Ron Hall works on a ebike at The Sportsman on Friday July 8, 2022.
LOGAN – Electric bicycles are growing in popularity. People are using them for running around town and commuting to and from work. Need to run to the store to pick up some milk? Jump on a battery-operated bike and get some exercise along the way.
Some e-bikes look like minibikes with peddles, while others look like regular bikes and some are more beefed up than a traditional bike. Most of them have turn signals and lights for riding at night.
Just about every bike shop in Logan is selling electric bikes or renting them.
Ron Hill, the bicycle mechanic at The Sportsman, has worked on bikes for some 20 years. He said the most important thing about buying an e-bike is knowing who you’re buying it from.
“Shop for a bike shop you know and trust,” he said. “I would trust any of the bicycle shops in Logan.”
The guys at Al’s Sporting Goods, Sunrise and Joyride all have good mechanics and sell good bikes.
“Frames matter; pick a good one,” he said. “They matter more than motor and battery.”
Hill, a graduate student at Utah State University, suggested going into the shops and getting to know the mechanics and find one you’re comfortable with and they will give you good advice.
“I would like to see people buy from a well-known bicycle or motorcycle manufacturer,” he said. “I would stay away from online, cheap power bikes. Buy from someone who will take it back, too, if something breaks and knows how to fix what breaks.”
Hill has a bike he’s repairing for a customer who spent $2,000 for an online bike and it needs $150 in repairs just to make it road-worthy. He said for a little more money the person could have bought a better bike that would last longer.
“The last three years we have seen a growing number of e-bikes on roads,” he said. “When COVID hit, that’s when it really got going.”
It’s all about the manufacture of the bike. All of the local bike shops have trustworthy and notable brands.
“E-bikes are good for people who are not in good shape or have disabilities,” he said. “They can hit the rpm’s they need to give them a good cardio workout without straining. We want more butts in the saddle.”
E-bikes are good for commuters who travel 25 miles or less.
“They are getting extremely popular. We have a hard time keeping them in,” Hill said. “I had someone with diabetes come in that had a hard time on a regular bike but was extremely happy with a power-assisted bike.”
Electric-powered bicycles are likely going to take over cars. They don’t take gas and they are easy to use. The infrastructure hasn’t caught up with the technology and people need to know how to operate them. They need to be stored inside, but they can still be used in the rain.
Mark Fjeldsted, also at The Sportsman, said e-bikes started selling heavy during the pandemic and continue to be a good seller as gas prices increase.
“With high gas prices we’ve been selling quite a few e-bikes,” he said. “With supply chain issues they are a little harder to get right now. We still have some on hand.”
The Sportsman has a variety of e-bikes for sale, starting at $1,500 up to around $8,000.
“Most people are buying the lower end ones, but we still have people buying the more expensive as well,” he said. “The bikes can all be charged with a common household 110 outlet.”
E-bikes are fantastic commuter bikes. People can ride to work on them and not be all sweaty and smelly.
Riders can still peddle and use the electric assist and not work as hard so they can go as hard as they want and easily go a long way on a charge.
Firefly Power Bikes owner Dustin Hansen began renting e-bikes just a few years ago. He has a location in Bear Lake and in Cache Valley.
“We rent and sell e-bikes,” he said. “We went from 17 to 200 bike rentals in two years spread across our different locations.”
“People can choose the exercise level they are comfortable with,” Hansen added. “We have people tell us they hated riding bikes, but after they rent a bike, they tell us they love riding the e-bikes.”
All the bikes he rents can go up to 100-miles per charge.
“The rental option is an affordable option for people who want to see how they work,” he said. “Once people get out on a bike and like it they are more interested in buying one.”
Hansen said in two years they have seen a substantial amount of growth with positive online reviews.
“Most people are on cloud nine after having a rental experience,” he said.