The Rise of the Commuter & E-Bike Specialist Shop (Part 5)

Pete PrebusPete Prebus is the guy at Electric Bike Report, a website dedicated to getting the word out about electric bikes through e-bike news, reviews, guides, and general e-bike advocacy. Pete wants to encourage more people to ride bikes by providing good info about e-bikes and all the benefits (all the time) they have over driving a car. Pete has been a long time cyclist (racer, mountain, road, cyclo-cross, commuter, bike polo, etc.) and sees the e-bike as a great way to get the non-cyclist into bike commuting as well as just having fun on a bicycle.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5
Pedego Electric Bike
Photo: Electric Bike Report

This is a series of articles that are based on interviews with commuter and electric bike specific shop owners to explore how their niche businesses maybe getting more people on bikes.

Well this the conclusion to this series of articles. Well? Will commuter and electric bike specific shops get more people on bikes?

The answer (drum roll)… Yes, I think they will!

That is probably no surprise after reading through all the interviews with the different shop owners.

Based the shops I interviewed, it seems that they are all reaching a similar, yet slightly different group of riders.

There are the:

  • Total biking newbies,
  • Avid commuters,
  • Recreational riders,
  • Cargo and utility users (personal and business),
  • People who currently ride, but will ride more with an electric bike to help up the hills,
  • People with injuries who are able to resume cycling with the electric assisted bike,
  • Older riders who enjoy the electric assist, and
  • People looking for a folding bike that they can store in their apartment,
E-Bike with a Burly Travoy Commuter Trailer
E-Bike with a Burly Travoy Commuter Trailer | Photo: The New Wheel

When you look at all these different groups of bikers, it is apparent that the commuter and e-bike specific shop makes a lot of sense and caters to their needs. Being able to help the avid commuter with their new accessories, or answer some of the basic questions for the total newbie is a great spot in which to be. Shops like these probably have a more welcoming atmosphere for someone who is unfamiliar with the biking world compared to the shops that focus more on the recreational and racer crowd.

I am glad that these shops are out there spreading the word about bikes as a viable form of transportation–especially in the US. We seem to be behind the curve when it comes to bikes being accepted as a way to get around. Sure there are pockets of bike commuting culture, but as a whole we are in the Stone Age compared to other parts of the world. Having these commuter and e-bikes shops in the US is another way to spread the word about bike commuting culture.

A recurring issue holding people back in the US is the concern that bike commuting is dangerous. The safety of cycling, like any form of transportation, is highly contextual. Overall, however, cycling is statistically safer than riding in a car, or even walking. When that message sinks in, sales and ridership on e-bikes will be sure to increase.

Cycle 9 Utility Bike
Photo: Cycle 9

Some cities and towns are not set up well with cycling infrastructure, such as bike lanes, but there are always alternate routes that can make the journey safer. I am interested to see if the biking routes on Google Maps will be effective for a lot of places. Some cities publish good biking maps.

General biking safety education can help eliminate some of that fear too. Wearing bright colors, having lights, riding defensively, staying off the busy streets, etc.

The commuter and e-bike specific shops can help by giving their customers some of this bike safety education.

One final note: I have recently started an electric bike shop guide and directory that is currently growing. I hope that eventually it will make it easy to find electric bike shops in your town or city. Being able to test ride an electric bike is a big deal and I want to help people check out these bikes. Sometimes all it takes is a test ride to see how fun and convenient these e-bikes can be!

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