The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

New retail shop in Pearl will sell electric bikes from Germany

Posted by on August 13th, 2009 at 5:23 pm

From the Kalkhoff USA website.

In the latest sign that e-bikes are becoming more mainstream, a new retail bike shop is set to open soon in the Pearl District.

According to sources, a company named Greenlight LLC will open the shop. They are the U.S. distributors of Kalkhoff Bikes, a German brand that has been in existence since 1919 and has a full line of electric bikes.

After we learned about Greenlight a few days ago, an unemployed reader tipped us off to a job listing for their new retail store (they’re looking for a manager).

We haven’t heard from the company yet, but according to their website, Kalkhoff has a full range of electric bikes that are sold in 37 countries and are the #1 selling electric bike in Europe.

Here are a few more photos:

A pretty solid looking bike.

We’ll have more on Greenlight and their plans as details become available.

This would be Portland’s second independent retail shop that sells electric bikes. The e-Bike Store, which stocks a wide range of e-bike brands and will likely sell the Kalkhoffs, opened on N. Vancouver back in April.

2010 just might be the year e-bikes finally break into the American market in a major way.

In Portland, we’ve definitely noticed a trend to more e-assist bikes. Bike Gallery now sells the A2B brand electric bikes from Ultra Motor, Bike n’ Hike on SE Grand carries a full line of e-bikes from Giant Bicycle, and Joe-Bike on SE Hawthorne has added the Portland-made Ecospeed electric assist unit onto their “Box Bike” model.

On the national front, Trek/Gary Fisher has several e-bikes their lineup for next year (as evidenced in all the photos coming out of TrekWorld this week) and national electronics juggernaut Best Buy is now carrying e-bikes from A2B and iZip.

It will be interesting to see if the riding public adopts these battery-powered bikes on a large scale.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you β€” Jonathan

  • Michael August 13, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Hey! this the the advantage of getting OLD! An excuse to indulge in the magic of electric assist. I hope they are accepted into the bike mix and not sneered at by the other riders.

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  • esther August 13, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    I did some focus group testriding for kahlkoff’s marketers a month or so ago. Definitely fun- I could see how these would appeal to people who aren’t in top physical shape, especially for the length or hilliness of the area they want to ride in, but who want to ride. Or even those who want to shave time off a long commute-it added about 5mph to my average speed.

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  • esther August 13, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    The bikes were solid and had a pretty comfy geometry too-I was rising in my typical skirt and heels combo. Plus they came with the full fenders/generator hub lights/rear rack setup. But I was also riding the higher end model, and the woman riding the lower end model (who mostly rides for fitness) didn’t have as good an experience.

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  • Wake Gregg
    Wake Gregg August 13, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Having test ridden the Kalkoff, I can say that it is a true delight. A cyclist’s bike that works with you as you peddle to help on hills and move you faster while still providing a workout.

    5.2 lb Lithium Ion Manganese Battery. 250 Watt Motor (350 coming soon). Because it can use gears, the Mid-drive system can handle the toughest of hills.

    Kudos to the Greenlite team for being the first to do the work to get this bike through the Consumer Safety Product Commission’s regulations that were designed for throttle, not pedal-assisted bikes.

    Welcome Greenlight!

    Wakefield Gregg
    The eBike Store

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  • Machu Picchu August 13, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Something’s missing in the reference to (plug for) the e-Bike Store. Why is it “likely” that they will sell this bike. Were sources consulted that aren’t named? Lay it on the table, Jonathan and your growing crew. Please.


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  • Machu Picchu August 13, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Oh, and let me add that . . . I dig the idea of electric assist – it’s like a moped without the gas and the noise. Soooo – the comment about “good for those not in the best of shape” smells like the comments about single-speeds being good “if you don’t live on a hill”.

    Poppycock, clearly, on both counts. So let’s clear it up at once. Thanks,

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  • Terry August 13, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Any contact info available for Greenlight?

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  • eli bishop August 13, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    so, so happy to see ebikes becoming a mainstream option. i wanted one for years but bike gallery wouldn’t touch them — until the a2b, which is simply ugly. so i got my townie converted by the ebike store and i LOVE her! just enough assistance to get me up the hills near my house and i get to keep my own beautiful, feet-on-the-ground bike. but if there had been a good ebike option when i was first looking for one, i would have bought it.

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  • Alice August 13, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Style is the key to ebikes becoming popular. One word, Pedego. The best looking electric bicycles on the market.

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  • wsbob August 13, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    People in the bikeportland forums have had a discussion recently about E-bikes and specifically, their appearance on bike lanes. For some good reasons, there are people that resent the presence of these bikes on those roadways.

    Still, E-bikes may well take off with the public in a big way, as they have over recent years in China (got a link to a great article about that in the forum thread).

    Also of note: I don’t go into Best Buy often, but when I did a couple weeks ago, I was surprised to see the store is selling electric 4-6 models of 2 wheeled vehicles; bikes, scooters, and an ugly Segway with tractor tires. E-motion is here.

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  • toddistic August 14, 2009 at 12:42 am

    wsbob: as discussed, I don’t resent their presence on the roadway, I resent their presence in bike lanes. They are not bikes, they are motorcycles. Hopefully both of these toy shops will be out of business…

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  • Todd Boulanger August 14, 2009 at 12:42 am

    And I was shocked to see the center of the sales floor of Best Buy filled with a few Ebikes and Segways last week too!

    (It seemed like such a mismatch…with a few measly bike accessories next to the Baja scooters, etc. – as if Gi Joes exploded onto Best Buy’s appliance section.)

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  • Michael August 14, 2009 at 7:34 am

    E-bike skeptics: Have you tried one? An electric assist bike is no way a motorcycle or even a moped, in use or in the law. It is no more so than would a downhill ride, or strong tailwind make a bike into a motorcycle. The motor only kicks in when there is pedal pressure. It lightens the load. It does not do all the work.

    I have been a bike commuter in PDX since 1978. I rode the Hawthorne bridge when it literally had wood plank sidewalks less than 1/2 as wide as today. It can be attested I am a committed biker. Now I have come to find out that regardless of exercise and good diet I have heart disease. The ticking muscle aches with too much exertion. I will be shopping for, and buying an electric assist bike in the next year or two because the only way I will be able to continue long rides is with the assist, that or a true motorcycle, or even a more use of a car.

    So, if you see a geezer politely pacing you, in a bike lane, on a bike with a small electric motor, please, just grin and bear it. In time it will be you, too.

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  • buglas August 14, 2009 at 7:53 am

    I was able to test ride an e-bike at a fair last spring and I can see the concerns folks have about them being an electric moped. Most people hopped on and treated it like a scooter with offset foot pegs – they thumbed the throttle and blasted away. Further, the salesman wasn’t too forward about mentioning that the particular model that day was overpowered. The state law on e-bikes says something like they can’t exceed 20mph on level ground without pedal assistance. For my test ride, I pedaled this 70lb beastie away from the clusters of people and out to a nearby parking lot, then tried out the power.

    We already have lots of jerks on the road – stronger pedalers who blast past without warning. Sadly, e-bikes will enable a few more to join that club. Still, I welcome them. There are many people who would ride bikes except for that one big hill between them and the rest of the world, or because they don’t have the range to reach the necessary parts of their personal world because of age or injury or… The throttle happy oafs will find themselves a long way from home with flabby legs and depleted batteries – the novelty will wear off. The people who use the motor for an assist – behaving like bikes – will still get the health benefits of cycling and will blend in nicely with the crowd.

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  • Ethan August 14, 2009 at 8:02 am

    I appreciate Michael’s and others’ assertions that electric assist bikes are great for older and less able bikers. Having experienced motorized vehicles on the Springwater corridor and the Hawthorne bridge, I do recognize inherent in the introduction of this technology a “slippery slope,” if you will, leading to more and more motorized vehicles on trails unless we make a particular distinction about allowable use. The noise issue is huge, and I imagine that these electrics are silent or have a low hum(?). Could someone clarify what the technical meaning of the signs that say “No Motorized Vehicles” is if it doesn’t include electric assist? Does it have to do with noise levels, horsepower, propulsioin method, or some other condition?

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  • buglas August 14, 2009 at 8:15 am

    A snippet from the article last April when commenter #4 Wake Gregg opened his store: – If you’re curious about how Oregon statutes treat electric bikes, Wake says there are four main laws to keep in mind: You can’t go above 20 mph unassisted; they are illegal on sidewalks; operators must be over 16 years of age; and they are legal on bike lanes and bike paths.

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  • Mike Quigley August 14, 2009 at 8:26 am

    Here’s a good review of these bikes:

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  • esther August 14, 2009 at 9:01 am

    I appreciate machu picchu deriding my commentary as ‘poppycock’. So much more pleasantly anachronistic than some of the insults people would like to hurl on here. Heh. πŸ™‚
    Having ridden the bike, I can agree that I don’t think they pose a threat except for people who are already a threat anyway because they unaware of safe riding habits.

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  • Kt August 14, 2009 at 9:24 am

    I saw in yesterday’s Oregonian, SW Weekly section, that Tigard’s mayor has taken up riding to his regular day job as well as his mayor job, and has also started up an online company selling electric bikes.

    Thought I’d chime in with that, there’s a great quote from him in the story to the effect that he thought riding on Hwy 99W would be terrifying, but once he actually went out and rode on 99, he realized that it’s really not that bad! πŸ™‚

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  • wsbob August 14, 2009 at 9:40 am

    toddistic #11, I knew at the time of posting my comment that your resentment of E-bikes was related to their presence on bike lanes, and apologize for confusion that occurred from my using the word ‘roadway’ as synonymous with ‘bike lane’.

    I just got to thinking while writing, well…aren’t bike lanes a roadway too? Maybe not, since unlike other roadways, bike lanes do not allow the use of motor vehicles except for electric assist bikes.

    Re; Todd Boulanger’s comment #12: Adding a note about the Baja scooter Best Buy displays with the other electric bikes and Segway: The Baja scooter, to me at least, was virtually indistinguishable from a Vespa-type scooter, yet it’s also an electric vehicle. Is there much of a chance that something like that will be compatible in the bike lane with the type of use bike lanes were designed for? I feel doubtful about that.

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  • Fixedale August 14, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Thanks for posting this. Now I know what blew by me a few weeks ago on my home commute up Terwilliger. It had been bugging me for awhile because there was something very unnatural about the way this thing looked and was being ridden. The rider was sitting very upright and was turning the pedals over with the cadence of someone riding on a boardwalk not up a somewhat lengthy climb. I was thinking Johan Bruneel needed to see this guy although he was rail thin and not built like the guys that usually blow by me.
    Anyway, I guess my real issue with something like this being ridden in a bike lane is not so much conflicts with other bicycles but with cars. I know when I drive I have a certain expectation of how fast a cyclist is moving by reading his or her body language and position on a bike (maybe I think about this too much because I’m a cyclist). And what I saw completely belied what I’m used to thinking about someone riding in such an upright position.

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  • Brad August 14, 2009 at 11:22 am

    I sense the battle is coming. How long until the e-bike crowd gets all incensed about the damned “still pedaling?!” riders that take forever to clip in and get rolling after each stop light impeding their way?

    If these get popular, the city better have a plan to deal with very crowded bike lanes and paths.

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  • Jeremy August 14, 2009 at 11:49 am

    i just finished writing a formal review of the ecospeed-powered joe bike sold by joe bike (fancy that) –the review will appear in the fall edition of momentum magazine. i can say without a doubt that mid-drive electric-assist is an excellent feature and a welcome addition to a variety of cycling applications.

    certainly, e-assist is appreciated (and even demanded) for loaded cargo bikes bouncing around portland’s hilly terrains, but it has appeal beyond said application. when cruising on the eco-speed-powered joe bike (including a trip up mt. tabor with my 5-yr-old) the bike actually seemed to encourage me to assist ‘it’, as opposed to it assisting me. it’s an odd feeling, but the transmission was so flexible that i felt motivated to see which of us was the stronger horse. πŸ™‚

    what’s more, e-assist doesn’t have to burn carbon for power –even in cloudy portland. combined with a small, affordable solar panel pumping power to a deep-cycle battery (connected to an inverter), you’ve got a ‘free’ source of electricity to keep the batteries topped-off. expensive? yes. fun to ride and beneficial? definitely. a potential auto replacement for folks in hilly areas or small business owners in need of a delivery vehicle? certainly. the potential is enormous. e-assist bicycles open many doors for many people.

    i’m a daily commuter who uses cargo bikes for nearly everything that demands urban transportation. e-assist bikes are a welcome addition to the ever-growing arsenal of weapons available to those of us who use cars like an atomic bomb –only when all other options fail.

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  • Shoemaker August 14, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Electric bikes (along with crazy traffic) were one of the most notable aspects of my month in China in June. I was a student in Beijing a long time ago and I think it’s not out of proportion to say cycling there has declined by about 80% since those days.

    Of the bicycles still on the road in Beijing, and Shenyang, my casual estimate was that electric bikes and electric scooters were approaching 50%.

    In China they have a lot of electric bikes whose pedal drivetrain is about as useful as the pedal drivetrain on a moped. Unlike the hoards of noisy dirty scooters in Italy, China has a growing hoard of totally silent electric bikes and electric scooters. Their very silence makes them likeable.

    It was interesting to see that you could get a really nice electric bike, way better than any I’ve seen here so far, for around USD $500.

    For context, that high end $500 electric bike price in China was half the price of a high end name brand bike with top quality components, even when made in China, at the bike shop across the street from the electric bike shop in Beijing.

    When considering the electric bike as a replacement for someone pedalling a bike, it seems a little depressing, but when considering it as a replacement for some average, or beater car, I find it more than promising.

    Late at night, I saw more than a few people pedalling their electric bikes around Beijing when their batteries were all gone. Do they make electric cars with pedal assist? πŸ˜‰

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  • wsbob August 14, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Here’s a link to the page with my post(#52)in the forum thread that I mentioned here in a comment earlier:

    page from forum thread about E-bikes in the bike lane

    It has excepts from an article with a bunch of stats about the rate at which E-bikes are being put into use in places such as China and India.

    The info might be dated in part; one thing it claims, is that many of China’s E-bikes use lead acid batteries that produce a lot of pollution:

    “Although China is beginning to turn out more electric bikes equipped with nickel-meter-hydride and lithium-ion batteries, 98 percent run on lead-acid types, says Guo.

    A bike can use up to five of the batteries in its lifetime, according to Christopher Cherry, a professor at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville who researches the industry. A Chinese-made battery containing 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of lead can generate nearly 7 kilograms (about 15 pounds) of lead pollution, he says.”

    Other stats in the article suggest E-bikes have taken off over there..big time.

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  • 007 August 14, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    I bike commute every work day year round. I don’t want these in the bike lanes or on the bridge sidewalks.

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  • Michael August 15, 2009 at 8:03 am

    We often look to Amsterdam for models of bike issues. E-bikes are a large part of the very successful mix there. Perhaps we could look there again for guidance.

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  • Foz-man August 15, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    007 – too bad, they’re coming in a big way, best get used to the fact that more people will be commuting by bike just like you, but with the assist of a little electric motor.

    Can’t fight the market.

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  • Catherine August 17, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    007–seen one? ridden one? know how they work? if not, then you either have no idea what you’re talking about or just like throwing tantrums about the possibility of being passed by a middle aged woman. either way, you look like an idiot.

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  • Charles Duffy September 30, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    I’m in Austin, not Portland — and just to comment, our cycling community here is jealous of ‘yall’s platinum rating, and we’re looking to catch up! πŸ™‚

    Anyhow — I own an Optibike 850, a higher-end ebike made in Colorado. Being a mid-drive bike (like the ones discussed here), the motor works in tandem with the bottom bracket, and *wants* to be pedaled; indeed, it’s only running optimally if you’re maintaining a cadence around 85-90.

    I sometimes ride my old bike instead on my 15-mile, hilly commute — and arrive later and sweatier, and find myself more tempted to cheat and take the bus part of the way; by contrast, because the electric motor on the Opti helps to smooth out the hills, I can go three times further before my legs are killing me *despite* pedaling with about the same amount of effort (albeit for considerably more speed) on the flats.

    There are still some very fit bikers who can out-race me on flat ground or light inclines — the electric assist is very nice, especially when climbing hills, but it doesn’t put me in a completely different category of vehicle, and I still show up sweaty when I get to work (at Dell, which is a very cycling-friendly employer — free showers, and I can take the bike inside with me and charge it instead of trusting it to the racks).

    So — stop worrying, ‘yall! More fellow cyclists on the road means fewer cars to contend with, and mid-drive (as opposed to hub motor) e-bikes *want* to be pedaled, so you’re not needing to share your lane with a bunch of underpowered mopeds.

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  • John September 30, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    I own an Optibike a very high cost E bike and use it to commute to work , go shopping and have fun. I use it instead of the car. I stay away from bike paths, I do ride in bike lanes, I pass others only when I can take the auto lane and in the last year I have never had a conflict with another bike rider in the real world. I have had many threats and insults directed at me in cyberspace however.

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  • JH December 14, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Welcome to the community, I always thought the Pearl could use a shop like this!

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