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Want an E-bike? Fresno Shop Can Convert Your Dusty Old Schwinn Into a Modern Marvel

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Motion Madness E-Bikes offers new electric bicycles and also can convert your regular bike to battery power. (GV Wire/Liz Juarez)
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Electric bikes are the hot ticket in the cycling world, but they also put a dent in your pocketbook.

While a typical commuter bicycle usually lands somewhere under $1,000, electric bikes often sell between $2,000 and $3,000.

But there is a way to go electric on a budget and it’s converting your dusty old Schwinn — or some other model — with help from a popular Fresno bike shop.

Fresno Shop Offers Custom E-bike Conversions

About four years ago, Mike Chakov and his son Ron Chakov opened Motion Madness E-Bikes in Fresno.

They sell new e-bikes along with converting old bikes over to battery power, so long as they qualify. The option to convert your bike along with the price all depends on the condition of your bike and how fast you want to go.

“So people will come in because they really love their bike and they love the component,” said Ron. “So then we give them a price to convert it to electric.”

“We take the owner’s bike and convert it to either a mid-drive or a hub-drive, and we have done this to not only bikes but recumbents,” said Mike. “A free inspection at our service center is available to qualify your existing bike.”

Since 2018, the shop has converted about 150 road bikes, beach cruisers, and mountain bikes into electrics.

Bicycle Ridership Increased During the Pandemic

What’s driving this demand for electric bikes?

A 2018 bicycle industry analysis showed e-bike sales were steadily increasing between 2017 and 2018, with e-bikes making up 10% of all bike sales in the U.S. for that time period.

And then the pandemic hit. With many people cooped up inside, people who hadn’t picked up a bicycle in years were now riding around town. Sales for cruiser bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes, and e-bikes exploded.

 

Fresno’s Motion Madness E-bikes is among the few shops in the state that offer every type of electric bike including conversions and maintenance. (GV Wire/ Liz Juarez)

Who’s in the Market for Electric Bikes?

In some ways, the pandemic created a societal shift with many individuals prioritizing leisure activities. Individuals young and old, able-bodied and disabled, took the opportunity to go out and explore the world.

“We have people in their sixties that will come in and haven’t ridden a bike in 30 years,” said Ron. “So then they come here and they see an electric bike as like a second chance because an electric bike basically gives you a boost.”

In addition, e-bikes offer people without a driver’s license a quicker way to get around. While there are many types of e-bikes on the market, those classified as Class 3 can go up to 28 mph, making them popular with people whose jobs are 10 to 12 miles away from home.

Other e-bike buyers take them with them for camping or stash them in their RVs when going on vacation.

Electric Bikes Offer Comfort When Traveling Cross Country

After retiring a few years ago, Ted Ruiz and his wife recently decided to hit the road with their bikes in tow.

“I’ve been using mountain bikes for years,” said Ruiz. “I do a lot of backpacking and it was the closest thing to hiking that you can cover so much more ground on.”

Now, Ruiz and his wife have opted to travel the country together. They use their e-bikes to explore places they have never seen before.

“We’ve hit 20 states in four months, and we park the truck, unload the bikes in the middle of Nashville or Dallas or wherever we are. We can tour the town on our bikes,” said Ruiz. “It’s a lot cheaper than driving around, and we’re just able to get around so much better, faster and it’s a great mode of transportation.”

Ruiz said that he initially was unsure about what type of bike he needed or wanted. His fear was that electric bikes would be much more complicated than the typical bike.

“I’ve done a fair amount of mountain bike riding, and so I did a lot of research for a couple of months,” said Ruiz. “Then I found a guy, Mike with Motion Madness in Fresno, who showed me all about e-bikes.”

Ruiz opted for a rugged mountain bike with 4-inch wide tires and the power to take him up steep grades.

“After a year, my wife had to have one. So we went back down there and we bought one of the folding ones for her,” said Ruiz. “It’s a smaller, lighter but still with 4-inch tires.”

Motion Madness offers electric bikes that are foldable for easy travel accommodations. (GV Wire/Liz Juarez)

Working on E-Bikes Before It Was Cool

Working on electric bikes comes easy to Mike, who is not only an avid cyclist but also an electrical engineer.

Ron says he remembers his father tinkering with old bikes and ordering old parts and pieces online or direct from China.

“He actually bought an electric bike at an auction once, but it was an old LED acid with a very heavy battery, the same batteries that we would have in our cars,” said Ron. “So he then decided to convert his own bike, and kind of learned over time.”

Now, Mike is teaching another mechanic in the shop to convert regular bikes into electric bikes.

“I said to myself, I need an electric bike and I built one for myself. Everything else just kind of blossomed from there,” said Mike.

Find Out What Electric Bike is Right for You

You can visit Motion Madness E-bikes Facebook page, give them a call at (559) 908-4904, or visit their shop at 3483 W. Gettysburg Ave. They also have a shop in Pismo Beach at 931 Taft St.

Liz Juarez joined GV Wire in July, 2021 as a Digital News Producer. She has experience working for publications around the Central Valley including the Clovis Roundup, Porterville Recorder and Hanford Sentinel. While in college, she interned for Mountain West Athletics and served as Outreach Chair for the Fresno State Radio and Television Digital News Association (RTDNA). Liz earned a bachelor's degree in Media Communications and Journalism at Fresno State and a master's degree in Communications from Arizona State University. In her down time, she enjoys reading, drawing and staying active by playing basketball, taking trips to the coast and visiting national parks. You can contact Liz at liz.juarez@gvwire.com

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