Electric motor puts new spin on bike riding
HE liked it so much, he bought the company.
Well, the Australian distributorship at least.
Daniel Whiting was on holiday with his wife and children on the Gold Coast last September when he noticed these funky-looking electric bikes for hire next to his hotel.
A few spins around the block and he and his family were hooked.
He took some time to "um and ah" before flying to the United States and signing on to become the sole Australian distributor of Pedego electric bikes. The whole process took barely four months and represented a major shift from the financial planning firm he had run some years before.
"It's a California-style cruiser electric bike and it is so suited to Queensland," Mr Whiting said.
"The Australian coastline is so similar to California with its bike paths and outdoor lifestyle, it suits where we live.
"We fell in love with them.
"They are such fun ... everyone smiles on these things."
Mr Whiting is now intent on putting Pedego bikes into dealers all over the nation, with sales channels established in most major capitals already.
Another focus is resorts, hotels, caravan parks and bike-hire companies looking for a green point of difference. He said the typical customer was aged 40 to 45-plus.
"There's a gap in the market for baby boomers who haven't ridden for years but want to get some fitness and exercise.
"You still need to pedal these bikes, but it gives you assistance to flatten a hill for example, so you don't really notice any great inclines or headwinds.
"We also get lots of people who are partners of road bike riders. Previously, they weren't able to keep up, but they can on our bikes. So they buy them so they can go out riding together.
"Some people have sold the second car and use them to commute, and we sold two to a couple in their seventies from Cotton Tree the other day. They love them."
Mr Whiting said the first shipment of 150 had been sold in just six weeks.
Pedego is the second-largest electric bike company in the United States and has won support from the likes of Google and Microsoft who have trialled the bikes with their staff.
Mr Whiting said he was keen to speak to any bike dealers or resort managers on the Sunshine Coast, offering to set up and manage hire programs for the latter.
He aims to distribute 1000 bikes a year and open a Pedego-only shop in a major city.
► POWER CYCLE
CARRYING the tagline "hello, fun", Pedego bikes are US-made and are sold in Europe, Canada, Russia, New Zealand and South Africa.
The Australian version comes with a 250-watt hub motor and a 36-volt battery pack.
They cost five cents to charge. A full charge (which takes about three hours to achieve) lasts about 50km.
They are silent, have no throttle and must be pedalled to engage the motor, which will help you conquer hills and headwinds.
Handlebar controls give you seven traditional speeds, plus five levels of motor assistance.
The California-cruiser style bikes cost $2295.