Mike Majors, owner of the Electric Bike Shop
Battling the twin crises of a struggling economy and an ailing environment, Mike Majors is a man on a transportation mission. His aim is to increase eco-friendly alternatives to driving cars around the capital region. A graduate of Sacramento State University, Majors was a civil engineer who specialized in commercial and retail development for companies such as British Petroleum. Then, the housing bubble blew and tanked his job. Swiftly, Majors got busy on a new career. He is now the owner of The Electric Bike Shop, located at 3644 J Street. His electric bikes retail for $500 to $3,500 and cost far less than cars to operate. Majors practices what he preaches, riding a lithium-battery powered electric bike around town for business and pleasure.
When did you open The Electric Bike Shop?
I opened up my retail store in East Sacramento on December 11.
What does your business do?
We sell and service electric bikes and scooters for transportation purposes. I plan to begin renting them in the future. I can’t do that right now, due to the affordability of insurance premiums, though customers can do demonstration rides of bikes and scooters now.
What do customers need to operate an electric bike and scooter?
By law, electric bike riders of all ages are required to wear a helmet, which I recommend anyway. With all my bikes, there are no insurance, registration or driver’s license requirements.
What drives the demand for your business?
In a nutshell, it is the price of gas—$4 per gallon around town. Electric bikes, with far smaller carbon footprints, are for people to use as alternates instead of driving their cars around. Some 90 percent of the average person’s driving is 20 miles from home. That’s what these bikes are all about.
Who are your customers?
They are commuters and people who want to be a little healthier. I sell a lot of electric bikes to folks age 55 and up. They understand the value of a buck and kind of want to get out and be like a kid again. I also sell many Razor scooters to youth ages 8 to 16.
How do the electric bikes work?
Riders move forward propelled with battery power and their pedaling. It’s natural to peddle. Riding electric bikes increases your heart rate, while not building muscle mass.
How are you weathering the weak economy?
My service of electric bikes and scooters is getting me through. I am the only service site in Sacramento for the electric Razor scooters.
When and where did you begin with bikes?
I rode and raced BMX and mountain bikes as a kid living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was always into riding and repairing them, along with go-carts and mini-bikes.
What happened after you lost your engineering job?
I began to earn money repairing boat, car and lawn-care machine engines. Then, a friend and I began to sell and service electric bikes and scooters out of our homes.
What has surprised you the most since opening The Electric Bike Shop?
The public’s view of electric bikes as mainly for exercise and leisure and not for transit. So I am educating people about this alternate form of battery-powered transportation that people in Asia and Europe have been using since World War II. Electric bikes are affordable, here to stay and are the real deal.
How many employees do you have?
None now. I work in my shop six days a week. Monday I am closed, but I am still working on my business.
Where do you see your business in a year, or three years?
Ultimately, I want to operate multiple stores and turn my business into a franchise, given my background in development. That’s my ultimate goal. But the big thing now is education.
Can you explain further?
Well, the push is on for green, environmentally friendly technology in the public and private sectors today. Government tends to focus mainly on the energy efficiency of buildings. Yet how people transit to and from those buildings also makes a huge environmental and fiscal difference. I would like to sell fleets of electric-powered bikes and scooters to local and state government agencies for their work forces to use.