On Tuesday this week I was riding my bicycle on First Avenue toward Lyon when four colorful bikes on the sidewalk caught my eye.
Turned out they were electric bikes. They were sitting in front of Suite 103 of the Century Building, one of the historic Albany business buildings restored with the help of CARA, the downtown urban renewal district.
You will not be surprised to learn that bikes in general interest me. So I stopped, leaned my old mountain bike against a pole on the curb and walked through the door of what turned out to be Northwest Electric Bikes LLC, at 117 First Ave. N.E.
Behind the counter was Craig Ensey, the owner. He told me this was a family business and the store has been open since August.
I hadn’t noticed the store before, which does nor speak well of my powers of observation. Maybe it’s because usually when I’m on East First near that intersection, intending to go straight across Lyon, there’s a line of right-turning pickups and SUVs between me and the curb.
Anyway, Ensey assembles, sells and services electric bikes of various styles. The business website says he’s been working on motorized bikes since 2001.
As most of us can tell, electric bikes are catching on for commuting or just having fun. They can be charged from a regular outlet at home, Ensey told me, and they can travel an average of 60 miles per charge depending on various factors.
The models I saw at the store can run on battery power alone or they can go in pedal-assist mode. They look heavy to me, and I’d hate to have to pedal one if the juice runs out.
Northwest Electric Bikes is the latest business to land in the Century Building.
In 2014, I reported on owner Rick Mikesell’s request for CARA to help him restore the building, originally constructed in 1905. Another story on the Century appeared here in April 2017, when the restoration was nearly complete and the first tenants had moved in.
I was glad to see another retail business added to downtown, making use of the space. Especially with bikes. (hh)