An affordable e-bike for the gig economy

This bike aims to turn your side hustle into an effortless side pedal.

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Want a sign of the times? The gig economy is now so big that transportation businesses are specifically targeting gig workers.

Fair, a company offering easy leases for used cars, is advertising to prospective Uber drivers, for example. Now a company called Bolt, which just launched in America, is trying to get more delivery drivers on the road with electric bikes custom-made for the rapid delivery market. It's the old school bike courier meets electric vehicles.

Technavio, a market research company, forecasts the global on-demand food delivery market will grow by 32 percent annually through to 2021 to become a $57.59 billion industry. Much of the urban demand can be met by alternative vehicles, including e-bikes, which are becoming increasingly prevalent on the streets as both rideshare and personal use options.

Bolt's launch follows a $2.5 million seed funding round led by VC firm Maniv Mobility, along with European e-mobility VC Contrarian Ventures, individual VCs, and former executives of Uber and Deliveroo.

The hardware looks capable, and Bolt is receiving a huge vote of confidence from insiders at rapid delivery pioneer Postmates.

"Bolt has the potential to provide yet another mobility solution for our Postmates to navigate dense urban areas and quickly deliver goods from pick up to drop off, helping to boost efficiency, power additional earnings for the fleet, and create more sales for local businesses," says Claire Sands, Director of Community Communications and Engagement at Postmates.

Co-founded in 2017 by a former executive at Deliveroo (Europe's largest food delivery company) and Mobike (China's largest dockless bike share company), the Sydney-based start-up is launching first in (where else?) San Francisco and London, with key food delivery partners in each location. By 2020, Bolt aims to increase its fleet to ten times its current size. 

The bikes cost $39 a week to rent or $49 a week under a lease-to-buy option. Corporate fleets can even brand their Bolt bikes and enjoy roadside service, as well as other perks. 

"Being in the food delivery industry since its inception, we saw that Light Electric Vehicles were the real future of 'last mile' logistics, yet no-one was offering the right vehicle, financing or maintenance solution," says Mina Nada, CEO and Co-founder, Bolt. "We are proud to be serving the real needs of delivery couriers while building the logistics infrastructure of the future."

Postmates has been piloting a Bolt rental program in San Francisco since June.