Interview with Pedego Electric Bikes Owner Don DiCostanzo

Don DiCostanzo of Pedego Electric Bikes

Hello E-bikers!  I recently had the opportunity to interview Don DiCostanzo, one of the owner’s from Pedego Electric Bikes.  Pedego is known for their classic beach cruiser style electric bikes.  Don gave me some background on the company, their current e-bike line, the future Pedego e-bikes, the Pedego Owners Group, Pedego going international, their current e-bike promotion, and some e-bike tips.

Here is the interview!

Pete: What is your background in the ebike world and how did Pedego start?

Don: In 1999, I was first introduced to electric bikes by a friend of mine who was the CEO for Lee Iacocca’s visionary start-up, EV Global Motors.  Back then, gas was relatively inexpensive and battery technology was not quite ready.  At the time, all the electric bikes were heavy, ugly and unreliable, including the EV Warrior. Conceptually they had an excellent idea but it was a little too early to bring to market.

In 2006 when I lived on the top of a hill, I rediscovered electric bikes and became an engaged consumer by purchasing 7 different electric bikes to ride and share with my friends.  In 2007, I opened a bicycle shop in Newport Beach, California as a hobby, and sold over 500 bikes in my first year, mostly electric.  According to my suppliers, I was the biggest electric bike store in the country.  While I could see a huge opportunity based on customer interest, suppliers at that time were unable and unwilling to offer styles that were appealing to most consumers.  The electric bikes at that time lacked performance and were poorly made. If that weren’t enough, the suppliers offered no after sales support to dealers or customers.

In late 2008, I sold my interest in a very successful chemical and car wash company I had started and decided to focus on designing and marketing electric bikes.  I asked a long-time friend and business partner in another venture to join me. Our goal then, the same as it is now, is to be the best electric bicycle company, not the biggest.  Initially, we focused all of our energies on the design.  Once complete, we then went to work on specifying every single component from the kickstand on up. We began offering our first Pedegos in mid-2009.  The Pedego name comes from the “Ped” in pedal, the “e” in electric and then those two together make you “go”!

Pete: Give us a little background on each of the Pedego bikes and how they are unique: The Classic Cruiser, Interceptor & Tandem.

Pedego Cruiser Electric Bike

Don: We began with just two simple designs but took the extra step of having a professional designer from an automobile and motorcycle discipline create our Classic and Step-Thru Comfort Cruisers.  We guided him towards creating stylish retro beach cruisers, but updated to be comfortable and have a fully upright riding position.  We discovered that the critical points for rider comfort were the handlebar position and grip, the seat and the pedal position.  With painstaking detail, we researched and specified every single component on both models using brand named products on all the critical components.  It was also very important to us that these first Pedegos were designed to be electric bikes, not merely ordinary pedal bikes modified to be electric.  For example, the rack that holds the battery is integrated as part of the frame.   Also, while it is obviously important to go, we think it is even more important to be able to stop!  Our braking systems, which include front disk brakes, are engineered for electric bikes since they will be traveling at faster speeds.

The most popular Pedego is the Interceptor which is energized by a 48-volt power system.  It was originally designed for the Los Angeles Police Department but has turned out to be a huge success with larger folks who need a little more power to climb hills.  When we began, the industry standards were 24-volt systems, which were severely underpowered for the U.S. market.  We led the industry change to 36-volt systems.   For heavier riders, 48-volt systems are the only way to go.   The same 48-volt system also system powers the world’s first and only electric tandem which has surprised us with its growing popularity.

One of the critical factors to the wide ranging consumer acceptance is our wide choice of colors and options available.  We offer over 100 different model, color and option combinations.  This is easily accomplished because every Pedego is built to order in our Irvine, California facility.

Pete: Can you tell us about any new Pedego electric bikes in the works right now?

Don: While our cruisers have been wildly successful, we have been developing several new products that will be rolling out over the course of 2012 beginning in March.  Our 3 wheeled Pedego Trifecta will be out in March and it is sure to be a category killer.  It has been engineered with a rear mounted differential, allowing for safe turning at all speeds.  It is both stylish and very functional with lots of integrated cargo capacity. In April, a more traditionally styled Pedego Commuter Series will be available in both 36-volt and 48-volt systems with an entirely new drive system for optimum hill climbing performance.  In May, we will be rolling out a super cool Pedego Monster with 4 inch wide tires for riding on sandy beaches and off road trails.  Finally, in June, the Pedego Super Cruiser, designed by Tony Ellsworth, will become available.

Pete: Tell us about the Pedego Owners Group rides you host in Southern California.; they sound like fun!

Pedego Owners Group Redondo Ride

Don: We started POG (Pedego Owners Group) a little over a year ago and had our first group ride last February.  Since then, we have monthly rides and will be going to weekly rides every Saturday morning starting in April.  Our most recent ride last month was along the coast from Redondo Beach up to Playa del Rey.  We all enjoyed some appetizers and drinks after the 2 hour ride at an oceanfront restaurant.  Last July 3rd, we hosted a POG Independence Day party at the Huntington Beach State Park with about 50 Pedego owners.  We are already planning to do it again this July and expect many more Pedego owners to attend.

Pedego owners are a great group and we use these events to get to know our customers better and learn what they like and don’t like about their Pedegos.  Fortunately, the “don’t like” list is very short!  It turns out that the folks who ride Pedegos are the nicest people and very fun to hang with.  We expect to open POG chapters in many other places soon.

Pete: We see a lot of Pedegos in the US and now we are beginning to see more around the world. What countries are you focused on and how is the international scene going for Pedego?

Don: Our goal when we started Pedego was to focus on the U.S. exclusively, and we have had great success because of all the dealers that now carry Pedegos.  We have discovered that test riding a Pedego is critical to purchasing one, so establishing a national network of dealers has helped us tremendously stateside.  Because of the internet, the world has become a very small place and apparently, people all over the world want a California styled electric beach cruiser.  We receive international inquiries on a daily basis and have established distributors in Canada, Europe, Columbia, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand.  These distributors are serving Pedego dealers in many other countries including England, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Norway and France.

Pete: You have a promotion going on right now to give away 2 Pedegos and other e-bike gear from Nutcase Helmets & Light and Motion lights.  What is the basis for the promotion and how can people sign up?

Don: The objective for our latest promotion is to assist our dealers by sending them customers that are interested in our bikes.  We have discovered that our customer base is wildly excited about their experiences riding their Pedegos, and love to tell others about it.   Fortunately, the social media tools that are now popular with so many folks are ideal for helping spread the word.  The contest is all about giving away free stuff that’s bike related and cool.  We talked to our dealers and found out that Nutcase Helmets, PoCampo bags and Light & Motion lights are the hot accessories for Pedegos so we worked with them to offer weekly giveaways on Facebook.  At the end of the contest, we will be awarding a Pedego Comfort Cruiser Balloon Series to the winner and one for the winner’s friend because it’s even more fun to ride a Pedego with a friend.   Entering can be done at www.pedegoelectricbikes.com or clicking on the link below:

Win 2 Pedego Contest Link

Pete: Finally, do you have any tips for people just getting into electric bikes?

Don: The first tip I can offer is DO IT!  Electric bikes are great way to have fun as often you desire.  Beyond the initial investment of getting one, it’s pretty much free fun since it costs about a nickel to charge it.  Most Pedego owners will tell you that they ride their Pedego primarily for fun but many also report that they use it for transportation, to save money, to get exercise, to lose weight and even reduce stress.  The freedom of riding with the added comfort and convenience of power on-demand will allow riders to see a whole other world by exploring bike paths that are not obvious unless they are looking for them.

Like any other product or service, you get what you pay for, so shop smart.  Buying an inexpensive electric bike will probably not give you anywhere near the same enjoyment that a well-engineered electric bike would.  Reliability, service and parts availability should also be considered.

For maximum enjoyment and comfort, select an electric bike with an upright riding position so most of your weight rests on the seat.  A wide seat with plush padding will make riding comfortable and enjoyable.

For those who might think of an electric bike as cheating, consider that not everyone has the energy and stamina to ride a pedal only bike in a competitive lean-forward riding position.  The creation of some power assistance to overcome hills and winds has made it likely for millions of consumers who would not likely ride, let alone purchase, another bicycle in their lifetime.

Finally, be sure to do your homework by researching the brands you are considering before purchasing any electric bike.  In our case, we use an independent third party service called Customer Lobby to field customer comments.   http://www.customerlobby.com/reviews/9941/pedego-electric-bikes/

 End of the interview with Don DiCostanzo

Do you have any questions for Don?  Please leave them in the comments section below.

Thanks!

-Pete

P.S. Don’t forget to join the Electric Bike Report community for updates from the electric bike world, plus ebike riding and maintenance tips!


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35 Comments

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  1. Pwinnerd February 17, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    I love my Pedego and can not say enough about the bike itself! I feel more work should be put into a special bike rack for this bike. Depending on where you live and where you want to ride. I recommend you tell people to factor in the cost of a bike rack for your car. Although Pedegos are considered Light weight” they are still 75lbs and take a special bike rack to accomidate the bike and the car. These bike racks are not cheap and can not go on a lot of cars! Nothing worse than wanting to Meetup e/fellow Pedegos people and not able or wanting to spend hundreds more on a bike rack! Providing what type of SUV you have remember 70-75lbs is difficult to hoist and that also is why it takes a certain rack.

    • Pete at Electric Bike Report February 17, 2012 at 9:59 am #

      Good point! E-bikes are heavier and it is a good idea to get a bike rack that is designed for the heavier load. Here is a guide to some electric bike racks for cars that work well for electric bikes:

      http://electricbikereport.com/guide-to-electric-bike-racks-for-cars/

    • Pedego Electric Bikes February 17, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

      Thankfully, the Saris Cycle On Rack has proved to be a great way to transport Pedegos.  We suggest you remove the battery to lighten the load and then each Pedego weighs a little over 50 lbs.  (The Saris rack does need a vehicle with a 2 inch trailer hitch wihich can be added to most vehicles.)  For loading it onto the Saris, it is a very low lift to put one tire in the holder without lifting the entire bike.  Once one tire is in, simply lift the other one, transferring the weight to the one already on.  It’s so much easier and lighter doing it this way because you are never lifting the entire weight at one time and you don’t have to lift it very high.  Some other companies has contacted us about the development of some new racks specifically for electric bikes so we should see some more suitable racks in the near future.  One even has a ramp that flips down so you roll the bike onto it.

  2. Cathy February 17, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    I also love my Pedego comfort cruiser, which is so great on all the hills in my area. The bike is just so much fun to ride. I pedal the entire time, even when using the motor so I still get some great exercise, and can ride for a much longer time than on a regular bike. My bike only weighs 57 lbs. I take the battery off the bike when I put it on a bike rack and have had no problems. Except I do need help getting the bike on the rack. I use a Saris Thelma bike rack. But Thule has come out with a bike rack specifically for electric bikes, and it even has a fold down bicycle size ramp for getting the bike on the rack! I think I might get one of these racks this summer.

  3. Fkurisu February 18, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    Am new to the electric bike market and noticed the Pedego location in Huntington Beach.  Once it is open will be renting 2 bikes to try.

    Frank
     

  4. Richard60463 February 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    My wife and I currently ride Schwinn World GSE bikes more than 2000 miles each year. Care to compare your Pedego design with the GSE?

    • Pedego Electric Bikes February 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

      We are not very familiar with the Schwinn electric bikes because they were discontinued at about the same time that we launched Pedego. 

  5. Mike February 21, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    Seems to me the only thing holding back mass sales of electric bikes is  the cost of a lithium or other “lightweight” battery. Most people can’t see spending close to $800 on the battery alone. Seems like the rest of the components to an a electric bike are cheap in comparison. Do you see any changes in the price structure of batteries in the near future? 

    • Pedego Electric Bikes February 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

      Mike, Unlike other technology products like TVs, cell phones and the like, battery technology is reliant on chemistry and barring a significant chemical break thru, prices are not likely to come down any significant amount in the foreseeable future.  Our standard 36 volt 10 Ah battery is $595 and comes with a 3 year limited warranty so you can think of it as $200 a year.  With gas the way it is today, that’s about 3-4 tankfuls.

      Don     

      • Pete at Electric Bike Report February 21, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

        Great point Don! It is a good idea to think about how many tanks of gas would equal the price of a battery or a complete bike. Saving on vehicle maintenance costs is another bonus of riding an electric bike. In town driving causes a lot of wear and tear on a car.

  6. Tpoto2 February 21, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    The Pedego is throttle assist only. Was is the advantage of having in addition to throttle assist a pedal assist mode also. Such as the IZIP Zuma.

    • Pedego Electric Bikes February 21, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

      While pedal assist is the standard in Europe since its required by law, we know that consumers don’t like it when given the option to have complete control. The mechanisms that operate pedal assist are typically jerky and slow to respond.  For almost all folks who try both, throttle assist is widely preferred.  It provides infinite variability and total speed control.

  7. Jwilson February 21, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    Very nice looking bike- and I appreciate the info in the interview.
    Can you switch gears while pedaling uphill? Or must you stop pedalingand then switch gears ( like a motor cycle, throttle down, and thenswitch gears)I live in an area where there are hills!!

    • Pedego Electric Bikes February 21, 2012 at 6:04 pm #

      Thanks for the compliment on our bikes. We are fanatics when it comes to style and offering lots of color choices to make our bikes look as good as they perform.  We also make the “Tommy Bahama” Electric bike for them and they are all about style.   You can switch gears anytime effortlessly going up hills or down hills. you need to be pedaling at the time you change gears. If hills didn’t exist, neither would we!     

  8. Lhogan February 22, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    My wife has a Pedego and loves it- now I am looking for one! Could you give me a little more information/details about your upcoming Commuter Series ebike and the “new drive system”. Thank you for this Q and A capability with the top guys that make the company and their thoughts behind the design.

    • Pedego Electric Bikes February 22, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

       Our City Commuter is going to be available as a 36 Volt/400 Watt Motor and a 48 Volt/500 Watt Motor.  They will be using the latest in both battery and motor technology that’s powerful and efficient.  They will both feature the 28″ Brown Schwalbe Balloon tires, brown stitched padded handgrips and a comfy brown seat. Sketches below.  Launch bikes will be available in Classic and Step Thru and choices of white or black.  They will go on sale in April.

      • LHall August 29, 2012 at 5:18 am #

        Thanks for all the info in this article. Now that the City Commuter has launched, it’s clear that it includes some design features new to Pedego bikes, including pedal-assist mode and a geared motor. Could you describe what led to the decision to use these?

    • Lawrence Hill October 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

      I have a white with red rims mens cruiser for sale. I want the low bar Cruiser because I’m getting old. l4foto@aol.com. I really like mine but??

  9. Lawrence Hill August 30, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

    Hello,
    My name is Larry Hill I’am 69 years old and just bought Pedego Cruiser and I really like it. However I just saw a picture of a future cruiser you plan to add to your line up. It is red and has front suspension. I want 1. When will they become available?
    I would like to make a quick comment. I would bet that your bikes are built in China.I know you designed them and probably assemble them in southern California. As far as I’am concerned as long as the material and workmanship is checked by YOUR Quality Control rep there shouldn’t be a problem.
    So why is everything I read about Pedego advertised as,”Built In The USA”? Misleading or am I wrong?

    Thank you,
    Larry Hill

    • Lawrence Hill September 1, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

      Looks like I hit a sore spot and no comment…OH WELL

      • Pete September 3, 2012 at 8:15 am #

        Hi Lawerence, Don will respond soon. He has been traveling for the Eurobike trade show.

      • Don DiCostanzo September 3, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

        Larry,

        Sorry for the delay in response. We have several new models in development and one of them is a Super Cruiser. No announcement yet.

        As far as Pedego manufacturing is concerned, I don’t think there is anything on our website saying “built in the USA”. I have seen that on other electric bike websites but I doubt it is true.

        Pedego’s are designed here in the U.S. and final assembly is done here as well but the bikes and all of the components are made in either China, Taiwan or Japan. Our Trike will be built here but using many components from Asia since that is the only place you can get many of the parts.

        I wish you many long hours of fun and joy riding your Pedego!

  10. Richard Trudel August 31, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    Why so much diff between equipping a city commuter with 48v batt as apposed to a 36v dealer at. E bike quotes 800 bucks,what gives. Your friend poor Richard

    • Don DiCostanzo September 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

      Richard,

      The price difference is mainly due to the 36 volt having an introductory price which is probably the best value for an electric bike today.
      Effective October 1, the price for the 36 volt City commuter will be $2,395 and the 48 volt version will be $2,795. These are still both great values but buying one in September can save you some $$$.

      –Don

  11. Lawrence Hill September 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    Hello again,
    Is there a possibility that in the future you will have a website with accessories and clothing related to your Pedego? Like fenders,bags, baskets, shirts,hats etc.
    I bought a fender set on eBay and the mounts don’t fit nd the fender is too wide …poof! there goes $37.

    • Don DiCostanzo September 3, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

      Larry,

      Pedego Fenders were designed specifically for Pedegos and fit perfectly. Retail price is $49 and they are available in all the same colors that we have for the Bikes…Red, Orange, Olive, Emerald, White, Black, Pink, Purple, Baby Blue, Dark Blue, Silver, Yellow, Burgundy and our newest color, Coral.

      The only other Pedego accessory we offer are aluminum baskets. We do plan to show these on our web site and have some other accessory items under development.

      — Don

  12. Pat July 6, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    How do I find out about opening a Pedego bike store here in Albuquerque?

  13. Don DiCostanzo July 8, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    Since this interview, we have opened more than 20 Pedego Stores and have another 30 in the works. Our latest one opened in Lake Tahoe this past weekend.

    Those interested in opening one in their area should contact me directly.

    Don DiCostanzo
    Pedego Electric Bikes
    1751 Langley Avenue
    Irvine, CA 92614
    Office (949) 336-8333
    Toll Free (800) 646-8604
    http://www.pedegoelectricbikes.com

  14. DIANE KOBERNA October 7, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    NEED TO KNOW THE BEST BIKE CARRIER FIR 2 PEDEGO BIKES ?

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