For Tony Mendoza, a Fullerton physical therapist, his electric-boosted wheels rolled him into a new sport – mountain biking – and a new appreciation of his hometown.
“I’ve lived in Orange County my whole life, but I’ve never taken advantage of the Fullerton Loop,” Mendoza says of the 11-mile, off-road trail system that circles downtown. “You feel like you’re on vacation out in the woods.”
Just a week after buying his first electric-assist mountain bike at Fullerton’s Electric Bicycle Center, Mendoza exchanged the nearly $4,500, full-suspension Haibike for the next model up. Though Mendoza also rides Harley-Davidson motorcycles, he prefers the charge his mountain bike delivers.
“I can’t run anymore since I entered my 50s, but the bike gives me the feeling of being a kid again,” Mendoza says.
It’s not the first time store owner Sam Townsend has heard that sentiment.
“Riding an electric bike is like finding the fountain of youth,” says Townsend, whose Electric Bicycle Center may have Orange County’s largest selection with more than two dozen brands in every e-powered form imaginable – pedal-assist or throttle-control mountain, commuter, hybrid, trike, folding, cargo and cruiser.
“I think this is the pivotal year for electric bikes,” Townsend says. He’s bet big that it will be. He recently doubled the size of
his store, sold off his gas-powered inventory and offers only electric bikes now.
In the span of a few hours, the store attracts shoppers of all ages, though the industry is focused mostly on one demographic – leisure-seeking baby boomers. Yet as e-bikes become a bigger presence on sales floors and bike lanes, they also are becoming a visible, viable transportation option.
The e-bike is “the perfect confluence of technology meeting a problem, the problem being congested roads, and people trying to be more green and more…