One Rider’s Impression of the Divvy E-Bike

Electric Divvies can offer a no-sweat way to get from Point A to Point B

Electric Divvy against a monument
Electric Divvy against a monument

On July 29th, Divvy launched access to e-bikes in the Chicago and Evanston-based bike share system. These bikes are the no-sweat approach of getting from point A to point B.

“To date, we’ve seen between 800-1,000 e-bike rides per day, as we continue focusing deployment on the South Side. We will continue to ramp up the fleet over the coming months and deploy citywide,” said Kaitlyn Carl, Communications Manager for Divvy.

Concerns about COVID-19 transmission while riding public transportation and the desire to safely recreate have led to an increase in cycling. Due to the popularity of Divvy e-bikes, you may want to bring along disinfecting wipes or hand sanitizer. Divvy sanitizes high-contact surfaces on bikes, such as the handlebar grips and saddles, each time they arrive at the warehouse for maintenance. Employees also wear gloves when handling bikes at the station and the warehouse. For more information, Streetsblog Chicago covered Divvy’s cleaning practices back in March.

On the day of my test ride, I picked up the bike from a Divvy staff member at Webster and Lincoln near the Tin-Man in Oz Park . From there, I took the Divvy e-bike on a test ride in the area. I was able to ride for half an hour on flat and inclined roadways. I’m used to a road bike riding position so the upright position was different for me. The tire pressure was too low for my liking, and I felt that I could bounce off the bike. On the other hand, the thicker tires handled the potholes well.

 

Author with an Electric Divvy at Oz Park
Author with a Divvy e-bike at Oz Park

The first thing to keep in mind with this bike is that it takes off quickly, or at least it felt pretty quick compared to a non-electric bike. As soon as the user pumps the pedal, the bike picks up speed. For conventional bike users, this reaction could be a surprise. I was definitely shocked because I didn’t expect such a speedy takeoff. As far as inclines, the pedal assist made the ride very smooth and effortless. 

I talked with two folks who have been among the early riders of the Divvy E-bikes. One of those users was @ChicagoScooters. They shared that riders they had spoken to welcomed the e-assist. ” For me,the e-assist pedaling is a game-changer and makes the e-bike more useful than a scooter.”

Another user, Kyle Lucas, the co-founder of the Better Streets Chicago, remarked, “the bikes are great.” He also noted that “there are many improvements on the small details compared to the old bikes such as better lights, bells, variable shifting, and easier seat adjustment.” Kyle added, “they’re super zippy and a joy to ride.”

Multiple users have been grumbling on social media that the pricing requires a somewhat of a Ph.D. degree to figure out. Mr. Lucas stated that he thought that the pricing needed work. He noted that the Divvy e-bikes are “very expensive and it was easy to spend $13 on a ride.” To further add fuel to the fire, he explained that “when Divvy sends a text reminder to secure the bike at the end of the ride, they suggest you use the cable lock without informing you that there’s a $2 fee for doing so.”

I, too, was surprised at the pricing, and I also found the scheme complicated to decipher. Perhaps a way to include more users and a possible solution if for Divvy to introduce a tiered pricing system. Kyle agreed with me in that he, too, would welcome a tiered pricing approach. Under a tiered pricing system, users could be charged a flat price based on their rental period. For example, rides that are 1-30 minutes would cost x price, 30-45 minute rides would cost y, and 45 minutes or up would cost z. I think riders would find this much easier to understand. 

Overall, I could see the appeal of using the Divvy e-bike due to the rider arriving  at their destination without exerting much effort and showing little evidence of sweat on their clothes. Another huge advantage to these e-bikes is that users with certain mobility limitations could find joy using them because of the ease in pedaling the bike. 

Divvy E-Bike Facts

The Divvy e-bike is the official name — it is powered by pedal-assist technology. The bike can travel up to 15 miles per hour (mph) and has 2 hours of riding time on its charge (not inclusive of the time when it’s parked). The e-bike weighs 70 pounds with the battery in comparison to the classic pedal bike at 49 pounds.  [Editor’s note: The Divvy app will tell you how many miles of charge your bike has once you’ve checked it out. The most common range I’ve seen is 20-25 miles.] 

Once a user completes their journey, they can choose to dock it at a traditional Divvy station or for an additional $2.00 charge (within certain boundaries), they can also park and lock with the attached built-in able lock at any bike rack or pole on public property, as well as at new “e-station” bike rack installations, designated exclusively for the e-bikes. 

If you’re wondering how to use the Divvy e-bikes, Divvy has an area on their website that explains pricing and usage of the e-bike. To access visit, https://www.divvybikes.com/how-it-works/ebike.

For a limited time, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will offer Divvy members a $5 credit towards up to 30 minutes of e-bike riding or other usage fees. This credit will automatically be applied to Chicago residents’ accounts and expires after 30 days. New members who sign up before December 31, 2020, will also receive the same credit.

Follow Imelda March on Twitter at @hcram1

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