Confessions of the Cruiser King
By Josh Landes
EV World contribution editor, Josh Landes concludes his series of interviews with electric bike shop owners in New York and California.
EV World: First off, Mr. Parrish, what it takes to run such a store?
Dave Parrish: "Well it just takes experience. You have to be a bicycle guy or a mechanically inclined motorcycle [guy]... You've got to come from a mechanical background. Because these are all, these are not durable products especially under rental conditions and they need constant maintenance. And, most of my competition gets into it finds out that they're not very tough and that they've wasted their money because they can't service it and they get out of it really quick."
EVW: What was the name of the bicycle I rented? I knew the scooter but not the bike.
DP: It's the same company. Currie is the manufacturer, C-U-R-R-I-E, and that's called the US, the exact name is the Phat Repack we call that.
EVW: Is that the add-on battery package that anybody can buy for any bicycle?
DP: Yes. It's the USPD pro drive.
EVW: Because the other guy I was interviewing in New York also was offering that and I must say I did enjoy the ride a lot.
DP: Well it's more of a real bicycle in that the bike is a twenty-one speed bike as opposed to the Lee Iacocca Bikes, which are seven or eight speed bikes.
EVW: You also said something about some of the construction not being up to your satisfaction on some of the scooters you've been getting.
DP: There's a big product void out there between the mass-merchants, which have products anywhere from one hundred and sixty-nine to at the highest two hundred and fifty bucks. They're marketing the stuff toward kids and adults alike and it doesn't have the power, doesn't have the durability for a kid or an adult. And I think it just gives everyone a sour taste in their mouth when they buy that quality of product. You just can't buy something that's electric with a battery and all the technical aspects and expect it to get you anywhere for under three, four hundred bucks.
EVW: I kept thinking you know what liability concerns must you have as a business owner and what part that must play in your business.
DP: Well, you know, like a lot of businesses we have a pretty big insurance package, got a comprehensive umbrella that takes care my guests on and off the property. It's just a big part of the expense of doing business.
EVW: I noticed that you've been in business for a little while as opposed to one or two of your competitors that have gone out of business. In fact it was frankly pretty difficult to find a place to rent an electric scooter around here. What do you see people doing right and what do you see people doing wrong locally in this type of business?
DP: Well it just takes experience. You have to be a bicycle guy or a mechanically inclined motorcycle..... you've got to come from a mechanical background. Because these are all, these are not durable products especially under rental conditions and they need constant maintenance. And, most of my competition gets into it finds out that they're not very tough and that they've wasted their money because they can't service it and they get out of it really quick.
EVW: [Question about goals for the business].
DP: Oh no, that's what our whole goal here was to something different from everyone else in San Diego and to give everyone that environmentally friendly and congestion friendly alternative. And also you know do well in the tourist and rental business.
EVW: On the balance do you think it's worked out? Or have there been aspects of it that didn't work out for you?
DP: I think without my electric business I would have been out of business.
DP: Yeah. Tourism was down this year and I have a lot of competition. And it's turned out to be my niche. It's turned out to be a big-ticket item that sells rain or shine whether or not I've got tourists. And it carries me through every winter and I've been doing it for three winters now. And I sell a lot of it at Christmas time. Have you seen the Lee Iacocca Lido?
EVW: I haven't specifically focused on that. There were so many bicycles out there on the web when I went to look that I couldn't believe it.
DP: Well honestly right now there is only two. It's the Currie and the Lee Iacocca E-Bike. And there's, I mean I was just at the bicycle trade show. And the trade show was covered with thousands of really cheap junky Chinese prototypes. These are the only two guys who've been around a while.... And I personally have looked at these bikes and the last two or three generations I would not buy. And up until this year I've purchased the Lee Iacocca product and the Currie product. But before this year I wouldn't buy their stuff. It took them this long to get the stuff right.
EVW: I see. I know a couple years ago I was at that bike shop near you that went out of business and they had the one that was rubbing up against the wheel for motorized power.
DP: I sold a lot of that. That's the Zap motor system and I believed in it because it was simple and it was light and it was, it had a customer and that was the pedal assist customer. You know it was the guy that just wanted a little help in his ride because these things, I mean it doesn't have the same performance the twenty-four and the thirty-six volt do.
EVW: Is that still around, that whole idea?
DP: I've got those in my store right now. I've got those motor systems.
EVW: I know that there were quite a few things that surprised me on the positive side especially the throttle control on the right thumb, which I think was identical for both vehicles I tried.
EVW: It was amazing to me how easy that was especially at the low speeds where you don't want to run into somebody on the boardwalk. That was pretty incredible.
DP: It is. It's nice stuff. It's very modulatable and that other system wasn't, the old Zap. It was just on and off. It didn't have any control and that's the one that rolls up against the tire. It didn't have any modulation. It wasn't variable speed.
EVW: What about a level above where you're selling where you get into vehicles that can do thirty or forty miles an hour?
DP: Well they loose their classification as an electric bicycle once you break a certain speed barrier. And you become an electric motorcycle, then you become needing the necessity of a motorcycle license to ride the darn thing.
EVW: So it kind of determines what you can or cannot do as far as where you want to go with your business. You wouldn't want to sell those just because it would get a lot more complicated or something.
DP: Well, yeah I'd have to go out and become a motorcycle dealer and I'd have a motorcycle license. I mean a dealer license with the State of California. And all kinds of paperwork as far as with the DMV. The electric motorcycle, I don't know if it's caught on yet. I know the bicycle has and it's a more affordable price point. That's where I'm at right now. When the demand and my phone starts ringing a lot more for electric motorcycles, which I have access to, I will get into those.
blog comments powered by Disqus