Upway is a Gennevilliers, France-based startup ebike reseller with a super interesting sales model. It takes overstock new ebikes from manufacturers, last year’s or floor models from bike stores, and even buy ebikes online (maybe yours!) to refurbish and sell at a 20-60% discount with a one-year warranty. It recently opened a US location in Brooklyn to add to its Paris and Berlin warehouse locations and invited us by for a visit…
About a year ago, Upway landed a $25 million Series A funding round led by Exor Seeds and Sequoia Capital. Some of that money went into starting its Brooklyn location and opening the US market.
Upway currently operates out of warehouses outside of Paris and Berlin and, besides Germany and France, also serves Belgium and the Netherlands. The team took the learnings from the European distribution points and built a terrifically organized warehouse in a nondescript wholesaler area of Brooklyn. I’m told it is scouting for a second US location along the West Coast outside of LA.
The Upway US headquarters warehouse is located at 143 Morgan Avenue 11237, Brooklyn, NY. I went there last week, and wow, is it impressive.
From the time the bikes roll in via delivery trucks/vans, they get tagged and bagged with the full background of the bike as well as accessories/chargers. Each bike, no matter if it is new or used, goes through a 20-step inspection and repair process to bring it up to “bike shop”-level tuning.
Once inspected and certified, they quickly get photographed in an impressive 360-degree automated camera room for posting on the internet.
Bikes that arrive in the morning are often for sale and sometimes sold later that same day. Here’s a small sampling of Upway’s current inventory (it only does e-bikes, no acoustic).
Almost all of the ebikes here are top-shelf “bike store” level ebikes, including Riese and Mueller, Specialized, Cannondale, etc.
Interestingly, because of New York’s new laws about e-bike batteries, Upway will only be able to sell bikes that are UL-listed or have UL-listed batteries.
Upway also buys high-quality ebikes off of Facebook Marketplace and other online sales platforms if it thinks it can make a margin on fixing and reselling. Cargo bikes and mountain bikes are particularly in high demand in the US right now.
Interestingly, while in the warehouse, I saw my friend’s Sondors Mad Mod arrive and go through the intake procedure. Unbeknownst to me, he was looking for something lighter and ran through the easy three-step trade-in process the previous week. Hours later, it was on the site, ready for sale.
Once purchased, Upway boxes and sends out bikes fully assembled and calibrated like a bike shop would and puts a new one-year warranty on the bike. The only thing the customer has to do is tighten the handlebars and put on the pedals. This means Upway’s boxes are a little bigger, and of course, they will be labeled “HDTVs,” a trick Van Moof invented so that the handlers are a little gentler on the boxes.
Boxes arrive in 2-5 days via FedEx or XPO, depending on geography, and can be expected to arrive in 2-5 business days from purchase, again depending on the distance from Brooklyn.
I really love this idea, especially because second-hand e-bikes are blowing up after the pandemic – but the execution seems like a tough slog. I’ve got my eye on this red Specialized Turbo Vado for commuters listed for about half the retail price. There’s also a new Giant Roam E+STA in new condition for $1848 ($1000 off). Checking the new and sale items has become a hobby for me, and I’ve even bookmarked the pages.
Even if you aren’t buying an Upway bike, the bike finder app allows you to figure out which bike brands meet your specific wants, and I’ve recommended the finder to people who ask me what kind of e-bike they should get.
Consumers get high-quality bikes in new or almost new condition with a one-year warranty. Bike manufacturers and shops have an easy way to offload bikes that they didn’t sell. And there’s a thriving marketplace for used e-bikes. Big wins all around.
You can probably think about Upway as an Outlet Mall or TJ Maxx/Marshalls/Ross of e-bikes.
However, the devil is in the details. A bike shipped to and from Brooklyn is going to cost a lot less than one shipped to Seattle, for instance. So Upway’s simple pricing is going to be a loss leader in some cases. Cargo bikes are even more expensive to ship, and the bucket/child carriers are required to be put on pallets. These logistics prices all eat heavily into margins.
I had a Trek event after my visit to Upway, and the company said it was working on its own version of this second-hand marketplace. If other retailers get into the game, Upway will be at a significant disadvantage. In fact, some already have. That Sondors Mad Mod I mentioned before is $2199 shipped, but Sondors itself has Open Box pricing starting at $1799.
Still, though, I think Upway is onto something here if my usage of its website is any indication. What do you think? Is this a great way to save a lot of money on a certified bike with a one-year warranty?
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