The new Pedego electric bicycle store on the island is so new that it doesn’t even have a sign in its window yet. But that isn’t stopping people from flooding into the fledgling bike shop.
“With the pandemic, I think everybody is looking for something to do outside,” said Mark Tisdall, manager of the local store. “And I think bicycling has been the go-to. It makes perfect sense to me. It kind of ties back to that childhood memory of bicycling. People are looking for ways to get out of their house. Especially on Marco, people are looking for something to get them outside. And the electric motor makes it easier. It’s a low impact sport. It makes things more accessible. Having a little bit of a booster makes it more fun. I think the electric side is what is making this attractive.”
The Pedego brand was founded in 2008 and has grown into the biggest electric bike brand in the United States. Tisdall is so confident in the Pedego brand that he is offering a free one-hour bike rental to all takers.
“The brand is great,” Tisdall said, “customer focused. It’s all about keeping you going. A five-year warranty is pretty spectacular for an electric bike. So, you can buy it and be pretty sure it’s going to work.”
The five-year warranty goes throughout the entire line of Pedego electric bikes, except for the entry level Element, that sells for $1700.
Tisdall said the Pedego bikes sell themselves. And in this competitive bicycle market, just finding a bicycle for sale is a challenge.
“It’s impossible to get a bike right now,” Tisdall said. “The challenge we get is that we’re pooled in with all of North America. There’s so much demand, if you don’t jump on it, they sell out.
“If you ride them, you’ll understand why. I promise, if you don’t love them within five seconds, you can have an hour free.”
Tisdall said most of his customers have been tourists. He said the local clientele hasn’t found them yet – except for the Pedego owners who have stopped in for service.
“By far the vast number of people we’re getting through here on vacation,” Tisdall said. “Certainly, people with Pedegos will come now that they have a place on the island to get their bike fixed. It’s way more convenient than going all the way up to Naples, that’s for sure.”
Tisdall is a mechanical engineer by education. The electric bicycle concept caught his attention.
“I’ve always loved the idea of being a bike mechanic,” he said, “but I never had a cause to do it. This shop popped up, so I contacted the owner and said, ‘Hey, I live five minutes from here.’”
Tisdall thinks electric bicycles are perfectly suited for the island. Even more so than cars.
“I honestly think they’re better suited to the island than a car,” Tisdall asserted. “You can get around. If you want to experience the island lifestyle you should be on an electric bike. With the racks and everything, you can do a fair amount of grocery shopping. I only use my car when I have to move a bigger object. Otherwise, I’m on a bike.”
The Pedego lineup includes 20 different models. The Marco shop currently stocks five models. A lot of that is because it’s so hard to get the popular bikes.
“We’re really encouraging people to put a deposit down so that as bikes become available, we can grab them. It’s that competitive. As inventory becomes available all over the country, stores are bidding on what they have in their warehouse. We find that whatever comes into inventory is gone within a week.”
The electric component makes getting around the island a breeze. And because they are designed to go no faster than 20 miles per hour, they are legal on the island’s shared use paths.
“It’s a class two rating,” Tisdall explains. “It’s designed to go on sidewalks. That’s why it stops at 20 miles per hour.”
With a wide range of accessories and racks, the Pedego is a viable grocery getter for islanders.
“You can see we’ve got the racks; we’ve got saddlebags, we’ve got front bags. We have a stretch model that’s designed to have bags everywhere, front, back and sides. You can really do a full grocery run on that bike.”
The Marco shop keeps a fleet of Pedego Element bikes in stock for rental.
“The Element is designed to be fun,” Tisdall said. “It looks small, but at 6’3” I can ride this bike comfortably. We have guys who are 16 to 17 who think it’s the greatest thing they’ve ever seen.”
“This thing really zips,” said Tisdall. “I wish I would have had this when I was 15. It’s about fun. And I think these fleet of Elements really speaks to that.”