New e-bike shop in downtown Wheaton on a roller

A husband and wife took a long road trip – about 200 miles from Appleton, Wisconsin – to buy an electric bike from a new store in downtown Wheaton.

Other out-of-town customers are willing to drive from New Lenox and Joliet.

Their enthusiasm for e-bikes made the Pedego store exactly what it was meant to be: a destination breathing new life into the south side of downtown.

The e-bike craze prompted Jeff Alvis to come out of retirement after a career in management consulting. He switched gears and opened the store – the only Pedego dealer in the western suburbs – after sensing a business opportunity last year when a friend tipped him off to the hot e-bike market.

Electric bike sales were up more than 190% in June compared to the same month in 2019, according to market researcher NPD Group.

Alvis had his own anecdotal evidence that e-bikes were gaining popularity during the pandemic as people sought an escape and some fresh air. About a year and a half ago, Alvis, who lives in Wheaton near Prairie Path, saw an e-bike every other day.

“Now I see one, at least one or more, every day when I walk around,” he said.

Alvis expected most customers to be baby boomers, as the e-bikes offer an extra boost with a pedal-assist mode. Equipped with a quiet battery-powered motor, e-bikes take some of the work out of pedaling.

But Google search data recently showed that more than 41% of in-store inquiries came from people under 50, including several between 24 and 40, Alvis said.

The City Commuter, Black Edition is one of the best-selling Pedego e-bikes at the new downtown Wheaton dealership. Owner Jeff Alvis has a bit of fun walking around the shop on Liberty Drive.
– Mark Welsh | Personal photographer

“We’ve had a lot of couples, either the man or the woman is a good cyclist and the other isn’t, but they want to ride together,” he said.

Virtually all bikes are classified as Class 2, reaching regulated speeds of up to 20 mph. That’s why e-bikes appeal to people who want to replace short car trips with an eco-friendly alternative.

Another Naperville customer bought a bike from the Pedego dealership in Wheaton to ride 10 or 12 miles to work every day in Warrenville, Alvis said.

The Interceptor is one of the most requested models by young and old. Unlike other e-bike options, it is designed with slightly wider and slightly more oval handlebars to allow users to sit in a more upright position.

Prices range from around $1,700 to around $4,000, Alvis said, but the most common price is around $3,300.

Customers are willing to invest, he said, because of the bikes’ durability – made of heavy-duty aluminum and steel – and a lifetime warranty on the frame and fork, the part that holds the bike together. front wheel.

“We really encourage them to try a few different styles because it’s so important in my mind that they feel very comfortable on the bike,” Alvis said. “And as I mentioned to people, they’re going to have them for a long time.”

The Boomerang is another popular choice at the Pedego e-bike dealership in downtown Wheaton.

The Boomerang is another popular choice at the Pedego e-bike dealership in downtown Wheaton. “The stepping is really really low, which makes it really easy for someone to get on the bike,” said owner Jeff Alvis. “You don’t swing your leg on something.”
– Mark Welsh | Personal photographer

Since opening, the store has started offering e-bike rentals for $25 an hour or $100 for the day. Guests can easily take a section of the Prairie Trail that runs through downtown.

“It takes a bit of getting used to,” Alvis said of the e-bike newbies. “But most people come back after 15 or 20 minutes on the bike to see how they feel and talk about how easy it is to work with the bike and how much fun it has been.”

He discovered how fun it is to run a store with his wife, Andie, and their business partners, Bill and Karen Budicin, a couple from Lisle.

As a longtime resident of Wheaton, Alvis wanted to help grow downtown. The owners of Pedego help him do just that by doing a walkthrough of their visit to his store.

When another Pedego dealer didn’t have their must-have bike in stock, this Wisconsin couple ended up heading to Wheaton.

“They bought the bike,” Alvis said. “They went to Ivy, a nice restaurant here in town, had a nice dinner and stayed the night and went home.”

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