A Californian couple sold their house and moved to the Tri-Cities to open an e-bike shop in Richland.
The Empty Nests wanted a new adventure after their daughters grew up and left home, so they started looking for places to launch a Pedego e-bike franchise.
Troy and Erin Franzen had never been to Southeast Washington before, but were won over after their first visit.
They visited over a long weekend in April 2021 and “acted like we lived here”, as Troy described it, “visiting the restaurants, walking the trails and enjoying the great weather and beautiful city” .
“The people we met were wonderful,” Erin said.
In May, they visited again “and loved it again,” Troy said. “So, we reached out to Pedego about what it takes to open a store.”
They opened Pedego Electric Bikes on January 25 at 1084 George Washington Way in Richland.
Their franchise is part of a network of over 200 Pedego stores across the United States to exclusively sell, rent, and service Pedego e-bikes.
The Franzens said they were drawn to the area because of its trails, 300 days of recreational sunshine, and existing and promising cycling infrastructure.
The store backs onto Richland’s Riverfront Trail and there is a nearby access path, which is perfect for testing bikes or group get-togethers.
“We were lucky,” Erin said of Richland’s location and finding homes in the highly competitive market.
About eight years ago, they were vacationing with friends in Catalina who offered to rent e-bikes.
“It was just for an hour, but we were like, ‘Oh my God, what a joy this is!’ said Troy.
Then, when they went on vacation to different cities, they looked for Pedego stores and rented bikes.
“We had been doing this for a while when we decided it was time to buy a couple for ourselves. We did, and in the process we reached out to Pedego to potentially become a dealer,” Troy said.
“We really liked the bikes (Pedego), the dealership, the whole experience,” Erin said.
The modern 1,445 square foot showroom features rows of shiny new bikes, as well as used options, ranging in price from $1,895 to nearly $5,000, depending on model, features and battery size.
Troy said most Pedegos are in the $3,000 range.
“It’s a high quality bike,” Erin said.
Pedego only sells level 2 e-bikes (there are three levels), whose throttle and assist can propel the bike up to 20 mph, meaning it’s legal to ride on all trails pedestrians.
Level 3 bikes are not allowed on pedestrian paths as they go faster.
Troy said Pedego’s after-sales service sets the company apart from other e-bike manufacturers.
“’How can I fix it?’ and ‘what is the warranty?’ are the two questions you should ask yourself before buying 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 anti-theft program. If customers purchase their lock and the e-bike is stolen, Pedego will replace the bike with almost no questions asked, Tony said.
Pedego also has a network of stores across North America, all of which are exclusive repairers of Pedego e-bikes.
“I would say 25% of our phone calls are from people wanting to get their e-bikes repaired,” Erin said.
“Even if you just need a fit, many stores won’t work on it,” Troy said.
The Franzens have one employee, their mechanic Tony Saugar, who is an e-bike enthusiast. Although he does not yet own a Pedego, he has built his own e-bikes and is passionate about electric technology in transportation.
Isn’t that cheating? no
What’s in this increasingly popular activity that has people spending 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 electric biking in three words: fun, fitness and freedom.
“’Freedom’ is the word we hear all the time from other e-bike owners. They really took off with the baby boomer generation. If you have hip pain, knee pain, or you’ve had some kind of injury, or you’re getting old like us, then you don’t want to go on a 25 mile bike ride because later on you’ll be in pain… e-bikes level the terrain.
“The other thing is that you can easily ride with others who ride at different paces. People who ride e-bikes versus acoustic bikes (non-motorized bikes) are more likely to ride more often and more long because they have more fun, which leads to more health benefits, studies show,” he said.
Pedego e-bikes can travel up to 60-70 miles on a single charge while pedaling the bike, although range depends on a number of physical factors such as weight, battery capacity and conditions Wind.
The Franzens think it’s a myth that riding an e-bike over non-motorized bikes is a “cheat”.
“You’re always lubricating your joints and ligaments, whatever you want to do to stay limber and fit,” 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 ability to set the assist to zero and pedal it like a regular bike, although ‘a 50- to 60- pound one.
Even 90-year-old William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in the original “Star Trek” TV show, rides Pedegos. He is the official spokesperson for the brand. He bought over 20 bikes so he, his grandkids, nephews and nieces could all ride and keep up together.
Visitors to the Tri-Cities of Pedego can have their photo taken 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 their quietness and non-disruption.
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 biking the Richland Riverfront Trail and the Sacagawea Heritage Trail, which connects Richland to Kennewick and Pasco.
Trials are free, and the Franzens work with customers to find the bike that’s right for them. The shop also sells accessories, including baskets, seats and Bluetooth-enabled headsets.
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’re still very happy with where we landed in our quest to make big change,” Erin said.
Pedego Tri-Cities: 1084 George Washington Way, Richland; 509-420-4824; pedegoelectricbikes.com/dealers/richland. Opening hours: 10am-6pm Tuesday to Saturday; 11am-4pm Sunday. Closed on Mondays.