Columbus e-bike company to launch early next year as alternative to scooters
Courtesy of Columbus Business First
By Hayleigh Colombo
August 26, 2021
An electric bike ride-sharing service will soon launch in Columbus.
But unlike many of the Silicon Valley-based companies that are behind similar scooter and shared mobility services, Columbus’ foray into e-bikes will be driven by a local company.
Columbus-based Trip Bikes will launch in early 2022 with its “fat tire e-bike ride-share” service, according to company founder and president Kelly James, who has several years of experience in the ride-sharing industry. That includes a bamboo bike service in Columbus called Kelly’s Green Cycling.
“This has been a life’s passion of mine to do something in the ride-share space,” James said. “It’s finally coming to fruition. We’re getting to the point where we’re about to launch our fleet.”
The service will operate similarly to dockless scooter services, except that the company says that e-bikes allow riders to go faster and travel longer distances.
The company already leads e-bike tours throughout the city as a way to introduce its fleet to residents. Those tours started this summer.
“Our vehicles are considerably safer than a scooter because of that fat tire,” said CEO Paul Ruminski. “It does allow you to go a little faster. Our average customer could go 20 miles per hour. If you’re in Clintonville and you want to make it downtown, this vehicle would be a perfect option.”
E-bikes should not be confused with motorcycles. They require pedaling to work. The bikes feature dual-shock suspension, a 52-volt battery with a 80-100 mile range and powerful headlights.
“It’s a bicycle with an electric motor,” James said. “The bikes are under 1 horsepower. They only work when you pedal.”
Compare that to a motorcycle where the average horsepower is 30 to 120, according to Power Sports Guide.
Still, Ruminski said, the feeling of riding an e-bike is exciting.
“It will make you feel bionic,” Ruminski said. “We didn’t break a sweat going up and downhill. It’s like natural air conditioning.”
Ruminski says the company is aiming to break even within a year. “The money is made on short-term trips,” he said. “It’s very profitable.”
The company hopes to launch with 500 bikes with a goal of expanding to 1,500 bikes.
Ruminski said ride-sharing is becoming a more attractive option for travelers.
“If you look at the cost of owning or buying a vehicle, it’s gone up year over year,” he said.
Ruminski said the service will be attractive for people who want to get around the city without paying for parking or dealing with traffic.
“We’re all starting to get back to work,” he said. “We’re going to start seeing massive congestion again. As cities get more and more dense, the need for micro-mobility will become greater and greater. It does become a necessity.”
The company also hopes to set itself apart by being a locally owned companies. Trip Bikes is one of 30 minority-owned businesses that is part of a partnership between the Columbus Chamber and Columbus Urban League in order to help grow local Black-owned businesses.
“We’re not here to dump and pump; we’re here to engulf and help local businesses,” James said. “How do we actually use Trip as a mobility solution to drive business to local points of interest and local businesses?”
Plus, James said, he has a passion for getting affordable transportation options into the hands of low-income workers and families “that can’t afford to buy a car or take an Uber or even get on the bus.”
“I wanted to be able to create a system or platform for lower-income families to have access to transportation to get to and from work,” James said.
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