Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Jax Ebikes Opening
Opening today with little fan fare is Jax Ebikes. Tucked in a corner of the Mary Built building on Stockton St. at College St. is a totally new source of transportation for Jacksonville. The Electric Bicycle.
I first met Dylan Philips owner of Jax Ebikes through an email to Bike Jax inviting me to a curious "brain storming session" at his home. The list of invitees was a mix of whos-whos and never-heard-ofs from within the urban core. I RSVP'd and on the appointed day, unsure of what to expect I rode my bike over to his Riverside home.
Soon after arriving at Dylan's home I learned the focus of the meeting. Dylan it turned out, wanted to get into the bike business. And not just any of type of bike business. He wanted to open an electric bike shop in Riverside. Upon hearing that, it took every ounce of my will to not show utter contempt and disappointment at the thought of electric bikes. But as the meeting went on and I listened to what Dylan (with his infectious enthusiasm) had to say about bikes as transportation and he in turned listened to what we had to say. Once I came to grips that electric bikes are indeed a viable alternative source of transportation. Once I could see how this was a perfect solution for the working poor that can't afford a car and has no other option for transportation but our very poorly functioning bus system. Or the commuter that doesn't bike because they are concerned about arriving to work sweaty or their work doesn't provide type of facilities to clean up or change. How about those with health problems that would like to get outside and ride a bike? And now could do so with the assistance of the electric motor. I could actually feel myself coming around to the idea.
Dylan's business plan didn't limit itself to the selling of electric bikes as transportation. He also wanted to create a place open and welcoming to those in the community. A place where designers and artists could show their work. A place where people could come in and sit with others and talk to about what is going on in the community. I imagined something like a modern day floyd's barber shop. And I liked it.
Over the next few months after that initial meeting I had the chance to get to know and work with Dylan as his plan for Jax Ebikes took shape. Every time a new bike came in I got a call to come check it out and ride it. And I do have to admit, the more time I spent on those electric bikes, the more I could see the transportational value in them. I watched and listened as Dylan worked with manufactures to make sure that every bike that came through his doors met his very high standards. I would watch as Dylan would open a boxed bike, put it together, ride it and then start tearing it down and re-boxing to return it the manufacture because it didn't meet his standards of quality.
After some major frustrations along with lots of trail and error, Dylan found the bikes he felt met his demanding standards for daily transportation. Jax Ebikes will be carrying two different manufactures of electric bikes. He will handle the full line of Ultra Motor electric bikes and limited models of the Currie izip. Jax Ebikes will have models that range from 15 to 40 miles per charge which will easily fit within most peoples commute and lifestyle distances.
If you have not ever ridden or heard of an electric bike. You owe it yourself to go check them out. I promise they are unlike anything you would expect an electric bike to be. Electric bikes should not be confused with electric scooters. An electric bike can go anywhere a normal bicycle can. Scooters can't. In fact, in the state of Florida, while it perfectly legal to sell electric scooters. The state will not license them. An electric bike is still by it very design a bike. If for some reason you deplete the battery away from home. You can always peddle back. Electric scooters on the other hand become 300 hundred pound bricks with wheels.
Here are a few of the advantages to electric bikes over gas scooters:
*The annual cost of an electric bicycle has become significantly cheaper than gas powered scooters. At $3.50 gas, riding an EBike for an hour each weekday can take you 5200 miles in a year for $20 in electricity. Accounting for insurance, driving a 50cc scooter that distance will cost $482 and generate 4x as much CO2. Driving a passenger car will cost $910.00, in gas alone, and generate 20x more green house gases. Thus, fuel costs for an electric bicycle are now 12% of a gasoline scooter and 2% of a gasoline car.
*Up front costs also favor an electric bicycle over a quality gasoline powered scooter. Each of the bikes from Jax Ebikes comes with a 2 year warranty (versus a 1 year warranty for quality scooters like Yamaha, Honda and Vespa). But most importantly, only electric bicycles can commute from Riverside to downtown via the Riverwalk or any other bike path.
*The unassisted range of electric bicycles has improved dramatically with the conversion to lithium batteries. All of the bicycles go 15 miles unassisted, and most models can go up to 30 miles unassisted. Yes, you can peddle and use the motor at the same time. Peddling does not recharge the battery. But it does extend your batteries distance by about 15%.
*Lithium batteries significantly reduce the weight of electric bikes, substantially increasing the speed. Although an electric bike will not go as fast as a gasoline scooter. Most of electric bikes go 20 MPH unassisted.
*All of the bikes purchased through Jax Ebikes are sold with light kits.
Plan a stop by Jax Ebikes and take one for ride. And then pull up chair and hang out and chat for awhile.
Jax Ebikes is located at:
875 Stockton St.
Jacksonville, FL 32204
Hours are Tuesday thru Saturday 10 am to 6 pm