Usability, weight, portability, and rideability are the four top categories when I evaluate bicycles that I plan to take with me in a general aviation airplane to explore areas around airports. The JackRabbit Micro e-bike ranks high in three of the four categories.
After lifting the JackRabbit straight from its box, I simply needed to turn the front wheel 180 degrees, lock it in place, slide the handlebars into place and lock them, check the tire pressure, and plug in the battery to see if it had a full charge. That is the simplest bike I have unboxed to find immediately ready to ride. And riding is easy—it operates like an electric balance bike. And if a 3-year-old can master a balance bike, we can safely ride an adult version! I give this a plus for usability.
The bike would fit well in the baggage area of a piston twin, turboprop, or jet, but it doesn’t compact enough to be portable in most small GA airplanes. With the handlebar in place, the bike is 39 inches tall; detaching it and securing it to the front wheel strut shortens the height to 30 inches. The front wheel rotates back 180 degrees, which shortens the bike’s length from 4 feet to 45 inches. It is also just seven inches wide when the front wheel is rotated back and the handlebars are removed and attached to the wheel.
The rear seat of my Cessna 170B had to be removed so that I could load the bike. It won’t fit in the baggage area of a Cessna 172 or 182, Piper Archer, or most traditional two- and four-place aircraft. However, if you fly an aircraft with a removable rear seat, the bike will fit great. I even tried it in the baggage area of a Piper Lance, but I needed to fold one of the rear seats forward so the bike could angle in and let the baggage door close. If you don’t plan to carry passengers in the back, it works well in the rear passenger area of aircraft like the Lance or a Beechcraft Bonanza.
Regardless of what you fly, before you buy this bike to take flying, check the dimensions of your baggage and back seat areas to make sure it would fit. So, slight minus for portability in smaller GA aircraft.
When I was unboxing the JackRabbit, I came across this warning: “STOP! You are about to have way too much fun.” It really is fun to ride! It’s 100 percent electric, so there are no pedals or chain to allow you to pedal when you want and use the “throttle” the rest of the time. Two footrests allow you to sit comfortably and balance on the bike to ride it and use your legs for shock support on rough surfaces. But with 20-inch tires with thick tread, it offers an extremely smooth ride. I tried it out on concrete, asphalt, grass, and small gravel, and while I could feel large bumps as I’d expect on any bike, I couldn’t feel every crack and pebble like I do with other folding bikes. The JackRabbit feels sturdy and comfortable up to its 20-mph max. I did find that the battery drained quickly if I constantly kept it running at max speed or rode it through grass or other surfaces that weren’t completely smooth. The bike has a max rider weight of 240 pounds. Overall, I give this a plus for rideability.
One note of caution is to pay attention to battery life. The JackRabbit battery charges in three hours and should go about 10 miles on a full charge, depending on weight, the road, and the weather, according to the company’s website. My battery indicated full after unboxing it, but the battery will display a green light (good level) anywhere from 70 percent to 100 percent charged. I rode it around my local airport for early tests before heading out on a flight from Fairfield County Airport in Lancaster, Ohio, to Greene County/Lewis A. Jackson Regional Airport near Dayton to ride it on a bike path I learned about from the Fly ’n Bike website about 2.5 miles from the airport. I rode it about 6 or 7 miles total and the battery died, leaving me about half a mile from the airport on my way back from the bike path. It’s perfect for riding around airports, aviation events, towns, and even bike paths. Just make sure to ride in an area where you can easily recharge, purchase an extra battery accessory, or avoid pushing beyond your battery’s limit.