If you’re thinking of starting an ebike rental business, there are many things to consider before taking the leap. As equipment rental experts, we know what it takes to run an effective and successful rental business. We started and still run a successful bike rental business, plus we created the bike rental management software we needed but couldn’t find anywhere else on the market. We know the ins-and-outs of running a rental business, and ebikes are the latest to hit the scene. So, let’s dive into the things you’ll need to consider if you want to start an ebike rental business.
Benefits of Ebikes Over Regular Bikes
Renting ebikes instead of traditional bikes could offer you a competitive advantage, depending on your region and your market. If you’re based in a city, you’ve surely seen the increase in the use of electric scooters, segways, and electric bikes by locals and tourists alike. If you’re based along a popular cycling route, you might have seen electric mountain bikes popping up more frequently. Their popularity is only predicted to increase, so an ebike rental business comes with a lot of potential for future growth.
Ebikes open up a wider range of the market share for cycling activities as the physical requirements of a traditional bike can be lowered with electric-powered assistance. Baby Boomers, and the older market in general, can be tempted to rent ebikes as they eliminate the physical challenge associated with traditional pedal-powered bikes.
Ebikes are also fun and different. While most of your potential customers will likely have ridden a bike at some point, there are fewer ebike owners out there. Tourists, in particular, like to try new things while on vacation. Offering ebikes in a tourism-centred market can be hugely beneficial for the unique fun factor.
Ebikes can also be used to cover longer distances more quickly, which can benefit tourists trying to cover more ground in shorter timeframes. Think of day-trippers on limited time who want to see it all.
Finally, ebikes can be ideal for guided tours, since they can reduce the issue of pacing and folks struggling to keep up. Electric-powered bikes can keep the whole group together more easily, providing a tour option that’s more reliable and approachable for a range of people with diverse physical capabilities.
Legal Considerations for Ebike Rental Businesses
An important consideration when starting an ebike rental business is your local laws regarding electric-powered vehicles. Cities, regions, and countries all have different regulations that you’ll want to look into to ensure you meet any and all requirements.
For many areas, ebikes with pedal-assist will fall under the regular cycling laws. But some cities have restrictions on electric scooters, segways, and other electric-powered vehicles that you’ll want to research and fully understand. Some places might not differentiate between an ebike and a motor scooter, so be very careful in reviewing those regulations. It’s also important to stay updated on any pending or potential upcoming legislation for your region regarding cycling or electric vehicle laws. Keep an eye on any changes to bike lanes being built or traffic changes in your city or region. These could impact your future business plans.
Another major legal consideration for starting an ebike rental company is the public liability insurance you’ll need. While all rental businesses should hold liability insurance, electric-powered bikes sometimes fall into a different level of insurance requirements. Liability insurance will undoubtedly be higher for an ebike rental business than it would be for a traditional bike rental business. You should also consider this in your start-up costs, which leads neatly to our next point.
Costs of Starting an Equipment Rental Business
There are several costs associated with starting an equipment rental business that you’ll need to consider in your early planning stages. While we’re focusing on starting an ebike rental business right now, there are many costs that run the gamut for any equipment rental company.
Since we have our own bike rental company and we’ve created rental management software to help a wide variety of equipment rental companies, we can confidently say we know your business needs. Before you start renting equipment — whether it’s snowboards or electric bikes — take into consideration all of the following basic costs of building the business:
- Legally setting up your business: That might be establishing an LLC or similar corporation, plus the lawyer’s fees to file everything correctly. And don’t forget the separate business license if that’s required in your area.
- Insurance: Whatever equipment you’ll be renting out, you need to get insurance to protect your investment and your staff.
- Website: No business should be running without a website these days. There are plenty of great templates that look good and don’t cost a fortune. You can always create a better website later on, once you know what you need.
- Advertising: From local print advertising to Google and Facebook ads, you need to invest in order to be seen by potential customers.
- Management software: We couldn’t overlook this one! Rentrax rental management software helps you organize and run your business efficiently and successfully. We’ve customized our features to fit the rental business market and we continue to adapt to our customers’ needs. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about getting started.
- Other apps and software: Running a small business means you have to rely on technology to help you get the job done. Here are our recommendations for apps for getting started as a small rental business.
- Storage space or shop: If you’re setting up in an area with good footfall, you’ll likely want a professional, presentable shop where you can attract walk-in business. If you’re in a more remote area that, for example, offers beautiful countryside cycling trails, then you could probably get away with a less formal set-up for basic, safe storage of your equipment. Either way, you need space for your equipment and space to clean, maintain, and repair it.
- Tools: Speaking of maintenance, make sure you have all the tools you need to clean and repair your equipment!
- Staff: Whether you’re offering guided tours with your new ebike rentals or you’re just hiring out the gear, you’ll need help in your shop. Hiring well is an investment in your business and, especially, in taking good care of your equipment!
Costs of Starting an Ebike Rental Business
While those are all the basic costs of starting any equipment rental business, starting a rental business for ebikes specifically will incur particular additional costs.
Ebikes are more expensive than traditional bikes, costing around $2,000 USD on average for decent, commercial-grade bikes. You’ll want commercial-grade over personal-use ebikes for durability and for more convenient maintenance. Commercial-grade bikes tend to have fewer parts that are easier to replace and maintain.
Additionally, commercial-grade ebikes often have better manufacturer’s warranty options that will include more coverage and last longer. So it’s worth the extra up-front costs for slightly more expensive bikes.
You’ll also need to consider the costs associated with charging your fleet and maintaining or repairing batteries. If you’re prepared to do the maintenance yourself, you’ll save plenty in the long-term. Fixing batteries and chargers is a different skill set than traditional bike maintenance, but it’s worth mastering if you’re running a larger fleet that will inevitably require regular upkeep. In fact, let’s look at the maintenance required for ebikes…
Maintenance for Ebikes vs Traditional Bikes
Whether you’re choosing to start an ebike rental business on its own or you’re adding ebikes to your traditional bike rental company, ebikes have very different requirements. For maintenance and repairs, you’ll want to be able to take care of things on your own without having to hire out every time a battery has an issue or a charger isn’t working well.
Of course, if you don’t have the expertise yourself, you can always look at investing in someone on your own staff. But there’s always a risk in relying solely on an employee for this kind of work.
Some top things to consider for your ebike maintenance include the following:
- Battery maintenance includes keeping them charged up as much as possible. Lithium-ion batteries perform better when they’re kept regularly charged. If you deplete a battery, don’t let it stay empty. Charge it up and aim to keep it charged at all times.
- External batteries are easy to check and be sure they’re mounted correctly. Internal batteries require a bit more savvy.
- The cables convey the electrical data and can easily be damaged. Keeping an eye on these and being able to resolve issues will save you from constant error messages or malfunctions.
- Understanding how the speed sensor works will save you some headaches. Double-check the magnet; it can easily get knocked by just going over some rough terrain and that will affect the ebike’s ability to determine power delivery needs
- Diagnosing electrical issues requires a linkage device and expertise. You’ll want to learn (or hire someone who knows) how to manage the specific bike fleet you buy.
- Updating the firmware can only be done by professionals. This is an opportunity to offer maintenance to ebike owners in your area, on top of your rental business.
Some top tips to keep your ebikes at peak performance include:
- Keeping the tire pressure up to maximize the battery range.
- Double-checking the brakes. Since ebikes are heavier, it’s vital that the brakes are always at top performance for the safety of your renters.
- Storing ebikes in a dry location can help preserve their electrical components for longer.
- Likewise, try keeping your ebikes out of extreme temperatures (cold or heat)
- Don’t cover batteries or chargers; they need space and air circulation
Just like regular bikes, ebikes should undergo regular cleaning and maintenance to keep them in their best possible condition. Never use a high-pressure hose and be careful with cleaning products on the electrical components.
Suggestions for Starting an Ebike Rental Company
So you’ve considered the benefits of ebikes versus traditional bikes and you’ve looked into the legal questions and the start-up costs. Now let’s dig deeper into your business plan.
When you’re starting an ebike rental company, you’ll want to look at all the typical business questions about your target market, seasonality, shop location, business partnerships, etc. We cover these concerns more in-depth in our article on how to start a traditional bike rental business. But there are a few key considerations we’d like to mention specifically for electric bike rentals.
If you’re based in a city, consider the potential for more regular renters who live locally and want an alternative to public transportation or personal vehicles. With an environmental focus plus the comfort of an electric-powered bike over the potential of sweating profusely upon arrival at the office, you could tap into a local market of occasional or semi-regular renters. This offers a bit more flexibility beyond the traditional tourism angle.
If you are focused entirely on tourists, then you need to look at the seasonal nature of your rental business. What can you offer as add-ons to earn more in the limited time you have for your rental business? Could you offer guided tours, snacks, discounts at local hotels or restaurants that you partner with? Take advantage of the high season as best you can, knowing that the off-season will require some creativity on your side.
Based on your target market, consider the rental pricepoints you could offer. Are your renters most likely to need only an hour or two? How about a whole weekend or even a week? With traditional bikes, that’s an easy offer to make. But ebikes require charging at certain intervals, so you’ll need to consider that option and how you could offer longer-term rentals while accounting for battery lifespan.
The type of ebikes, batteries, and chargers you use will determine how frequently you need to recharge. And, of course, the type of rider and their dependency upon the battery versus pedaling will impact that timeframe. So you’ll need to be flexible while also educating your renters on best-use practices.
Finally, if your market area could include ebike owners, consider adding repair and replacement parts services to your repertoire. If you’re only catering to tourists, this is less likely to be a major part of your business. But if you’re based in a city, for example, then it’s likely you’ll have local ebike owners who could use your services.
We hope this guide has been helpful in answering your questions about starting an ebike rental company. Always feel free to get in touch with any questions about how our rental management software can help you run your business.