Electric vehicle evangelist and Omaha resident Bill Moore thinks electric bikes have the power to change the world.
Moore first got excited about electric vehicles in 1997 when he saw an ad for an electric bike in an issue of Businessweek. At the time, he was a web site designer at the dawn of the World Wide Web.
“I had been building web sites since 1993. I created the first website for First National Bank, the first website for what would become Ameritrade, the first website for the USDA,” said Moore. “I created the first Careerlink web site.”
At that time, there were few if any web sites dedicated to electric vehicles. So Moore launched Evworld.com to report on electric cars, what he saw at the time as the future of transportation.
“I was about 10 years head of the curve,” said Moore.
Now with Tesla, Ford, and GM all working on electric vehicles, it seems the age of electric vehicles is finally here.
And now, after reporting on electric vehicles for 18 years, Moore decided it was to start getting involved himself.
How Quik Byke works
For Moore, creating an electric bike rental shop is about more than building a sustainable business.
“We want to expose as many people as possible to electric bikes,” said Moore. “Thirty to forty percent of the trips we make in America are three miles or less. Ninety percent of those trips are made by car.”
The benefits of electric bikes are numerous. Fewer cars on the road mean cleaner air, less dependence on foreign oil, and increased overall health for communities. However, for large numbers of Americans, the idea of biking around town is intimidating.
“For a lot of people the barrier is ‘I’m old. I’m not fit enough. I haven’t done this in ages,'” said Moore.
Electric bikes offer a way for ordinary people to get riding again in a way that is easy for any age or fitness level.
Quik Byke is a electric bike rental store that is fully contained within a standard shipping container. It runs completely on solar power, which operates the iPad checkout and charges the bikes. Each bike has an lithium ion battery and a 300-watt motor that allows just a little extra assistance.
The rentals cost $15 for 1 hour; $20 for 2 hours; $25 for 3 hours. Electric bike rentals in Florida currently rent for $40 and hour and up, according to Moore.
Pitching to the ideal market
The main market for electric bikes, according to Moore, are adults 55+ who want to stay healthy but want some assistance. In order to reach that market, Moore identified cruise ships as the best place to introduce large numbers of older adults to the pleasures of electric bikes.
“The average age of a cruise ship passenger is 50-plus. Their average income is $100,000,” said Moore. “The idea was, let’s put something like this on a cruise ship dock.”
The bike serves as a fun alternative to a taxi or bus. By making the whole system solar-powered and self-contained, the store can be shipped to any tourist location with no need for external power. What’s more, many islands will actually pay premium prices for Quik Byke’s excess solar power.
What’s next for Quik Byke
So far, Moore has tested the Quik Bike system in Omaha over the summer during the Olympic Swim Trials and NCAA Men’s College World Series.
“The only problem I’ve had all summer long is keeping the tires inflated,” said Moore. “Other than that, the system has worked flawlessly.”
This fall, as tourist season picks up on the East Coast, Moore is taking his Quik Byke system to St. Petersburg, Florida, where his co-founder will be operating the shop. Back in Omaha, Moore will be working on developing an app that will go along with the bikes, with features like tour guides and games.
“You’ll be riding around and scoring points,” said Moore.
Now that he knows the basic system functions, Moore is looking to test out the system under high traffic conditions. If they receive the response from tourists that they hope for, the whole container will be able to follow the tourist season year round, all around the world.
“Every cruise ship carries an average of 2,200 passengers, not including crew, which is 800 to 1,200,” said Moore. “They’ve got eight hours to kill on these islands. With six bikes in the right location, we’ll break even. With 12 bikes we’ll go gangbusters.”
Ryan Pendell is the Managing Editor of Silicon Prairie News.