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Amsterdam's Roetz develops a futureproof, modular 'e-bike for life'

E-bikes can be expensive to repair, so they don't last as long as they otherwise might. Tackling that problem, the new Life e-bike by Roetz features a modular design that makes repairs as easy as swapping out a module, which only takes minutes.

Sensors throughout the bike — from brakes to tires — warn riders that an element needs maintenance. That doesn't just help keep people on the road but also allows for servicing before modules are damaged beyond repair. Every module swapped out for replacement goes back to Roetz's own factory, where it's repaired or remanufactured for use in another bike.

Roetz started off as circular before the word was strewn around like recycled confetti. For over a decade, the Dutch social enterprise has taken old and abandoned bikes and refurbished them into sweet new rides from its fair factory in Amsterdam. Its new e-bike is the bicycle the company has designed from scratch. Enabling customers to adapt their Life bike to their own changing needs, future options include swapping out the drive module to transform the bike from regular to high speed, and adding a cargo unit to the front. 

Delivery of the first batch of Life bikes is expected to take place in February 2023, and Roetz is taking pre-orders now. Estimated price, excluding a pre-order discount, is EUR 3750 (ownership) or EUR 96 per month (membership).

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The rapid adoption of e-bikes can lead to an equally rapid increase in e-bike waste. By designing a bike for optimal repair and reuse, Roetz's Life bike has the potential to cut the number of bicycles and parts that end up in landfills. 

According to Roetz, analysis by IDEAL&CO found that over 18 years, the Life e-bike is 65% more circular than a comparable e-bike with similar specs and uses 36% fewer virgin materials. Calculations indicate that if all e-bikes sold in the Netherlands were Life bikes, that would save the material equivalent of 183.000 e-bikes.

Creating a 'nervous system' of bike sensors and connecting those to easily accessible repairs is key to Roetz's circularity claims. Time to consider how your brand can integrate smart service models to increase the lifespan of your products?