Electric Bikes in Santa Barbara—A Look at this Town’s Options.
For many years now we make the trek to this sea-side wonder for our Annual Santa Barbara Bicycle Tour. Normally it is us, two bikes and our gear on the Amtrak. On occasion we have had friends join us. This time we took the folding bikes in the car to enjoy our four day vacation of fun and sun. We also brought along a friend’s folding E-bike to have it fixed and up-dated by the factory personal in their new shop there.
There are so many great sights, places and riding opportunities for people on bikes to soak-in. We have our favorites and with each trip we find new ones. This long weekend was no different. I had decided ahead of time to add to our fun by checking out the local E-bike scene and all the shops there. With some on-line investigation I got our shop visits planned and organized. Here is how it all worked out.
Leaving home at a decent morning hour, we did a great job of missing the Orange County and Los Angeles rush hour traffic, so our drive was easy and fairly quick. In the trunk was our friend’s Busettii Mini to get dropped off at our first stop. In the back seat was the E-Brompton and Tern Link P9 we brought to tour the town on. Plus we expected on riding many of the shops bikes too, which we did. In among the bikes were our bags, cooler and the such. It wasn’t that tight of a fit for our little car.
First stop was the new Busettii shop on Olive St. Larry and his wife Victoria opened “We Bike Electric” (WBE) just recently and their main line are Busettii E-bikes. Alan, the man behind Busettii, was to be there to greet us and do the work on Steve’s bike, but was flu stricken. Even still we enjoyed seeing the shop and meeting the shop owners. We found out they were having a grand opening the next evening, so as we left we promised to be a part of it.
On to our motel, where we checked in and then broke out the folding bikes for a ride into town. The bike and walking path along the beach is wide and very comfortable. We enjoyed a great evening meal and wowed the locals with our bikes adorned with red, white and blue lights from LightMeUp Safety Lights. The area is well suited for bikes and we always enjoy our time in Santa Barbara.
In the morning our investigative tour shifted into high gear. Just across the highway from the beach is Segway of Santa Barbara. Jerry’s shop specializes in Segway tours, rentals and sales, yet they are a Prodecotech E-bike dealer. They had several on the floor, in addition to a A2B and a converted E-bike that belong to the owners. They only had one bike that was available for test riding, and seeing that I have ridden and done videos on may Prodecotech E-bikes, that was fine.
We hung out, met a couple of the tour guides, and got a general feel for Segway of Santa Barbara. Across the street is a cool surf shop and museum, so a quick peek was needed. We rode by the main bicycle rental places (there are two of this company‘s shops in town), and even though their website says they offer E-bikes to rent, they really don’t. That and we were treated poorly and got a rental bike from them years ago that had major problems, so we didn’t bother to stop and say hi.
We rode much of the length of the water line and then turned to go into the far end of town. We went to the horse and buggy museum, but they we closed for renovations. So on to visit Karen at E-bike Santa Barbara. It is here where we had our biggest surprise and saw the future of E-bikes in this town. Karen has assembled an impressive fleet of nice E-bikes for group tours and rentals. She has two large trailers for getting the bikes to the tour locations and is quite organized.
We spent much time talking to her. She (personally) has reworked each bike with modern motors and batteries, and outfitted them with comfy saddles and everything they need for the best E-bike tours. Right now she has two tour choices (Ojai and the Santa Barbara Mission) with more to come. She can accommodate very large groups and we could tell that she makes sure each person has the best of experiences. We are going to take one soon and I will do a full report on just how great it is.
From there we rode around town, shot some videos of regular bike shops and went to the top of the court house for the 360 degree view of the whole area. Then we stopped by the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition. They have a great location and a great mission. Check out their website, FB page and the video I shot there. Fantastic job from this group, we love it.
Just down the street is Ooty’s Scooters. They are mostly a scooter shop but offer Prodecotech E-bikes. The crew there was interesting and we got much info on the local scene for E-bikes and scooters. Once again, check the video for a look at the shop.
We did some other stuff as our Annual Santa Barbara Bicycle Tour continued, including stopping at Bill Atkins studio. He is our favorite local artist and it is a mush see location for any visitors to this town. Bill calls his work “junk art”, but don’t believe it, it is just awesome. He and his wife are incredibly creative and you could spend a whole day enjoying their pieces. Their studio isn’t necessarily open to the public, yet they welcome you in if the time is right.
From there we went back over to WBE to check on the grand opening preparations. Barbara was happy to help Victoria with the sandwiches and other food for the party. A guy with a local winery was setting up for the wine tasting too. While that was going on I mounted-up a few bikes from their sales floor for rides and videos. Then we headed back to the motel to freshen up and get dressed for the cooler evening air.
We rode back to WBE (We Bike Electric) and met many locals, and talked food, wine and E-bikes. I still have yet to meet Alan. He said he would do the work to Steve’s Busetti and bring it back to San Diego during some work errands here. It is almost two weeks later and he has yet to bring it, but has messaged me to say it will happen soon. I should be able to post a video of Steve’s Busettii Mini in its fully repaired and up-dated form soon.
The grand opening party wound down and a tired couple pedaled back to their motel, only to watch old Indiana Jones movies till the late hours. A slightly cloudy morning dawned, finding us with big plans to share a POG (Pedego Owner’s Group) ride with Pedego Santa Barbara. Before that we managed to do a couple other fun things. One was a stop at the new Art Foundry to get a tour and see their artwork on display.
The foundry tour was eye opening, seeing us get the full rundown on how each piece is created and made. It was hard to break away, yet a schedule was set. Next stop was at REI to see the Currie Technologies E-bikes there. They only had a few and the sales people knew little about them. Still, they are available for test rides. They had last year’s models on the floor. REI doesn’t push them much and it would have been nice to see more IZIP and eFlow E-bikes in the local shops.
Finally we arrived to hang with Bob and his son Reed at Pedego Santa Barbara. They had a big day going with the BBQ fired up, cold drinks and other activities. You may know that we go to many Pedego shops, so when I say this is one of the nicest we’ve visited, I think you can believe me. During our several hours there, it was amazing how many stopped in to learn more about E-bikes. And many of those climbed aboard to get their first E-bike thrill.
The selection of bikes and colors is great. The accessories sections were over-filled with the coolest items. The shop is a perfectly restored auto repair shop, right in the middle of town, very close to the beach. They really do well with rentals, as Santa Barbara is a fantastic place for E-bikes. The town grades-up slightly as you pedal away from the beach, but as you get near and past the mission it gets a lot steeper. We love going to the Botanical Center, and when we’ve done it on non E-bikes it is a real chore. The town is really bike friendly too.
Bob planned a POG ride for the day. I found out something I already knew this day, Howard at Pedego Dana Point is Bob’s brother. We had a great day and POG ride at the Pedego Dana Point grand opening last year. The POG ride this day was not as big in numbers, but was just as big in the fun we had. We met two new friends during the ride. Bob and Karey, newly transplanted locals were our tour guides for the ride. Yes it was just the four of us, but in some ways it made it so much better.
Barbara was set-up with a yellow low-framed Pedego Comfort Cruiser from their rental fleet. They had so many rentals out that day I ended up on a brand-new Interceptor (last year’s model) that was custom converted into a Urban Commuter, a dealer custom. Karey was on her white City Commuter while Bob rode his non E-powered road bike. As we headed out, Pedego Santa Barbara shot a interview video with me as the star.
We rode up the coast route and then into Hope Ranch. I especially liked this because with all our trips there we had never done this area. Beautiful scenery was ours as the swooping roads rose to give us some great views of the beaches and hills. Interesting conversation melted into the ride and we really bonded with our new riding friends. We will see them here in San Diego soon. Such is the way with bikes, E-bikes even more so.
It seemed the ride and day ended too quickly. We did hit a couple more bike shops for videos during the ride and had an awesome dinner with our red, white and blue lit folding bikes parked on the sidewalk just on the other side of the window from our table. Leaving the lights on while we dined, it was fun to see just how many people stopped to have a look. The LightMeUp Safety Lights helped make our tour more comfortable and fun.
Before we left town the next day, we rode down to the beach to see the weekly art sale along the water. Many locals set-up there on Sunday with a wide variety of home-brewed art to drool over. The line-up of people and booths must be at least a mile long. Soon the car was packed and off we went. It was a long, fun trip.
On the way home we talked about all that we did. We visited many E-bike shops, yet there were three that had just closed recently that helped make way for these new ones (I guess). One belonged to a Facebook friend who has been having health problems. That makes me sad, but it was good to see that Santa Barbara has a strong E-bike culture going on.
One other thing that bothered me was how few E-bikes we actually saw out during our riding. Sure we saw many, just not as many as I expected. What we did see (like every trip we take there with our bikes) was a lot of people on bikes. This town is very bike friendly and filled with people who love to get out on two wheels. Whether used as transportation or fun, Santa Barbara is a true bike destination. We didn’t get to do our ride to and from Goleta either, one of my favorite parts of our annual tour, too busy I guess.
Until next year (or sooner, as we want to do an E-bike tour with E-bike Santa Barbara), our Annual Santa Barbara Bicycle Tour is in the books (and cameras). Check it out for yourself, Turbo Bob.
“ Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades.”—Eddy Merckz.
Links to the places we visited and the videos I took—In the order they appear in this article. There are many more videos of our trip on my You-Tube page.
Segway of Santa Barbara
E-bike Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition
WBE (We Bike Electric)
REI—-Currie Technologies E-bikes
Pedego Santa Barbara
LightMeUp Safety Lights