Civilized Cycles


Zachary Schieffelin

"We’re not Designing for Cyclists, We’re Designing for People who Drive" - Civilized Cycles CEO Zachary Schieffelin

In an effort to lure people out of cars, Zachary Schieffelin founded what became the largest Vespa dealership in the US. However, whilst working at Vespa Soho in New York, he was already planning his next move. The end result was Civilized Cycles and its first e-bike, called Model 1.

“For many people, the safety of being mixed in traffic with cars was a dealbreaker, and the required safety gear an annoying source of friction. I saw where technology was headed and realized the opportunity was coming to create something that delivered much of the value of a scooter without the headaches of a motor vehicle,” Schieffelin, Civilized Cycles’ CEO, tells Auto Futures.

“We’re not designing for cyclists, we’re designing for people who drive. That means being relaxed, comfortable and having a place for another person or some stuff,” says Schieffelin.

Model 1’s most noticeable features are the integrated, hard shell panniers that can carry two full bags of groceries on each side of the bike.  The ebike large enough to carry two adults, but not so big that it couldn’t fit in a standard elevator.

“The patented AirTechTM suspension ties it all together – adjusting in seconds to match the load on the bike, bringing an unparalleled level of comfort and safety to the e-bike experience. Unless you have ridden a full suspension mountain bike that has been tuned to your weight, you can’t imagine how smooth and confident the ride is – you don’t stand over bumps,” he explains.

Safety, and the feeling of safety when riding it, is central to the design of Model 1.

“Integrated headlight, tail and brake lights alert others to changes in speed. Our suspension and powerful brakes give a confident, comfortable ride over the worst surfaces, so you can focus on traffic.”

Imporoving Stability And Control

Civilzed Cycles recently introdued the Semi-Trike – a new concept for bicycle class vehicles that has cargo capacity competitive with a small van or pickup truck with the operating cost and carbon footprint of an e-bike.

“Surprisingly, bicycles and semi-trucks have something in common – they have to carry a huge range of loads that are much heavier than they are. Semi trucks solve this problem with an adjustable air suspension, so we thought we would bring our AirTech suspension to the commercial world,” says Schieffelin.

“Our goal is nothing less than changing the way last mile delivery is done in dense areas.”

Key features include an innovative design that bring 4 wheel safety to 3 wheel vehicles. The patented air suspension improves stability and control in all driving conditions. It enables cruising speeds of 15 mph with heavy loads and enables transport for refrigeration, fragile goods, electronic displays, etc.

“Our goal is nothing less than changing the way last mile delivery is done in dense areas.”

The Semi-Trike caters to a wide range of users in urban environments who require efficient cargo transportation.

“This includes large logistics companies such as UPS, specialized logistics firms, retail brands and food delivery such as Whole Foods. Additionally, it suits corporate or university campuses, along with organizations with service requirements like landscaping. Moreover, it’s an ideal vehicle for individuals or small businesses needing to transport goods or equipment.”

Lower Costs And More Choice

Civilized Cycles’ real-world pilot is set to launch in Detroit in Spring 2024, followed by full commercial production. Presently, the company is actively engaging in discussions with potential customers that encompass logistics, retail, and fleet management companies.

Finally, we asked Schieffelin to share his thoughts on what urban mobility will look like by 2030.

“Overall, there will be a much better match of tools to task. Massive, heavy vehicles designed for highway performance do not make sense for dense, low speed environments – it’s sort of like trying to eat a steak with a sword.”

“There will be many more choices of lightweight, low cost options for both personal and cargo transportation, and infrastructure improvements coming from the IRA will make using these options more appealing. In consumer markets, comfort and safety will take a bigger role in design and as streets are redesigned for pedestrian and cyclist use, while lighter, quieter, ‘small footprint’ e-bike class cargo systems will improve pedestrian safety, air quality, and noise pollution,” he concludes.


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