If you’ve seen that futuristic-looking pod above cruising the streets of Columbus, that’s the Pedalist.
Clintonville’s Orbit City Bikes, 3030 N. High St., is responsible for bringing the electric contraption to Columbus. Owner Tom Bennett first saw the Pedalist at annual cycling show Interbike in 2014. Two years later, some of the first runs of the bikes will soon be for sale in Central Ohio.
The Pedalist is hand-made in San Francisco and hails from the minds at Virtue Cycles. Orbit City marks the maker’s largest order to date, and the shop is thereby helping Virtue by providing feedback about the process.
The Pedalist strikes a balance between car and bike and targets a crowd for whom a car is too much, but a bike not enough. Riders pedal just like a bike, but with electrical assist available. A shell offers protection from the elements and moves it into more all-season territory.
“It’s a cargo trike so you can haul a lot of stuff in it as well,” Bennett adds.
Cargo can include an additional passenger. A seat with foot rests is nestled behind the driver.
Features like headlights, taillights, turn signals and a horn make it feel like a car, but the Pedalist is to be ridden in the bike lane – and fits comfortably at only 35 inches wide. Bennett cautions that a bike trail might be questionable. Electric bikes up to 100 pounds are legally allowed, and while the Pedalist is surprisingly light, it’s closer to 200 pounds.
Pedalist’s speeds will be capped at about 24 mph. An average bike commuter moves at 10-12 mph and other electric bikes are designed for speeds of 20-28 mph.
The Pedalist retails for $5,999 – a price point that may seem expensive, but is still far cheaper than the average car and doesn’t require insurance.
Bennett spent the first weekend the Pedalist was in town riding through the Short North and other neighborhoods.
“Everybody is turning around, taking pictures, asking questions,” he says. It grabs attention for its looks, “But people want to know, ‘What will it do for me?'”
The answer is protect a rider from the elements while making it easy to ride.
Electric bikes as an industry are gaining popularity. As many trends typically follow, Bennett says the bikes are popular on the coasts and making their way inward. It’s evident through Orbit City’s growth. The shop had about 10 different models of bike when it opened in January of 2014, and now carriers upwards of 50.
This November, Orbit City will move to a larger location in Clintonville to highlight that expanded inventory.
The large showroom at 4544 Indianola Avenue will allow Orbit City to better display their bikes versus having to pull them from a rack. Bennett says to think a cross between a car dealership and an Apple store.
With a goal of presenting bikes in a way that they haven’t been show before, he expects it will be a few months to really get things rolling, and plans for a grand opening celebration in April.
The new Indianola location includes another big advantage – a parking lot.
“A lot of people that come to look at electric bikes haven’t ridden a bike in awhile so they would rather have a parking lot than a street to ride on,” Bennett says.
Orbit City is holding a sale in preparation for the big move and only expects to be closed for a few days for the transition.
For more information, visit orbitcitybikes.com.
All photos by Walker Evans.