Philadelphia’s Donald Farmer bought an URB-E, the first one to be bought by a Philadelphia resident, in March. The URB-E is an innovative electric scooter that folds up to the size of a suitcase.
Donald Farmer was looking for a cleaner, more efficient form of transportation. (And if said form of transportation could fold up into the size of a suitcase, then so be it!) Farmer, of Philadelphia, a self-proclaimed geek and CAD Manager at Kupper Engineering, Inc. in Glenside, already owned three e-bikes, but he was looking for something more “off the grid.”
“I work around engineers and we’re constantly in that ‘soup of discovery,’” Farmer says. “As engineers, we’re always trying to do things better and more efficiently.”
When Farmer heard about the URB-E, which is touted as “The World’s Most Innovative Folding Electric Scooter,” on the product’s website, www.urb-e.com, Farmer jumped at the chance to own his own foldable wonder.
The URB-E, according to its website, is the “premiere folding electric bike. Built in America, shipped worldwide.”
The URB-E’s key features are:
- Enough power for a 20-mile range
- A top speed of 15 mph
- 36v lithium-ion battery charges to full capacity in 4 hours
- Weighs approximately 35 lbs
Farmer has added lights and a speaker system to his URB-E. It folds up in a few seconds and is easy to store in small spaces.
When Farmer purchased his URB-E in March, he was told by the Pasadena, California-based company that he was the first person to Philadelphia to order one. More Philadelphians may have ordered URB-Es since then, but Farmer likes to think that he’s the trendsetter.
Philly Happening first encountered Farmer on the regional rail back in April with the bike folded up on his lap. An inquiry lead to a full-fledged conversation that became the impetus for this story.
Other people’s interests have been similarly piqued. “It’s like a rockstar—everyone wants to know what it is,” Farmer says.
Jeffrey Knueppel, general manager of Septa, also met Farmer on the train and picked his brain about the URB-E. Mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, met Farmer at Penn’s Landing in July and was “enthralled,” by it.
“Coming back from the 4th of July fireworks, going across the bridge from Penn’s Landing, everyone was walking and I just buzzed across and everyone was looking at me,” Farmer says with a laugh. “The URB-E is like something out of Men in Black—the aliens have returned with motors!”
It helps that Farmer has also “pimped his ride,” with lights and a stereo, which was blasting the Rocky theme song on the scorching hot day Philly Happening met up with him. Read on to learn more about Farmer’s foldable wonder, how it helps him save $500/mo., and why the URB-E is so important for Philadelphia.
Farmer (left) and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney met at Penn’s Landing in July. According to Farmer, Kenney was “enthralled,” by the URB-E.
P.H.: Donald, your bike is pretty awesome. Tell us more about it.
D.F.: My URB-E is a sport model-hot rod. The tires are solid and it has a shock-absorbent seat. There’s a HUB motor inside the front wheel. It’s made by a company in Pasadena, California. The designer was a designer for Porsche. The URB-E is made in America.
P.H.: Why are there holes in the frame?
D.F.: There are holes in the frame because the designers cut out any extra piece of material that they could to make it lighter. It’s very light. It’s like an aircraft!
P.H.: How do you charge the URB-E?
D.F.: I charge it with what looks like a laptop charger. It goes for about 10 miles before it needs to be charged, but I charge it every night.
P.H.: What are the benefit of riding an URB-E?
D.F.: It’s very convenient to get around the city! I don’t have to worry about putting it in a bike rack and I can carry it with me on the train. I don’t have to worry about parking, and I can take it into a restaurant with me! It’s good for small-space storage!
P.H.: How fast is it?
D.F.: It goes 15 mph. It goes fast enough to hurt yourself, but I haven’t fallen yet—don’t jinx me!
P.H.: When do you use your URB-E and how has it helped you be more efficient?
D.F.: My office is in Glenside, so I ride by URB-E from where I live to the train, fold it up, take it with me on the train, then ride it to work. Then after work, I repeat the same cycle. The URB-E was an investment up front (the cost of an URB-E can range from $1,499-1,999), but it saves me at least $500/month on transportation, so it’s worth it. Imagine how much you could save without having to use cabs or any other rides. It’s so convenient, easy, and really fun!
P.H.: The topic of alternative forms of transportation in cities is becoming a big topic. Electric bikes, and the URB-E could be something that more people could get on board with in Philly. What are your thoughts?
D.F.: I live this way daily and I want to share this awesome transportation option with my fellow Philadelphians. Every day I am bombarded with people asking me about the URB-E. I hope you (Philly Happening) can tell the city about it, because this is important for us! It’s cleaner, more convenient, money-saving, and better for the environment. Plus, it’s a blast to ride around on and I love talking to people about it!