Feature: Electric Bikes of New England

Finding the right formula for any retail business is tricky stuff, not to mention for products like electric bikes, but Paul Morlock of Electric Bikes of New England seems to be on the right track.  After a couple of years in business he’s seen a virtual explosion in interest and sales of all sorts of electric vehicles, from bicycles and mobility scooters right through to electric skateboards and scooters.

I’d heard about Paul through various links on the web, and exchanged a few emails with him.  I decided to jump in the truck and ride on up to his shop in Derry NH to see what it was all about.  On our way to the shop, we passed by a guy loading an electric bike into a wagon – and it happened to be Paul, just finishing up a sale.  These customers had searched high and low, and, once they found Paul they made the trek from the Providence, RI area to get their bike…  Paul said he gets people from all over New England, even from New York and Pennsylvania – stopping in on their way through to their vacation destinations on the coast of New Hampshire, Maine, or the White Mountains.

He stocks and sells mostly bicycles, and carries everything from the stock Schwinn, through the Ultra A2B, on into some bikes he orders and builds on a custom basis.  Most of his customers are in the Boomer generation- folks who want to be outdoors, enjoy the ride, but whether they can’t keep up to the group they like to ride with, have been injured, or simply enjoy a little help on the hills, the range of power options from electric assist to full electric power fits the need.

Paul also sells the BionX conversion kits and parts, and stocks a good array of replacement parts such as lithium and AGM battery packs for several models, accessories such as racks, lights and the usual bicycling toys, and also motors and repair parts.  Of particular interest to me are the Golden Motors, for which he’s also a dealer.

Golden has a great hub motor, one, the MagicPie in particular that has good power (up to 1000W), can lace to any bike (and small motorcycle) rim, and has an incorporated multi-voltage controller. They also have a cooled BLDC motor that’s rated at 10KW.  I wants.

Paul isn’t particularly interested in motorcycles at this point, since he’s got his hands full with the bike business, but we had a great conversation about the future of two-wheeled electrics and what we may see coming this summer.  He’s not had any experience with the Golden Motors in a motorcycle yet…  but I’m looking forward to hearing from his sales rep about their experiences with that soon.  Look for an update here.

As far as the electric retail sales model, it seems like Paul’s hit the bullseye.  Catering to virtually everything that you get on and ride for assisted transportation and powered by batteries, he’s got it covered.  He’s using much the same formula, within bounds, that BestBuy is talking about – a soup-to-nuts electric “superstore”.

One of the interesting observations I was drawn to in talking to him is the client base.  His clients are interested in some very different things than a motorcycle buyer…  he does get requests for scooters like the X-Treme and Veloteq, but he’s not getting people coming in looking for an adrenaline rush as you’d see in an electric motorcycle dealership.  His customers may be more interested in the practicality, ease of use and commuter applications than the thrill and fun of a high-speed ride like the Brammo Empulse.  You can start to understand the product placement strategy of BestBuy, when you see it in that context.  A dealership, as I’ve been thinking of, with everything from Razor scooters up to Mavizen and Empulses is possibly as impractical as selling high-end motorcycles side-by-side with gas scooters and BladeZ powered skateboards…  they simply are very different customers.

All in all, a great and informative visit…  Thanks Paul, and good luck in the coming year!

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