Brothers hopping on e-bike trend by opening Palatine shop

Two brothers hope to capitalize on a trend of booming electric bicycle sales in the United States with their new shop in Palatine.

Matt and Tom Sammons, who grew up in Palatine, are launching SamCycle Electric Bikes in the Eurofresh Plaza at Smith Street and Northwest Highway. They say the location is particularly desirable because of its proximity to Deer Grove Forest Preserve's trails about 3 miles south in Palatine and other paths.

Tom Sammons, 61, who still lives in the village and works as an attorney, said it's believed the store debuting Sunday will be the first in the Northwest suburbs to sell and rent only e-bikes, most with a range of 30 to 40 miles on one battery charge. He said the top speed of his bikes will be about 20 mph.

Bikers still have to pedal e-bikes, but they receive varying levels of assistance from an electric motor propelled by a battery that takes about two hours to recharge. The bicycles generally have electric-boost levels from one to five.

"Electric bikes level out the hills for people and make riding fun again," he said. "A lot of people love riding bikes, but they're challenged by the hills."

In addition to helping get over the hills or providing a boost for long rides, the e-bikes allow commuters to travel to work without getting "sweaty and nasty" and are handy for short trips, Tom Sammons said. He said they also should appeal to those who have not cycled for a while or want a second bike to complement a traditional ride.

SamCycle will have six e-bike models ranging from $1,300 to $3,000. Full-day rentals are expected to cost $80.

"You want to get your exercise, still," said Matt Sammons, 56, of Ingleside in unincorporated Lake County, who will be running the shop daily. "The idea is to not treat it like a motorcycle, although you can. If you're not feeling that good, just use your throttle. But if you want to get your exercise and then you went, say 20 miles, now the wind is blowing in your face, you can get a lot of help on the way back and still have a good ride."

Booming e-bike sales trends were detailed in a report released in April by NPD Group, a national market research firm based in suburban New York City.

Calling it the fastest-growing segment of a $5.9 billion industry, NPD's report says e-bike sales totaled $77.1 million in 2017, up 91 percent over the previous year. Sales of electric bikes have grown more than eightfold since 2014, according to the research company.

An Illinois law effective since January provides clarity about the use of e-bikes on paths that often have signs warning against motorized vehicle use.

Under the law, a low-speed electric bicycle may be used by riders 16 and older on any public bike path unless prohibited by a municipality, county or other local government. The law allows the use of three classes of e-bikes and a maximum speed of 28 mph.

"A low-speed electric bicycle is not a moped or a motor-driven cycle," the law says.

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  Tom Sammons, left, and his brother Matt are co-owners of SamCycle Electric Bikes, which will open Sunday at the Eurofresh Plaza in Palatine. Joe Lewnard/
  Detail of the motor of an electric bike at SamCycle Electric Bikes, opening Sunday in Palatine. Joe Lewnard/
  Mechanic and sales associate Ruben Cuellar readies a bike for service at SamCycle Electric Bikes. The store, which will sell only e-bikes, opens Sunday in Palatine. Joe Lewnard/
  SamCycle Electric Bikes will debut Sunday at Eurofresh Plaza at Smith Street and Northwest Highway in Palatine. Joe Lewnard/
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