Where to find affordable e-bike fun
Steve Seidner has been around motorcycles all his life. In 1960 his dad, Ed, founded one of the largest motorcycle superstores in the U.S.—Bert’s Mega Mall in Covina, California. Why the name Bert? When Ed bought the building, the name Bert was already up on the building, so he didn’t need to get a new sign made. Talk about an efficient way to get started!
“Like their motorcycles, most of their business is consumer-direct; they ship to all 50 states.”
Eventually, Steve branched out and started a motorcycle accessory company—Pro-One—making billet-aluminum parts for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. In between his time working on Harley-Davidsons, Steve often recalled that his dad had always wanted a Mustang motorcycle, so he bought an unrestored 1954 Mustang on eBay, and after restoring it, he gave it to his dad. That made Ed’s day!
Funny thing about that Mustang, but whenever people came into his shop, they often ignored all the fancy Harley parts and made a beeline for the Mustang. This gave Steve an idea: why not make replicas of the simple bike? He sourced engines from Asia and started building the bikes in Southern California, about 30 miles from where the original Mustang bikes were built. This project became the California Scooter Company, and they sold the motorcycles from 2009 to 2015. Since the company they were buying motors from—Zhongshan—also made full-size motorcycles, Steve started importing them under the CSC brand. Today, they remain the exclusive importers/distributors in North America.
WHAT ABOUT E-BIKES?
Over the years they’ve also picked up quite a few electric scooters and small electric motorcycles, and eventually they added full-size electric motorcycles to their menu. And then three years ago they decided to start selling electric bicycles. Steve wanted to buy one, but was so confused by all the information out there that he decided he could make the experience better for consumers. He specs his bikes to be competitively priced with brand-name components, using motors from Bafang motors and Shimano drivetrains.
Like their motorcycles, most of their business is consumer-direct; they ship to all 50 states. They have videos online to show customers how to assemble the bike from the box, generally a very easy build requiring inserting the front wheel, installing the pedals and the handlebar/stem combination. They have a large and growing library of tutorials on their website to teach customers how to do their own maintenance, even things like adjusting valves on a motorcycle.
They handle their own repairs and warranty if someone brings their bike in, or they can ship it in. All their bikes have a one-year, unlimited mileage warranty. Their e-bikes did start at around $1999, but many have dropped down to around $1599 since the trade tariffs have been dropped and shipping prices have come down considerably.
The shop also has a 10,000-square-foot warehouse off-site that has plenty of inventory of bikes and parts for everything they sell. When they start selling a new bike, they make sure they stock every single nut or bolt on that bike in case a customer needs one. Often, if they run short, they’ll cannibalize parts from a bike they have on the sales floor to make sure a customer has what they need to keep riding, then they’ll replace that part to the showroom bike when it becomes available. This didn’t keep them from running short on some parts during the supply-chain issues, but it certainly helped. Steve says 80 percent of his business is done online, direct to consumers, and it’s been working out very well.