A California couple sold their home and moved to the Tri-Cities to open an electric bike shop in Richland.
The empty nesters wanted a new adventure after their daughters grew up and left home, so they began scouting places to launch a Pedego e-bike franchise.
Troy and Erin Franzen had never been to southeastern Washington before, but they were smitten after their first visit.
They visited for an extended weekend in April 2021 and “acted like we lived here,” as Troy described it, “visiting the restaurants, walking the paths and taking in the beautiful weather and beautiful city.”
“The people we ran into were wonderful,” Erin said.
In May they visited again “and loved it again,” Troy said. “So, then we contacted Pedego about what it takes to open a store.”
They opened Pedego Electric Bikes on Jan. 25 at 1084 George Washington Way in Richland.
Their franchise is part of a network of 200-plus Pedego shops across the U.S. to exclusively sell, rent and service Pedego e-bikes.
The Franzens said they were drawn to the area because of its trails, recreation-friendly 300 days of sun, and existing and promising future bike infrastructure.
The shop backs up to Richland’s Riverfront Trail and there’s a nearby access path to it, which is perfect for test riding bikes or group ride meetups.
“We got lucky,” Erin said of the Richland location and finding housing in the highly competitive market.
About eight years ago, they were on vacation with friends in Catalina who suggested they rent e-bikes.
“It was for just an hour, but we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, what a joy this is!’ ” Troy said.
Then when they’d vacation in different cities, they searched for Pedego stores and renting bikes.
“We had done that for a while when we decided it was about time to buy a couple for ourselves. We did, and in that process, we contacted Pedego about potentially becoming a dealership,” Troy said.
“We really liked the (Pedego) bikes, the dealership, the whole experience,” Erin said.
The 1,445-square-foot modern showroom features rows of shiny new bikes, as well as previously-owned options, ranging in price from $1,895 up to nearly $5,000, based on the model, features and battery size.
Troy said most Pedegos are in the mid-$3,000 range.
“It’s a high-quality bike,” Erin said.
Pedego sells only Level 2 electric bikes (there are three levels), whose throttle and assist can propel the bike up to 20 mph, meaning it is legal to ride on all pedestrian trails.
Level 3 bikes are not allowed on pedestrian paths because they go faster.
Troy said Pedego’s after-sale service sets the business apart from other e-bike manufacturers.
“‘How do I get it fixed?’ and ‘what’s the warranty?’ are the two questions you should be asking before you buy an e-bike,” he said.
Pedego offers a lifetime warranty on the bike frame, a five-year warranty on the battery and other parts, and an antitheft program. If customers buy their lock and the e-bike is stolen, Pedego will replace the bike with almost no questions asked, Tony said.
Pedego also boasts a network of shops across North America, all of which are exclusive servicers of Pedego e-bikes.
“I’d say 25% of our phone calls are from people wanting to get their e-bikes fixed,” Erin said.
“Even if you just need an adjustment, a lot of shops won’t work on them,” Troy said.
The Franzens have one employee, their mechanic Tony Saugar, an e-bike enthusiast. Though he doesn’t yet own a Pedego, he has built his own e-bikes and is passionate about electric technology in transportation.
Isn’t it cheating? Nope
What is it about the increasingly popular activity that’s compelling people to drop thousands of dollars on a bike?
It might have something to do with the words printed on the front doors of Pedego Tri-Cities: “Hello, fun…”
Troy sums up the joys of e-biking in three words: fun, fitness and freedom.
“‘Freedom’ is the word we hear all the time from other e-bike owners. They’ve really taken off with the baby boomer generation. If you have a bad hip, bad knees, or if you have had any sort of injury, or are just getting old like us, then you don’t want to take a 25-mile bike ride because later you’ll be sore ... e-bikes level the field.”
“The other thing is you can easily ride together with others who ride at different paces. People who ride e-bikes versus acoustics (non-motorized bikes) are more likely to ride more often and ride longer because they’re having more fun, leading to more health benefits, according to studies,” he said.
Pedego e-bikes can get up to 60 to 70 miles on one charge when pedaling with the bike, though the range depends on a number of physical factors such as weight, battery capacity and wind conditions.
The Franzens feel it’s a myth that riding an e-bike versus non-motorized bikes is “cheating.”
“You’re still lubricating your joints and ligaments, everything you want to do to stay limber and in shape,” Troy said. “It’s exercise disguised as fun.”
“You can work as hard as you want or take a break,” Erin said, noting that all Pedego e-bikes come with the option to set the assist to zero and pedal it like a regular bike, albeit a 50- to 60-pound one.
Even 90-year-old William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk on the original “Star Trek” TV show, rides Pedegos. He is an official spokesperson for the brand. He bought over 20 bikes so he, his grandkids, nephews and nieces could all ride and keep pace together.
Visitors to the Pedego Tri-Cities can take their picture with a life-size cardboard cutout of Shatner.
In addition to their popularity among mountain bikers, Troy said hunters are starting to use e-bikes because of how quiet and non-disruptive they are.
Rentals are a great way to try them out.
They cost $25 for one hour, $60 for three hours, or $99 for six hours.
The Franzens recommend cycling Richland’s Riverfront Trail and Sacagawea Heritage Trail, which connects Richland to Kennewick and Pasco.
Test rides are free and the Franzens work with customers to find the right bike for them. The shop also sells accessories, including baskets, seats and Bluetooth-enabled helmets.
The couple hope to hold a grand opening in the spring.
In the meantime, they plan to start organizing group rides for Pedego owners and non-Pedego e-bike owners.
“We are still really happy with where we landed in our quest to make a big change,” Erin said.
Pedego Tri-Cities: 1084 George Washington Way, Richland; 509-420-4824; pedegoelectricbikes.com/dealers/richland. Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday.
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