Student interest in electric bikes has increased

Seven different models can be purchased in Dinkytown

by Andrea Schug

An increased interest in electric bikes has risen like the temperature on the University of Minnesota campus. Varsity Bike & Transit in Dinkytown has been carrying electric bikes for five years and has seen an increase in interest in the bikes this season. Varsity carries four different companiesâÄô electric bikes, all of which came out with a new model for 2010. âÄúEvery year thereâÄôs more knowledge and awareness of them,âÄù Jameson McGuine, co-owner of Varsity Bikes & Transit, said. âÄúPeople are always looking for alternative means of transportation.âÄù When major bike companies started producing electric bikes, Varsity Bike & Transit immediately took interest. âÄúIt was something we were all interested in since weâÄôre [Varsity employees] all commuters,âÄù McGuine said. âÄúNone of us currently have them but people are looking into it depending on their commute.âÄù Varsity sells a couple electric bikes each month and carries seven different models of bikes in order to accommodate the variety of customers expressing interest in the bikes. âÄúWhen we first started carrying them, we tested them and did a crash course for people to see which ones we like,âÄù McGuine said. âÄúWithin the company we picked out the most affordable and the most useful.âÄù Varsity employee Anna Berowski said that she has seen a lot of people come in to look at the bikes this season but that the majority that have been buying them are 50 years old and older. âÄúUsually when people come in they buy a couple at a time,âÄù Berowski said. âÄúIt seems to be couples, or people wanting to ride with another person.âÄù McGuine said there has been an increase in student interest in the past couple years but that the bikes themselves seem to be out of studentsâÄô budgets. âÄúInstead we see a lot of parents buying them for students instead of cars,âÄù McGuine said. âÄúTheyâÄôre looking for something that can be serviced, something that is convenient and more affordable than cars.âÄù Berowski said the interest runs parallel to other factors influencing their lives. âÄúIâÄôve never personally sold any to students but I know thereâÄôs been more interest because of going green and gas prices,âÄù Berowski said. Stephen Hays, psychology senior, said he rides his bike around campus everyday and has heard about electric bikes but didnâÄôt have enough interest to look into them because of cost. âÄúRight now I couldnâÄôt afford one but in the future IâÄôd look into it,âÄù Hays said. âÄúIt would depend on how fast they go and how long the charge lasts,âÄù Hays said. Electric bikes start at $1,500 and can cost up to $3,000, depending on how new they are, McGuine said. The electric bikes vary in size, look, gender-type, motor-type and size of battery. âÄúPeople have especially been interested in our A2B Ultramotor bike because it looks like a scooter,âÄù McGuine said. Currently, Varsity is the only shop around campus selling electric bikes.