An unpredictable metro system, perennially clogged roads and those endless, daunting hills. No wonder D.C. helped inspire two small-town transplants to create Riide, an electric bike for busy millennials.
Most electric bikes out there “are selling exercise for babyboomers,” said COO and cofounder Amber Wason. “We sell transportation.”
This is not your uncool uncle’s electric bike. In fact, it does not look and feel like one. The battery and controller are hidden inside the downtube, which is topped with the sleek Riide logo. Yes, the seat is rainbow-colored.
Onto the bike’s functionality. The codes and settings of the controller allow for a smooth ride, even on pockmarked roads, as this reporter can attest to.
It’s also fairly lightweight: at 35 pounds, “it’s lighter than the Capital Bikeshare bike,” said Wason. The battery takes a couple hours to charge and will take you about 25 miles.
For those who don’t want to crack open a toolbox, Riide is also “virtually maintenance-free,” said Wason. The bike doesn’t have gears, because they’re the “most common thing on a bike to break,” she said.
Wason has taken other stabs at helping improve D.C.’s transportation flow. As a D.C. Department of Transportation employee, she helped launch the Circulator.
But, when she lived in Glover Park and worked in Dupont Circle — “all day with high heels” — she could not muster the courage to ride her bike home, opting for the bus instead.
“It’s really frustrating and not the life we’re trying to live,” said Wason. Riide, she says, is for the “city-proud” crowd.
She and cofounder Jeff Stefanis both have failed startup cred. Wason’s was Ride Bliss, an upscale van and commuter bus service.
Riide launched on Kickstarter in January and has pre-sold approximately 120 bikes, with about a third of all orders coming from the West Coast. Riide has also designed a limited Kenneth Cole edition with retro-reflective paint.
Stefanis and Wason are currently assembling the parts — batteries, assembled wheels, frames and so on — in a temporary warehouse behind Union Market. (As recipients of a $172,500 Digital DC Tech Fund grant, their offices must be located in the so-called Opportunity Corridor.)
On a recent Thursday afternoon the Riide facility was stocked with boxes waiting to be unpacked by the two founders, along with mechanic Mike Diamond — all to the beat of MGMT and other millenial-friendly tunes.
The Riide bike costs $1,799 plus shipping.
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