Podbike Test-Rides: First Impressions from our Tour of Germany

by Podbike | November 6th

Launch day had finally arrived.

Pandemic restrictions across Europe were being lifted and our first batch of pre-series e-bikes were ready to ride. We packed our bags and left Podbike HQ in Stavanger, Norway, bound for Germany to meet our loyal supporters and to offer the first Podbike Test-Rides.

We thought we had set aside enough times and dates for our FRIKAR followers to get a test ride, but the response was overwhelming and all of our test ride dates were snapped up within hours. For those of you who bagged a test ride appointment, it was a joy to meet you. For those who missed out, more tours for Podbike test-rides are planned for the future.

To get a feel for how the FRIKAR was received, here are two interviews we conducted with test riders – Katja Gumsheimer and Markus Rosskopf – at our tour-stop in Idstein:

Impressions by Katja Gumsheimer (30)

Katja shares her thoughts from her first test ride with Frikar e-bike
Katja Gumsheimer visited us in Idstein and took FRIKAR for a spin.

“Riding the FRIKAR gave me a whole new feeling of what it means to move”, Katja said.

“It’s somewhere between a car and a bike. I was surprised at how easy it was to manoeuvre, even though it weighs a good 90kg. Getting it moving from a standing start was no problem either – I didn’t feel like I had to pedal all that hard.”

“Steering the Podbike took some getting used to because of the handle-grips on either side of you, but it was really quite intuitive once I got used to it. The glass roof gives you a really good view of all the surrounding traffic. The cabin is large enough that you don’t feel squished.”

“The only minor criticism I have is that the motors are quite loud on the inside while you’re driving. Overall though, the FRIKAR is super well thought-out. I’m impressed – and excited. I can hardly wait to receive my new FRIKAR.”

Impressions by Markus Rosskopf (28)

Markus loved the FRIKAR’s sleek silhouette and its internal functionality. “It looks so cool – it demands you look at it from every single angle”, Markus said. “And it was really easy to change the seat position, so that I was in a comfy position for pedalling.”

Markus also liked the fact that four wheels instead of two meant that he didn’t have to balance the way you do on a normal bike.

“The motor kicked in quickly and smoothly”, he added. “There’s plenty of room beneath the canopy. You’ve got a really good line of sight all around you. And there was plenty of room for a backpack, shopping, and other gear.”

Like Katja though, Markus told us that the electric motors were a bit on the noisy side. “It was a bit louder on the inside than I expected. But maybe that was because the canopy was left open just a bit”, he said.

Fazit: Podbike Test-Rides in Germany

We heard this comment about noisy motors from a number of test riders, so this is something we plan to work on. Design tweaks to reduce noise inside the cockpit will be made over the coming weeks as we get ready for our first full-scale manufacturing run of FRIKARs.

We appreciate the feedback offered by Katja and Markus – and from everyone who came for a test ride. We are open to our customers ideas for improvement and welcome all feedback.

Perhaps the nicest compliment is that Katja and Markus loved their test rides so much that they are moving from pre-order customers to being full-fledged Podbike owners.

Feedback from others at the podbike test-rides

One of the best parts of our test ride tour was all the user feedback we received from riders. Here are some enhancements we plan to work on, based on what we heard.

  • Decreasing engine noise inside the bike: This was a frequent comment. We plan to make some tweaks to reduce the noise emitted.

  • Seat and pedal adjustments: We want to make these even more flexible and user-friendly to accommodate every rider from 1,5 to 2 meters.

  • The canopy: Riders commented how great the visibility was when riding, but we also heard some requests for changes to the latch mechanism for smoother opening and closing.

  • Allowing different degrees of electrical assist and cadence: Different riders and different terrain will require different levels of engine-boost. Some days you may want to pedal harder with minimal engine-assist, and on other days you may just want to glide without sweating. More nuanced options for when the motor kicks in will help with this.

  • FRIKAR’s commercial distribution: That’s a fancy way of saying, how will we get a FRIKAR from our factory to your home? Our plan was to follow the flatpack IKEA model and then you, the customers would assemble it. We are rethinking this and decided to deliver it nearly preassembled. You will still need to do a little bit of work like attaching the wheels and some minor details for it to be roadworthy.

Thank you!

Our heartfelt thanks goes to all those who came to see us on our test-ride tour of Germany. We thank you for your patience over the last few years as we overcame hurdles in our bid to get the design right, and then the struggle to find semiconductor chips amid the supply chain bottleneck caused by COVID-19 lockdowns.

We especially thank those like Katja and Markus who put down cold hard cash early on as a down payment for their FRIKARs, and then stuck with us until the very end as we battled our way forward to where we are today: on the verge of full-scale commercial manufacture of the FRIKAR.

To all our followers, you share our vision of cutting edge, green micro-transportation, and we thank you for it.

For more on the FRIKAR, please check out the following articles:

Against gravity: riding uphill with the FIRKAR

Why vehicle weight and resources matter