The Hellbikes Return

Photo: Spencer Platt, Getty

After reports of rider injury due to sudden and unexpected front-wheel breaking earlier this year, electric Citi Bikes were abruptly yanked from New York City streets. Now, the hellbikes are back.

Citi Bike, which is owned by Lyft subsidiary Motivate, announced Friday the e-bikes will return sometime during this winter, though an exact date was not given and the company declined Gizmodo’s request to specify. Thousands of bikes were pulled from operation in April after reports that people were getting seriously hurt as the result of faulty front-wheel breaking—the exact thing you hope to god doesn’t happen when riding an electric bike.

This was, however, not the only e-bike disaster Lyft was forced to address this year. Over the summer, the company also pulled more than a thousand electric bicycles from operation in the Bay Area after reports of bike batteries going up in flames. Bay Wheels, which like Citi Bike is operated by Motivate, announced earlier this month that the company has since switched battery suppliers and was planning to re-deploy thousands of electric bikes in San Francisco and San Jose over the next six months.

The Citi Bike blog post announcing the hellbike’s return stated that in switching up the battery supplier for the bikes, the company also redesigned its e-bikes’ breaking setup. While Citi Bike planned initially to re-deploy the bikes this fall, it evidently hit a bit of a snag with parts.

“It’s taken longer than anticipated to get all the necessary components for the new bikes and complete safety testing, but we’re making progress,” the company said. “We expect to initially launch several hundred ebikes this winter and will gradually ramp up to a larger fleet. We’re sorry for the delay and appreciate your patience. While we know you’ve been missing ebikes, you’ve been riding classic bikes more than ever—we’ve had record ridership all summer and fall.”

Let’s hope broken bones and open flame aren’t an unexpected rider risk this time around.

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