Back in June, Lyft—the operators of the Divvy bike-share program—announced that Chicago would be the first city to receive the company's new e-bike model. Lyft promised a fall launch, and they've delivered, with the sleek white bikes beginning to hit the city's streets today. Over the next few months, Lyft will add 2,000 of the new bikes to the Divvy fleet, rolling them out in a similar fashion to the original e-bike launch in 2020.
What makes the futuristic white e-bikes different from the somewhat clunky black bikes that brought a jolt of electricity to the Divvy fleet last year? One of the major upgrades is the integration of the bike's battery and wiring into its frame, ditching the external battery that the black Divvy e-bikes used. The new e-bikes have the ability to charge while they're docked, though it's currently unclear how many existing Divvy docks are able to charge the new bikes—earlier this year, a Lyft representative told us that Divvy would be "piloting station-based charging in Chicago this year."
The new e-bikes also sport a more powerful 500-watt motor, which will be able to add additional power when you pedal, making it easier to scale Chicago's few hills. Unlike the black Divvy e-bikes, the new white model is equipped with a single-gear transmission (Lyft says that it's "tuned perfectly for all speeds and grades of road"), so you won't have to worry about shifting gears during your ride. The new design also incorporates a rear hydraulic brake, which should make for smoother stops during your ride, and a more ergonomic form that will allow more people to configure the bike for a comfortable ride.
Other aesthetic changes to the new bikes include the addition of an illuminated LED ring beacon on the front of the handlebars and a retroreflective paint (much like the kind used for street signs) that will improve visibility when riding at night. You'll also find a built-in LCD screen (and speaker) on the e-bike's handlebars, which provides clear instructions for unlocking, docking and riding the bike.
While the first day of December may seem like an odd time to begin launching a new bike in Chicago, the reduced ridership may give Lyft an opportunity to work out any problems with the new rides before the busier spring season arrives. And since Divvy e-bikes have seen two to three times as many rides per bike as the classic blue Divvy bikes over the past year, winter riders will likely be opting to try out the newer e-bikes (and report any issues) when they can get their hands on them.
If you're willing to take a slightly chilly ride on a new Divvy e-bike, keep your eyes peeled for the bright white bikes as you walk past docks in the coming weeks.