Tucked away in a quiet warehouse, Ethan Ralston and his father, Bob, are working on injecting innovation into the US transportation marketplace. As the previous owners of the local tech company Feeney Wireless, this role is nothing new; the Ralstons are pros when it comes to introducing new products. But the launch of UBCO Bike’s American office has been a bit different.
Based out of New Zealand, UBCO started in 2015 with a utility electric vehicle aimed at transforming the way people ride. Ethan and his father joined the team, bringing the brand to the States in January 2017 and celebrating their official launch in June.
“We’d been researching the electric market and wanted to get into the electric mode of transportation because it was a new emerging market,” Ethan says. “We come with the background of building stuff on our own, but when we were researching components to build something new, we came across these guys in New Zealand who hadn’t launched in the U.S. They had this iconic bike that looked like an old Honda CT90, and we looked at it and thought ‘this is just perfect.’”
Getting back into start-up mode has been an exciting challenge for Ethan and his father. As the first and only US distributor of UBCO, the Ralstons are invested in its take off. This first year has seen their four-person team traveling to trade shows, setting up a network of dealers, and demonstrating the bikes around the West Coast. They’ve made impressive gains and are building out a network of enthusiastic followers.
For the Ralstons, this is just one product in a much larger vision; it’s the technology that most intrigues them. With new innovations in the technology behind electric vehicles—including the software, batteries, and motors—the potential to bring new solutions to customers is even greater. “People are wanting to go electric versus gas or diesel,” Ethan says. “Being able to have a battery which is storing energy and software—think of everything you can turn from gas or diesel into electric.”
Even with the growing demand for electric vehicles, there aren’t a lot of options for on- and off-road motorcycles. The new, street-legal UBCO 2×2 model bridges that gap, making the brand ready to move into an untapped space in the marketplace.
Standing in front of the UBCO 2018 2×2, it’s easy to imagine spending a day out on the trails and then trekking into town for dinner. The motorcycle has a frame that looks both solid and lightweight, tires that can handle dirt and the road, and the mirrors, turn signals, and accessories you’d expect on a moped. As Ethan walked through the list of features—such as two-wheel drive, a whisper-quiet motor, and instant torque—it was hard not to daydream about all the places the 2×2 could take you.
Interrupting those daydreams, Ethan walked over and unplugged a 2×2 from the standard wall socket where it had been charging. He turned on the bike and was whizzing around the warehouse in seconds. It was impressive to see how quiet, agile, and quick the bike really was. With a motorcycle like this and new projects coming up, UBCO Bikes might just achieve its aim of revolutionizing transportation.
UBCO Bikes, ubcobikes.com/us