terrain in 3rd gear.
I rode around my neighborhood for about 20 minutes, parked the bike, locked it up, and a charge of $1.20 showed up in my phone account. I’m not sure how I feel about the pricing plan yet, but I think these bikes are a good option for getting around in urban areas and probably some suburban areas too. There appears to be a $30/month plan right now but the website says this pricing option is temporary, and it may not be available in all regions. JUMP says that the average ride is about 2 miles. I see quite a few JUMP bikes around my town.
The JUMP eBikes have a battery pack that provides power to assist your ride. The phone app tells you the state of charge for each bike. The bike I rode was at 95% state of charge when I reserved it. I’ve been searching for details on the battery pack but the company doesn’t provide a lot of information presumably because they don’t want the rider to be concerned about battery packs and state of charge. Your job is just ride the bike and not sweat the details.
From what I’ve found on the intertubes it seems the company swaps out battery packs on average every 3 days for each bike to ensure that riders have all the charge they need to use the electric assist. If a bike has a low battery it’ll show up with a dollar sign in the app, and you can earn free credits by riding that bike to a hub location – about a 1 mile ride in my case.
Take home message? This bike sharing program is easy to use, the bikes appear to be well made, and this seems like a nice alternative for making short trips in urban areas. If the company provides enough bikes in a given region this bike share program could be a reliable, convenient option for running local errands.