Electric bike ownership is poised to skyrocket in the coming years, with more than 130 million e-bikes expected to sell globally between 2020 and 2023 alone. A new website called Ridepanda wants to help you pick your perfect e-ride—whether you need a motor powerful enough to speed up hills or a mile range that’ll get you to work and back on one charge—by curating e-bikes based on need and giving each option an expert rating.
Ridepanda’s founders, Chinmay Malaviya and Charlie Depman, say their site is the first online marketplace for electric bikes, e-scooters, and mopeds, where users can shop for EVs, add on services like warranties or maintenance plans, and see a rating for each product that vets it on durability, performance, repairability, safety, and sustainability. “We want to be the NerdWallet of micromobility,” Depman says.
The site offers its founders more than just a chance to get in on the EV future. It’s in line with their years of work in the micromobility space—Malaviya worked at Lime and delivery company Foodpanda, which helped give e-bikes to food delivery workers; Depman worked at both Bird and Scoot—and their belief that the future of climate-friendly transportation is in EVs (both also have experience at environmental nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs). “What we are trying to do with Ridepanda is to continue the work we did with these companies, in terms of building happier, more efficient cities that run on these lightweight, cheap, smaller, quiet, eco-friendly products,” Malaviya says.
With companies like Lime and Bird, people have the chance to try out e-scooters and e-bikes, but Malaviya and Depman think the future of EVs will be in ownership, with people seeking out models that fit their lifestyles best. On Ridepanda, you can take a quiz that asks about your top uses for an e-ride, like leisure or off-road, and if you need something that has a long range or is easy to carry. Your answers generate a list of suggested models. Or you can check out the site’s curated selections, which feature e-rides tailored to families, adventurers, delivery drivers, and so on. The site makes money on commissions from bikes users buy, and by selling add-on repair and support services.
In this way, Ridepanda is addressing the decision fatigue that comes when you search for an electric bike on a platform like Amazon, where you get more than 100,000 results. The site also aims to be a resource for all the other things users need to know about owning an e-ride. “Getting the product is one big piece of the puzzle,” Malaviya says. “Second is, How do I maintain it? What about theft, insurance? What are the accessories I should buy to make it a safer ride?” It’s comparatively easy to buy a car, he adds, because there are companies, startups, and dedicated dealerships available to help consumers in the marketplace. “We think we need to build the same infrastructure to remove any sort of barrier people might have to embrace these products.”
Although Ridepanda had been in the works for a while, its launch is especially timely during the COVID-19 pandemic, when some people are avoiding public transit and ride-shares and instead are thinking about buying their own personal vehicles. Transportation is the number-one cause of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and 60% of trips in cities are less than 6 miles away. Are these needs best served by polluting cars, Malaviya asks, “or are they better off with these [electric] products, which are cheaper, a lot more accessible . . . they are easy to store, easy to park, they give back public space to people.” He and Depman hope the site can help convince people to choose an e-scooter, e-bike, or moped over a car.