JackRabbit is the hilarious “micro electric bike” that just might be perfect for the city
The first time I saw a JackRabbit, I couldn’t help but laugh. For someone coming from the e-bike world, the proportions are so funny. But the more I thought about it, the more this funny little “micro e-bike” seems like it could solve a lot of problems for urban commuters.
The San Diego-based mobility company refers to its JackRabbit as a micro electric bike, though I’m sure my more pedantic readers will be quick to point out that it’s more accurately described as a scooter because it lacks working pedals.
But just like bikers refer to their “bikes”, so do the creators of JackRabbit. And whatever you call it, there are some interesting capabilities in this pint-sized electric two-wheeler.
On the bike side, the JackRabbit features 20-inch bike wheels with a wider rear tire to compensate for its lack of suspension. There is a rigid bicycle fork up front and a single disc brake in the rear. A bike seat and handlebars add to the bike’s credentials, but the folding footpegs put us back in scooter territory.
There’s a small, removable 158Wh battery in the top of the frame and a (slightly larger) 300W geared hub motor in the rear wheel. By pressing the thumb throttle on the handlebars, the JackRabbit reaches a speed of 20 mph (32 km/h) and a claimed range of 12 miles (20 km).
It’s not a very wide range compared to most e-bikes these days, but it’s rather more normal than scooters. Considering this is definitely an urban commuter, 12 miles seems like a good balance for enough range while keeping the weight low.
And at just 24 lbs (10.9 kg), it’s super light. The JackRabbit also folds down to a width of just 7 inches, which means you can easily lift it to carry it around an apartment or dorm, then fold it down to rest it against a wall or under a dorm. “Folding” might not be the best word, because despite the pegs being bent, the handlebars come off and clip in line against the frame. However you cut it, the JackRabbit definitely folds up into a small, slim form factor when not in use.
That’s the whole idea, which came to co-founder Tom Piszkin one day when he saw his students arriving late. As a coach at UCSD, he saw his athletes often struggle to navigate campus effectively. Parking was nearly impossible to find, bikes were regularly stolen, and skateboards/scooters were only good for the smooth well maintained trails. He wanted to design a better solution that was small and light so that it could be brought inside a classroom or dorm room to prevent it from being stolen outside, while still maintaining the stable and fast riding of a bike. With a bit of ingenuity, the creation of Frankenstein, he came up with combined aspects of bikes and scooters in the JackRabbit.
Today’s release is actually the JackRabbit 2.0, which is the new and improved version that followed a successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. Over a hundred backers have pledged funds to help the JackRabbit team bring the new design to life, and now the new, improved version is in stock and shipping across the United States. It is priced at $1,199and additional accessories such as a rear rack, spare battery and fender set are also available.
While it certainly has limitations such as the short range of a small battery, the company says it performs very well in the task it’s designed for: short urban trips. Most e-bikes have ranges much longer than 12 miles, but most e-bikes are also designed for a combination of recreational cruising and urban transportation. The JackRabbit is purely designed to get riders from point A to point B and then largely disappear against a wall when not in use. It has also helped it become popular with RV owners, boaters and others who need a lightweight and compact transport option when away from their main commute. The battery is even small enough to make it one of the only “electric bikes” you can fly with, as the battery capacity is below the 160 Wh limit imposed by the TSA and many airlines.
I had a chance to talk to JackRabbit CEO Jason Kenagy about the funny little electric micro bike, and he helped shed some more light on the design.
In response to my first reaction, which was an involuntary chuckle, he took it in stride:
“A new form factor will always raise a few eyebrows at first. Remember when scooters came out? People laughed at the idea and thought they looked silly. You can’t walk a block in most cities without seeing a row of them.They’re now completely accepted by the mainstream.
It is absolutely true. Not only are electric scooters everywhere in cities around the world, but they are a multi-billion dollar industry. Heck, Individual Scooter-Sharing Companies Hit Billion-Dollar Valuations by themselves.
It is, however, more than mere acceptance. As Jason continued, it’s about being efficient:
“But seriously, the best part about a JackRabbit’s small size is its convenience. Our e-bike only weighs 24lbs, so you can easily throw one in your car or haul it up the stairs. And because a JackRabbit can fold up to 7” wide, it can easily fit in a closet or small space. However, our “fun size” doesn’t sacrifice performance or quality. Our e-bikes pack a punch with speed. 20 mph peak speed and are built with only premium materials, built to last.
by Electrek Take
I admit that I laughed at the concept at first. But after a more critical look and conversation with Jason, I agree that there is real merit here.
Obviously, this is not the electric bike you choose for a long Sunday cruise or for training. But for light and simple urban navigation, it seems just about perfect. And if you really wanted to go further, just hang on to a spare battery for $199 and you are ready to double your reach. The spare battery even has a little case so you can store it under your seat. If you’re particularly fast and skilled, you might even be able to trade it without stopping.
Often when I write about conventional electric scooters, especially those that reach higher speeds of 20 mph or more, reviewers mention how dangerous the small wheels seem. Hitting a pothole with 8-inch scooter wheels at 20 mph is a recipe for disaster, sending the rider over the handlebars and crashing to the ground. But 20-inch bike wheels can cover most obstacles you’d expect to find in an urban jungle. And this thing’s short wheelbase looks so nimble you could probably throw in a handful of loose change and then zip through each room like a slalom.
I also love that it comes in a bright yellow color option. Those colors in your face are hard to pull off for most vehicles, including e-bikes (it takes a rare breed of individuals to drive a bright yellow car). But something as wild and fun as the JackRabbit seems to rock it perfectly.
As our readers already know, Electrek has developed a reputation as a leader in e-bike and e-scooter reviews. So you better believe I’ll be back soon with an in-depth review of this awesome little bugger. In the meantime, let’s hear what you think of the JackRabbit in the comments section below!
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