Photo by Joel Reichenberger
John Kole rides the electric bike available for rent at his downtown Steamboat Springs store, One Stop Ski Shop. Bike rentals have been popular this summer as most area bike shops have rented everything they have available during weekends.
■ Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare, Fifth Street and Lincoln Avenue, 970-879-9144
Comfort Bikes — $8 for an hour, $11 for three hours and $12 per day
■ Orange Peel, 1136 Yampa St., 970-879-2957
Cruisers and Hybrids — $15 for two hours, $25 for a half day and $30 for a full day
■ Ski Haus, 1457 Pine Grove Road, 970-879-0385
Cruisers and front suspension bikes — $9 for an hour, $18 for three hours and $24 for a day
■ One Stop Ski Shop, 11th and Yampa streets, 970-879-4754
Electric bike — $25 for one hour, $45 for four hours and $65 for a day
■ Kimmie’s Kruisers, Yampa Street between Seventh and Eight streets, 970-367-3738
Cruiser — $9 an hour or $25 a day
Tandem cruiser — $13 an hour or $40 a day
Steamboat Springs John Kole said it’s the same every time. Any time anyone gets on one of the electric rental bikes he added to the inventory of his One Stop Ski Shop in downtown Steamboat Springs, they let out a little noise.
“They yip a little, or howl or giggle,” he said. “It happens every time.”
It’s easy to see why the bikes, available to rent from the shop for $25 to $65, can provoke a reaction. Pedal once or twice and twist the throttle mounted on the handlebar and the bike zooms away with a kick.
Kole said he’s been looking for the perfect electric bike rental option for several years. He toyed with the idea of renting scooters, but he couldn’t make that work how he wanted. Finally, he stumbled upon the Ultra Motor A2B, which features a 500-watt battery-powered motor that can move the bike down the road at 20 mph.
The best part, he said: he can move the bike down the Yampa River Core Trail as well thanks to the pedals, which can be used to assist in powering the bike or simply to replace the motor.
The pedaling mechanism has even gears and when combined with the motor can easily power the bike up some of Steamboat’s dauntingly steep roads.
The bike isn’t designed to go off-road on dirt trails, but when it comes to an easy way to cruise Steamboat’s concrete trails, Kole said he’s found nothing better.
“Everyone gets excited as soon as they hit it,” Kole said. “It’s real exciting to see people having fun with it. If you’re not in good shape, it’s a great way to go and can even help you get in shape.”
One Stop Ski Shop has six of the bikes available for rent, but those are only a few of the many rental bikes that have been swarming the Core Trail recently.
Brock Webster said his Orange Peel Bicycle Service was packed from the moment he flipped on the open sign early Friday. He usually specializes in renting higher-end bicycles, and many of his renters are often in the market for something with which they can assault Steamboat’s singletrack.
However, Cruisers have proven popular as well.
“We mostly do more high-end rentals and demos, but we have 10 beach cruisers and 10 or 20 hybrids,” he said. “Today every one of our bikes was out.”
Interest in cruiser-type bikes isn’t new, said Doug Steadman, rental manager at Ski Haus.
He said the east Steamboat location has done a steady business in cruiser bike rentals for at least four years.
“It’s been enough that our fleet has definitely grown,” he said.
The only deterrent he’s found is a lack of paths.
“It’s been growing over the years, but it could really be huge if we could get more paths for people to ride on,” he said. “But they’re still popular. People love to get out there and ride the trail around town.”
Steadman said straight-up cruiser bikes — those with a flashy paint job and fewer speeds — often aren’t as desirable to renters as similar bikes that have more gears.
The 21-speed Specialized Carmel has proven much more popular.
“People think the beach cruisers are cute, but they don’t want to pedal them,” he said.
Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare rents bikes similar to the Carmel at that level, opting for the Trek Navigator 2.0.
“Having more gears really helps on some of the hills around here,” shop owner Harry Martin said. “It’s been going really well for us. We have 30, and we’ve been renting them all every single day.”