Over the years, we’ve come to love our Bird scooters. They’re affordable, eco-conscious, and they’re easy and fun to ride around town.
Now that we’ve made them a part of our daily lives, Bird has another new service for us to flip for: Bird Cruisers.
Bird just announced the launch of their newest product, and we can’t wait to see what impact they have on the way people travel.
But what are Bird Cruisers? How are they different from Bird scooters?
Keep reading for everything we know about Bird Cruisers (so far).
- What are Bird Cruisers?
- Bird Cruisers: Key Features and Details
- How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Bird Cruiser?
- Micromobility Is On The Rise
- Are Bird Cruisers Worth Riding?
- Bird Cruisers Open Up Micromobility to More Users
- Potential Problems with Bird Cruisers
What are Bird Cruisers?
Bird Cruisers are electric minibikes that offer seating for two people. It has the look of a stylish little moped.
Unlike the Bird scooter, which can only accommodate one rider, Bird Cruisers can hold one or two people at the same time.
You’ll no longer have to rent two scooters for you and a friend to ride side by side. Now, you can both hop on the back of a Bird Cruiser and ride around your city together.
Like the scooter, the Cruiser minibike is a new alternative to the “last mile” solution. It’s perfect for riding when you need to go a short distance from your train station or bus stop to your school or place of employment.
And if they ride even half as good as they way look, they’re certain to become a fun new way to get around town.
Here’s what CEO and founder Travis VanderZanden has to say about this exciting new venture for Bird:
“Bird’s introduction of shared e-scooters spurred a global phenomenon and mode shift away from cars. To further accelerate progress on our mission to make cities more livable, we are providing additional environmentally friendly micro-mobility alternatives—including Bird Cruiser. Starting this summer, people can move about their city and explore new neighborhoods together, without a car. Designed and engineered in California, Bird Cruiser is an inclusive electric-powered option that is approachable, easy-to-ride and comfortable on rough roads.”
Bird Cruisers: Key Features and Details
The Bird Cruiser is an electric transportation option designed to eliminate cars from the road and cut down on carbon emissions. But they’re also designed with riders’ safety and function in mind.
According to Bird, the Cruiser can fit up to two adults at a time, and they have a long padded seat that makes for a comfortable ride.
Instead of standing up on a scooter, the Cruiser allows you to sit in comfort while you ride around town, just like you would on any moped or bike.
These bikes feature 20-inch wheels, which have a full front and back suspension system. They’re crafted with a custom motor with electric boost and instant acceleration so you can go uphill and downhill safely.
Riders have the option of using pedals or riding with their feet propped on pegs. This versatility allows riders to enjoy the type of riding experience they want. In other words, if you want more of a workout, use the pedal option. If you want to sit back and relax, use the pegs.
The Bird Cruiser features hydraulic disc brakes, an LCD display monitor for easy viewing, and a 52V rechargeable battery. They can go as far as 50 miles on a single charge.
Plus, we think they look pretty cool. They have a sleek black and white design that makes them perfect for city travel. And, like the scooters, they’re detailed with a small Bird logo for added distinction.
How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Bird Cruiser?
Bird just announced the launch of the Cruiser in a June 4th, 2019 press release. They’ve been rather tight-lipped about their newest product and service, so they haven’t released all the details yet.
Here’s what we do know:
Bird Cruisers will be available starting “this summer.” Whether that means July, August, or mid-September, we don’t know yet. Unfortunately for riders that are anxious to jump on the back of these new bikes, we don’t know what cities they will be available in either.
And we do not know how much they will cost.
Bird scooters cost $1 to unlock, plus between 15-35 cents per mile to ride.
In recent months, Bird increased their prices in some cities. The standard rate was $0.15 per mile, regardless of where you rode. Now, riders in certain cities are paying as high as $0.35, more than double the initial rate. Needless to say, some riders are NOT happy about this.
So with the increase in scooter rental rates, we can only assume that Bird Cruiser rentals will cost more. And it makes sense that they would. The vehicles are larger and designed to transport two people at the same time.
We don’t yet know how fast it will go. And for many riders, that’s a critical piece of information. With the summer launch quickly approaching, we expect that Bird should be releasing that info soon.
Micromobility Is On the Rise
According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials, riders hopped on shared micromobility rides 84 million times in 2018. That’s a lot of scooters and a lot of bikes on a lot of city streets.
But the Bird Cruiser seems to offer something a bit different. It’s more of a moped than a bike. It definitely looks cooler, and it’s a way for Bird to stand out from Jump, Spin, Lime, and other e-bike companies.
Plus, those bikes require you to pedal. The Bird Cruiser does not. And that alone could make it a favorite right out of the gate.
Are Bird Cruisers Worth Riding?
Since we haven’t had the chance to ride one yet, we aren’t exactly in a position to give our personal opinion on the bike or the way it rides.
But what we can say is this:
We admire Bird for wanting to provide eco-friendly transportation options in cities around the world. If Bird Cruisers get some gas-guzzling vehicles off the road, then they will be worth it. And if they help to propel the micromobility movement forward, we’re all for it.
Bird Cruisers will also provide a new option for riders who aren’t able or aren’t comfortable standing up on a scooter.
Bird Cruisers Open up Micromobility to More Users
You rarely (if ever) see older adults riding an electric scooter. They’re also not a great choice for people who have trouble with balance. And some people just can’t bear the thought of standing up on a skinny little scooter zipping through lanes of traffic in a crowded city.
Now, with the launch of Bird Cruisers, people who would otherwise never ride a scooter can get in on the micromobility movement too.
And even for people who are young and healthy and willing to take a risk, electric scooters can be tricky to master.
They have nearly instant acceleration, and if you go the top speed of about 15 miles per hour, you can end up with some serious injuries if you crash. And until everyone decides to start wearing a helmet – which most Bird riders don’t – there are likely to be more and more injuries.
Scooters can pose significant danger for people who aren’t skilled at riding them, as well as for drivers and pedestrians in their path. Consumer Reports surveyed over 47 cities and 110 hospitals to find that over 1,500 scooter injuries have been reported since the end of 2017. Those injuries include everything from concussions to nasal fractures to broken arms.
We’re hoping that Bird Cruisers can get some of those inexperienced scooter riders off the streets and make the roads safer for everyone.
The Bird Cruiser could also be a huge draw in major cities that cater to tourists.
Imagine trying to navigate roads you don’t know, by yourself, while maintaining the perfect balance so you don’t crash your scooter. That’s pretty tricky to do. Plus, you need to focus on riding – not looking at the sights around you.
The Cruiser seems like a great way to tour a new town and take in the sights – especially if you’re the second passenger on the back of the bike. Plus, the option to travel with a friend makes it ideal for couples touring a new city together.
Potential Problems With Bird Cruisers
Many city governments and local businesses aren’t exactly thrilled about the scooter craze. They get dumped all over sidewalks, they litter the streets, and they often block pedestrian traffic.
So we can only imagine how city officials are going to handle the idea of having more – and larger – vehicles on the streets. It seems as though it will only create more problems in an already problematic industry.
In some cities, Bird has to pay an upfront fee and/or a fee per scooter to put their fleet on the road legally. For example, Raleigh, North Carolina charges Bird $300 for every scooter that they release onto their streets. This is a proactive approach – and at least Bird isn’t getting in trouble for it.
But, Bird has been known to deploy its fleet of scooters without getting city permission. And some cities and college campuses have had enough. Certain city governments are now impounding scooters and charging daily storage fees like they do for impounded cars.
Last fall, Miami University impounded nearly 100 Bird scooters that were blocking sidewalks and roads. The university charged a rate of $25 per scooter plus a $5 storage fee per day. The city of Santa Cruz, California impounded about 175 scooters and charged Bird $181 for each one.
And those are just two of many examples. Fines and fees for Bird scooters are stacking up all over the country.
Knowing how some cities feel about scooters littering their walkways, there’s a good chance the new bikes will create even more headaches.
Another issue that we can’t help wonder about is this:
Will they need to be dropped off in specific locations? Who is going to charge them?
Bird pays independent contractors to traverse the streets and collect scooters. Then they take them home and charge them overnight. The scooters are easy to pick up, carry home, and collect in bunches. But how are they going to collect and charge Bird Cruisers?
The minibikes are significantly larger than a scooter, so most cars won’t be able to fit multiple bikes at one time. Who, how, and where they will be charged remains to be seen.
There’s a lot that we don’t yet know about Bird Cruisers, such as where they’ll be available, how much they’ll cost, and how fast they’ll go. But from what we do know, we’re pretty excited to give them a try.
The ability to share the ride with a friend makes it seem all the more fun to ride around town. Plus, the fact that you can sit rather than stand definitely makes them sound more comfortable.
With the summer 2019 launch just around the corner, we expect Bird to release further information soon. We’re especially curious to know what cities will offer these cool little mopeds.
As with Bird scooters, we have our concerns about safety. We’ve seen a lot of people zipping in and out of traffic on scooters that they don’t know how to ride.
Since the Cruisers are larger and more substantial, we’re hoping that people will take them a bit more seriously. Let’s hope that everyone realizes the importance of driving safely (and starts wearing helmets!)
Brett Helling is the head of Ridester – a site that provides in-depth articles on the gig economy, with a particular focus on the rideshare industry. Outside of work, Brett enjoys spending time in his home city of Omaha.