ASHLAND ELECTRIC BIKES
Jerry Solomon fell in love with bikes at an early age. He customized his first Stingray-style bicycle with a homemade (and, as he admits, not entirely successful) chopper fork and sissy bar. He spent a decade of riding mountain bikes in Crested Butte, Colorado, where he also did a stint as the local ice cream man on a custom three-wheeled bicycle. After that, he worked for two decades in the graphic design and signage industries. All along, bicycle commuting was always part of his lifestyle.
About 14 years ago Jerry bought an e-bike conversion kit for his old mountain bike. On his first ride, he had an epiphany: “This is what America needs to get more people on bikes!” Noting that Americans in general are not as fit as Europeans and that we have to travel further distances since our version of small towns more closely resemble big cities, he nonetheless realized that with an electric bike, the bridge to get more people on bikes was not
Riding around Ashland, Oregon, he found a local shop that had one e-bike—an underpowered, European-spec’d bike. The employees of the shop didn’t know anything about it and made Jerry feel guilty for even asking about the “cheater” bike. Another bike shop in the area had one bike with a weak electric conversion kit. He took that for a spin and thought it was utterly unspectacular, thinking to himself, “I can do better than this!”
However, Jerry’s excitement remained steadfast about e-bikes that he decided to start making his own. And then he made a few more and he sold them, and then ordered a few more.
THE LIVING-ROOM SALES FLOOR
Soon his living room looked like a shop, with the pictures taken down and tools hanging on the wall: “I just laughed and said, ‘You know, there’s a business here that wants to be birthed in this area, and I guess I’m the guy that’s gonna make that happen.’” He went down to City Hall on April Fool’s Day: “That was important in and of itself, like to keep it all in perspective and say, ‘Okay, I’m doing this for fun; let’s not get too crazy serious about it. And let’s get rolling.’ And that’s how it started.”
“I’ve got hundreds of customers, and this isn’t just a hobby that’s gotten out of hand. Now it’s a full-blown business, rockin’ and rollin’ ever since!”
He started with a storage locker filled with bikes, and from there he moved into his first shop. It was tiny, but it worked, and even from those humble beginnings and the technology that was available back then, he was making a living and, most important of all, getting people on bikes.
Five years ago the shop finally moved to its current location. For the first time, he actually put a sign of the open up on the door. “It was like, okay, you know, I need to be here. At this point. I’ve got hundreds of customers, and
this isn’t just a hobby that’s gotten out of hand. Now it’s a full-blown business, and I’ve been rockin’ and rollin’ ever since!”
Jerry had no idea that he had a record-breaking business. A few years ago when he was attending the CABDA bike show he met two other bike shop owners—Sterling McCord from Bend Electric Bikes and Wake Gregg from The EBike Store in Portland—and they said, “You know, we were just talking about you this morning. Do you realize that you are the longest, continuously operating electric bike-specific shop in the U.S.?!” Jerry couldn’t believe it. He thought they’d been doing it longer than he had, because those are two of the people that he had relied on for advice.
The shop no longer does conversions, because Jerry admits how much better the e-bike technology has become. His shop carries Bulls, Magnum, Niner, Surface 604, Batch, Pegasus, Tern and Revi bikes. They offer rentals for those who want to either ride while they’re there for vacation or if they want to try one before they buy it.
During the pandemic, when other bike shops are having trouble getting inventory, Jerry and his staff have planned ahead. Part of the plan has been to carry brands that do multiple runs per year to keep bikes rolling in. They have two storage spaces that they keep stocked with bikes and have been almost unaffected by the supply-chain shortages because of this. They now stock twice the number of bikes they have in the past. Sales have been through the roof in the first quarter of 2021, and they have already doubled their best year during 2020.
The shop is located at 1678 Ashland Street, Ashland, OR 97520, and their number is (541) 951-3034. Their website is www.ashlandelectricbikes.com.