'Bike boom' boosts sales at Long Beach electric bicycle shop

Veteran-owned electric bicycle shop, Propel Electric Bikes, in Long Beach is seeing a boom in sales amid the coronavirus pandemic.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Move aside toilet paper and make room for the bike boom.

"It's kind of a little uncomfortable to say at times, but my business has been doing pretty well lately," said Chris Nolte, owner of Propel Electric Bikes in Long Beach.

Nolte said that the shop's sales in May 2020 were close to double those in May 2019, and he's not alone.

According to the market research firm The NPD Group, adult leisure bike sales increased 121% in March 2020 versus March 2019. The same study found that sales from children's and BMX bikes increased 56% in that same time period.

"Gyms started closing down and people started looking to other alternatives to getting out there and exercising and bikes kind of became a savior for a lot of people," Nolte said.

The New York native opened his first location in Brooklyn and moved to Long Beach in 2018 to launch his second storefront.

"All of the bikes that we sell are electric assist, which means that you have to pedal them and they just provide assistance," Nolte said.

Nolte is a veteran of the U.S. Army. The former fuel tank driver injured his back while deployed to Iraq.

"I didn't have the same stamina and energy that I used to have," Nolte said. "So when I saw an electric bike, I said, 'Wow, maybe this is a way that can get out and ride with my friends, enjoy myself and not feel limited or intimidated.'"

Nolte said he hopes that electric bikes will change the way that people think about transportation and beyond.

"These bikes aren't just for fun," Nolte said. "They can actually change the way we get around and change the way we depend on foreign oil and potentially participate in conflicts as a result of that."

As Long Beach moves forward with plans to close off traffic to streets for pedestrian use and outdoor dining, Nolte is looking forward to what the future holds.

"I think the opportunity to reclaim some of that space and create a more walkable community is a big deal and I'm excited to participate in that," he said.

Propel Electric Bikes is located at 100 W Broadway Suite 110, Long Beach. For more information, visit their website.

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