Divvy’s sleek new electric bike model is going to be a hot commodity for riders

The new Divvy e-bike design. Photo: Eric Allix Rogers
The new Divvy e-bike design. Photo: Eric Allix Rogers

Update 12/3/21, 1:45 PM: Divvy spokesperson Jordan Levine provided the following additional talking points about lighting on the new model (his language below):

  • The beacon is not the headlight. The headlight is mounted below the basket and will not be blocked by cargo.
  • The beacon makes the rider more visible to other road users and may integrate with future functionality.
  • The headlight and tail light both meet regulatory requirements for safety.
  • The reflector under the basket also helps increase visibility at night. 
  • The headlight chosen is the brightest we could source and is capable of actually throwing light onto the ground in-front of the bike. 
  • Additionally the new headlamp is small enough to be placed under the basket completely out of harm’s way to prevent damage.

Update 12/3/21, 11:45 AM: CDOT provided the following explanation of the headlight placement: “The headlight is under the basket. That light above the basket is a beacon of sorts – look closely at this photo and under the basket.”

CDOT says the main headlight is *under* the basket. Photo: CDOT
CDOT says the main headlight is *under* the basket. Photo: CDOT

Update 12/3/21, 9 AM: Since the publication of this piece, multiple people have pointed out that the placement of the headlight behind the basket (see the last image in this post) means that if you’re carrying a good-sized bag, the light will be partially or totally blocked, something that I failed to notice. We’ve asked the Chicago Department of Transportation to explain the rationale behind this seemingly bonkers design choice – surely it can’t be as stupid a decision as it appears to be. -JG

On Monday, Divvy rolled out a redesigned e-bike, essentially Divvy 3.0 given that this is the third major design change to the fleet since the system launched in 2013. Divvy plans to add 2,000 of these new bikes to the system.

Similar to the existing black e-bikes, which see two to three times as many riders per bike as the baby-blue non-electric bikes, these bikes are going to be popular. The novelty of the new color, the increased range (60 miles compared to the upper 20s for the black bikes), and a new design that makes riding more comfortable for people of a wider range of heights will aid in the new cycles being a hot commodity in the Divvy network. When I went to test out a bicycle, a couple noticed the new bikes, snapped a photo, and rode off. 

The new Divvies have a sleeker design, now that the battery and all cables are integrated into the frame. I test-rode during the day so I was unable to compare the new LED beacon light to the lights on the black e-bike. I’m sure many Divvy riders and motorists alike will appreciate the eye-catching reflective white paint at night. Other safety features include a hydraulic rear brake, which helps riders stop smoothly with less force, and safety sensors that self-monitor bike parts including brakes and batteries. This will help ensure riders have a more reliable bike in good shape.

Jordan Levine, the head of Divvy concessionaire Lyft’s transit, bike and scooter communications, said the single gear transmission will eliminate the need to shift gears. Lyft characterizes it as “power with finesse.” The new e-bike is equipped with a stronger motor with the ability to sense how much effort the rider is putting in and matches the rider’s efforts. Levine added that riders should have a smoother riding experience and that the sensors on the bike monitoring road conditions will prove helpful in Chicago. My test ride experience on the new bikes definitely felt smoother than riding the black e-bikes. There was no jerkiness or sudden acceleration, just a smooth increase in speed. 

I appreciate the new seat adjustment set-up. The seat adjustment lever reminds me of a U-lock. You adjust the lever to the desired height and lock it in place. It felt much easier than the quick-release lever on the black bikes. I’ve had some frustrating experiences with the seat adjustment on Divvies, with the lever being stuck or super difficult to open, and it appears this new design will be frustration-free.

The new seat adjustment mechanism. Photo: Courtney Cobbs
The new seat adjustment mechanism. Photo: Courtney Cobbs

Divvy’s website states the new model has an LCD screen and speaker that give riders instructions for unlocking, parking, and more.  While I was unlocking the bike, I didn’t receive instructions from the LCD screen – at least not audible instructions. As for the LCD screen during my ride, I think it would’ve been cool to have the LCD screen display your current speed and how much range is left on your bike while users are riding. While I was riding the screen simply read that a ride was in progress. 

Overall I’m impressed with the new Divvy bikes and look forward to snagging one whenever I’m away from my own bike. 

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With Divvy slated to expand by 175 stations this year, there’s an unprecedented opportunity to increase bike ridership in Chicago. There’s also an opportunity to rethink the Divvy bike design. A shortcoming I’ve noticed about Divvy, and other systems that use bicycles supplied by Bixi, is the lack of carrying capacity. The bikes feature a […]