Necessity, chance and opportunity can often arrive unexpectedly. Sometimes they arrive in the most unusual ways with interesting results. For David Smedstad, the combination came in the form of transportation. It altered his life—and now offering it to others.
Smedstad is the owner of Hybikes, which sells and rents electric hybrid bikes. Mixing elements of a traditional bike with those of a battery powered one, the fusion of pedal power to electrical energy means greater range, convenience and most of all affordable transportation. In an area where distance is an issue, and vast open spaces something to consider, the hybrid bike became a solution. Smedstad had got a new job, which required a commute. At the time his resources were limited and rather than drop the job, he sought an alternative way to get from point A to point B. The solution came in the form of a hybrid bike.
“When you ride one of these bikes, three or four people will ask you about it,” said Smedstad.
And as curiosity about the bikes mounted, he saw it as a clear indication that there was an audience for this type of transportation. Envisioning this as a sound business opportunity, he began to investigate ways for others to access the bike that was allowing him to enter the work force. With limited funds, but a desire to provide transportation for others, Smedsted started out with literally a tent and a few bikes on the campus of Arizona State University. In a relatively short period of time he went from showcasing his work outside and in garages to having his own brick and mortar business in downtown Phoenix.
Located in the same area as the very popular Urban Bean, HyBikes current space puts them in an easy-to-find location populated by the kinds of urban dwellers who are seeking, reliable safe, price-point-friendly, affordable transportation. “This is a prime location,” said Smedsted. Business has been steady. His electric bikes have hit a response chord in the local market place, and beyond. Plans are already in place to open a store in 2012 in Florida.
Armed with a modest advertising budget, but strong positive word of mouth, his bikes have made a name for themselves in a market that has become increasing more competitive. What HyBikes has is an interesting edge–actually several,–that that competition have yet to embrace.
One of the selling pointsfor Hybrid bikes is that they do not require a driver’s license or special registration. You do not need to take a test to own one, and you ride them as you would a regular bike. For those that use mass transit, HyBikes are welcome on the light rail (they are the only motorized bike approved for the Valley Metro Light Rail System) and on local mass transit, which is an advantage in the Valley.
Another not so obvious selling point is that the motors are guaranteed for one full year, and the charger is included with the price, a feature that is commonly an extra purchase. HyBikes includes the basket, usually a separate charge, for the price. They even throw in an alarm for security when parked.
In terms of safety, Hybikes feature drum brakes, not dissimilar from what you find on an automobile, giving the advantage of being able to stop on a dime. While our climate may not feature many rainy days, when you factor in the speed of these vehicles, they can reach 20 miles an hour, and the weight, the ability to stop on a dime is less a luxury and more a necessity. This feature is not common to other hybrid bikes, and is yet another reason why HyBikes has a leg up on the competition. The range on a full charge is 30 miles, but you can revert to human power when you wish and pedal as you would on a non-electric bike.
HyBikes offers a flexible financing program that they handle on site. The cost for the bikes are abouy $1,299, but you only need $400 down to get started. Basically everyone qualifies and those with less than stellar credit can get up and running.
Considering that there is no insurance, licenses or registration required and the appeal of these bikes become obvious. The market for these bikes includes everyone from seniors for whom driving a car is not an option to young people with limited means and everyone in between. For those who find the ownership of an automobile too much, Hybrid bikes offer relief from high gas prices, auto repairs and the high cost of auto ownership. It also offers a way to go, and that does mean something.
Location: 3508 N 7th Street, Suite 140
Phoenix, Arizona 85014
Hours: open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Web: www. hybikes.com
Written by Kurt von Behrmann