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Bike rental store owners say electric models provide exercise option that’s physically less challenging

A new business in Mead offers adults the fun and freedom they remember from childhood bike rides, with a little help on the pedal power.

Brothers Joseph and Rob Welk recently opened Spokane Electric Bike Rental.

“I’ve been in the insurance business for 11 years,” said Rob Welk, a 1989 Rogers High School grad. “And people continually ask me how to reduce their health care costs. The answer is simply to get healthy.”

Exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle, but Welk said traditional bike manufacturers target consumers who are already fit. When he bought an electric bike two years ago, he said he realized how attractive this mode of transportation would be for nonathletes who wanted fresh air and exercise.

“You can set the maximum speed,” he explained. “Anything over that and the biker has to do the work.”

When he and his brother decided to open their sales and rental business they traveled across the country testing different models.

“We wanted a bike that’s specifically for Spokane. We don’t have the greatest roads,” said Welk. “Lots of potholes and debris on the sides of the road.”

They also wanted bikes that would be user-friendly for older people.

“In Spokane County we have a disproportionate percentage of retirees and people over 65,” he said. “All the features we created are unique to Spokane.”

Those features include fat tires and an oversize battery.

“We focused more on utility than athleticism,” he said. “The fat tires absorb shock and can go in sand, snow or dirt. They’re more stable on uneven surfaces. The oversize battery means higher peak power, so even uphill isn’t a struggle.”

Lithium ion batteries also mean more miles between charging.

The business offers two cruiser styles and a tricycle as well as a foldable bike. If you are using the bike as part of your work commute and the bike rack on the bus is full, Welk said you can simply fold up your bike and carry it on the bus.

Rental rates are $50 per day or $7.50 per hour which includes helmets and locks. Rental fees can also apply to the purchase price. A cruiser model runs $1,700 and a tricycle $1,950.

“People can be scared of the price because it’s a big purchase,” said Welk.

To make the purchase more attractive the business offers an extended warranty and an option to return the bike after four months or 400 miles, less $400, as long as it’s in pristine condition.

“We have a short riding season in Spokane and you may want to return it at the end of the season and try out another model next season,” Welk said.

He hopes people will attend Saturday’s Open House and test-drive a bike or two.

“It’s such a fun way to exercise,” he said. “The sights, the smells – you don’t even know how much time you’ve been on the bike. It’s like being a kid again.”


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