Electric bikes create buzz in Sandys
Some entrepreneurs sell goods they wouldn't be caught dead using themselves, but not Jody Place.
Three years ago the owner of Nakada Electric Bikes gave up driving his company van to get around on an electric bike instead.
“If I need something for the construction business I also run, I just get it delivered,” he said. “I can attach a trolley to my electric bike and can go with a little tool to any job site and do my work.”
He thinks in one year alone he saved $3,000 in licensing fees and insurance for the van, and thousands more in gas.
“I probably paid about $100 a week in gas,” he said. “And that's not even considering what you pay to repair wear and tear on a vehicle.”
Now, at night, he takes the lithium battery from his bike and plugs it in, just as he would any other device. No special charging equipment is required.
So far, he hasn't noticed any change to his electricity bill.
Nakada started out as Exim Home Goods in Somerset Village in 2012, then added electric bikes to its product offerings.
“The America's Cup came along in 2017 and we saw a few,” he said. “I said I think we are leading in the right direction. We went to a few trade shows in the US. We decided that this is something we will take seriously.”
So two years ago they got rid of the home goods, and switched entirely to selling electric bikes.
“The trend is leading to green and we wanted to focus and take a whole new avenue,” Mr Place said.
At first he sold Nakada Explorer foldup bikes. Then customers started asking for all the bells and whistles you'd find on a gas-powered scooter, mirrors, and indicators, for example. So Mr Place added the Alpha Nakada to his line-up.
For $2,795, the Alpha Nakada comes with all the goodies, mirrors, road tires, indicators, a more powerful battery and motor, front and back lights, a brake light and a push button horn.
Mr Place said it took about ten months for the electric bikes to catch on, now he sees people riding by on bikes he sold them, all the time.
“I would say 75 per cent of the electric bikes out there now were sold from our shop in the last two years,” he said.
Compared to a gas-powered scooter or motorbike, there's a lot less on an electric bike to go wrong. But if there is a problem, Mr Place will service it, or send the defective part back to the manufacturer.
Looking to the future, Mr Place thinks we'll probably always need gas-powered vehicles, but he thinks we will see more and more energy-efficient vehicles on the road.
“Bermuda is the perfect place for electric vehicles,” he said. “In Bermuda we don't travel that far or for that long. Unless you're a truck or a taxi, you're probably not driving up and down all the time.”
Because there is no licensing or insurance required, Mr Place thought his bikes might be a good option for a teenager to get used to the road, before getting a motorcycle. The bike's top speed is 22mph. “This teaches them the speed limit,” he said.
He also thought it was an option for people who are off the road due to traffic violations.
“They still have to feed their family, get to work, and save their job,” he said. “These days we can not depend on public transportation. It puts them back to basics.”
The folding bikes can take up to 250lbs and the Alpha Nakadas can take up to 325lbs.
Mr Place said the Alpha Nakada has enough power to get up a hill like Knapton Hill in Smith's.
“With the folding bike you will have to pedal,” he said.
The Alpha Nakada has a low (eco), medium and high-power setting. But Mr Place said you probably wouldn't want to try to pedal it entirely without electric power since it weighs more than 60lbs.
Mr Place's goal is to get an electric bike into every Bermuda home, and maybe beyond. He's thinking of one day expanding into the American market.
• For more information visit the business at 2 East Shore Road in Sandys or call 234-1087