UBCO bikes made an impact at the 2014 Fieldays, and now they’re cruising. Photo: Supplied.
UBCO bikes made an impact at the 2014 Fieldays, and now they’re cruising. Photo: Supplied.

BusinessJanuary 17, 2018

The Primer: the electrically-powered bikes taking over Kiwi farms

UBCO bikes made an impact at the 2014 Fieldays, and now they’re cruising. Photo: Supplied.
UBCO bikes made an impact at the 2014 Fieldays, and now they’re cruising. Photo: Supplied.

Every week we ask a local business or product to introduce themselves in eight simple takes. This week we talk to Timothy Allan of Ubco, makers of an electrically-powered, eco-friendly alternative to off and on road bikes.

ONE: How did Ubco start and what was your inspiration behind it?

Ubco was founded by myself (CEO and managing director), Daryl Neal (design director), and Anthony Clyde. It was built on the idea of an electric farm bike that leveraged the classic step-through design of the Honda xc90 combined with the latest in e-bike technology.

TWO: Did you have any interest/experience in business or entrepreneurship prior to starting Ubco?

All of us had really varied and interesting backgrounds which we brought to the table. We’ve all started and run businesses, which was massively helpful when we had no team and were just driving an idea through to commercial reality.

UBCO was founded on the idea of a digitally connected Utility Electric Vehicle (UEV) (supplied)

THREE: What are the potential uses for Ubco bikes?

Our three key markets internationally are recreational, agricultural and urban. There’s a range of applications for the bike and we have many people picking it up to try it in new ways, such as filming, conservation, hunting and hardcore farming. The new bike is now dual use so it can be used both on and off road, which will more than double the range of applications.

FOUR: What makes Ubco bikes different from other off and on road bikes out there?

Its unashamedly utilitarian focus which has informed the design and created an iconic product that looks nothing like anything else out there. There’s also a new range of accessories and portable power packs, which is starting to really create a complete ecosystem for the bike.

Ubco now makes both off-road bikes for use on farms and dirt tracks, and on-road bikes for commuting and travelling. (supplied)

FIVE: How do you charge your Ubco bike? And on a full charge, how far/fast can it typically go?

The 2×2 is charged from mains power through a standard power point (many places the bikes go don’t have fast chargers). On a full charge, the bike will travel up to 120kms and is rated to 50kph in New Zealand.

SIX: What do you think is the future of electric vehicles in New Zealand?

EV’s have a big future in New Zealand and I’m sure it’ll make a big difference across the board for both functional and environmental reasons. Coupled with our 85% renewable energy supply, I think they’re a perfect match.

Engine Control Units (ECU) are integrated into Ubco’s bikes which allows riders to connect and communicate directly with their bikes through the Ubco user app (Supplied)

SEVEN: Do you have any plans to scale/grow further and if so, what are they?

Our goal is to build a global company that’s the market leader in Utility Electric Vehicles (UEV) internationally. We grew 300% this year and expect that to increase as we get into the establishment curve.

EIGHT: Lastly, tell us about a start-up or business that you really admire right now.

Robotics Plus/RPL led by entrepreneur and investor Steve Saunders and CTO Alistair Scarfe. They’ll be one to watch. Their focus and holistic approach is impressive and the technology coming out of their business is incredible.

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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