Those feeling cooped up during the pandemic have a new activity to try, with the opening on Monday, June 1, of an e-bike rental store in downtown Kamloops.
In addition, when the tourism industry amps back up again, the hope of the entrepreneurs is to encourage visitors to take a ride through the city’s many trails and nearby Riverside Park.
On Monday, Gary Holland and girlfriend and business partner Dana Marcano will open Electra Ride at 150 West Victoria St., a shop dedicated solely to electric bicycles, also known as e-bikes.
It is a venture that began with rentals out of a trailer and has since grown into full-fledged brick and mortar shop. Holland, whose background is in landscaping, said Electra Ride will be the first store of its kind in Kamloops.
“We bought two of the bikes,” Holland said. “I thought it was amazing because I’m 56 years old and I’m on a bicycle again. I wouldn’t go to the park because you had to ride back. But the [electric] assist, you can just keep going. If you get tired a bit because you’re older, you can take a rest — just hit the gas. … We’re like, ‘Man, we should start renting these out to people because nobody’s doing it.’ It’s something that Kamloops doesn’t have.”
E-bicycles — which have an electric motor that assists regular cycling — are for sale at Electra Ride and range in price from $2,000 to $6,000. Twenty e-bikes are available to rent, with rates of $49 for two-and-a-half hours, $69 for a half-day and $89 for a full day.
Equipped with Samsung batteries, they are charged inside and last 65 kilometres if you pedal along. Holland said he has never run out of battery in a day. He said e-bikes ride on pavement, dirt trails and even on the beach, if you let a little bit of air out of the tires. They ride in the winter, as well. He said they go up to 20 kilometres per hour, the top speed allowed.
Although some may believe you won’t get a workout by riding an e-bike, Holland said that is not the case.
“A treadmill has a motor in it,” he said. “You can make it easy or you can make it hard. That’s exactly what this bike does.”
Opening of Electra Ride, however, has not been the smoothest of rides.
It was delayed two months due to the pandemic, but Holland said the store is now ready to open. He encouraged people cooped up to give it a shot, with online bookings and safety protocols in place to pick up the bicycles and get a demonstration. Bikes will be thoroughly disinfected and interaction with staff will be minimal.
Holland hopes to grow the business when the tourism industry rebounds by providing tours in the area.
For more information and to book a ride, go online to electraride.ca.
Singhing the praises of e-bikes
A Kamloops city councillor has been riding an e-bicycle for some time.
Coun. Arjun Singh rides from Sahali to Valleyview to the North Shore and almost to Westsyde. He said it’s not difficult, but one does get exercise.
“There’s a lot of enjoyment and sense of adventure and accomplishment,” he said.
Singh has noticed more and more people with e-bikes in the last year or two, noting Kamloops is an ideal place to e-bike. Singh expects to utilize his e-bike as his main mode of transportation around the community in warmer months. Some people ride e-bikes year-round, though Singh said one has to be more careful — as well as tolerant of getting wet and snowed upon.
“If you’re going to go up any of the hills, it’s a lot easier,” Singh said. “Plus, from the perspective of commuting, going from place to place. If you’ve got a bit of a boost, electric pedal assist … for commuters to be able to get places faster than a normal bike is useful.”
Singh said e-bikes provide exercise while commuting. Other benefits include getting to places faster than on a bicycle, going up hills easier and a carrying capacity that allows for transport of groceries. As for the cons, Singh noted the bikes are heavy and moving them up steps and other areas is challenging. In addition, the price tag is steep and the electronic functions on the bike require proper calibration to the rider. Singh said bike shops in town have expertise in that department.
Singh’s mother recently purchased an e-bike, showcasing the range of demographics for which they are suitable. He likes the idea of a rental shop in town.
“People can try them out,” he said. “If people are coming to town, not so much now, but if they’re coming to town, hopefully for tourism, they can get in a good ride around Rivers Trail. There’s nice urban trails around town. … There’s opportunity with e-bikes, you can cover a lot of ground if you want to sort of see what’s out there.”