“Our journey began a long time ago with a desire to find a way to become part of the solution to the challenges the world is facing,” says Sunshine Cycles founder, Luke Young, who had worked for 15 years as a rigger in the gas and oil industries. After that experience, he wanted change in his life, for a number of reasons.
“Byron traffic sucks”, he observes. “We had seen cities overseas that had a bike culture, and how effective it was. We wanted to find a way to get people around in style, with fun, that was also healthy for them, the environment and the community.” And he didn’t want to use fossil fuels.
And so the idea of starting an e-bike rental company slowly emerged. In March 2016, Luke began to develop the concept, with a great deal of trial and error. He entered an accelerator start-up program in Brisbane, thanks to Sourdough and Energy Lab’s Nick Lake, who helped him get “great support from investors and mentors”.
“We were inspired by new technologies and organisations that were about open source information, sharing ideas and technologies that empowered local communities to care for their own needs, while responsibly dealing with their consumption and waste,” he explains. “We also saw the amazing way both the popularity of electric bikes, and bike share systems, were growing overseas. Not to mention the solar revolution. So we pulled together a bunch of ideas to create the world’s first automated, solar-recharged, transport system.”
By December, 2016, Sunshine Cycles was launched. With the help of some friends, Luke and his team developed the idea of renting out electric bikes which would be stored in solar powered pods, called Sunpods. These, he builds out of recycled plastic in Murwillumbah.
By downloading the Sunshine Cycles app which automates access, anyone can book and collect an electric bike at any time – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – for anywhere from half an hour, to a month. Luke has found that people are using his bikes any time of the year, summer or winter.
Ideal for either tourists wanting an environmentally friendly way to explore the neighbourhood, or locals checking out the effectiveness of e-bikes on the road to the Byron Lighthouse, or any of the Shire’s many hills, Luke says: ““Electric motors so much more efficient and a logical solution to propulsion. It’s just a great way to get around, and it’s a social enterprise with an ethical business model.”
As for the basis of his business? “We want to be a part of the change that needs to happen, where communities – from the ground up – provide healthy foods, and environments, and transport that harnesses clean energy.“
Where do you find Sunshine Cycles? On Instagram. Through the internet and social media. By word of mouth. “People see us around. The e-bikes market themselves”.
M: 0406 755 547