Electric bike seller Rocket Electrics opens downtown location

John and Nicole Zinn pose with an electric cargo bike in front of the newest location of Rocket Electrics in downtown Austin. PAM LeBLANC/American-Statesman

Last Sunday morning, I had places to go and things to do.

But between the Run for the Water, where I needed to arrive with fresh legs at 6:30 a.m., and the Texas Book Festival, where I wasn’t sure I could find a convenient car-sized parking space, I opted for my alternate mode of transportation – an electric bike.

A few years ago, my husband Chris mail-ordered the motor and other parts he needed to convert two of our bikes (yes, we have a shed full) into electric bikes.

RELATED: Electric bikes put extra oomph in every pedal stroke

My e-bike doesn’t replace my commuter bike, which is powered solely by my own legs. That’s the bike I use to get back and forth to work most days. Rather, I use my e-bike when I need to get someplace without blowing my legs out or I’m worried about parking. It’s not for exercise, although I can set my e-bike to provide more or less motor assistance, depending on how much of a workout I want.

I can make a couple of trips downtown and back on a single charge of my e-bike, so it saves me gas money, too. And it’s easy to park on one of the numerous bike racks in the city.

But back to my story. My e-bike is home-made, and I wanted to check out some of the fancy, store-bought electric bikes now on the market, so I headed to the newest location of Rocket Electrics, which opened this month.

Unlike the original Rocket Electrics store on East Riverside Drive, which sells e-bikes made by Pedego and Easy Motion (prices start at a little over $1,000 for the least expensive models, although most cost between $2,200 and $3,000), the new store specializes in high-end Riese & Müller bikes, which sell for between $4,000 and $11,000. Think of them as the Mercedes-Benzes of e-bikes.

Owner Nicole Zinn hopes to capture some of the foot traffic she expects to blossom in the Second Street District, now that the new Central Library has opened.

She let me borrow one of the Riese & Müller bikes for a quick spin. My thoughts? Smooth, sleek, shiny, fun – and a little out of my price range. But I can drool, can’t I?

The new shop is located at 408 West Second. Stop by for the 2nd Street Social from 5-8 p.m. tonight (Thursday) for German beer, wine and stroopwafels from Austin’s Stroop Club, plus some fun contests that involve a cargo ebike and pumpkins.


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